I’ve learned my rhyming picture book manuscript needs A LOT of work—specifically, I need to learn more about meter. Daunting and exciting. I’m hearing, though, that some agents/editors are reluctant to consider rhyming picture books from unknown writers. Do you think my time would be better and more strategically spent by writing a non-rhyming version of the book, rather than working further on the rhyming version? I’ve learned not to treat any of my writing too preciously, so I’m happy to follow either route, but just want to do what would benefit this project (and position it for a possible sale) the most. I’d love to know your thoughts on that.
To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme
Dear to Rhyme or Not to Rhyme…
Children’s book editors do have a high bar when it comes to rhyming manuscripts. “A LOT of work,” eh? In that case, I say that since you’re just as happy with the idea of a non-rhyming version, go with that option. Strive for fabulous rhythm, structure, and fun-in-the-mouth word choice. That’ll give you the read-aloud quality you’re probably aiming for, but without the challenges inherent in trying to tell a story while maneuvering the rules of rhyme. You use the word “strategic.” Alternatively, you could indulge your excitement about mastering meter, nail the rhyming version, and then submit that rhyming manuscript after you’ve placed a different project with an editor. Lots of writers use the strategy of submitting their tougher-to-place projects after their foot is in the door.