One of the best ways to get past this point is to work with a mentor. A mentor is an more advanced author who works closely with you to help you develop. The good news for picture book writers is that the Missouri Region the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has an annual mentorship. The mentor for 2015 is picture book author David L. Harrison.
Frankly, I’m jealous.
He is the author of eighty-nine books including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for young readers as well as educational books for teachers. He is the poet laureate of Drury University, and David Harrison Elementary School is named for him. You can find his work in 120 anthologies, 12 languages, sandblasted into a library sidewalk, painted on a bookmobile, and presented on television, radio, podcast, and video stream. His poetry collection, Pirates, was the Missouri book at the 2013 National Book Fair in Washington, D.C.
Jealousy. Not of David but because I want to work with David. (Hear me whine.)
If you are an SCBWI member in the Missouri Region, you can win the chance to work with David. Sorry, but if you’ve already published a picture book, you aren’t eligible. But if you’re still trying to break into the market, this is a great learning opportunity.
Applications are accepted from May 1 through June 30, 2014. Your application must include one full-length picture book manuscript and a brief cover letter that gives the judges a taste of your writing style, your writing habits, and reasons why you want the mentorship.
There are more rules to this but I’ll let you read them for yourself here. If you live in Missouri but aren’t an SCBWI member, you have time to join. You probably even have time to smooth out the wrinkles in a manuscript that is almost ready. Take advantage of this opporunity. You owe it to yourself.