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