This tip is geared specifically for children’s book writers. In addition to romance and parenting titles, I write children’s books.
One of the biggest misconceptions about children’s books is that they are easy to write. “You just throw a few cute words on the pages and some great illustrations, and voila!”
Not even close.
In my opinion, writing children’s books is even more challenging than adult books for a few reasons:
Kids can be picky, and their parents even pickier.
It takes a great deal of time and money to produce a children’s book—much more than most novels, because of the illustrations and formatting, and especially if you plan to publish in paperback.
Every word counts in a children’s book because a line can be too cumbersome to read if it has too many big words, but a child can lose interest if the words aren’t interesting enough.
Children’s books are hard to sell to make your money back—even if they are traditionally published—because of the printing and packaging costs, and the market being flooded with them.
So, for those who have considered writing a children’s book, be aware that there is not much money to be made unless you are a marketing genius, or you publish traditionally. I have self-published two children’s books so far, but have six more that haven’t gone to illustration yet simply because of what I went through financially and time-wise for my first two. I am considering getting my next ones traditionally published.
Also, not everyone can write quality children’s books. With nearly twenty years of combined experience teaching toddlers and preschoolers, along with being a mom of three, I know what type of books, characters, and illustrations children enjoy. I also know how long they will typically sit for a book. I’m aware of how parents feel when reading certain books to their children, and some parents will refuse to buy certain books simply because “they” don’t enjoy reading them.
With that said, here are a few tips for writing children’s fiction:
Read. Read. Read. Just as with writing novels, reading books in your writing genre is crucial to understanding the word patterns and flow. Consider them study guides.
Remember what it was like to be a child. Get down on a child’s level (mentally) and think about what type of books you enjoyed.
Write a unique character. Bears, rabbits and turtles have been done to death, in my opinion. My daycare children enjoy reading stories about unique animals such as raccoons, elephants, tigers, or even unicorns.
Read to your children, if you have little ones. Picture books are geared toward three to eight or ten years of age. Visit a local library or preschool and read to them. Learn how it takes inflection in your voice and pacing within the lines and pages. Children often ask a lot of questions during the reading. Learn how to write engaging, thought-provoking lines to encourage this.
If you plan to self-publish, you must find a good illustrator—one who will work within your timeline and budget. Expect it to take at least six months to have one book ready to purchase. Illustrations take time. If you plan to query agents, and you are an author/illustrator, you can work up a dummy book for them. But typically, they will use their own illustrators.
Join a children’s critique group or submit your drafts to online mommy groups for approval or suggestions. Remember, children’s books involve parents too. They are the ones purchasing (and typically reading) these books.
If you plan to submit to agents or publishers, be ready for rejections and revisions. Even if they accept your manuscript, chances are, they will use their own editors and illustrators. And many times, much of your work will be cut to fit industry standards.
Above all, remember why you are writing children’s books. If you are a true children’s author, you are not doing it for the money; you are writing to entertain children and encourage a love of the written word at an early age.
Be patient with your children’s books. One title can take a year or more to be released. And even authors who secure agents or publishers for one of their books aren’t guaranteed the same amount of representation for all their titles. It’s not uncommon for publishers to reject other books by that same author. Publishers choose what they know they can sell. And even then, it sometimes falls flat.
Keep reading, writing, and making children smile with your words, and you will succeed!
Here are a few adorable children’s titles by a very talented author and friend, Anita Kovacevic.
Here are the buy links:
Winky’s Colours – available in paperback and Kindle
Mimi Finds Her Magic – Kindle
The Good Pirate – Kindle
Anita was spotlighted on Lulu! Learn more about her here:
If you’d like to check out my latest children’s picture book The Chocolate Monsters, it’s available for just 99 cents on Kindle! It’s a rhyming story.
The Chocolate Monsters
I’ve decided to give away two prizes during this tour:
*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Before You Publish– Volume I
*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Beyond The Book –Volume II
To enter, all you have to do is email me a proof of purchase of a digital copy of either of these two books during the tour.
I will draw TWO winners total, at the end of the tour.
Please email your proof of purchase (can be a screenshot) to email@example.com.
**This tip, and many others about marketing, can be found in Beyond The Book: Tips on publishing, marketing, and networking to build your brand, now available in digital and paperback format on Amazon.
Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.
Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.
I truly understand all of the pros and cons of writing in this genre but some of us are still kids at heart and when ideas keep popping up it can become a bit of a challenge to get them published. Now that I am published, I have discovered the bigger challenge, getting them reviewed. Have you any hot tips on finding reviewers?
Hi, Maria. I will respond to you via email. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!
Maria, getting reviews is a challenge for all of us. Some are offering a free book for an honest review. I am trying that now. Many people are well meaning an just forget to write or write and forget to send reviews. I’ll pass your question on to Traci to see if she has any hot tips for getting reviews.
A very interesting article!
And another good question about getting reviews. As Ellen says it is indeed a real challenge for us. How to invite, seduces the reader to write a review after finishing the book? And at the other hand, how to ask for reviews…
Very insightful post. I would have thought writing childrens books will be a piece of cake. Children are a handful and it’s funny how you put in so much effort on something to impress them and they turn around and prefer the one with less effort. Love their innocence and it will take attention to detail plus the tips mentioned to get it right
Yes, there is a surprising amount of research and other efforts that go into writing for children. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’ll forward your comments to Traci.