Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 10, 2011

Picture Book to Novel Checklist

So you think you are done with your book, but it would be a mistake not to consider the following before submitting.  Note: Ask these questions after your first draft and each revision draft.  You should be using this list many times before submitting your manuscript to an editor or agent.  The most often mistake writers make is to send their writting in too early.

1.  Who is the manuscript meant for?  Does it have a clear audience?

2.  Is your manuscript emotionally engaging?

3.  Does it meet a specific childhood developmental or emotional need?

4.  Are your characters memorable and relatable?

5.  Does your manuscript have a high concept, structure, execution or something else that will set your story apart from the other manuscripts submitted?

6.  Does it use clever, evocative language?  No matter what you have written, editors, agents and finally readers look for that “It” factor. Achieve this and you are well on your way.

7.  Does your story have a strong narrative arc? 

8.  Does the story have strong pacing and fun page turns?  This one is extremely important if you have written a picture book.  Every page should be a fun poage turn in a picture book.  If you have a novel, ask yourself:  Do I keep the reader interested?  Do you continually give the reader a reason to turn the page?  This is very important for chapter endings?

Last two specific to picture books:

9.  Does it leave room for artwork that is rich with detail and tells part of the story?  Is there text that could be told by the illustrations?  If so, this would be a good place to reduce the text.

10. Is it a story that kids will want to read over and over again? This is extremely important for every picture book.  If an editor doesn’t see that in your books,  he/she will not be wowed and it is the wow books that get published.  For you novelists, the great novels are always being read again, so not a bad question to ask yourself either.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. As always, Kathy…thanks for this great list! Nice to be home? (Though I’m sure you could do without the disgusting heat and humidity!


    • Donna,

      I just realized this post is from 2011 and I was going to answer about the disgusting heat and humidity. Something never change.



      • I know! It’s funny, right? At least it seems we’ll get a few days of respite from the heat and humidity 🙂 All it takes is one person to come across your blog with a search and good, older posts come alive!


  2. True on the wow factor. I ask myself: Do I want to read this 50 times?


    • Stacey,

      Good question to ask. If you can get an editor to answer thst question with a “Yes” You’ve got a contract.



  3. Great advice!
    And perfect timing Kathy, as always.


    • Mimi,

      Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks.



  4. Good article. I am facing a few of these issues as well..


    • Charles,

      Nice to know this might help in some small way.



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