Most of the stories I set out to write are intended to be picture books. The few exceptions are those that I have written specifically for children's magazines and, of course, my novels.
However, my recent acceptances (here and here) have made me look at my writing a little differently. I've written dozens of picture book manuscripts. Sold zero. I've written several magazine stories. Sold EIGHT. And that's not counting all the how-to articles and poems and puzzles I've sold over the years.
Does this mean that I should be putting more effort into submitting to magazines? I think that is part of it. But another thing to consider is this question: "Is this story really meant to be a picture book?"
What makes a story perfect for the picture book format, or another perfect for a magazine?Here are some key differences I see between picture books and magazine stories.
- A picture book is a marriage of text and illustration. The story would not be truly complete without the pictures. However, in a magazine story, the tale is told completely in the text with no need for illustrations.
- A picture book can be written with very little text, in various formats. A magazine story is usually (though not always) written as traditional prose.
Of course, there can be some overlapping, and that is where the big question comes in. Should I market this story to magazines or book publishers?
This is the question that was running through my mind the other day when I decided to send my story Dragon Night to Highlights. When I really took a look at it, I realized that Dragon Night would be a great fit for a magazine. Why should I hold out in the hope that it might be a picture book some day when I have so many other true picture book manuscripts in my files?
Why limit myself? I can take each story idea as it comes and decide then what it is meant to be.
PB, or not PB? I'll answer that question one story at a time.