How to write a children’s book
Whether you want to write a children’s book for your own children to enjoy, or you are hoping to break into the competitive world of publication and become a renowned children’s book author, there are a few steps, tips, and tricks you need to know before getting started. A lot of planning goes into writing a children’s book, so that when you start putting fingers to keys (or pen to paper if you are old school!) the words flow, and you avoid the dreaded writer’s block.
If you are keen to learn how to write a children’s book, read on for WTTB’s top tips and children’s book ideas.
How to Write a Children’s Book and Get it Published
Anyone can write a book, not always a good book, but anyone can write a book nonetheless! How to get your book published, now that is the tricky part.
If you can bag yourself a literary agent, you have a better chance of getting published and furthermore, they will negotiate a better financial deal for you. And if your book takes off and becomes the next Harry Potter, they will also have the experience and knowledge to handle TV, film, and merchandising rights too, so you come out on top.
Remember to research the agents you are planning to approach and make sure they accept manuscripts for children’s books. You should also be able to highlight to them how you think your book could enhance their portfolio. Could it enhance a category or genre they already have, or is it something new them that could help them grow their portfolio?
If you don’t have a literary agent, it’s not the end of the world. There are book publishers who accept manuscripts without agents, however, they will only cover the costs if they are absolutely certain they can make money from your book. You may find they will cover all costs but you no longer own the rights to your work, so ensure you get any contract checked by a professional to make sure you are not getting a bum deal.
You may also strike up a deal whereby you cover all the costs incurred by the publishing company but you get full control of the future of your work and keep 100% ownership of the work and any rights to TV, film and merchandising. This is a great option if you have the money going spare and your book has a lot of potential to go global. So, if you believe in yourself and your work, the risk could seriously pay off.
How to Write a Children’s Picture Book
If you are planning on writing a children’s picture book, ensure you have a target audience in mind and tailor your book to suit. Picture books are typically aimed at much younger readers, or those who are still being read to as opposed to actually reading themselves. Therefore, the writing can be suitable for adult reading, but the subject matter must engage a younger audience. Preschool aged children have incredible imaginations, which means no subject is off limits and no eventuality too far-fetched.
A unicorn coming over for afternoon tea – totally normal.
A magical slide that takes children to another dimension – exciting and exhilarating.
A 20-foot dinosaur that sleeps in the fridge – cold, but possible.
Youngsters love a whacky and whimsical tale, so don’t be afraid to go all out when it comes to engaging the fantastical side of your own imagination!
Should I Find an Illustrator for My Book?
Whilst this may seem like the logical thing to do - write a book, get it illustrated and present a polished, final copy to an editor or publisher - it’s not how it’s done in the book world. Most publishing companies have approved illustrators they work with and will have a vision for your book when they read the manuscript. They have done this time and time again, so do put your trust in them to find the perfect illustrator to enhance your story.
If you are self-publishing then you will need to find an illustrator or create the artwork yourself, covering any costs or coming to an agreement with your illustrator on profit split/royalties.
How to Create a Children’s Book on a Budget
You don’t need thousands in the bank to create a children’s book. If you have a PC, or even just a writing pad and a pen, you can start your book writing journey. The key is simple: Make sure you finish your book.
This may sound silly, but starting a book is relatively easy, finishing it, with a strong ending, is the hard part. It doesn’t matter if your spelling and grammar aren’t perfect, if there are slight gaps in the story, or if your character requires a little more development, just get it finished; you can edit and perfect it later.
If you are on a tight budget, you probably can’t afford to pay to get your book published, so you will need to be tenacious in finding a publisher who believes in your book enough to cover the costs. This may result in a hefty royalty split though, so do bear this in mind when signing any contracts, and don’t be afraid to try and negotiate a better deal for yourself.
Children’s books ideas: What are good topics for children’s books?
When thinking of ideas for your children’s book, it’s important you either pick a subject that you know about or are prepared to research. Whilst children will rarely question the accuracy of your writing, the adult reader of your literature will. Additionally, you do have an obligation as a storyteller to present accurate information to the youngsters who are soaking in your words. So be prepared to do research, whether it’s on the subject matter, the species of the main characters, or the location of your story. Some great topics for children are listed below:
- Learning to share
- Friendships and family
How to get a children’s book printed
Once you have finished writing your children’s book comes the fun part, getting it printed and holding a copy in your hands. The type of binding you opt for will depend on the type of children’s book you have written. For novels aimed at older children, casebound books are a popular choice but for picture books aimed at pre-schooler’s, saddle stitched books are common choice. Make sure to create an eye-catching book cover too!
WTTB has the full range of book printing options, so get in touch with us to see which option is going to be best suited to your work. If you want to write a book, but maybe not for children, check out our publishing blog to find the right guide for you.
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