These award winning rhyming picture books
are written by Bobbie Hinman
Self-Publishing a Rhyming Picture Book
by Author Bobbie Hinman
“What do you mean you’re going to start a publishing company?
You can’t do that!”
That’s what I heard when I announced to my friends and family that I was going into the publishing business. Let’s face it—self-published books are often held to a higher standard than those from traditional publishers. The market is flooded with indie books, many of which, I’m sad to say, are of inferior quality. Now, add to the equation the desire to write and publish a rhyming children’s book and the plot thickens (pun intended).
When writing a rhyming book, whichever way it is published, it’s important to remember that the major aspects of writing for children hold true no matter whether the stories are written in prose or in rhyme. However, if you choose to self-publish, you, and you alone, are responsible for overseeing every aspect of the creation and production. First, and of utmost importance: You must produce a quality book! But before you can do that, you must have a good story. Before that, you must have a good idea. And before that, you have to know what children like and how they learn. In other words, you have to think like a child and write like an adult. So, how do children think? Here are a few thoughts to guide you:
Excited when good things happen to the characters
Self-centered, enjoying stories that relate to them
Emotional, often falling in love with story characters
Living in the present, unable to relate to stories that span too long a time period
Illustrations with bright colors
Relatable descriptions, such as “soft as a kitten”
Adjectives, especially funny ones, such as “a hurly-burly monster”
Children love rhymes!
Yes! Children love rhyming books and are often able to memorize a rhyming story after hearing it just a few times. They also love to guess the last word of a rhyming line. Often, when reading to a class of kindergarten children, I will read a line from my book, such as “When evening comes and you turn off the light, it’s time to climb into bed for the ______.” I pause and let them fill in the word “night.” They are always very proud of themselves.
Remember: The basic story creation is the same whether you are writing in prose or in rhyme. After you have your idea, you need to create a character with whom children will identify and a compelling story that has a beginning (the character and situation are introduced), a middle (the storyline progresses) and an end (resolution to the situation). If these elements are missing, the story is incomplete. That is why I always write my story in prose first, then create the rhyme. If a rhyming book has lovely rhyming text, but no story, children won’t “get it.” However, on the other hand, if the story is wonderful, but the rhyming is “off,” that is just as bad. Poor rhymes can be as annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard. The words must really rhyme; you can’t force it. If words don’t rhyme, they don’t rhyme! Then, there’s the rhythm. The rhythm pattern should be consistent throughout the book. A rhyme without rhythm doesn’t work. Sometimes simply adding or deleting one or two extra syllables can make a huge difference, but you really have to be able to feel it. If you are having difficulty with your own rhyming and rhythm, remember my advice: A story written in good prose is much better than one written in poor rhyme.
Do your homework first. Read lots of rhyming books. See what children are reading. Then think like a child, but write like an adult.
Bobbie Hinman has a B.S. degree in Elementary Education. The combination of her teaching experience and time spent with her thirteen grandchildren has given her insight into the way children think and the stories they love to read. Bobbie has been a speaker and presenter at numerous schools, libraries and book festivals all across the United States and in Canada. Her 5 rhyming picture books have received a combined total of 25 children’s book awards. In her new book, How to Create a Successful Children’s Picture Book, Bobbie tells you how she self-published and sold over 50,000 copies of her books. Her picture books are titled The Knot Fairy, The Sock Fairy, The Belly Button Fairy, The Fart Fairy and The Freckle Fairy. The premise of her books is simple: Who better to blame it on than a fairy? You can see more about Bobbie and her books at http://www.bestfairybooks.com
50 thoughts on “Rhyme Revolution 2017 Day 19 ~ Bobbie Hinman ~ Self-Publishing a Rhyming Picture Book”
Thank you so much, Bobbie. I love hearing about someone following their passion…no matter what the naysayers say! And succeeding as you have done is the icing on the cake!
Thank you for sharing your process and your success.
I’m delighted that you’ve accomplished so much by paving your own path! Your focus on quality resonates with me, and I appreciate how essential the standards become, especially when directing your own way. Thanks for this motivating post. Way to go!
Bobbie, such an inspiring post. Thank you.Two new thoughts to go above my computer: Good prose is always better than bad rhyme. Think like a child, but write like an adult.
Yes, yes, yes! Think like a child and write like an adult. I spend so much time with children…I am an elementary librarian. So that part of your advice is easy. It’s the “write like an adult” that can stump me. LOL! I have two self-published picture books about dachshunds and a third on the way. One of them rhymes. Some of the proceeds of the sales are donated to dachshund rescue groups I support. Thank you for the post. I am going to check out your books right now.
Thank you Bobble for this inspirational post!
Great post packed with great information. Thanks, Bobbie!
I appreciate you sharing all this wonderful information with us, Bobbi. The self-publishing road can be an intimidating one and you made the path a bit smoother!
Wow Bobbie! Thanks for sharing some wonderful tips!
Thanks for a great post, Bobbie! I love the premise of your fairy books and look forward to reading more.
13 grandchildren? I think she knows what she’s doing. Helpful list of what children like.
Wow, she has really accomplished a lot. Thanks for sharing. Would like to learn more about the self-publishing side of her story. I’d say it is much harder to self publish a PB than a MG. So much more to consider and accomplish with the illustrations and layout. Great job of getting it done! Congratulations.
Thanks Bobbie! Lots of food for thought!
Love it: Think like a child but write like an adult! So true! Congratulations on your continuing success in bringing the stories to children that they want to hear.
Thank you, Bobbi for sharing your inspiration and insight into self-publication. Congratulations on your success and for emphasizing quality in all aspects of your work. Good prose is better than bad rhyme is so true! Think like a child…but write like an adult – also a very good point to remember!
I think self publishing is scary. I intend in buying your book which can help no matter what avenue you chose to pursue. Thanks for your post and best if luck with all your books.
Thanks so much for sharing your insightful and successful story. Kudos for following your dreams!
Think like a child write like an adult. Thank you for all your helpful advice!
My daughters LOVE filling in the rhyming words! It’s part of what makes rhymers our favorites to read!
Self-pubbing is challenging but self-pubbing a good picture book is daunting! Big congrats to you for both!
Your post is wonderful. I especially love the idea to “think like a child and write like an adult”. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on kids — how they think and what they enjoy. I hadn’t thought how they much they like adjectives. I’m eager to use them more.
Congratulations on your hard work. Sounds like it’s paid off. (Or did you have a dusting of fairy magic?)
Bobbie thanks the tips of reminding who our audience is and what they like.
Thank you, Bobbie, for showing us that when you have a passion for accomplishing something, it can be done. You know what children want! 🙂
Thank you for a great post. Self publishing PBs can be a challenge, especially when one is not also an illustrator. I love what you say – you have to have a great idea, then a great story, only then can you add great rhyme and rhythm… And i love the line ‘think like a child, write like an adult.’ Thanks for the encouragement and sharing your journey with us.
Self-publshing is a hard business but you’ve followed your passion and succeeded.Thanks for an interesting post.
I loved reading about your process and getting your books ready to go – and publishing them! Way to go! Thanks for sharing. Words just have to rhyme – so true! No faking it, especially to kids. They always know!
I remember critiquing one of Bobbie’s fun books years ago! Her amazing success speaks to our ability to make good things happen if we take the initiative. Congratulations on your great success!
Thank you, Bobbie, for sharing your tips and determination to succeed in the world of publishing. Carving your own way and following your dream is an accomplishment in today’s environment. Congrats on your amazing resolve!
It is so nice to hear your success stories. Your advice about writing the stoy first then the rhyme makes lots of sense.
Thank you Bobbie for sharing your process and great success. Good tips!
Bobbie, Thanks for the advice! Very true – “A rhyme without rhythm doesn’t work.”
Thank you for sharing your self published success story.
BOBBIE: THANK YOU for sharing your wisdom with us. I especially love and will take to heart your advice: “A story written in good prose is much better than one written in poor rhyme.” I also like the idea of writing the story in prose first, then finding the right rhythm and rhyme for the story. THANK YOU!!!
Thanks for the great advise, Bobbie! I think the choice to publish your own books is amazing. I’m always empowered by people like you who take the reigns of their own life and charge forward.
Good advice: Think like a child but write like an adult!
“You have to think like a child and write like an adult.” How useful! I found that having a weekly story circle at an after school care center really helped me with the first part, It was fun seeing what the adults reacted to as well. And I agree–children love to supply the rhyming word.
I love the premise for your books. Thanks for the great tips.
Thanks Bobbie- great post.
Very inspirational. Thanks for the post!
Congrats on your awards!
Great advice, and what looks and sounds like a great series of darling picture books. Congrats on your success, and thanks for sharing with us!!
Great advice Bobbie – Thank you for sharing!
Awesome post, Bobbie! We don’t talk enough about what children like as a kidlit community, but that’s still the most important thing! Thanks for the reminder, and congratulations on all of you books!
Thanks for reminding us that what children like IS the most important. I have some rhyming drafts that don’t quite work and i’ll try them in prose and then see if they need to rhyme.
Thanks so much for sharing your success story–great reminders, too, about the importance of story first 🙂
What a fun series! Thanks for sharing!
Great post. Thanks for sharing your list of tips. We should know them but need the reminders. Congratulations on your success with your fun books.
I cam to read through this to double check I was still on track with my book, that I wasn’t being daft or silly about it. I think I can check all the things off your list and chill out again now! Thanks
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