re: Smarter to NOT Rhyme My Picture Book?

posted 10/18/16

Dear Editor…

I’ve learned my rhyming picture book manuscript needs A LOT of work—specifically, I need to learn more about meter. Daunting and exciting. I’m hearing, though, that some agents/editors are reluctant to consider rhyming picture books from unknown writers. Do you think my time would be better and more strategically spent by writing a non-rhyming version of the book, rather than working further on the rhyming version?  I’ve learned not to treat any of my writing too preciously, so I’m happy to follow either route, but just want to do what would benefit this project (and position it for a possible sale) the most.  I’d love to know your thoughts on that.

To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme


Dear to Rhyme or Not to Rhyme…

Children’s book editors do have a high bar when it comes to rhyming manuscripts. “A LOT of work,” eh? In that case, I say that since you’re just as happy with the idea of a non-rhyming version, go with that option. Strive for fabulous rhythm, structure, and fun-in-the-mouth word choice. That’ll give you the read-aloud quality you’re probably aiming for, but without the challenges inherent in trying to tell a story while maneuvering the rules of rhyme. You use the word “strategic.” Alternatively, you could indulge your excitement about mastering meter, nail the rhyming version, and then submit that rhyming manuscript after you’ve placed a different project with an editor. Lots of writers use the strategy of submitting their tougher-to-place projects after their foot is in the door.

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Creative Process, Picture Books
posted by: The Editor
under: Creative Process, Picture Books
Comments to "re: Smarter to NOT Rhyme My Picture Book?" | Add a Comment
    1. Helena wrote (on 10/18/16 at 9:52 am) :

      Thanks for tackling this question. Excellent advice, as always!


    2. Laurel Kashinn wrote (on 10/18/16 at 9:57 am) :

      Great strategy!


    3. Stella Lopez wrote (on 10/20/16 at 2:35 pm) :

      I have heard that one of the reasons publishers avoid rhyme submissions is because if the MS is good, it is difficult to expand it in different languages…thus lower profit.
      I have also heard that not all publishing houses have an asst. editor, assoc. editor or editor who is familiar with correct rhyming elements and are unable to judge the MS written in rhyme.
      Could these two thoughts be why publishers are not always open to MS in rhyme? Looking forward to your thoughts on my comments. Thank you!