Earlier this month, I discovered that Writer's Digest was sponsoring an intriguing online workshop. Literary agent Mary Kole would be giving an hour and a half webinar. The fee also included a critique of one picture book. What an opportunity—I immediately registered.
A week later, I sat in front of my computer with the speakers turned on waiting for the session to begin. Moments later Mary introduced herself and dove into her discussion. She started by explaining the word count for picture books. She said that most picture books are well under 1000 words—700 words is good, 500 is even better. She stressed the importance and the performance of page turns. Next, Mary offered the audience some tips in writing an irresistible query letter: make the editor care, describe what the main character wants most, and touch on the action that launches the story.
Before the webinar ended, Mary read an assortment of picture books. Here, I learned what makes a great story. I also learned about the kinds of stories that touch Mary's heart. It was amazing listening to her reaction to words. I could just imagine her smiling.
I loved this webinar and would suggest that you consider registering for one too, should you find one that meets your needs. Taking the webinar forced me to take a critical look at one of my favorite picture book manuscripts. Just when I thought it was ready to be submitted to publishers, I felt that I had to make my page turns more compelling. I also had to reduce the word count. And so, I edited the manuscript accordingly.
Several weeks later, I submitted it to Mary for a critique. I'll have to wait patiently (90 days). She has over 300 critiques to read. But when she gets to mine, I'm hoping that this story, the characters, and the concept will touch Mary's heart. I am hoping it will make her smile.