Posted by: nancyisanders | May 16, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in One Week: The Last Day

day 5

Wow, can you believe it?!!! Here we are at the last day of our challenge to write a nonfiction picture book from beginning to end in just one week! I’m here sitting in my office today working away on my laptop. You can see a lot of the research books I own on the bookshelves behind me.

When I wrote my picture book last week, I knew I wouldn’t be able to work on Friday because I already had an all day commitment. I’m sure some of you aren’t able to work on your manuscript straight through for 5 consecutive days as well. So I just worked on my Author’s Note from Thursday, Third Writing Session, off and on all weekend. Plus, over the weekend, I wrote the ending of my story (Friday’s First Writing Session) Then I got back to more of a writing schedule on Monday.

I worked on my Writing Sessions 2 and 3 from 11:10-3:00, with a short break for lunch in the middle.

So at the end of my last day of writing, here’s the state of my manuscript:

The first draft is finished from beginning to end.

It’s about 970 words right now.

Plus there’s the Author’s Note along with its footnotes.

The full bibliography is pretty much done. (Don’t you just love reaching the end of your first draft and the bibliography is up-to-date?!) I just need to make a “Selected Bibliography” to actually include in my book. To do this, I’ll make a second file and delete a bunch of the stuff that’s more for my own personal info and just include the major resources and/or student resources.

I’ve got 16 pages total with all my footnotes and all my sidebars.

Now, if I was on a super tight deadline, I’d just e-mail this puppy into the editor. They understand that this is the best someone can do on such a short deadline. I know it’s not “perfect” and they know it too. There would be some back and forth between the editor and me to help improve it and get it in better shape.

But I’m not on a deadline for this manuscript, and I don’t think you are either. So now I want to continue working on this manuscript and polish it until it shines. That’s what I’m going to do here on this blog in the next couple of weeks.

So if you want to follow along and polish your manuscript along with me, you can join in the fun! Or if you have another nonfiction picture book manuscript you want to work on, grab it and dust it off ’cause we’re going to really get our magnifying glasses out and look for any specks we can work on until it shines!


  1. How many bibliographies should we have? Is there a target number? And do we include the website as part of the bibliography when submitting or just the work cited?

    • What great questions!!! Each publisher will have their own guidelines about what they want to see in a bibliography. Until you know what a specific publisher requires, here’s a good rule of thumb:

      Create a FULL bibliography with every single website and book you used.
      Then create a SELECTED bibliography where you just list the main ones you used. I like to include 3-5 key books for adults and then you can also include a “Student Resource” list of children’s books you used for reference. Plus 3-5 key Internet sources. But it’s okay to go a little bit longer, especially if you have primary sources. Always include your primary sources!

      And definitely include the information for every work you “quoted” as a citation.

      • And then you can just include the SELECTED bibliography when you submit your picture book manuscript. Also, if you find a source on the Internet such as a book on googlebooks, I like to include the actual info on the book itself and then a note about where I accessed it. When you get a contract, your publisher will tell you how they want you to type that format up.

        Or if your mentor text uses a specific format, go ahead and follow that, instead.

      • Thanks. Last question, what should I include in the author’s note?

      • Hi Jackie, you don’t have to write an Author’s Note. However, sometimes the story in a picture book is such a focused little snippet of the whole picture that the author likes to include the bigger story behind the true story you wrote about. The best way to judge what to put in an author’s note is (if you decide to write it) to look at other nonfiction picture books and see how they handle their author’s note. Mine this time was pretty short…just an emphasis about how important this person/landmark really was that I wrote about.

      • Thanks for your response. You have been so helpful during this process and I appreciate it.

      • You’re welcome, Jackie! It’s been a joy to have you along on the journey.

      • Thanks for the invite. I appreciate it. 😀

  2. Thanks for the above tips, Nancy. Thankfully, I used and compiled my bibli as I printed out my research and took notes. It’s free to use/export and very helpful. Friday finds me wading in facts, but I don’t have any primary sources. I do however, have three sources for most facts to be able to use the info. Hopefully, I can wrangle the info and type a first draft over the weekend. I certainly would love to join y’all next week and appreciate your kind teaching efforts this week, Nancy. Great weekend all! :0)

    • Donna, it sounds like you’ve made GREAT progress! And thanks for sharing about easybib, too. It sounds so helpful!!!!! Have a happy weekend to you too.

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