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How to Self-Edit a Picture Book

Over the years, I've gathered a lot of tips and instructions on how to write a picture book. I created a self-editing chart. My hope is to provide other children's writers like you with a practical resource to help you improve your manuscript. I use this self-editing chart on my own work and often for the professional critiques I provide others.
This picture book self-editing chart focuses on content and character development, mechanics and grammar, and format. It also includes some insight into informational picture books and a few things to consider specifically for picture books. If you're looking for a free proofreading chart for students or writers, I have that printable, too.

Build on a Foundation of Knowledge

Please know this chart is just the basics. If you haven't take a lot workshops on the craft of writing for children, you may not understand some of these terms. It usually takes years of working, revising, and learning as a writer before REALLY understanding what it takes to write a solid picture book.

Search online for any of the phrases you don't quite understand. Many early writers need to remove many details to let the pictures tell more of the story. That's what "Leave room for illustrations" means. Search up some of these terms. And take classes. LOTS of classes! And just as important (maybe more?) read and study tons of recently published books in the genre you want to write.

Resources for Children's Writers

I also recommend Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul and Anatomy of Nonfiction by Peggy Thomas and Margery Facklam (affiliate links).

Need more resources? I have a resource list and tips for children's writers. (Want even more tips? Subscribe to this blog. I created a freebie just for subscribers.)

Be Prepared

And be prepared. You may have 20 (or 50) different drafts before it's ready. Check out my interactive lesson about my author writing process for Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls
Some of us work on one picture book for years before it's right. Yep. And not every manuscript is worthy of publication. But I learn from all of it!

If you find this chart helpful, I hope you'll explore this site and subscribe so you don't miss a post. I hope you have noticed I love to help writers. And if we have met in-person or even online, I hope you can say I have been a help to you.

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