Guest Post: Doris Fisher on Picture Books Versus Children’s Magazine Articles

By Doris Fisher

What’s the difference between a picture book and a children’s magazine article?

At first glance the two texts look similar. They are geared to a particular age group and deal with subjects children love.

However, there are plenty of differences for a writer to keep in mind.

A picture book is 1,000 words or fewer. A writer can come up with a wacky idea and run with it.

A magazine article is usually 300 to 500 words. Each magazine has specific guidelines for a writer to follow before submitting work. Otherwise, the article will not be given publishing consideration. Guidelines are offered to explain exactly what a magazine want to publish.

Guidelines mean serious business!

A picture book’s text contains 13 to 15 scenes for illustrations inside its standard 32 pages.

A magazine article for children covers a smaller amount of information and doesn’t use images to convey messages. Photos or art may be used to entice the reader to look at the article or enhance the information presented in the text.

A fiction picture book with a storyline involves a main character who embarks on a hero’s journey with pitfalls along the way and success or a revelation at the end of the book.

A fiction magazine article, with its shorter length, usually concentrates on one detail of a character’s life or idea, instead of a continuing storyline which evolves and grows.

Save that wonderful research and wealth of words for a picture book!

A nonfiction picture book still contains 32 pages, and the hero’s journey is usually absent. This writing focuses on a subject, person, location, or idea, providing the reader with information. It still needs the 13 to 15 scenes for an illustrator.

Creative nonfiction presents the information in a more child-friendly manner, instead of with straight facts, dates and places.

A nonfiction magazine article informs. It provides data and facts that may rarely be known or an amazing detail for children to relish and tell others.

A picture book is text and art.

A magazine article can also be a magazine item. Poetry, puzzles, games, jokes, crafts, plays, “how-to” articles, and cartoons are also included in magazine writing. Search writer guidelines to find where other creative formats than just articles are welcome submissions.

I love to write a-MAZE-ing puzzles and word games! My unique work has appeared more than 75 times in children’s magazines.

Picture book subjects and themes are author created.

Magazine article subjects and themes are often dictated by the intended format of the magazine publishers. Nonfiction subjects, fiction, poetry, other formats, monthly themes, holidays and the intended audience age are all found in various children’s magazines. Guidelines inform writers of each magazine’s needs.

Picture book publishers are usually not children’s magazine publishers.

A list of picture book publishers and magazine publishers can be found in the annual publication, Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market, edited by Alice Pope (Writers Digest, 2009).

The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators also has lists of these markets on its website.

Now it’s time for you to gather ideas, create and write on!

Cynsational Notes

From Sylvan Dell: Doris Fisher (Happy Birthday to Whooo?, illustrated by Lisa Downey (2006); My Half Day (2008), One Odd Day (2007), and My Even Day (2007), co-authored by Dani Sneed, illustrated by Karen Lee) loves writing in verse. She has written a biography, Kelly Clarkson (Gareth Stevens, 2007), and a six book series, Grammar All-Stars: The Parts of Speech (Gareth Stevens).

Her children’s writing includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, word puzzles and mazes. She has been published in various children’s magazines including Babybug, Highlights for Children, and Wee Ones Magazine.

Doris and her husband live in the Houston area. They have two grown children.

Enter Doris’s monthly picture-book giveaway drawing. Scroll for details. Note: U.S. residents only.