Books are magic. And children’s books are an extra special type of magic. We all have sweet memories with the books we read as children, right? It’s those kinds of books that formed us and our perspective towards the world. If you’re feeling that you have a calling to write a children’s book and you’re really excited about doing this; you should know from the start that you’re going to enter a very competitive field. Many believe that this is an easy job to do, but trust me, it isn’t. How to write a children’s book? With a lot of patience and passion because this is going to be a looong process.
It’s a process that also involves the ability to handle rejection and the commitment to revise and rewrite until it’s perfect. But in the end, you’ll see that it was all worth it. The reward will taste sweeter than honey and you’ll want to write more in order to taste that again.
If you’re new in this field and don’t know exactly how to do it and what to expect; consider this article as a simple step-by-step guide for how to write a children’s book. It’s written especially for the first-timers and those just getting started.
- Reaaad… a lot
First and foremost, before writing your own children’s book; you have to read as many children’s books as possible in order to see what’s popular and desired by the little readers…and their parents. Yes, their parents, because basically, they are the ones who buy books for their children. But don’t just read. Identify the parts that make you laugh, cry, that annoy you, that make you smile; simply analyze how the author presents his ideas and thoughts. It’s a good exercise for you as a future writer. Reading could become your best teacher.
Also, try to inspire from what others wrote. Of course, you are not allowed to copy content that was already published; but you can familiarize yourself with the writing style, illustrations, themes, subjects and characters that readers prefer or find more interesting. Try to emphasize your unique style and come up with something original; something that will definitely stand out from the crowd!
If you’re ever wondering how to write a children’s book, start with reading children’s books!
- Define your target audience from the start
There’s no such thing as writing a children’s book that appeals to kids of all ages. Children’s reading abilities develop very quickly, so your story has to fit exactly to their reading needs. Before you begin writing a single word, take some time to choose a specific target audience. Pick an age group and write a story that’s completely relatable to them. The usual age groups that are often used when choosing a target audience for children’s books are the young children (ages 2-6), the middle grades (ages 8-11) and the young adults (ages 12+).
This is a very important aspect when deciding on how many pictures and words you will use in your book. For instance, a middle grade will always read more words than a 3 years old child. But young children will always prefer to see more pictures instead of more words. When thinking of how to write a children’s book; remember that knowing your audience from the beginning will help you write something engaging.
- Choose the right theme for your story
Choosing the right theme is a crucial aspect when talking about how to write a children’s book. You have to start thinking like a child in order to pick the perfect theme. What is important to children nowadays? What kinds of situations are they concerned about in their everyday lives? For instance, you don’t want to write about a woman that works at McDonald’s and makes cheeseburgers every day when your target audience is young children. Even if your story is a fun and interesting one and it has adorable drawings; the main character won’t be to the children’s liking.
The children need to identify both visually and narratively with the characters within the story. Rather; you should write about animals or flowers that talk and have other human features or even about kids their age that go camping or play a new video game. If the children understand your story completely and relate to it, they’ll be eager to read it over and over again.
- Make a clear beginning, middle, and an end
One thing’s for sure: no matter what kind of story you’re writing; make sure that it’s composed of a clear beginning, middle, and end. Also, remember that children’s books should always have a crystal clear ending, an ending with closure. Don’t leave your story in the cliffhanger, children like resolutions to the story. They’re curious and eager to know how the story will end, don’t disappoint them!
When you’re making up the story, don’t forget that your middle part has to contain some clear peak moment. For instance, think of what problem could the main character encounter. Did they meet someone special that particular day? Or maybe you could write about the new lesson the main character learned from that incident. Children love characters, and they love even more characters that are actively involved in the story. Also, they could learn alongside the characters, especially when there are images and drawings that encourage visually the learning. Always keep this important step in mind when you’re thinking how to write a children’s book that’s both catchy and engaging!
- Be persistent and take as much time as you need
As much as you’re enjoying writing a children’s book; there comes a time when all your energy will start fading away and will feel stuck in a rut. You’ll probably start thinking that everything you’ve written is not good enough and no one will ever want to read it. Don’t worry, this is something normal, we’ve all been there! The important thing is to believe in yourself and to never ever give up. Keep on writing and writing until you’re proud of your work. You know what they say, right? Practice makes it perfect!
Also, remember that it’s not an easy job to write a children’s book, that’s why you have all the right to take as much time as you need. Review your story, your word choice, your diction, the pictures you’ve chosen, the titles and subtitles…simply review everything! You have to make sure that children will totally understand your story and that they’ll also enjoy the pictures within your book. No matter how much time it requires; make sure that the final result is a book that you would buy for your own children! This is a crucial point when we’re talking about how to write a children’s book as flawless as we can!
- Find the right publisher and illustrator
After you’re completely sure that you’ve finished writing your book, you should think of the publishing option suitable for you. You can go for the self-publishing route or for the traditional one, which involves finding a publishing house. This is another important subject that needs to be discussed another time, and of course; there will be both advantages and disadvantages no matter your choice.
Well, let’s say that you’re scared to go for the self-publishing choice and you want to find a good publisher that will take care of everything. Do some research into different publishers to find the ones who specialize in children’s books. Pick the best one that could help you publish your book, then contact them and let them know about all the important details regarding your book. Be aware that when you’re working with a publisher; you’ll have to take the risk that they might want to make some changes within your book. That’s the price you have to pay when you let someone publish your own book.
The illustration part is a whole new ballgame. If you choose to self-publish your book, you’ll have to take illustrations into consideration. My advice for you is to not illustrate your own work unless you are a professional illustrator. Search for a good illustrator and discuss with them every little detail; to make sure that they understand perfectly what you want. On the other hand, if you’re going to work with a publisher, then they will have illustrators. No need to search yourself for an artist to do the drawings.
- Share your work with others
And the last step when talking about how to write a children’s book would be to share your work with others. By “others”, I’m referring especially to kids, nephews, friends who are parents, neighbors that have children and even teachers. Like I’ve said in the beginning, your book should appeal to both children and parents. Listen to their feedback and take into consideration their ideas and constructive criticism. The aim is to always be open to advice and embrace new perspectives. Your constant desire to learn from others and to improve your story will make your children’s book the best it can be.
We really hope that you enjoyed today’s article as much as we did. We can’t show you the key to success; but we can assure you that if you take into consideration the steps explained above; you’ll definitely have an idea about how to write a children’s book in the usual sense.
Even though it might sound fun, like I’ve already said before; writing and publishing a children’s book is not an easy process. You will have to write and rewrite a lot until you will create something you will like and be proud of. And maybe there will also be times when you will have to deal with a lot of rejection and negativity no matter how good your story is. Don’t give up; keep going on because if you really wish to achieve something, you will, with a lot of ambition and patience. And the fact that you’ll see your work in libraries, schools or even in your neighbor’s or family’s house is worth all the time, practice and effort you put into it. So let your guard down and enjoy the whole process!