Creating Depth: Adding a Bit More to Your Manuscript

Sometimes I manuscript will catch my eye because I am surprised that an author managed to sell it without the illustrations.  Let’s face reality, writers-who-cannot-draw.  Some manuscripts simply work better when pitched by an author/illustrator because it is easier to get the concept across with pictures.

This past week I read Whose Poop Is That? by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Kelsey Oseid.  Yep, a book on poop.  But it is really clever because it is about what various animals eat but in a gross, not boring way.

First, a two-page spread asks “Whose poop is that?”  It will include a bit more information like “there is a tuft of fur” or “it has a bunch of splinters in it.”  It also includes another clue – the foot prints of the animal in question.

Then the reader turns the page and . . . big reveal . . . there’s a two-page spread with three or four sentences about the animal in question.

Simple.  Really simple.  But an author sold it.

I suspect this book sold for several reasons.  Young STEM titles are big because they are hard to write.  The right kid will love this book.  Video proof below.

This book is deceptive.  It looks short and simple.  It won’t take long to read aloud.

But it teaches things on multiple levels.  What the animal eats becomes what the animal poops.  Looking at the poop can teach you about what the animal eats.  Animals with different feet have different foot prints.

And yet?  Short.  Simple looking.  Quick to read.

Short, simple and straightforward would have been impossible for an author who doesn’t illustrate to sell.  But this?  Obviously it was salable because Charlesbridge bought in and published it.  It teaches on multiple levels.

A writer who doesn’t illustrate could learn a lot from a book like this.