Hello from children’s author Crystal Bowman! I love the challenge of writing for children, and I love teaching other writers the craft of writing for children. In previous blogs I’ve talked about the many different genres of children’s literature as well as sharing tips on writing for children. Today I want to give you an inside look into how I got my most recent book published. A few years ago I began co-authoring books with my daughter, Teri McKinley. It’s been a winning combination since we have different strengths. The more I write for children, the more challenging it becomes. The market is well stocked with quality children’s books so in order to get the attention of a publisher, what an author writes has to be different or better than what’s already out there.
A good example of this is The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Loyd-Jones. Bible storybooks for children have been around since the 1700’s. They have been widely published and distributed throughout the world and remain strong in today’s market. The Jesus Storybook Bible was published in 2006 and remains in the #1 spot for children’s Bible storybooks. The subtitle—Every Story Whispers His Name—tells us why. Rather than writing another Bible storybook and retelling familiar and favorite stories from the Bible, the author weaves the message of Jesus into the text, connecting all the stories together to tell the story of salvation. Brilliant.
When my daughter and I decided to take a stab at writing a Christmas picture book, I knew it’d be a tall order to offer something original. We often write in rhyme, which is a good fit for the picture book market. We often try to add an education component to add to the marketing value of the book, and we always make sure the text is biblically accurate. I thought about writing a Christmas alphabet book in rhyme, but I knew that was not enough to attract a publisher. We brainstormed ideas on how we could add another element or two to make it even stronger. That’s when I landed on an idea that I wasn’t quite sure was possible. We tried it and it worked!
What makes our Christmas book different from the other alphabet Christmas books is that we told the Christmas story in chronological order. As children turn the pages and follow the letters of the alphabet, the events surrounding the birth of Jesus unfold before their eyes. Each page also includes a Bible verse to show that each part of the story comes from Scripture. The editors at Tyndale accepted the manuscript and M is for Manger was released earlier this month.
I have shared this personal story to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the thought process and effort that goes into writing a children’s book. As I always say, “Writing for kids is fun—but never easy!”