When people find out I write books for children, their response often goes something like this: “Oh, how fun! I have always wanted to write a children’s book.” Writing for children is fun, but fun does not mean easy. And the more you learn, the harder it gets! If you are someone who wants to try writing for children, here are a few basic tips on how to get started.
- Learn the genre and the sub-genres. The genre of children’s literature is very specific and writers need to learn how to write for children. Writing an engaging story with limited word count and limited vocabulary is difficult—even for seasoned writers. Then there are the sub-genres. From board books to early chapter books, and everything in between, each sub-genre has its own specific requirements that writers need to know.
- Know the market. Before you invest your time and energy into writing a children’s book, you need to research the market to find out what is already out there. If what you write is not better than or different from what is already being sold, your book stands little chance of being published.
- Master writing techniques. Rhythm, rhyme, repetition, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and other forms of word play are effective tools for children’s stories. However, these writing techniques must be mastered if you want to add creative elements to your story. Misusing these techniques will send your manuscript on a fast track to the slush pile.
- Have your story edited. Once you have learned the basics and begin writing your story, be sure to work with a children’s editor or writing coach. Your story needs to be professionally written to catch the attention of a publisher. You must be willing to accept constructive criticism and revise your manuscript multiple times.
- Don’t give up. There are no shortcuts or quick paths to the world of publishing. Writing for publication can take many years, and some writers give up along the way. If writing for children is truly your passion, then learn everything you can about the process. Be persistent, patient, and prayerful. Learn. Learn. Learn. Revise. Revise. Revise. If it were easy, everyone would do it!
Crystal Bowman is a best-selling, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children. She also writes stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine, and lyrics for children’s piano music.