Ask a Picture Book Author and Free Mentorship

The journey to becoming a picture book author often leads down a long and winding road. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself lost or at several dead ends (rejected approximately 140 times over 7 years!!), and having to retrace your steps and set off in a new direction before you start making true progress.

I made every mistake in the book starting out and my husband recently told me that he had no faith in my ability to get published during my early years writing picture books. My writing was sub-par and, let’s be honest, it is one of the hardest markets to break into because everyone is writing picture books! Having said all that, I believe if you’re willing to learn and you don’t waver from your goal, that you can do most anything you want.

The reason I’m writing this is two-fold. Firstly, I’ve been on the receiving end of lots of great advice from fellow children’s authors and SCBWI members over the years. I’ve tried to always pay it forward, offering free advice to others but, admittedly, that tends to be on an individual basis. I decided it might be nice to offer up advice in a group setting. And the second reason, I’ll explain in a moment.

Learning from fellow children's authors in SCBWI.

Learning from fellow children’s authors in SCBWI.

So…what I decided to do is offer up my time and advice here. I’ll answer as many questions as I can that come through the comments on this blog post before the end of the year. If there are a lot of questions, it may take me some time but I’ll do my best to get to all of them eventually.

Additionally, I’m offering a free six-month mentorship to one picture book writer. I’ve not done this before so I don’t know yet exactly how it will work but my thought was to be accessible for questions twice a month via Skype for up to one hour on each occasion, as well as feedback on a manuscript once a month over the half-year period. It needn’t be the same manuscript each time, as long as we’re both happy that the manuscript you’re working on is marketable. The only proviso on the mentorship is that you not be traditionally published in the picture book market, nor be a family member of mine. I’d also ask that I be allowed to publish the name of the mentorship winner on my blog.

The winner will be drawn from a hat by my children. Just put your name in the comments below with your contact details (you don’t have to ask a question) OR send me your contact details via my website contact form by 15 November. Either way, you’ll be in the draw.

Four years into my PB journey--writing with a baby on my lap.

Four years into my PB journey–writing with a baby on my lap.

My credentials: I’ve published 2 picture books to-date, I have a third one forthcoming in 2017, and a further one in the works that I can’t tell you about just yet. I lean towards fiction and rhyme but I’ll try to answer any PB questions. I would suggest, however, the winner of the mentorship not send me non-fiction manuscripts as I’ve struggled getting my own NF texts published.

Now for the second reason for this post. Alongside picture book writing, I’ve decided to try screenwriting. It’s going well so far with very positive comments on my work by both an agent and a producer, but I’m under no false illusions that the journey will be any shorter or easier. If anything, the opposite may be true.

So why am I telling you this? Because I have the opportunity to attend a screenwriting retreat next year that will show me how to get my scripts off the ground, and without a paying job (librarians aren’t in demand in the UK anymore) and without owning a house I can remortgage (the sacrifice has been worth it), I just can’t afford to attend. And the more I learn and the sooner I learn, the quicker my journey to becoming a credited screenwriter will be.

I’ve been fortunate over the years to be on the receiving end of grants and scholarships—not to mention the generosity of family members, and I’m extremely grateful for the patronage! This got me thinking. What if I offered critiques and mentorships in return for sponsorship? I’ve set up a GoFundMe page where I offer reduced rate critiques, school visits (Skype or in-person), a further mentorship, the opportunity to name characters in my books or films, and even tickets to my first premiere and a walk down the red carpet with me.

On a school visit.

On a school visit.

Regardless of whether or not I get the sponsorship I need, I will still be answering questions and running the mentorship contest, as I want to pay my own good fortune forward.

Should you wish to take advantage of the reduced-rate critiques or other rewards, you can find more details here: www.gofundme.com/fairy-godmothers-needed-2w93t2fw (Please note: payment is in pounds but if you’re in the US, that’s not a problem. You’ll merely receive the exchange rate on the day and the dollar hasn’t been this strong against the pound in over 30 years!)

Remember that entry into the mentorship contest ends 15 November at midnight PST. But I’ll answer questions until the end of 2016.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to working with at least one pre-published picture book writer soon!

UPDATE: I’ve decided to add a BONUS. If I meet my GoFundMe goal by 1 December, I will draw another name for a second free mentorship!

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210 Responses to Ask a Picture Book Author and Free Mentorship

  1. I would love mentoring help.

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Alice! I’ve just put your name down on my list and have made a note of your email. The winner will be announced on 16 November. Good luck!

  2. On a day when I am feeling less than hopeful, I see this post.
    🙂

    • admin says:

      I’m glad this post made it’s way to you, Lori Ann! We’ve all had those less-than-hopeful days. Keep the faith and the dream alive! (I’ve just put your name and email on my list.)

  3. Judy Sobanski says:

    It is so generous of you to “pay it forward” for a fellow writer. I would love to be entered for a chance at the mentorship. Thanks!

    jksobanski@gmail.com

    • admin says:

      The entire Kid Lit community is generous, as I found from the moment I joined SCBWI. I’ve just noted your details on my list now, Judy. Good luck! 🙂

  4. I’d love to be in the drawing for your mentorship. I just heard Lin Oliver talk about the writing career. One of her pieces of advice was to “send the elevator back down.” Thank you for doing that.

    • admin says:

      Lin’s just fab, isn’t she?! She’s someone who has been “sending the elevator back down” during her entire career. Thanks for entering, Marcie!

  5. Jennifer Laughlin says:

    I’d love to have a chance at it 🙂

  6. Sherry Fellores says:

    That would be fantastic. How generous!

  7. How generous of you Rebecca! I would love to be considered for your mentorship!

  8. Jill Giesbrecht says:

    It’s so nice of you to offer your expertise! I’d love to be in the draw for your mentorship. I have a picture book idea I’m currently working on that plays off of an old well-known tune (like your published picture books have done), so it’d be perfect to have your advice!

    Thanks.

    • admin says:

      Ooh, I’m very curious now! Yes, I do that a lot–working from songs or nursery rhymes! Have added you to the list, Jill.

  9. Tina Cho says:

    Count me in, Rebecca!

  10. Rachel Krackeler says:

    I too would love a chance at a mentor, it’s just what I need!

  11. Olga says:

    Hi!
    I’d like to have you as a mentor as well!
    Thank you

  12. Beth Russell says:

    I would love to BE part of this. First rule of writing, spell check! Sorry. 🙂

  13. Martin Segal says:

    Thank you so much for your generosity, Rebecca! I would love to be entered for a chance for your mentorship.

    Also, I was curious what you’ve found most helpful for developing your craft? Are there any craft books that you found especially valuable? Thanks for your time, Rebecca!

    • admin says:

      I’ve added your name, Martin, and thanks for the great question! I always recommend the three books mentioned below. The first two are geared towards writers, whereas the last one is geared towards illustrators but all three books are relevant to both. My personal favorite is Ann’s book. It’s a true “bible” for PB writing.
      1) Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul, Cincinnati, OH: Writers’ Digest, 2009 (Amazon)
      2) The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Picture Book Writing by Linda Ashman, Chapel Hill, NC: Slow Lane Publications, 2013 (Linda’s website at http://www.lindaashman.com)
      3) Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Picture Books by Uri Shulevitz, New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1985

      • Martin Segal says:

        Thanks for the recommendations, Rebecca! I just started Ann’s book (it seems great already), and will add the other books to my list!

  14. Lynne Marie says:

    OMG — Rebecca! BEST give-away EVER! My fingers and toes are crossed!

  15. Erin Liles says:

    Oh my gosh, I would love a mentorship with you! Fingers crossed!

  16. Rosemary Basham says:

    Sounds wonderful!

  17. Kira Bigwood says:

    Add me to the pot! Thank you!

  18. Cassie Bentley says:

    I would loveve to be considered for a mentorship.

  19. Michael Karg says:

    I’ve heard sentiments along the lines of it being easier to get published than to stay published. How difficult were the subsequent manuscript acceptances compared to the first one?

    • admin says:

      Good question! It certainly doesn’t get any easier, Mike! The rejections flow in just as much as they did before. The only difference is that they now flow in faster, as editors reply to agents much quicker than they do to writers. And having an established relationship with a publisher doesn’t guarantee they’ll buy another book from you either. My first publisher has rejected several subsequent stories from me, while my second publisher was quick to purchase a further book–and, surprisingly, if my royalty statements are anything to go by, neither of their decisions were based on how well my first book with each of them sold. It’s a difficult business to both break into and to maintain a foothold in. From my experience and the experiences of my critique partners, getting a foot in the door is no guarantee of future contracts.

      Thanks again for your question! I’ve just added your name to the hat.

  20. Kristi says:

    Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity!

  21. Anna Totten says:

    How generous! I’d love to be thrown in the hat.

  22. Sharon Constantino says:

    What an awesome opportunity you’re offering to the lucky winner. Thank you! I’d love to be entered into the drawing. Please throw my name in the hat.

  23. This is so wonderful. I would love the opportunity to work with you. I hope to be in a place to do the same someday. One step at a time, and this sounds like a wonderful step.

    • admin says:

      As you say, it really is a matter of taking it one step at a time. Dare I admit to trying to race out of the gate before I knew what I was doing when I started writing PBs. Good luck, David!

  24. Kristen Browning says:

    Thanks very much for the generous mentorship offer! I would love to be in the drawing for it.

  25. Amanda Sincavage says:

    Congrats on your next writing venture and thank you for the mentorship opportunity!

  26. Kirsten Bock says:

    What a generous offer! I would love to have a mentor. Kirsten Bock. Kpbock@gmail.com

  27. Cherise says:

    I would love a mentor. Thank you for paying it forward!

  28. Megan Whitaker says:

    I love It’s Raining Bats and Frogs! I checked it out from my library this summer.

  29. Kim Erickson says:

    I hope I win!

  30. Ingrid Boydston says:

    Well this is a fun treat! Just in time for Halloween. I too lean towards rhyme &a fiction. I would love to go into the hat, thank you! Also, you book & cd just arrived in my book box at school. I look forward to reading & sharing your story!

    • admin says:

      You got it! And thanks for purchasing BATS & FROGS! Just so you know, there’s a free teachers’ activity guide to accompany it, along with coloring sheets on the Teachers’ page of my website.

  31. Ingrid Boydston says:

    I also have a question. I hope this is the correct place to ask. Did you mention your stories rhyme in your query letter or not. I’ve heard advice both ways. Thank you!

    • admin says:

      Yes, that’s a tricky one! My agent always mentions it in her query letters to editors, and I always mentioned it mine (because it was obvious from my titles anyway), but I can understand why people advise against it, as rhyme is meant to be a hard sell.

      Prior to publishing WEE LASSIE, I had only written one other book in rhyme. Everything else in my portfolio was written in prose, so I’m not the best person to ask but my opinion is that it’s better NOT to mention it. Although the editor will find out soon enough, why give her or him the excuse to dismiss your manuscript before reading it. Give your manuscript its best chance of getting read.

      Unless you’re an established poet, the editor will probably be turned off by the mention of rhyme or verse in a query letter. BUT if the editor reads that first line of your manuscript and it sings and draws her in despite being in rhyme, then she’ll read the rest of the manuscript and give it proper consideration.

  32. Myrna Foster says:

    I would love to be entered for the mentorship, and I hope you get your screenwriting retreat! Thanks for the opportunity!

  33. sabrina says:

    Sounds amazing, And extremely generous of you! I’d love for my name to be thrown in, I have a couple of picture books in need of fine tuning.

  34. Catherine says:

    This is a really generous offer Rebecca, thank you!

    I would love to be considered for your mentorship 🙂

  35. Kate Walker says:

    Yes please. Sounds fantastic. I’d love a mentor. Thank you.

  36. Zeeny says:

    Always ! I would love to be considered !!
    Zeeny Jhelumi .

  37. emma graham says:

    How wonderful of you to offer this opportunity. A mentor is what I need. I am at the point I need that guidance in my writing and illustrating.

  38. What a great & generous idea! Please put my name in the hat. Thanks! Sam

  39. John says:

    I have a question too, do you have a process or what I call ‘tools’ that you use to help plot and structure your stories?

    • admin says:

      Probably not as much as some authors. I tend to start with a title or story idea and then write out a list of as many things around the story subject or theme as I can (ie possible obstacles, relevant vocabulary words and phrases, etc.) before beginning the manuscript. More often than not, the idea will then take on a life of its own, which I ensure fits into the standard picture book structure. I want to experiment with structure in the future, but to-date, I’ve written the majority of my stories using the standard PB structure (intro, attempts to overcome 3 obstacles, climax, and resolution).

      I’ve heard Scrivener is a good tool to use but I’ve not tried it myself. When I’m happy with the first draft of my manuscript, I type it out into 12 spreads to check my pacing and structure (as opposed to creating a dummy). However, as I submit to the US market, I always remove the spreads before sending the manuscript to my agent. UK editors like to see texts broken down into 12 spreads but US editors don’t.

      Thanks for your question! And do let me know if you’d like me to elaborate or clarify anything I’ve said.

  40. Kirsty Lakey says:

    Thank you for this generous offer. I’d love to be included

  41. Becky Fyfe says:

    Picture books, though I love them and am always full of ideas, have never been my strong suit. I’d love a mentorship. 🙂

  42. Robbie Donaldson says:

    Please add my name to this ever growing list of hopefuls. What a generous offer!

  43. Deborah Allmand says:

    Would adore to be considered for the mentorship. Thanks for paying it forward!

  44. Nina Johnson says:

    What a wonderful idea. Great way to pay it forward. I’d so appreciate the opportunity to win the mentorship. I’d love to win but good luck to everyone.

  45. MaryLee Flannigan says:

    I would love some mentoring help! Thank you for this opportunity!

  46. Janie Reinart says:

    Through my name in your hat, please. You rock❤️
    Janiereinart@gmail.com

  47. What a generous opportunity, Rebecca! Please add me to the list!

  48. Gina Wane says:

    Rebecca, Thank you for your generous offer. You will be greatly rewarded and blessed.

  49. Neelie Wicks says:

    Oh this is wonderful. Please enter me in the draw for mentoring. Please can you tell me if I will be disqualified if I use createspace to publish Mrs Cardamom Pod in January? I don’t have agent or publisher. Thank you Neelie.

    • admin says:

      You’re in, Neelie! I only ask that entrants not be traditionally published.

      • Neelie Wicks says:

        Thank you so much! It is taking me ages to get properly prepared even for self publishing so I doubt this could happen in the short term. January is not likely to be possible now anyway. I have my fingers crossed….. Neelie

  50. Elaine says:

    I’d love to be considered for mentorship.

  51. Hazel Knox says:

    What a lovely idea. Please put my name in the hat. It’s going to need to be a big hat! Can I ask? Are there any resources that you could direct me towards that help with editing and/or critiquing others’ work? Many thanks.

    • admin says:

      I think I’m going to need to get out my Halloween cauldron, rather than a hat, as there are so many entries! 😉

      The first piece of work recommended to me for critiquing was an SCBWI article called THE GIVE AND TAKE OF CRITIQUE by Linda Sue Park. It’s now available on her website at: http://www.lindasuepark.com/writing/critique.html

      A longer resource that I found useful is the book: THE WRITING & CRITIQUE GROUP SURVIVAL GUIDE: How to Give and Receive Feedback, Self-Edit, and Make Revisions by Becky Levine, Cincinnati, OH: Writers’ Digest, 2010. Becky is an SCBWI member and while not solely for children’s writers, she has included chapters on critiquing picture books, beginning readers, and chapter books.

  52. Lily says:

    Steve Henry came to the picture book illustration class that I was taking at my local arts center so I got to see some of the illustrations before publication. I had no idea that you are in the UK. It’s Raining Bats and Frogs is adorable!

    Please enter me in your mentorship program.

    • admin says:

      Steven’s work is brilliant and I was thrilled to collaborate with him! Thanks for your kind words about our book! 🙂 I’ve entered you into the draw.

  53. Karen LaSalvia says:

    What a cool way to give back and thank you for having this contest! I would like to enter.

  54. Thanks for doing this! I’d love to be considered for the mentorship.

  55. Me, too, please. And thank you!!!

  56. Hope Lim says:

    Thanks for doing this! What a generous offer! 🙂

  57. Jason Perkins says:

    I’d love to be entered. Thank you for doing this and best of luck with your screenwriting.

  58. Tina Mowrey says:

    I would certainly like to have my name drawn, so please throw my name in the hat. Thanks so much for the opportunity!

  59. What a generous offer, Rebecca! Is there room for one more? 😊

  60. Fiona Lloyd says:

    I’d be interested in this – thanks!

  61. Claire Cressey says:

    Hey Rebecca I’d love to enter too thanks. I also have a rhyme v prose query. Advice says don’t do rhyme unless your Julia Donaldson. I.e. It’s generally bad unless you’re v good and secondly it’s harder to sell due to translations which make it less profitable. But in reasearching parents they prefer rhyming stories because of the obvious rhythm when reading aloud. Plus there are so many rhyming PB’s out there not just by JD who I understand has 90% of the market. I naturally find I write in rhyme. I started writing several ms of different stories some prose some rhyme as initial advice was to get a batch together and go via an agent to approach publishers. Then I’ve read counter advice that says for PB’s just go direct initially. So I have several stories now some prose some rhyme and the latter I like best. I’m been researching and reading to regime and I have some still half way through that process. I haven’t submitted any yet. Should I avoid rhyme first off and send one prose piece direct to publishers? Or can you send more than one story at a time to a publisher showing your variety? If so could one be prose and the other rhyme? Is it best to go direct to publishers and just start and get ready for rejections and plod on or as an unpublished writer should I be trying an agent first? Children’s books for me is where my heart is. PB work as I’ve always been a very visual writer. But some of my story ideas I think are better suited to older children’s books however I’m studying this market first before I attempt the next age up! I’ve heard 90% of films are adaptations or remakes so I think scriptwriting is v hard to get into. One day I thought I’d write an amazing novel that could be snapped up for film rights and do it that way lol! I’ve an idea bubbling for 15 years now. But first want to at least try and see if I can get published and I’m so ruthless at self editing PB are morea achievable for me to start with I think! Thanks xx

    • admin says:

      Lots of great questions here! Thanks, Claire!

      If submitting to a publisher, only submit one manuscript at a time. However, when submitting to an agent, you can submit up to three manuscripts at a time.

      There are pros and cons to submitting to both. My story is unusual in that I broke in with both a publisher and an agent at the same time. I was picked up by an agent who sold my BATS & FROGS book BUT I had the WEE LASSIE book already out with another publisher, who acquired it soon after without the knowledge that I had an agent.

      The difficulty in going straight to a publisher is that most of them won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. However, the ones that do–generally the smaller publishing houses–are often easier to break into. If your aim is to be published by one of the larger publishing houses, then you will need to find an agent first. Or attend conferences where editors from these larger houses are speaking. If you’ve attended a conference where they’ve spoken, they’re often receptive to receiving manuscripts just from the conference attendees, or there’s often the opportunity to have a one-to-one manuscript with an editor.

      Should you send prose or verse first? I advise authors to send prose first UNLESS their story must be told in verse. For example, WEE LASSIE is a rewrite of the traditional rhyme about the old lady who swallowed a fly. It had to be in verse. But if your stories don’t need to be in verse (despite how much you may prefer writing them in verse), try writing them in both rhyme and prose and perhaps see which one your trusted critique partners prefer before deciding.

      Certainly, it’s harder to get verse right and it’s harder to sell books in rhyme to the non-English speaking markets. Many publishers (especially in the UK) relay on selling foreign rights and if your book is in rhyme, it’s difficult to translate.

      As to scriptwriting, yes, so much of what is being produced now is adaptations of books. That’s why it’s good to have your own intellectual property to adapt (or access to purchasing other authors’ IP) before going into it.

      I hope that answers everything. If not, just drop me another line. Cheers!

  62. Kat Williams says:

    I would love to be in for the chance of winning.
    Thank you so much for offering such a fab prize. And I wholeheartedly agree about the backing of SCBWI and family members. Makes a huge difference!

    • admin says:

      SCBWI is the best thing anyone serious about writing children’s books can do for their career! Thank you, Kat! 🙂

  63. Amanda Clark says:

    Please put my name in the hat – help needed. x

  64. Sarah says:

    Looks like we have the same genre–rhyming fiction! I’d love to learn from your experience firsthand and hope I get the privilege of doing so!

  65. Shannon Kean says:

    I would love the opportunity to learn more!

    Shannon Kean
    smkeancreative@gmail.com
    @ShannonKean (Twitter )

  66. Jeanne says:

    Would love an opportunity like this. Thanks for being generous you ✨

  67. Gabi Snyder says:

    How generous! Please count me in, Rebecca.

  68. Kathryn says:

    I’d love the opportunity to have you as a mentor. Thank you for being so generous with your time and talent!

  69. Oh, Rebecca, how exciting this all sounds and this magic is right around my birthday! Wouldn’t winning the mentorship be the BEST present ever? I am thrilled for your screen writing possibility. Happy to go in on that experience.

    • admin says:

      Fingers crossed the universe works its magic for your birthday! 🙂 And thank you for your own generosity! I truly appreciate your kind gift and will keep you updated on how the new venture goes. Cheers!

  70. Phoebe Swan says:

    I would love to be considered for the mentorship, thank you for this generous opportunity!

  71. Val McCammon says:

    A one-to-one mentorship would be terrific. Thanks for paying it forward, Rebecca.

  72. Jena Benton says:

    Wow! What a great opportunity and what a great idea. I would love to be considered for your mentorship.

  73. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity! I’ve been trying to get picture books published off & on for decades. It always strikes me funny how editors don’t want rhymes and talking animals, yet over and over again wonderful new books are released with both facets within. I’m hoping longer word counts will come back in style, too. But what I really want to say is I love your picture books and many CONGRATULATIONS on your third and fourth ones in the works!

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Marcia! And your comment has made me realize that I should put the proviso in that the mentorship is for writers not traditionally published in the PB market, as it is substantially different from writing other children’s books. Cheers!

  74. Kate Peridot says:

    This is a lovely idea. Thank you for the opportunity and please add my name.

    My question: how should a budding author lay out a picture book manuscript for submission? I know the gist: double spaced Word doc, think about the 12 spreads. I would love to see an example that was sent to an editor. Heard a lot of conflicting advice e.g whether to put page turns/numbers in, amount of illustration notes, the words should tell the story, the pictures should tell the story! What do agents add to a manuscript to impress editors? xxxxx

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your question, Kate! To be honest, my agent doesn’t ask me to add anything to impress editors, but she does ensure that my script is in tip-top shape before she sends it out. I’m fortunate to have a real hands-on agent.

      Having said that, she once asked me to add some illustration notes (I generally always have a line or two of illo notes anyway) to make things clearer, but that’s been it. And I do put in page turns which are indicated by ellipses and line breaks.

      By way of example, the text in my book IT’S RAINING BATS & FROGS is exactly the same as the manuscript I submitted with the exception of four illustration notes. If you have access to it, you can see what I sent just by reading the book.

      Also, to give you an idea of the kinds of illo notes I supply, two of the four are listed below (note: the illo notes are in parentheses):

      “You call that a cat?” (The cats aren’t black.)
      “Dognabit! Give me my broom back!” (The dogs are running off with the witches’ brooms. They’re also chasing the cats.)

      So to get back to your question, I’ve always supplied some illustration notes and I always indicate where my page breaks are and no one has ever complained. I wouldn’t suggest putting an illustration note on every page, but a couple per manuscript is usually okay. Four was a bit excessive but I deemed them all necessary.

      I hope that helps and thanks for entering the draw!

  75. Karen LaSalvia says:

    Hi! I already entered, but I do have a question now, if you have time to answer. 🙂 I’m working on a PB and I’m realizing my character might be older as in ‘disney princess’ age. Those movies have a lot of appeal to the PB audience, but I don’t usually see kids older than 8 in PBs. Is it total PB suicide to write about an older character?

    • admin says:

      I wouldn’t recommend it for pre-published authors, Karen. Yes, there are a few picture books out there in which the main characters are older children or adults, but if you want to give yourself the best chance of breaking into the market, then follow all the rules. (ie in this case, stick to the rule of making your main character no more than a year or two older than your audience). Once you’re in and become an established PB author, then you can start breaking the rules.

  76. Karla Valenti says:

    What an extraordinary opportunity! Thank you. I’d love to get my name in the hat. 🙂 And thank you so much for the thorough responses to these questions, it’s great information.

  77. Sheri Enriquez says:

    Wow…this is good news! Thank you so very much for taking the time to do this! I would like an opportunity! Again, thank you!

  78. Luck of the draw, huh? I’m in! I too hope that once I “make it,” I’ll be able to do something similar and give back.

  79. Wonderful idea… grateful for the PB opportunity! I know the value of a mentor!!! Pick me!!!

  80. Rachel Kosoy says:

    I love the generous nature of this picture book community! Thanks Rebecca for being a model. Yup I sure could use that mentorship so please throw my name in the hat! Thanks

  81. Bev Baird says:

    What an overwhelming offer. I would be so blessed to win a mentorship. All the best with the gofundme. I will definitely be visitin!

  82. admin says:

    Thanks, Bev! You’re in the draw. And if you do visit my gofundme page, know that some of the rewards for donations include manuscript critiques at a steeply reduced rate from my normal charges.

  83. Freda Lew says:

    This offer is amazing. Thank you.

  84. Wowee, all the best of luck with your funding. And a mentorship sounds like a fabulous opportunity – I’d be mad not to throw my hat into this ring…

  85. What a wonderfully generous thing to do, Rebecca. You will be a huge blessing to one ( or maybe two) lucky winners. Since I have two rhyming manuscripts, and two in the works, your mentorship would be a dream come true.

  86. Neelam Kaur says:

    Thank you Rebecca for this opportunity. I started last year with picture book and at the moment I am trying to work it out with some simple Craftsy courses as I cannot pay those hefty prices. My questions are:
    1. How do I go about creating a portfolio piece for picture book, can I take the picture book story already available on the in terms and recreate the pieces with my own style?
    2. Are Art Directors open to work with new or fresh illustrators or rather I say someone who is learning on their own with no industry courses?
    3. How many portfolio pieces would you recommend to start With?
    4. How to approach an Art Director of that is your first attempt in the industry?
    5. Does this industry too work on licensing or on commission model and how much do you think is good to start as a beginner.
    Lastly do you suggest any courses or on the job learning is the best way to explore and learn more about the industry.
    I would love to be included the list. Once again thank you Rebecca for your generosity.

    Regards,
    Neelam

    • admin says:

      Thanks for all your questions, Neelam! Unfortunately, I can only answer the last question as I’m an author only. Not being an illustrator as well, I have no knowledge or experience of portfolios or Art Directors. If you’re a member of SCBWI, I would suggest posing your questions to fellow members either through your local branch or through the SCBWI Blueboards’ forum.

      As to how payment in the industry works, authors and illustrators who write PBs are generally paid in royalties. Most publishing houses will pay you an advance on royalties upon signing a contract with them. If the book doesn’t pay out the advance, you still get to keep the money. If it does pay out the advance, you can then expect to start earning extra money each year for as long as the book stays in print. (Royalties are a percentage of the sales from each book you sell.) For a more in-depth explanation, check out this post from UK publisher Nosy Crow: http://nosycrow.com/blog/how-publishers-like-us-pay-authors-and-illustrators-for-beginners/

      As to courses, I’m a big believer in learning from as many people as you can. Some of the authors I’ve learned from over the years include:
      Anastasia Suen – http://asuen.com/workshops/
      Susannah Leonard Hill – https://susannahill.com/for-writers/making-picture-book-magic/
      Kristin Fulton (for non-fiction PBs) – http://www.kristenfulton.org/classes.html
      Angie Karcher (for rhyming PBs) – https://angiekarcher.wordpress.com/writing-in-rhyme-to-wow-on-line-class/

      Additionally, I’ve learned so much from fellow SCBWI members and from attending SCBWI conferences. The kidlit community is extremely generous! (Can you tell how much I love The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators?!)

      I hope that helps and sorry not to know more about the illustration side of the industry. Please know I’ve just entered your name in the draw.

  87. The KidLit community rocks! I’d love the free mentorship and promise to pay it forward some day WHEN (not if) I have a few published PBs under my belt! I write fiction and NF, but would focus on the fiction if I am lucky enough to win.

  88. Nancy Ferguson says:

    What a generous idea! Time is such a commodity in your life with two littles. I would like to be on the list for the drawing.

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Nancy! It’s been six years since that photo was taken so I have a bit more time on my hands now. I used that photo in my post as that is how little they were when I was struggling to get my work up to par and noticed. We spent many a morning on the sofa writing stories together. 🙂 They are my muses!

  89. Hi, Rebecca. This looks like a wonderful and generous opportunity. I’d definitely like to be entered.

    And I have a question! I’ve heard advice to avoid illustration notes if possible, that they annoy editors and illustrators, but so many picture books have words that contradict or would be difficult to understand without the pictures. In fact, I’ve also heard plenty of advice that the best picture book texts really can’t be understood properly without the illustrations. I seem to have lots of ideas that would require illustration notes to understand. When I try to rework, I feel like I’m over-explaining, not leaving room for the illustrations to do their job. Do you have any advice or resources on using illustration notes properly and judiciously?

    As a final note, your critique prices seem very reasonable, especially for an author on a shoestring budget. I’ll probably order one later in the month, as I’m currently sprinting toward a deadline for my YA manuscript. (I have not published in picture books, though, so I think I’m still eligible for the drawing.)

    • admin says:

      Yes, illustration notes can definitely annoy editors and illustrators, but on the other hand, sometimes they are necessary. If, as you say, the illustrations are to contradict the text, that would need to be made known in an illo note. Here’s a link to a blog post on this topic by Heather Ayris Burnell which offers good advice:
      http://frolickingthroughcyberspace.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/using-illustration-notes-in-picture.html

      My personal litmus test is the advice of my trusted critique partners. If more than one of them tells me an illo note isn’t necessary, then I remove it. Likewise, if more than one of them tells me they can’t understand what’s happening in my story based on the text alone, then I usually add an illo note.

      Thanks for asking about this and for your comments on my critique prices. I hope I can help you with one of your PB manuscripts in the future. And yes, as you’re not published in PBs, you are eligible for the draw. Cheers!

  90. Melissa Stiveson says:

    Would love to be considered. This is a lovely oppportunity. Thank you for offering to share your wisdom to the newbies.

  91. Darlene says:

    I would love mentoring help

  92. Janet Frenck Sheets says:

    I live in Alaska, 360 miles from the nearest SCBWI chapter. It would be wonderful to have a mentor! Thanks for your generous offer — you will make a big difference in someone’s life.

    • admin says:

      Wowza, that’s a long way to have to travel to attend a SCBWI meeting! 😉 If it’s any consolation, I initially met my SCBWI critique partners on-line and for the first couple of years, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet any of them face-to-face. Thanks for entering, Janet, and good luck!

  93. Andrea Allen says:

    Thank you so much for this generous offer and amazing opportunity. Yes, I would love to have my name thrown into the hat!

  94. Anne-Marie Rickus says:

    Hello!
    I would love he to be considered for your mentorship – it sounds like a wonderful opportunity!

    Thank you! 😊

  95. Tabitha Sims says:

    Put my name in the hat, please!

  96. Abigail Perry says:

    Thank you so much for offering your services in such a giving way! I would love to learn more picture book craft from you!

  97. Hi Rebecca,

    I was wondering, since I had a poem published by a traditional publisher, how much the paid mentorship would be? Very much interested in that. Thanks Rita

  98. Elaine says:

    Count me in. Thanks.

  99. Pat Walsh says:

    Hello Rebecca, is it too late to put my name in the hat? If not, please do. Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Not at all. Names can be entered until midnight tonight, Pacific Standard Time. I’ve entered your name on my list, Pat! Thanks for entering!

  100. Hello Rebecca,
    I would love to be considered for mentorship. One of the things I plan to do this coming year is mentor a young writer at the school (for journalism maybe) … Thank you for offering to share what you’ve learned.

  101. Suzy Leopold says:

    Thank you, Rebecca. Your kindness is appreciated & generosity are appreciated. You are the best.

  102. admin says:

    Thank you, Suzy! So are you! 🙂

  103. Rachel Hamby says:

    Wow! I had to scroll down a long way. 🙂 Thanks for this opportunity. I hope to do the same someday, because I’ve seen how valuable mentors can be, and I would really love one. r_hamby at yahoo dot com

    • admin says:

      Hi Rachel, Unfortunately, the deadline was 15 November so I’ve already drawn the name of the winner. But keep an eye out, I may offer another mentorhship in the future.

  104. Joan Longstaff says:

    I fear I have missed the boat as have found this post a little late! However, as I’m getting a bit disheartened by rejections from agencies I am responding to your offer in the hope that I might just sneak into the hat!

    • admin says:

      Hi Joan, So sorry you missed the boat. I drew the name of a winner the day after the deadline and the winner’s name is mentioned in the subsequent blog post. It’s possible I may offer another mentorship next year. If so, I’ll post it here on my blog again.

  105. Faedhie Braddy says:

    Hello Rebecca,

    Will you be doing another mentorship?

    • admin says:

      Hi Faedhie, Apologies for the delay in replying. There’s been a lot of changes in my life this year and I won’t have time to do a mentorship this year. Very sorry! Best, Rebecca

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