Welcome Abecedarians – those of you fascinated with the alphabet and alphabet books. (I’ve been waiting to use that word!) Are you considering writing one of your own? Why, it’s as easy as ABC, right? Well, here are the top 5 things to think about before you begin:
1. The Market
There are hundreds of alphabet books. In fact, the earliest books written for children were books to help them learn their letters. As a children’s librarian, reading specialist, and kindergarten teacher I have read and shared hundreds of alphabet books. I read another three hundred alphabet books in the last two months and blogged about them for this year’s A-to-Z Blog Challenge. I haven’t even come close to reading all the ABC books available.
At a writer’s conference, I listened to an editor saying she’d vowed to never publish an alphabet book. But, a unique, clever, and different ABC manuscript about little peas came across her desk and she couldn’t resist. Make sure yours stands apart from the many other available.
2. Your Audience
Is this a book for young children who are learning to read or for older children learning about a topic? Many alphabet books are showcases for artists and appeal to both children and adults. Some have topics of interest to adults and young adults. The alphabet gives structure to writers which is why you will see historical, geographic, and scientific alphabets focusing on different topics.
3. Your Format
Is yours a book that uses the alphabet to tell a story? If so, it needs to have a plot with a beginning, middle and ending.
Is your alphabet book written in rhyme? If so, be careful. There are many forced rhyming alphabet books available which are didactic and not at all fun to read aloud. Ask yourself why you want to write it in rhyme and if you are poetically inclined, go ahead. Just make sure to listen to others to read your manuscript out loud. Any forced rhyme will jump out at you.
4. Your Theme
There are many alphabet books following specific topics. I found at least a dozen alphabet books about New York City, ten featuring San Francisco, and there are hundreds about animals. Just make sure yours has a unique angle. Some are kid-friendly and some, not so much.
The art in an alphabet book can determine whether anyone will pick up your book. If you are traditionally publishing, the editor will find an illustrator unless you are also an artist. If you are self-publishing make sure the art can stand up to the competition in the market.
Alphabets books are not easy to write but there will always be a place for them. Good luck and let me know if you publish one. I’d love to read it.
This is my reflections post for the A to Z Blog Hop Challenge where the alphabet provides the inspiration for people’s posts during the month of April. I always focus on children’s books and have spent previous years looking at maps in children’s literature, mermaids, and library love. You can check out these topics in my archive.
This was a difficult year for me as I was out of the country for much of April but I succeeded in completing the challenge. I tried to read as many posts from other bloggers but I didn’t read as many as I did in the past. I did see some that actually may someday become alphabet books. One in particular is that of Anne E.G. Nydam who blogs at Black and White – Words and Pictures. She is an artist whose posts this month were about fantastical creatures accompanied by her beautiful woodcut illustrations.
Have you ever thought of writing an alphabet book?
Links to books shown in this post: