CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 1. . . .September 2, 2011
So You Want to Write a Children's Book: An Insider's Handbook for Children's Writers and Illustrators Who Want to Get Published.
Markham, ON: Red Deer Press, 2011.
124 pp., pbk., $12.95.
Review by Kristin Butcher.
Yet the final and most telling critic is the child. The published writer knows no thrill greater than the response of a young reader who communicates, however inarticulately, the impact a story has had. Make no mistake about it, books can have great positive influences on children. No book is going to be as important in your life as the one you read as a child.
Bottom line: creating children's books is serious business, and aspiring writers and illustrators should find out what it's all about before jumping in. Who better to explain the ins and outs of the publishing industry than well-respected, longtime writing teacher and editor, Peter Carver?
Though the title of the book suggests it is a manual on how to create a children's book, it is more accurately a guide to getting published. Carver touches on some aspects of the creative process but certainly not enough to negate the need of art school or writing courses. So You Want to Write a Children's Book is an insider's handbook to the structure, rules, ethics, courtesies, taboos, and politics of publishing. The first segment is directed at writers and the second at illustrators, while the third examines topics of interest to both groups. These sections are further divided into sub-sections which explore topics such as Writing for your Audience, Planning your Portfolio, How a Publishing House Works, How to Submit your Work, and Contracts and Copyright. The information is logically set out to lead budding creators through the publishing process from start to finish. Though Carver doesn't dwell overlong on any one subject, he clearly explains what each involves and, where necessary, directs the reader to other sources for further information.
Carver's words of advice are peppered with interesting anecdotes and nuggets of wisdom from various well-known writers and illustrators. In addition, there are specific references to writing organizations and professional associations in Canada and the United States, as well as grant programs, and a lengthy list of additional resources for writers and illustrators. Carver even touches on the ways technology is impacting publishing and offers alternative arenas for writers and illustrators to employ their talents.
There are many guides to publishing out there. I know, because when I was starting out, I gobbled them up. I wish I'd had this one. It is as complete and comprehensive as they come. A truly helpful handbook for novice writers and illustrators.
Kristin Butcher lives in Campbell River, BC, and writes for children and young adults. She hopes one day to be edited by Peter.
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