May 10, 2021– Today, we’re talking about the importance of covers on children’s picture books. Let’s dig into some marketing! The cover is the FIRST point of contact that you have with your prospective reader. The cover is what draws them in and entices them to pick up the book and show it to their parents (picture books ages 3-7) or turn it over and read the back (middle-grade and YA ages 12-18). We’ll save the mid-grade and YA for another post.
Children’s Picture Book Front Covers:
Bright and Colourful. Children are naturally drawn to colours that are bold and stand out. Colours like purple, blue, and pink are colours that are a lot more uncommon in nature and thus stand out more. This goes back to our reptilian brain and the need for survival; food that was blue, purple, and pink was uncommon and therefore is noticed by humans more often than other colours (taken from my background in Consumer Neuromarketing and Neuroscience).
Big Font. It needs to be easy to read and give the reader an idea of what’s inside and who the story is centred around, e.g., Panda the Very Bad Cat, The Extreme! Supreme! Dogwalker Darlene!, Carlos Goes on Vacation, The Celestial Squid etc.
The Protagonist. The main character is who kids root for; it’s the hero of the story. There is usually a picture of the protagonist on the front cover, e.g., Curious George, The Paper Bag Princess, Sammy the Singing Cat etc.
Author and Illustrator. In a smaller font, usually near the bottom of the book or off to one side, is where we find the author and illustrator names, not because they aren’t important, just because kids aren’t usually interested in the nuts and bolts of who wrote the book or illustrated it.
Children’s book back cover:
Blurb. A few sentences about the story, the character, or the plot. This needs to be very exciting and pique the reader’s interest. We often phrase the back of the book blurb as a question; for example, here’s what the back of my book Panda the Very Bad Cat Farm Frenzy says, Panda is back on the farm! Will he be up to his old tricks of causing chaos and mayhem, or will the farmer be able to keep him out of trouble? This is an adventure that you won’t want to miss! This is a good example of getting the reader intrigued enough to find out what happens and if the farmer DOES keep Panda out of trouble or if Panda wins again!
Clear Font. Again, readability is key. Don’t do anything fancy or in cursive writing; make it legible.
Colour Scheme. Tie in the colours from the front to the back so that it all fits together. I don’t love it when there are a bunch of different colours on the back of the book that clash with the front. The entire cover should work together as a whole. Feel free to include a cute supporting character such as a mouse, a dog, or whatever other object makes an appearance in your book. Pick one, too many can be visually overwhelming.
Include Social Media. This is where your website should go, email to where the reader can get ahold of you, and anything else you want to include, such as social media info (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.), but be sure to keep it all in one space in the corner as not to take away from any elements of design or the message of the book.
February 1, 2019– Things come in waves around here and I think that it’s kind of funny; sometimes all I’ll receive is middle-grade manuscripts, then the next time I’ll receive sci-fi submissions, and lately everyone seems to be sending me their ideas for children’s books. Since I’ve had such an influx of kid’s book submissions, let’s talk about how to better your chances of getting a picture book deal with my house.
There have been a ton of incorrectly submitted kid’s book queries and manuscripts in their entirety sent to me as of late (we’ll talk about queries in another post) so I thought that I’d be very specific on what to submit.
Time– Know that if you do get a deal signed with me, your book (any book) will take 2-5 years to hit the shelf. If this is too much time for you to wait then you have bigger problems and this industry will eat you alive. Patience is of the essence and great things take time. We are not in the business of rushing a book, throwing it on the shelf, and hoping for the best. Every single thing is calculated beforehand in terms of a marketing plan, securing the best illustrator for the project, editing the manuscript, obtaining dates for book signings, and cover design. If you’re not in this for the long haul and don’t have a ton of patience, you’re going to be in trouble.
Word Count– Is your picture book between 250-800 words? My personal preference for this type of book is 600-800 words. I prefer this length because it gives us time to get the story across and create a compelling character without leaving any loose ends.
Character– Is your story character driven? Is your character relatable? Does the character participate in a universal childhood experience? If your story is none of these or only one of these, it’s back to the drawing board for you. Don’t bother submitting because you aren’t ready and you don’t understand your market.
POV- Which point of view is your story told from? There’s only one that matters and it’s the child’s point of view. Don’t make mom or dad the main character. Kids see the world from their perspective and not ours. This means that if they’re in a grocery store for example, they probably won’t be able to reach a box of cereal from the top shelf. Or maybe it’s a mass of people in the store and the child comes to eye level with everyone’s butts. You get the point (of view).
Fresh-Is your story something new, fresh, and from a different angle? Let’s use the universal childhood experience again; picky eater books all read the same except for the very good ones. Dragons Love Tacos is a perfect example of a good one because it deals with foods that kids hate, but it puts a fresh and fun spin on it. Sure, making tacos for dragons may not be a universal childhood experience, but not liking certain foods is! Another awesome example of a fresh, different angle kid’s book is The Day the Crayons Quit. Talk about genius!
Kids-And perhaps the most important question of all is, will your book appeal to kids? They are the target audience and if they don’t like it, you can believe that their parents won’t buy it for them. If you’re not writing with kids in mind, then you shouldn’t be writing for kids in the first place.
There you have it! Before sending in your work, know the rules above and I promise that you’ll better your chances of working with us. X LLB
October 30, 2017- I know that Halloween isn’t until tomorrow, but I thought that I’d share some fun news from Pandamonium Publishing House! Next year, just in time for Halloween, The Adventures of Milan and Friends (Trouble with Trolls) will be published. This book will be available for A LIMITED TIME in a LIMITED QUANTITY as a COLLECTOR’S EDITION to celebrate my favourite time of year! Be sure to get your copy and feel free to contact me if you’d like to go on a pre-release list.
This children’s picture book is geared towards children in the age range of 3-5+ and will be available in major bookstores as well as online through Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.
Stay tuned for sketches, later next summer, as well as sneak peeks behind the scenes of character development and illustration. I’ll also be releasing some information about each character and what the inspiration is behind it!
Thank you so much to each and every person who continues to support my work and who make it possible for me to do what I love. Without you all, there would be no point.
Pandamonium Publishing House, Publishing Made Simple.
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