Writing children’s books is one of the best careers you can imagine, but a lot of aspiring writers don’t know how to get started. First off you want to learn to write appropriately for your chosen audience and make it appealing to the publishers. There are many publishing tips that can help unpublished writers greatly improve their chances getting there children’s book published. Here are six important publishing tips for those who want to have a great career as a children’s book author.
1. Learn what makes a great children’s book. A great children’s book is one that is written first and foremost with the child reader in mind. For younger kids, parents or other caregivers will be doing the reading, but the story has to be written for a child. You can’t make a great children’s book by taking a good story for adults and simplifying the language. It must start from the ground up as a children’s book. A great children’s book is a compelling story that is fun to read, and the illustrations must be age appropriate and relevant to the story. While great illustrations can supplement and enhance a good story, they can’t by themselves make up for a non-compelling story or poor writing. A good children’s story is more than just a watered down tongue-in-cheek story for adults. A great story will always put the child first, and makes the reading fun and enjoyable for the adults reading to younger children.
2. Write what children want to read. Children can see right through an overly preachy story. Children enjoy a bit of subversiveness or mischief. Children enjoy characters that have flaws – learn to write what children want to read as it makes them far more interesting. A good story is both entertaining, and provides a bit of an intellectual challenge: what will the main character do to resolve the conflict in the story? And those conflicts don’t have to be huge life changing situations. A well written story about new neighbors moving in can make a great children’s book.
3. The Most Important Aspects of a Children’s Book. Even in a fantasy type book, the characters must be believable. The situations should be ones that children can relate to. Do you remember being young and how much importance the little dramas of everyday life had? It’s fine to create fantastical characters, you just want to make sure they are something a child can relate to. It’s fine for all your characters to be mice, as in Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse. What’s so great about the story is that children can relate to Lily getting in trouble with her favorite teacher, her anger at him, and how she and the teacher resolve the conflict. Little things are big to children. Something as simple as losing a lunchbox can make for a very interesting story for children, because on some level, they know what it feels like.
4. Know the difference between trade and educational publishers. Trade books are sold through book stores and are available to school libraries, while educational published books are mostly sold through publishers’ catalogs. Trade publishers usually pay you in advance against royalties, while educational publishers usually opt for a “work for hire” arrangement. Illustrators who work on a project for an educational publisher often will have to give up their copyrights on that work. While trade publishers are often a better deal for a writer and illustrator, the educational publishing world is easier for new writers to break into.
5. Give the publishers what they ask for. This is very straightforward, and it is surprising how many times authors neglect to follow this simple rule. If a publisher specializes in “Mommy and Me” cookbooks for children, don’t send them a children’s novel. If a children’s publisher puts out mostly books for teens,don’t send them a story written for a preschooler. It is really fairly easy to find out what a specific children’s publisher publishes with a few search engine queries. It is important that you learn to write what the publishers want to see otherwise you could be wasting your time. Just take that extra time to research the publisher you intend to use.
6. Clean manuscripts, free of grammar mistakes is mandatory. Publishers don’t have time to decipher fancy fonts or to get past misspellings and grammatical mistakes. Publishers all have different manuscript guidelines, and if you don’t follow them, your manuscript will quickly be rejected, so make sure you learn to write your manuscript in the form that the publisher you’re sending your work to specifies.
Publishing tips for writing children’s books are very similar to the publishing tips for writing any other kind of book. Publishers want imaginative, original stories that are presented with child readers in mind. The illustrations should correspond with the storyline, and the story should teach a lesson without being preachy. Breaking into the field of writing children’s books isn’t easy, but you can improve your odds greatly if you learn to write well for children and by following these six publishing tips.
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