Posted by: nancyisanders | March 13, 2020

NF PB Bio Step 1


Nonfiction Picture Book Biography Step 1

While we’ve been chatting about BREAKTHROUGH topics in the world of children’s publishing, I’ve decided to be intentional about finding another breakthrough topic for the general market and begin a new picture book manuscript.

I know so many of you are interested in these blog posts because, like me, you want to experience breakthrough and get your manuscript published.

So I thought I’d invite you along on my journey. I’m going to show you step-by-step exactly the process my brain is going through to find this new BREAKTHROUGH topic and write the new picture book from beginning to end.

What was my first step?

One HUGE breakthrough topic right now in the general picture book market is to write a biography about a little known yet famous woman who has done a great thing for our world.

So that is my first step. I decided to write a brand new picture book about a little-known yet famous woman who has done a great thing for our world.

I invite you to do the same! In my next post I’ll share with you how I searched for the woman to write about.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay


  1. I’ve been reading a lot (on Twitter, etc.) about the picture book biography market being saturated. Agents and editors are now mainly interested in bios of (and by) black and indigenous people and people of color, who have been terribly underrepresented in this and other genres. Any thoughts on this? I’ve written a bio about an unsung (white) woman hero that I recently started querying.

    • Thanks for this great insight, Elia! And yes, you are right. Editors and agents are looking especially for real voices (meaning the author has a diverse background) writing about unsung heroes from their background. But I wouldn’t worry about the market being too saturated just yet. Why? Because I personally had an editor tell me last week she’s looking for more bios AND I have published writer friends who are still writing more bios AND teachers are still buying more bios to keep up with the common core and STEM. So even though the market is full of bios right now, it’s a breakthrough topic because that’s what many editors are currently buying.

      And super congratulations on your manuscript! I wish you the best with it! And while you’re shopping it around, I also invite you to follow along here on my blog and write a brand new manuscript based on these steps I’m taking, too.

      • Thank you, Nancy, for your reply and the encouraging words! I will follow with interest!

      • Yay!

  2. I’ve heard the same as Elia but you’ve encouraged me to keep writing. I look forward to going on this journey with you. I know that my person’s story should be shouted out. I want kids/girls to hear this story. I’ve been writing this bio for a few years now so I hope I’ll learn to shout out the right words so she’ll make it to print. Thank you, Nancy.

    • I’m so glad you’re encouraged to keep writing your story. Praying God will open doors!

  3. Hi Nancy!

    Regarding writing a nonfiction picture book about a little-known person who has done a great thing: If the person is living, do you have to have permission from her to write the book? I think I found something sometime somewhere (HA!) that said if the person is a public figure, you do not have to have permission.

    I have an idea for one of these picture books, and I have contacted this person but have received no response.

    Can’t wait to read what you have to say about this!

    • Heather, this is a FANTASTIC question! Thanks so much for asking in here on this post. A biography of a person who is living is NOT a breakthrough topic for today’s current picture book market. Here’s the reason why. An unsung hero still living can suddenly start singing a different song.

      So for a breakthrough topic of a picture book biography of a woman who is an unsung hero, choose someone who is dead and buried. I’ll show you how to do find these gals in an upcoming post.

      Now, regarding the unsung heroes who are still alive…that’s a SECOND book idea. Meaning after you land a contract for your breakthrough picture book, talk with your editor. See if they’d be interested in having you write a book about this person who is still alive. THEN you would have the publisher’s interest and guidance, too, as you pursue your project because different publishers would want to handle this in different ways regarding getting the subject’s permission, etc.

      Hope you can think of an exciting biography to write in our journey!!!

      • Nancy, getting an answer from you is like breaking open one of my hen’s eggs and finding two yolks instead of one! Not only did you answer my question, but you also gave me the why and the here’s what to do first. You’re the BEST! ❤

      • Awww, Heather!! I love being compared to an egg, and that’s no yolk!

      • 😂

  4. Thank you, Nancy. I, too have this idea brewing. I look forward to this journey.

    • So glad you’re joining in on our adventure!

  5. I look forward to this journey into the PB bio 🙂

  6. I have a completed bio of an unknown woman who accomplished a lot, even with her handicap. I have sent it a few places, but have revised and am sending it again. I sure hope no one beats me to the punch on this story.

    • Hooray for you! I encourage you to follow the steps here on my blog and brainstorm a brand new unsung hero to write about. You can be working on this new manuscript while your first is finding a home. Best wishes!

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