The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real people or titles is only imagined.
There was once was a picture book writer
Whose writing could not have been tighter
With an agent on board,
"Kung Fu Cows" was adored.
Her future was looking much brighter.
Then she and her agent conversed-
"No others compare to your first.
Not saying, they stink.
But you need to re-think."
Now that writer's bubble has burst.
Okay, so... good thing that didn't actually happen, because that would be depressing.
But let's say, for hypothetical purposes, that it did.
What can you do when your picture book manuscript is just not strong enough to sell in this difficult market?
My agent offers these general suggestions:
1) Strengthen your characters. This is a very character-driven market. (Sucks for me because I tend to write plot driven stories.) Make sure your characters are well-drawn.
2) Add layers. If a story has appeal on many different levels. it has a much better chance. For example a story about counting, pirates, and friendship has a much better chance of selling than a story that is just about pirates. [Guess that's why Hop! Plop! sold... it's about friendship, playgrounds, problem-solving, and math/physics (size, balance, etc.)]
3) Consider switching rhyme to prose. Rhyme occasionally works, but often it just complicates the storytelling because of the demands of making the lines rhyme.