Thursday, November 20, 2014

Courses for Picture Book Writers

Lately, I've noticed that there are so many courses and resources for children's writers springing up everywhere--especially for picture book writers! Sometimes it's hard to decide which ones to spend your money on, so I thought I'd share a little about what I've found useful. Today, I'm posting about courses on picture book writing.

Courses I've Taken:

Jill Corcoran and Martha Alderson's How To Write and Sell Your Picture Book

Jill Corcoran is a literary agent and Martha Alderson is otherwise known as "The Plot Whisperer". The reasonable price of this course during the summer made it too good to pass up. I'd already purchased and watched their course on novel revision Revise Your Novel In a Month and found it extremely useful. The picture book course provides lots of examples of picture books to read and study to improve your craft, as well as how to study them. I appreciated all the information about concept, since it's such a big part of creating a picture book.

Some of the principles in this course were the same as for the novel revision course, but they gave me a new perspective when applied to picture books. I like the idea of being able to revisit the videos as many times as I want for a year.

Courses I'm Considering:

Jodell Sadler's Pacing Picture Books to WOW!

Jodell Sadler is a literary agent who enjoys working with writers to help them improve their stories. I'm intrigued by this course after following a picture book chat with Jodell on Twitter: Pacing in Picture Books #PBPacing last May.  

Susanna Leonard Hill's Making Picture Book Magic

Susanna Leonard Hill has a huge following on her popular blog, with weekly "Would You Read It?" pitch contests and a list of great picture books from Perfect Picture Book Friday. I've heard her course is excellent -- and reasonably priced -- though I haven't had a chance to take it yet.

Tips and Suggestions: 

Sometimes taking courses takes valuable time away from actually writing (though many courses do help you work through the process of writing a picture book). However, they are enormously motivating and inspiring. Some of the things I ask myself when deciding whether or not to take a course:

1. Will I have time to make the most out of the course? Sometimes I do take courses just to "collect information" but it's better when I have time to actually work through the exercises. Work-at-your-own pace or online courses are easier to fit in, but will I actually do the work without a real deadline?

2. How much does it cost? I appreciate that it's necessary to invest in myself and my writing if I want it to be more than a hobby. But it's important to me that the courses I choose give good value for the money. With writing group organizations to join, conferences, all adds up.

3. What do other people say about it? I like to read reviews about what others have experienced so I know what I'm getting into. It helps me keep my expectations realistic and also to decide whether it might be valuable for me.

Have you taken any useful courses on writing picture books? What would you recommend?


  1. I wish I had more time to take courses, Andrea! I'd love to take both Jill Corcoran's class and Jodell Sadler's... but I don't want to do either until I have time to really pay attention and get the most I possibly can out of them. Thanks for mentioning my class, and I hope you do come and take it at some point :)

  2. It's so true. When I'm taking a course I want to have the time to savour it!

  3. I love the Plot Whisperer! I'm with Susanna. I wish I had more time (and $) to take more courses to stay fresh. Thank you for sharing this post.

  4. I have never taken a picture book course- but it does sound like a good idea to take a course. Every workshop or conference I have attended has helped me so much. :)


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