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Writing a Children’s Book – 11 Things You Need to Know
So you would like to write a children’s book. Before starting, you should know what kind of competitive field you will be entering. There is a misconception among writers that it is easy to write a children’s book, and be successful. The truth is that there are thousands of writers with the same goal. They come from all backgrounds and levels of writing ability. Don’t let this stop you from writing a book, but you should approach it the same way you would approach any professional goal: responsibly and prepared.
If you’re really serious about becoming a children’s author, then you need to get as serious about it as if you were writing the next greatest novel. Again, you must be passionate about what you write.
Here are the things that will help you when writing a children’s book:
1. Research the Market
Before you begin, you should research the children’s book market. Look at what books are on the shelves, and what you are interested in writing. See what’s selling and talk to book professionals about what’s succeeding in the market.
2. Read Good Children’s Literature
It is a great idea to read as much literature as you can. Without taking the time to learn what kids are reading today, you will write a book that will simply gather dust.
3. Talk to Booksellers and Librarians
Both booksellers and librarians can tell you which books see the most traffic, and they can also tell you which children’s books have had public readings recently — and how well attended they were. Booksellers can give you simple information about what children’s titles sell best. Visit libraries and ask librarians about the type of books children like to read. Borrow and read these books to get an idea of how to write your own book.
4. Kinds of Children’s Book
It might surprise you how much variety there is in children’s literature. It would be a mistake to assume that the success of the Harry Potter books, for example, means that children’s bookshelves are full of similar material. Perusing the children’s literature section of the bookstore, you’ll see that there is no “right” way to write for children. You have the opportunity to find your self-expression and write a children’s book that is uniquely yours.
Many stories carry a moral or message, such as protecting the environment or being kind to others. It is important to be true to the message without letting it dominate the story. Remember, stories are about people, not social issues. For more experienced readers, you can write a children’s book in a time-tested style, such as a mystery or sword-and-sorcery. The Hardy Boys mysteries are a good example.
5. Spend Time With Your Audience
Your best resource is the children themselves especially with the age group you want to write for. If you want to write a children’s book, you should see firsthand what interests them. Talk to them about what books they choose to read, and what their favorites are. Read to children if you have a chance, and observe what gets the most lively reactions from them.
6. Join a Children’s Book Authors Group
That’s an effective measure of where the public’s interest lies. Tell them you’re interested in writing a children’s book, and you’ll find a rich source of ideas, tips, and information in your research.
- Explore the Internet
- Go online and find out which children’s books are the most popular. Find out what books caught the attention of parents and children.
- Spice it up with Humor
- Make sure you include a lot of humor in your book because kids just love to laugh. Put yourself in the shoes of a child and let your imagination run free. The silliest ideas have proven to be a hit with kids.
- Use Plain English
- Remember to think about who you are writing about. Don’t forget you’re not writing for college graduates, you’re writing for kids. Make your book age appropriate. Unlike adults, children have different levels of understanding and those levels vary widely. You would write differently for a five year old than you would for a fourth grader. You may want to cater to a specific reading level. Choose your audience before you start, and be true to that audience. If your writing for young people, keep things simple, very simple.
10. Eye Catching Cover Design
The cover design should be attractive, along with the fonts incorporated in the book. Larger, bolder fonts are known to be more appealing to children. If your book doesn’t stand out among the thousands on the shelves, you’ll never make a sale. Go to your local bookstore and browse the area where your book would be displayed. Make a note of the books that stand out to you and try to figure out why they stand out more than the others.
11. Proper Planning
Writing a book requires proper planning. Don’t start a book you’ll never finish writing. Make sure you have an outline to follow that you can refer to when you get stuck so you can reach your goal. Once you have your outline, you may want to start looking at legalities and copyrights – both to make sure your idea is yours alone, and to see how much your copyright will cost you.
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