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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 you start, you should know what competitive field you are going to enter. There is a misconception among writers that it is easy to write a children’s book and be successful. The truth is, there are thousands of writers with the same goal. They come from all backgrounds and writing skill levels. Don’t let this discourage you from writing a book, but you should approach it as you would any professional goal: responsibly and prepared.
If you’re serious about becoming a children’s author, you need to be as serious about it as you are about writing your next greatest novel. Again, you need to be passionate about what you write.
Here are things to help you write a children’s book:
1. Market research
Before you begin, you should research the children’s book market. See what types of books are on the shelves and what you are interested in writing. See what’s selling and talk to book experts about what’s hitting the market.
2. Read Good Children’s Literature
It is a great idea to read as much literature as possible. 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
Booksellers and librarians can tell you which books have the most traffic, and they can also tell you which children’s books have recently had public readings – and what the attendance has been. Booksellers can give you first-hand information about what children’s titles are selling 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. Types of children’s books
You might be surprised at how diverse children’s literature is. It would be a mistake to assume that the success of the Harry Potter books, for example, means that children’s libraries are full of similar material. Perusing the children’s literature section of a bookstore, you’ll see that there is no “right” way to write for children. You have the opportunity to find your own 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 dominating the story. Remember that 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. A good example is the Hardy Boys mysteries.
5. Spend time with your audience
Your best resource is the children themselves, especially in the age group you want to write for. If you want to write a children’s book, you should see for yourself what interests them. Talk to them about what books they choose to read and what their favorites are. Read to children if you have the chance and see what they respond to most vividly.
6. Join a group of children’s book authors
This is an effective measure of where the public 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 which books have caught the attention of parents and children.
- Spice it up with humor
- Make sure you put 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 wild. The dumbest ideas turned out to be a hit with the kids.
- Use plain English
- Don’t forget to think about who you’re writing for. Remember that you are not writing for college graduates, but for children. Customize the age of the book. Unlike adults, children have different levels of understanding and these levels vary greatly. You would write differently for a five-year-old than for a fourth-grader. You may want to cater to a specific reading level. Before you start, choose your audience and be true to it. If you’re writing for young people, keep things simple, very simple.
10. Eye-catching packaging design
The cover design must be attractive, along with the fonts incorporated into the book. Bigger and bolder fonts are known to be more attractive to children. If your book doesn’t stand out among the thousands on the shelves, you’ll never sell. Go to your local bookstore and browse the area where your book will be displayed. Notice the books that stand out to you and try to figure out why they are more engaging than others.
11. Proper planning
Writing a book requires proper planning. Don’t start a book you’ll never finish. Make sure you have an outline to follow that you can refer to when you get stuck so that you are able to reach your goal. Once you have your outline, you may want to start researching legalities and copyrights – to make sure your idea is yours alone, and to see how much your copyright will cost you.
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