Can a picture book be too long?



  • I'm a writer/illustrator and aspiring children's book author. I usually write novels and short stories and I'm finding that it's impossible for me to write a book in less than 1000 words. The shortest one I have is roughly 2600 words. That's about 5 pages typed. Would that be too much for a picture book? If so, any tips on how to make it shorter without changing the essence of my story?

    **A little more info: It's a story about a girl who gets turned into a polar bear, so a lot of it is her thoughts. It's a story driven by dialog and thought dialog. I don't want the whole book to be a thousand little vignettes (lol) so I made full page illustrations that flow -first-, and now I'm wondering if I need to reduce the text. I already cut out any visual text that is shown in the illustrations.



  • The most important question is : What age is it for? Young children have short attention, but children from 6 years can handle longer stories very well, as long as it stays in their attention. So there has to be an real good story with lots of exciting events, too keep them in the story. Reading the story to some children can be a good test if it works.



  • I think there's always exceptions to the rule, but I understand that editors in general do like the under 1,000 words rule.

    My question is, can you revise it to be shorter by really asking yourself: what are you currently saying in the text that can instead be shown visually in the illustrations? I bet there is a fair bit that you can cut down on. Either that, or like @Leontine is saying, consider the audience. Would your story work better as a chapter book?



  • @Leontine I really have no idea what age it's for. I don't have any children around me I can ask, or adults with children I can ask. It's not for beginners though.



  • @DanetteDraws I've been trying to whittle down the words to fit the images in my head. I have a good idea of how the pictures should be, but I can't tell the whole story with just the pictures. It's easy to cut out visual descriptions but my story is pushed by dialog.


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