Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Writing a Children's Book - 11 Things You Need to Know

So you would like to write a children's book. Before you begin, you should know what a competitive field you are about to enter. It 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 levels of writing skill. Do not let this deter you from writing a book, but you should treat it just as you would treat any professional goal: responsibly, and prepared.

If you are truly serious about becoming a children's author then you need to get into it as seriously as if you were writing the next greatest novel. Again, you need to be passionate about what you are writing.

Here are the things that will help you when writing a children's book:

1. Research the Market

Before you start, you should research the children's book market. Look at what types of books are on the shelves, and what you are interested in writing. See what is selling and talk to book professionals about what is successful in the market.

2. Read Good Children's Literature

It is an excellent idea to read as much literature as you can. Without taking time to learn what children are reading today, you will be writing a book that will simply collect dust.

3. Talk to Booksellers and Librarians

Both booksellers and librarians can tell you what books see the most traffic, and they can also tell you what children's books have had public readings recently - and how well attended they were. Booksellers can give you straightforward information on what children's titles are selling the best. Visit libraries and ask librarians about the type of books that children love to read. Borrow and read these books so that you can have an idea of how to write your own book.

4. Types of Children's Book

It may 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 instance, means that the children's bookshelves are full of similar material. In exploring the children's literature section of the book store, you will see 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, like protecting the environment or being kind to others. It's important to be true to the message without letting it dominate the story. Remember, stories are about people, not social issues. For more seasoned readers, you can write a children's book after a time-tested style, like 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 wish 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 an opportunity, and observe what gets the most animated reactions from them.

6. Join a Group of Children's Book Authors

That is an effective measure of where the public's interest lies. Tell them you are interested in writing a children's book, and you will find abundant source of ideas, tips and information in your research.

  1. Research Internet
  2. Go online and find out which children's book are the most popular. Know what books captured the attention of parents and children alike.
  3. Spice it with Humor
  4. Make sure you include a lot of humor in your book, because children just love to laugh. Put yourself in the shoes of a child and let your imagination run wild. The silliest of ideas have proven to be a hit with children.
  5. Use Simple English
  6. Remember to think about who you are writing for. Do not forget you are not writing for college graduates, you are writing for kids. Make your book age appropriate. Unlike adults, children have different levels of comprehension and these levels vary greatly. 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 begin, and be true to that audience. If your writing for young, keep things simple, very simple.
10. Eye-Catching Cover Design

The cover design must be attractive, along with the fonts incorporated on the book. Larger, bolder fonts are known to be more attractive to children. If your book does not stand out among the thousands on the shelves, you will never manage to make a sale. Go to your local book store and browse the area where your book would be displayed. Take note of the books that stand out to you, and try to figure out why they are more eye-catching than the others.

11. Proper Planning

Writing a book requires proper planning. Do not start a book that you will never finish writing. Make sure you have an outline to follow, that you can refer to when you get stuck, so that you will be able to reach your goal. Once you have your outline, you might want to start looking into legalities and copyrights - both to make sure that your idea is yours alone, and to see how much your copyright will cost you.