Inside: Guest post from Vicky Weber of At Home Author for aspiring children’s book authors.
Writing children’s books is a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be confusing if you’re new to the industry. In this post, we’ll explore the top five things about writing children’s books that you probably didn’t know!
Because children’s books are short, lots of people think that writing one is a short process. In truth, it’s much more complicated than that.
With novels, you have time to develop characters and describe the scenery but in a children’s book, every single word counts. You still have to have a proper story arc and compelling characters but you only have 500-1,000 words to do it all!
There are many stories that I’ve had to set aside for a while and come back to with fresh eyes or a new perspective. Sometimes, it’s taken months but other times, it’s taken over a year to get the book written.
It’s important to remember that no two writers (or books!) are alike so you have to keep moving forward and find a writing process that works for you.
While a children’s book is designed for kids, they’re meant to be read aloud so an adult has to enjoy the experience just as much! Parents and teachers are the ones who buy children’s picture books so they look for stories that entertain, teach lessons, are relatable, or tug at the heartstrings.
With my own daughter, I only add books to her bookshelf that I don’t mind reading over and over and over…because as a toddler, that’s exactly what she wants. But that’s also the reason why books that myself or my husband don’t love end up in a donation pile.
Because of this, you need to find the balance in your writing so that all ages will love your book. But don’t feel like your first draft has to nail this perfectly because…
Often aspiring children’s book authors get stuck in the writing process because their initial draft doesn’t match their vision of what the book can be. The truth is that no one writes a great first draft! What makes a children’s book special is the editing process.
During this phase of the process, you take a look at what’s on the page and make decisions.
How can I make this stronger?
Does this character need to be here?
Is that what I want this character to say?
You’ll make changes based on those decisions, get feedback from critique partners or freelance editors, and revise, revise, revise until your children’s book does live up to your vision for it. Editing is the true key to every well-loved children’s book.
There are two main ways to publish a book: traditional publishing and self-publishing. Many new authors assume that publishing a book is quite expensive, but it’s not that simple.
Traditional publishing is actually 100% free to the author. To get started with traditional publishing, an author will query agents or submit to publishers directly. If/when a publisher picks up your book, the production process will start and they pay you! However, agents and publishers are picky so it can take a while to break into the industry.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, is quite expensive but that’s because you are the publisher. You will have all of the expenses of a publisher and you’re expected to have all the know-how too. Anything that you don’t know, you need to learn and anything you aren’t capable of doing yourself, you need to outsource.
There are many more pros and cons to each publishing route, so you need to determine which one is best for you and your book. This awareness will ensure that you don’t make expensive mistakes or fall for publishing scams.
No matter which publishing route you choose for yourself, it’s important to remember that marketing starts before the book is actually published. When I first started, I falsely believed that when I published a book, the readers would come and that I would worry about marketing at that point.
But people can’t buy a book if they don’t know it exists. And your children’s book can’t have the impact you desire if it doesn’t end up on anyone’s bookshelves. So don’t underestimate the power of a strong marketing plan.
What it comes down to is that writing children’s books is a rewarding experience and the more you know, the easier it will be. With some creativity, research, and dedication, anyone can craft a story that will be enjoyed for generations to come. So when you’re ready to publish your children’s book, go into it with an open mind. Your readers are waiting!
Many thanks to Vicky and the At Home Author team for helping all the aspiring children’s book authors out there start their journey!
And to learn more about my adventures in children’s book writing, click here!