Posted by: nancyisanders | May 6, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 1 Week: Prep


It’s exciting to hear from so many of you who are eager to try out this new adventure to write a nonfiction picture book from beginning to end, all in 1 week!

And if you can’t join in the fun, go ahead and follow along. Plan on a future date when you can clear your schedule and commit to this pace. Especially if you want to have a career as a children’s writer, this pace is required at times. (See this post.)

The key to remember is that this is the pace people keep with a full-time 9-5 job. This is the pace writers keep when we write full-time as well. This is the pace editors keep who have a full-time job.

So if you’re not in a place where you can spend the time committing to a full-time job next week, don’t feel bad! Whether you have a full-time job already or have small children at home or take care of aging parents…or whatever…you already have your hands full. Just choose the 3-month track for writing a nonfiction picture book in your spare time or the 3-week track if you can devote more time to it.

But for those of you who can commit to a full-time “job” next week, hop on board and join the fun! This will give you the confidence to try to land contracts with nonfiction picture book publishers so you can get paid to write nonfiction picture books.

Again, there is some prep involved.

1. Make a commitment to clear your schedule for next week. Pretend you got hired at the local temp agency to work full-time for one week. Schedule in 8 hours each day, Monday through Friday for next week. Plan on not answering any phone calls until you’re done with your writing tasks for the day (you can’t be on the phone during a regular job, right?) and plan on not answering any e-mails or interacting with social media posts except on breaks or after your writing day is done. (You can’t be doing personal e-mail or Internet activity during a regular job, either.) If it helps, get up and get dressed in business clothes (editors have to do this, you know) and then walk into your office and pretend you’re working all day at the office of a publishing house.

2. Get motivated. What has motivated me to work at this pace in the past? It’s usually money. Last time I got paid to write at this pace, the publisher paid me $1000 a week for 16 weeks. Now THAT was motivation. This time I won’t be working at this pace for the money, but I’m motivated to do this for 2 reasons: #1: I want to do this here on my blog with all of you. #2: I really want to get this idea onto paper and send it into my agent right away. Figure out what will motivate you to write your nonfiction picture book all in one week so you’ll stay committed to follow through.

3. Choose your mentor text and chart its plot. If you already did this for another picture book, go ahead and use the same one again if you like it. If you haven’t yet done this, CLICK HERE and follow the next 3 posts to learn how.

4. Choose your broad topic for your picture book. For example, I chose the broad topic of “How a famous landmark in American history was built.” I won’t tell you the exact landmark I’ll be writing about, but think something like the White House.

5. Gather in potential research books. I ordered in all the library books I could find about my particular landmark. I also have a lot of books in my personal research library in my house that have to deal with this topic. I’m gathering them all in a big stack. Go ahead and gather lots of potential books on your topic, too. Tons of kids books and adult books as well. There’s simply no way you can accomplish your goal of writing a nonfiction picture book in one week if you have to wait half the week for your library books to come in. Order them in today.


  1. I won’t be able to spend 8 hours a day without distractions (this is the last weeks of homeschooling 3rd grade for my daughter), but I will be reading and keeping the posts for future reference.

    I have a landmark PB in my “idea box.” I’m curious to know – what mentor text you are using for your book?

    Thank you for your blog!
    Patricia A Miller (in Missouri) 🙂

    • Homeschooling definitely keeps you busy! I’ve decided to use THOMAS JEFFERSON BUILDS A LIBRARY as my main mentor text. Even though it’s a biography, it’s still focused on the Library of Congress.

      • Thanks for letting me know! I have that book and can fill out your Basic Plot Worksheet A so I can study the structure for future reference.
        Happy writing!

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