How to Sketch a Fetch-Worthy Picture Book Cover, by Troy Cummings (plus a giveaway)

It’s interesting to watch the progression from initial sketches to finished project.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Troy Cummings

Designing a picture book cover is like housetraining a puppy: it requires lots of patience, there are papers spread all over the house, and it’ll inevitably lead to fits of howling in the middle of the night.

But if you can sniff out the good ideas and clean up your happy accidents, you’ll hopefully wind up with something you’re proud to cuddle up with on the couch.

When I wrangle my picture book covers, I try to explore as many different ideas as possible. I start by sketching a few pages crazy loose brainstormy concepts, and then distill those into half a dozen thumbnail sketches.

I draw my thumbnail sketches at about 1.5″ tall. It forces me to work quickly, make big, bold shapes, and to _not_ get fussy with details. I think it’s best to work in b/w at this point; we can save the color…

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Storystorm 2018 GRAND PRIZE WINNERS!

I am a winner! Now to prepare to pitch! Thank you, Tara Lazar!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Drum roll please…

The following Storystormers have been randomly selected from the pool of ~800 who registered for the event AND completed the 30-idea challenge!

Each winner has been paired with a picture book literary agent who will provide feedback on FIVE IDEAS that have been fleshed out into pitches.

So winners, go through your idea lists and pick the five ideas that move you, that sing to you. (Like Adele.)


Write up each idea as a pitch, around a paragraph apiece. Write about the crux of the story, the hook, how you might envision it panning out. If you aren’t exactly sure, then say so. But give as much information as you can about the idea so the agent can give you feedback on the idea’s viability in today’s picture book marketplace. This will give you an IDEA of which IDEAS you should pursue as manuscripts.


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Common Rejections and What They Mean

Some great thoughts to focus on…

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

rejectedYou’re a lovely person. Simply charming. I mean that, I really do. You read my blog and leave nice comments and buy my books and write like you can’t go wrong. But I have to tell you:

“It’s not you. It’s me.”

In short, that’s what a literary rejection means. It’s not about YOU. Remember, YOU are lovely! It’s about the editor and whether the proposed project fits with her taste and imprint list.

Subjective, it’s all subjective! One editor’s rejection is another editor’s next book!

But editors and agents often provide writers with rejection statements that we want to understand. We feel the need to analyze, to determine what we can do better. But don’t over-analyze. Sometimes a rejection is just a way of saying “no, it’s not for me.”

Here is a list of common rejections heard by picture book writers (and other writers), plus an interpretation of what…

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Telescoping in: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Beautiful review. This puts the book on my (long) reading list.



The Fault in Our Stars, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Paper Towns, and Looking for Alaska are radiant novels by John Green. His newest YA, Turtles All The Way Down, is like a vibrantly colored Hubble photograph of a misty galaxy spiraling above us, complete with the black hole every galaxy contains.

galaxy-2357502_1280The question for Aza Holmes, the sixteen-year-old protagonist, is whether to let herself spiral inward toward the darkness within her mind or to stream outward along the ever enlarging spiral. Her anxiety issues and OCD are offset by her bond with lifelong best friend Daisy. Friendships of depth and warmth populate this story and when Daisy proposes that she and Aza try to solve the mystery of the missing local billionaire in order to claim a $100,000 reward, Aza reconnects with the absent man’s son Davis. Aza and Davis met years ago at “Sad Camp”…

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10 Things NOT to Say in your Query – Advice from a Children’s Publisher


ripple grove press Logo RGP-2

Rob Broder is Publisher of Ripple Grove Press, an independent, family-run children’s book publishing company. He and his wife Amanda started Ripple Grove Press because they have a passion for well-told and beautifully illustrated stories for children. Their mission is to bring together great writers and talented illustrators to make the most wonderful books possible. Their hope is that their books find their way to the cozy spot in your home.

Rob is currently looking for that next story. Follow his advice below and then perhaps you’ll give Ripple Grove Press a chance to read your manuscript or see your art.

Rob told Writers’ Rumpus that Ripple Grove Press receives submissions every day. They read every story that comes into their inbox, so they have a lot a query letters to go through. Some query letters show that their writers did their homework. Others…. not so much. Here is…

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