Showing posts with label lynne garner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lynne garner. Show all posts

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words - Lynne Garner

Recently a friend posted a cute animal photo on my Facebook page. As soon as I saw it I just knew I had to use it as a basis for a picture book story. So I grabbed a sheet of A4 paper and divided into 12 sections (I tend to write the traditional 12 double page spreads). I started to plot my story, which started well. However when I reached the last page I stalled. I had the image in my minds eye, I knew what action was taking place but I just couldn't put it into words. I decided to put the story to one side and allow my subconscious solve the issue for me. However a week or so went by and I was still stuck. Suddenly it hit me. The page didn't need words, the picture could show the reader what I wanted them to know.

I'm not the only author to let the picture tell the story. In the hands of the right illustrator the story can be told successfully without a single word on the page. For example in one of my favourite pictures books The Big Bad Mole's Coming! written by Martin Waddell and illustrated by John Bendall-Brunello there are two pages that contain no words (part of one page below). The action needs no words, I can tell exactly how the animals are feeling from their body language.

Another book that uses this device is Knight Time written by Jane Clarke and illustrated by Jane Massey. The page is a fold out page which opens to reveal a second page with text. Jane informs me the idea was that as the reader turned the page they would feel they were entering the forest where Little Knight and Little Dragon are lost. As you can see from the page below you don't need words to feel the tingle run up your spine and to start to worry about the main characters.

So to all those picture book writers out there. If you're working on a new picture book story and stall ask yourself "can a picture paint the words I need?" If the answer is yes then don't be afraid to allow the illustrations to tell the story for you. 

Lynne Garner

I also write for: 
Authors Electric - covers digital self-publishing 
The Picture Book Den - all things picture book related
The Hedgehog Shed - concerned with hedgehog rescue
Fuelled By Hot Chocolate - my own ramblings
The Craft Ark - craft how-to blog

My online classes with WOW starting March 2014:

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Selling Seasonal Picture Book Stories - Lynne Garner

A few of years ago I wrote two picture book stories 'Where It's Always Winter' and 'The Perfect Christmas Tree.' As the titles suggest they both have a festive or seasonal link. Once I'd completed them I sent to various publishers who I believed (because I'd researched their previously published titles) might be interested in them. Again and again they were rejected, which is something you sort of get used to as a professional writer. However a couple of the publishers didn't send me the standard rejection letter. They told me they'd enjoyed the stories but were withdrawing from seasonal books so weren't in a position to take.

This is where my journey into becoming a publisher started. MadMoment Media Ltd was set up and with a very limited budget we had these two picture stories (plus a few others I'd received good feedback on) into apps for the iPhone and iPad. This meant a steep learning curve and a fair few hours spent in a recording studio, as yours truly narrated them.  By the end of 2010 they were ready and uploaded onto the iTunes store. A few months later we converted all of the stories into picture eBooks and uploaded onto Amazon (Amazon UKAmazon US). Our non-seasonal stories sell a few copies all year round. However although 'Where It's Always Winter' and 'The Perfect Christmas Tree' are seasonal we sell as many if not more of them than our non-seasonal titles.

Now you may be wondering why I'm sharing this with you. Well I wanted to demonstrate that just because a large publishing house doesn't see the point of selling seasonal picture books it doesn't mean there isn't a market for them. So if you have a book that's received good feedback but isn't marketable all year round why not give it a go yourself. It's worked for me it could work for you.

Lynne Garner 

I also write for:
The Picture Book Den - all things to do with picture books
Authors Electric - covers digital self-publishing 
The Hedgehog Shed - concerned with hedgehog rescue
Fuelled By Hot Chocolate - my own ramblings
The Craft Ark - craft how-to blog

My online classes with WOW starting January 2014:

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Diversify to find I've returned to where I started - Lynne Garner

When I started to write professionally just over 15 years ago I read that apparently the average author earned £10,000 per year. Recently I read (sorry can't remember where so unable to include a link) that this figure has now dropped to £5,000 per year. A scary figure and one that unfortunately in my experience appears to be true.

I started writing for magazines when they paid a fair amount for the work involved and didn't expect world rights. Some magazines are now paying less per page than I was earning 15 years ago and are demanding full world rights. This means I am no longer able to boost my income by selling the same feature abroad.  Publishers are lowering their advances and I've noticed some are even saying they no longer offer advances.

So I have had to diversify. I've returned to teaching, something I was able to stop for around two years whilst my writing actually earned me a living. The way I teach has also changed. I not only teach face-to-face in a traditional classroom setting but also teach via the web (links below if you're interested). Some of my books have been turned into iTunes apps and eBooks available via Kindle and Kobo

Just one of my picture books
available as an eBook and an App 

But recently I went in a different direction. I've had a website built (TheCraft Ark) so I could sell craft related materials and tools. 

You may wonder why craft items. Well part of the marketing strategy was to include a craft how-to blog. Something I knew I could do because I used to write lots of hand-outs for my craft classes. These hand-outs I adapted and sold to craft magazines. Now I'm adapting my craft class/workshop notes for The Craft Arks blog. A little ironic really as I decided to diversify and have found I've returned to where I started.

Having told you my story of diversifying I was wondering what you do to boost your writing income (if you have to that is) as I'd love to know. 

Lynne Garner 

I also write for:
The Picture Book Den - all things connected with picture books
Authors Electric - a group of self-published authors sharing their experiences
The Hedgehog Shed - concerned with hedgehog rescue
Fuelled By Hot Chocolate - my own ramblings
The Craft Ark - craft how-to blog

My online classes with WOW starting November:

Monday, 23 September 2013

Turn your passion into a book - Lynne Garner

My latest non-fiction title
published 24th October 2013 

I'm continually surprised by the number of students who tell me they would love to write a non-fiction book but don't know anything. They don't believe they know anything worth sharing in a book. When I hear this I tell them a story, which I am now going to share with you.

Once upon a time there was a man called Gavin Pretor-Pinney and he loved clouds. He decided he'd write a book about them and get it published. He approached publisher after publisher after publisher, 28 in total. But he didn't give up. He knew that if he loved clouds there must be others who also enjoyed clouds. Finally one day he found a publisher who saw the merit of his book. In 2007 his book 'The Cloud Spotter's Guide' was finally published. It became a surprise international best seller. It was so successful that it is now available in twenty different languages. It has also spawned The Cloud Appreciation Society and other books such as 'Clouds That Look Like Things' and 'The Cloud Collectors Handbook.' If you don't believe me then visit

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because I wanted to demonstrate how an author took a simple idea, a passion he had and turned it into a successful book. So a non-fiction book does not have to be about your hobby (although it could be), it doesn't have to be a cookbook (although it could be) and it doesn't have to be a self-help book (although it could be). It could be any subject you know something about and feel you could write about in a manner others will enjoy.

So why not give it a go? Turn your passion into a book and share it with the world.

Lynne Garner

I also write for The Picture Book Den and Authors Electric 

Blatant plug for my distance learning writing courses starting 2nd November:

Friday, 23 August 2013

Researching the Market - Lynne Garner

I'll admit when I first starting to write picture books I didn't approach it as I did when writing my non-fiction books. That is to say I didn't see my stories as a product that had to fit in a competitive market. However when I finally experienced that light bulb moment I quickly placed my first picture book, A Book For Bramble.

What changed?

I started to research the market. I visited the local library and spent hours looking at picture books. As I read I took notes. I then visited the local bookstore and repeated the exercise (slightly more discreetly) to discover if there were differences between what was being published and what had been published (the books in the library). Armed with these notes I returned home and tried to discover if I could see patterns in subject matter, in the way subjects were covered, in the way sentences were constructed.

I discovered:
  • Humour appears to play an important part in many books
  • Tools such as repetition are used to help move the story along
  • The magic number three appears in many books for example in The Gruffalo you'll discover 'three' hidden all over the place

Today I still continue to research the market and read picture books as often as I can. The receptionists at my dentist, doctor, optician and vets are used to seeing me rummage in the stock of picture books they provide to keep kids entertained. The assistants in the library and bookstore now take no notice as I read their picture books. Family and friends watch in amusement as I encourage their children to show me the latest addition to their bookshelf. Without this research I'd not be able to keep up-to-date with a changing market. 

So if a new writer (of any genre) wants to become published my advice is research, research, research.

Lynne Garner


I have three new distance learning courses commencing in September via Women On Writing:

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Tips for finding a publisher - Lynne Garner

Recently I did a talk for a local group and at the end of the evening a lady came up to me and asked how I managed to get published. I told her I researched for a suitable publisher and contacted them. "How do you know which publisher?" was her next question. Now this isn't the first time I've been asked this so to all those hopeful authors here are the five tips I gave her:

Purchase or borrow a copy of writers' and artists' yearbook. This is filled with both useful articles and page upon page of publisher's details (set out based on genre). 

Pop along to your local bookshop. Pull out books similar to your book and note the publisher details. I've found the best method is to take a photograph using my phone.

Search the Internet using terms associated with your book. This will hopefully highlight publishers tip one and two haven't.

Check your own bookshelves and those of family and friends. Again look for books similar to yours and take the publishers contact details.

If you read or know of a magazine that also covers the same subject as your book scour the pages for new books. Often the publisher's details are also supplied and again simply take a note of them.

Once you have a list of possible publishers your next step is to research if they:
  • Still publisher 'your' type of book
  • Accept un-solicited manuscripts
  • Deal with un-agented authors
  • Are looking for new books at present or only accept book ideas at certain times of the year
Once you've researched fully you'll have a list of publishers who could be just right for your book. Your next step is to follow their submission guidelines, submit your book idea and wait. 

If the above tips spur you into action please pop back and let me know how you get on.

Lynne Garner


I have three new distance learning courses commencing in September via Women On Writing: