When I began writing for children I wasn’t even fully aware of what self-publishing involved, I didn’t know anything about agents, or vanity presses.
I had been writing Islamic stories, which I thought would be fun for kids, but i began researching into courses I could take.
That’s when I came across Mira’s Children’s Book Academy and decided I wanted to register for The Craft & Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books.
I applied for the POC scholarship and won it! It made me so happy and made me more serious about my writing. I began the 6 week course in August 2019. I loved the mentoring and the chance to make some amazing friends with whom I still exchange manuscripts, when I need a critique.
During the course, I began reading a lot of recently published picture books- I bought quite a few, but also watched a lot of them on YouTube because we don’t have access to any public libraries in Pakistan. I realized things had changed a lot from the “Once upon a time…” type of stories and classics- there were meta-fiction titles I loved, there were fractured fairytales and plot=driven concept books- all very new to me!
I attended many picture book paloozas and conferences that were happening virtually and in January 2020 I joined the SCBWI- where I found my first set of critique partners!
it saddened me to learn that Pakistan fell under the International chapter as it had too few members and hence no possibility of meetups with fellow writers and mentors.
Around the same time I began my own group on FB https://www.facebook.com/groups/childrensbookreviews.cbrglobal/
I challenged myself to read 3 to 5 picture books a week and study their structure, characters and plot arcs. I reviewed them on the page and shared my passion for books with other members – mainly parents, caregivers and teachers! I highlight what I enjoyed about a book and how it helped my kids open up about certain topic
I found this piece of advice the best- you can only write good picture books if your read and learn from the latest trends in your genre!