Oct 09

10 Tips to Hiring With a Children’s Ghostwriter

10-tipshiringghostwriterBefore I get into the tips to working with a ghostwriter, let me explain what a ghostwriter is. A ghostwriter is simply a ‘writer for hire’ who will write your children’s book, article, website content, or other type of content you need to create and market your book.

S/he’ll take your idea, your notes, your outline, or your draft and turn it into a publishable story. A story that you’ll be proud to put your name on. And, if she knows the ropes, she’ll give you advice on what to do after the book is written.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the 10 tips to working with one.

1. Research ghostwriters before jumping on board with one.

Do a Google search for ‘children’s ghostwriters’ and see how s/he ranks in the search engines.

2. Visit the website of the person you’re interested in working with.

How does it look? Does the site quickly convey that it’s about writing for children? Is it neat and easy to navigate (get from page to page)?

A couple of other things to check for on the website is whether or not it’s current. Check the blog and see if it’s posted to on a regular basis.

You’ll also want to check out the testimonials page. Are there clients who are recommending and/or praising the ghostwriter?

The website is important. I’ve had clients base their decision to hire me just by visiting my website.

3. What about qualifications?

Does the writer’s About Page let you know that s/he is qualified?

One side note here: While some ghostwriters may have lots of their own books published, I for one have so many clients I don’t have the time to keep up with my own books. I have two published and a children’s picture book series in contract. I’ve been wanting to write a sequel to Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure), but just don’t have the time.

So, when looking at this particular qualification, keep this in mind for whoever you’re thinking of going with.

Look at the groups their associated with or have memberships to. Look at any other distinguishable events or awards.

4. Make sure the ghostwriter is accessible.

When you’re on the writer’s website, make sure there is an email address and phone number, so you can easily communicate.

5. Does s/he offer a free consultation?

Some people want that personalized experience – not just an email. I’ve had clients who simply wanted to hear my voice to make sure it was a real person they were dealing with. I’ve even had a couple of people who wanted a Skype consultation. But, aside from this, if you like, ask for a free consultation to discuss your project.

Most ghostwriters will be happy to talk with you about your project. Just please keep in mind that they may keep it short, maybe 10-15 minutes. So, have your questions ready before the phone call. And, have a clear idea of what you want.

6. Not a talker? Then contact the writer by email.

Send the ghostwriter a brief, but clear email on what you’d like and how s/he can help you.

7. The NDA (nondisclosure agreement).

The NDA is simply a confidentiality agreement. It protects your idea. The writer states that s/he will not use your idea for any purpose or reason.

If you’re dealing with a reputable ghostwriter this isn’t really necessary – professional ghostwriters would never disclose any information you divulge. But, for peace-of-mind, ask for one if you’d feel better.

Regarding my clients, I’d say half want one and the other half could care less.

8. About a Freelance Writing Agreement.

Most freelance writers, if not all, have a standard freelance writing agreement for their clients. It is tweaked for each individual project for those particulars, but the basic information is the same.

The agreement may include:

• Terms: What the client wants done and what the writer will do.
• The relationship of the parties.
• The time frame for the completion of the project.
• Compensation.
• An NDA.
• Termination information.

9. Does the ghostwriter offer payment options?

This is important. Most writers will offer payment options and scheduling.

For example: For picture books, I have a three-payment schedule. For chapter books and middle-grade, the number of payments depends on the length of the book and time frame involved.

10. Is the ghostwriter easy to work with?

This you won’t really know until you start working with one. But, often the testimonials will give you an indication of how they work.

But, even before you hire one, you can have some indication by:

• Did s/he answer all your questions?
• Did s/he get back to you promptly?
• Is s/he friendly and approachable?
• Does s/he sound knowledgeable?

Sometimes, just speaking with someone can let you know if s/he is the ghostwriter you’d like to work with.

11. Yep – a bonus tip.

Find out who’ll actually be writing your book. Does the site farm out their writing projects or use subcontractors? Is it a staff of writers? This is not to say the latter is bad, but it’s good to know who you’ll be working with.

So, there you have it, 10 11 tips to getting started with a children’s ghostwriter. I hope it’s helpful in choosing one that you’ll feel comfortable with.

If you’re thinking of hiring a children’s ghostwriter and have questions or would like to schedule a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your project, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Or, shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice—@gmail.com

I look forward to hearing from you.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

What Makes a Good Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors
Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips

Mar 27

Had a Children’s Book Ghostwritten? Now What?

What to do after you've had a children's book ghostwritten.With a steady stream of ghosting clients, I am often asked what comes after the manuscript is written and edited.

Well, this depends on which publishing road you’ll be taking: self-publishing or traditional publishing.

Since the majority of my clients go the self-pubbing route, I’ll start there.

SELF-PUBLISHING

BASIC PAGES AND COPY (in addition to the story).

1. You’ll need back cover copy. This is a brief synopsis of the story, usually 100-200 words. It needs to be ‘grabbing’ and ‘clear.’

2. It’s a good idea to have an About the Author or Author’s Note page at the end of the story. It’s definitely optional though.

3. A Copyright page – you can include acknowledgements on this page.

4. A Dedication / Acknowledgment page is a thought.

5. Some authors want a Preface page, but in most cases this isn’t necessary.

6. If you have words that may need to be defined for the young reader, you might include a Glossary right after the story. Most authors don’t bother with this.

7. Then there’s the Activity Page and Reading Comprehension Page. If you’re hoping to get your book into the classroom this is a must.

Unless you’re creating your own pages, these items will be an additional fee.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Interior:

If you have a children’s picture book you’ll need to get illustrations done. Depending on your budget, you’ll need to decide if you want 16 interior illustrations (one per spread) or 32 illustrations (one per page). A standard picture book is 32 pages.

Keep in mind that a full spread is considered two pages and you will be charged for two illustrations.

Note: A spread is the two pages you see when you have a book open. For example, pages 1 and 2 / pages 3 and 4 / and so on.

Pricing for illustrations vary. I recommend three illustrators to my clients: the cost is somewhere between  $40-$80 per interior illustration. There are others who charge $150 and up per interior illustration.

Exterior:

The book cover is a BIGGIE. The cover is one of the most influential elements to motivate someone to pick up your book. You want it done right. Covers are more money than interior spreads.

You might also want to go for a small back cover illustration. This isn’t really necessary though. You can simply have a colored back cover with your synopsis on it. Possibly include an image of yourself (the author).

On the flip side, you can probably get illustrations cheaper through various services / illustrators. Just be sure the one you choose is capable of creating quality illustrations.

Again, cover illustrations are more.

Here are a three places you can look for illustrators:
https://www.upwork.com
https://fiverr.com
http://  blueberryillustrations.com  /childrens-book-illustrations\
(Sorry I had to break up the last link, WP kept bringing up the clip for it.)

You can also do a Google search.

So, you can see that self-publishing a children’s picture book can get pretty expensive.

Hot Tip: Unless you’re a professional illustrator, or really, really, really good, don’t attempt to do your own illustrations.

Checking the Illustrations and Illustrations to text.

Unless you hire someone to oversee this process, you will need to make sure there are no errors in the illustrations.

For the first part, you need to carefully review each illustration, including the cover and back cover (if you have an image on the back cover).

It can be something as simple as part of a foot missing, or a picture described in the story conveyed wrong in the illustration. These, among many others, were mistakes I found for one of my clients who hired me to oversee this process for him.

It can even be consistency, maybe how the characters look throughout the story or even the background scenery. In one project, the illustrator had molding in some illustrations and none in others where is should have been.

You’ll have to have a keen eye for this stuff, but getting it right is the difference between a good quality product and a poor quality product.

For the illustrations to text review, it’s the same. You want to make sure the illustration fits the text per spread. Most illustrators get this right, but I’ve come across a few who do make mistakes.

This is your book. You want it to be the best it can be. This means getting all the details right.

TIME FRAME

Having the book ghostwritten and illustrated can take around 3 months, possibly longer.

The Story

Using myself as an example, I usually take one-four weeks to write a children’s picture book manuscript of 800 – 3000 words (depends on what my clients’ needs/ wants). I do mention in my freelance agreement that it can take up to six weeks.

It’s important to know that if you’re self-publishing your word count can be over 1000 words. If you’re going the traditional route it’s a good idea to stay around or under 800 words.

Another factor in the time it takes to write the story is the time it takes the client to respond to questions and approvals of content. If a client takes more than a couple of days to respond to emails, the time frame will be thrown off.

The Illustrations

Getting the interior and exterior illustrations done can take one-two months, sometimes more. It will depend on the illustrator you use and his/her workload.

GETTING THE BOOK PUBLISHED (ready for distribution / sale)

Depending on your budget, you can hire someone from a site like Fiverr.com to format and upload your book onto Kindle and/or other publishing venues.

Or, you can hire a service, like CreateSpace to do it for you. This route will cost more money, but you’ll have all your “Is” dotted and “Ts” crossed.

Self-Publishing a Chapter or Simple Middle Grade Book

If you have a chapter or simple middle grade book ghosted, you’ll only need illustrations for each chapter. And, they can be simple grey tone sketches.

While it’s not an absolute must to have illustrations for these books, it does help with engagement for the young reader.

THE TRADITIONAL ROAD

The traditional route will cost much less. All you’ll be paying for is the ghostwriter. You won’t need illustrations.

While it will cost less, it will certainly take a lot longer.

You’ll have to submit your manuscript to publishers and/or literary agents to hopefully get a contract. You’ll need a query letter for this. And, having a synopsis of the story is a good idea also.

When and if a contract happens, it takes an average of two years before your book is actually published. So, patience will be needed.

And, be prepared for the publisher’s editor to go over your story and possibly request changes. This is just part of the process. Be open to suggestions.

I recommend you get the most recent edition of “Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market” by Writer’s Digest Books. This book provides information on publishers and agents in the children’s writing arena. These are the people you’ll be submitting your manuscript to.

And, for more information on traditional publishing, you can read:

Children’s Writing and Publishing – The Traditional Path

THE AUTHOR WEBSITE

Before you publish your book, you absolutely need an author website. Publishers and agents will expect this. And, if you’re self-publishing it’s even more important.

According to Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest, in his book “Create Your Writer Platform,” an author’s platform (its visibility, connections, and reach) is a key factor when looking for a publisher or agent.

Take note that this is not after a book is published; it’s when the author is looking for a contract. Your platform begins with a website.

While I don’t promote my services, as they’re for my ghostwriting clients who need it, I do offer three options in regard to getting your author website up and running:

And, I have a brand new e-class through WOW! Women on Writing for those who want to DIY:

Create Your WordPress Website Today
No Code, No Technical Stuff, No Fuss

It’s a 5-day, step-by-step, interactive e-class with video and hand-holding. Check it out:
CLICK HERE.

Simple steps to creating your own website.

Summing it Up

This is a basic run-down of what to expect and what you’ll need to do to get your ghostwritten manuscript published.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Make Your Children’s Writing Website Focused – 3 Must-Haves, 6 Tips
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors
Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips
4 Book Marketing Strategies Guaranteed to Keep Your Platform Moving Forward

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Mar 13

Point of View and Children’s Storytelling

Point of view in children's storytelling.Point-of-view (POV) is the narrator’s view of what’s going on. The POV is who’s telling the story. This will determine what the reader ‘hears’ and ‘sees’ in regard to the story. And, it determines the ‘personal pronouns’ that will be used.

There are three main POVs in young children’s storytelling: first person, second person, and third person (limited). And, in each of these POVs, the protagonist (main character) must be in each scene – the story is told through his five-senses. If he doesn’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch it, it doesn’t exist in the story.

1. First person.

This POV has the protagonist personally telling the story. Pronouns, such as “I,” “my,” “me,” “I’m,” are used.

Example from “Because of Winn-Dixie:”

That summer I found Winn-Dixie was also the summer me and the preacher moved to Naomi, Florida, so he could be the new preacher . . .  (The protagonist, Opal, is talking to the reader – italics are mine for clarity.)

Notice the above isn’t in quotation marks for dialog. Dialog would be used if the protagonist talks to another character in the story or another character talks. See examples below:

“But you know what?” I told Winn-Dixie. (Opal is talking to her dog.)

“Well, I don’t know,” said Miss Franny. “Dogs are not allowed in the Herman W. Block Memorial Library.” (The librarian in the story is talking to Opal.)

Children’s books in first person POV:

“Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo)
“Green Eggs and Ham” (Dr. Suess)
“The Polar Express” (Chris Van Allsburg)
“Fly Away Home” (Eve Bunting)

2. Second person.

This POV uses “you” as the pronoun, referring to the reader and isn’t used that often in young children’s writing. But, there are some authors who pull it off very well.

An example of this POV from “How to Babysit Grandpa:”

Babysitting a grandpa is fun. If you know how. (The protagonist is talking to the reader, involving him. Italics are mine.)

Children’s books in second person POV:

“How to Babysit Grandpa” (Jean Reagan)
“Secret Pizza Party” (Adam Rubin)
“The Book That Eats People” (John Perry)

3. Third person (limited).

This POV is probably the most popular in young children’s writing. Pronouns, such as “he,” “she,” “its,” “they,” and “their” are used.

While this is similar to the other two POVs, in that they’re all told from the protagonist’s point-of-view, in third person, a third party, the narrator is telling the story. He’s privy to all the senses and emotions of the protagonist.

Here’s an example from “Walking Through Walls:”

“You will practice by walking through this brick wall. You must repeat the magic formula over and over as you go through it.” Wang looked at the wall. He tightened his fists, clenched his jaw, and wrinkled his forehead. This is sure to hurt.

“Uh,” he paused, “Master, what will happen if I do say the words to the magic formula out loud?”
“Wang, you are trying to delay your task. It is a good question though. Your tongue will cease its movement if you speak the words to the formula.”

Wang’s eyes opened wide and he flung his hands on top of his head. Never to talk again! I am sorry I asked for the formula. What if I slip?

The narrator is telling the reader what’s going on. Again, he’s privy to the protagonist’s thoughts, senses, and feelings.

Children’s books in third person POV:

“Walking Through Walls” (Karen Cioffi)
“Owen” (Kevin Henkes)
“Tops and Bottoms” (Janet Stevens)
“Stephanie’s Ponytail” (Robert Munsch)

Be consistent.

When writing for young children, it’s the author’s job to make sure the story is engaging and CLEAR (easy to understand). One quick way to lose the reader is to mix and match point-of-views within the story. Even if you slip just once, you may very well throw the reader off.

One easy error is to slip in a second person POV within a third person story. How this might happen:

The third-party narrator is explaining what the protagonist did then throw in something like, Can you believe it?

That one little sentence has switched POVs and can cause confusion.

Remember to choose one POV and stick with it throughout your story.

There you have it, the three main points-of-view in young children’s storytelling. Which do you prefer?

Sources:

http://literarydevices.net/point-of-view/
http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/mondays-with-mandy-or-mira/second-person-point-of-view-in-picture-books

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Children’s Writing and Publishing Jargon – 11 of the Basics
Getting to Know Your Characters
Plot and Your Story – Four Formats

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)
Or, you can give me a call at 347—-834—-6700

Jan 22

Using The Boy Who Ran as a Teaching Tool

The Boy Who Ran Today, I’m pleased to be hosting children’s author Michael Selden for Day 3 of his virtual book tour through the National Writing for Children Center.

Using “The Boy Who Ran” as a Teaching Tool

If I were using THE BOY WHO RAN as a teaching tool, I might link the story of the boy having overcome adversity with other noted efforts, like the digging of the Panama Canal or the Apollo Mission. His mission in the book, which he tackled with the same intensity he used to run silently through the forest, was to learn to hunt, but really to become an integral part of the village.  I tried to show the focus he used, both here as well as in the way he behaved with White Flank as well—a singular purpose, undeterred even by his nemesis.

At the same time, you can see him changing as well, opening up to the concept of friendship with Morning Song and Gray Wolf. Finally, he was forced to face the ghosts of his past and resolve this and it freed him of the spell that kept him silent.

I’d want to show students how allowing himself to be shackled this way was foolish, that it was the sharing of skills and a sense of community he lacked. He waited far too long to open up, and this could serve as a lesson to seek help and advice.

Finally, I’d use the information I gathered and tried to share about the history of the times and to seek out links about the tools, foods, artifacts, and what we’ve learned about the people of the time. Note the link shown between White Flank and the boy. People of the times, apparently, had a sense of spiritual transformation between animal and human “forms”.

ColoradoMichael Selden has lived all around the world and has been an eyewitness to numerous historical events such as the building of the Berlin Wall. His father was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. Mike was graduated from St. Mary’s High School, Colorado Springs Colorado and later earned a degree in physics from the University of Florida.

He has worked as a research physicist, program manager, and principal investigator on numerous scientific and engineering efforts his career. He first developed technologies and techniques that helped expand our understanding of the earth and the earth-moon system and even to validate the relativity principle of equivalence.

When Michael is not writing, reading or staying abreast of the latest developments in the world of physics, he likes to travel and hike, cook, and ride motorcycles, meet up with friends. He is learning how to fly-fish and hunt.

Find out more about Michael Selden and his book at www.michaelselden.com.

* The picture with the gorgeous scenery is where Michael lives and writes at 8500 feet. It’s in the middle of a million acre park in a town called Woodland Park, Colorado.
~~~~~

To continue following Michael’s book tour, visit http://writingforchildrencenter.com/

Jan 14

Trade book Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Susanna Leonard Hill

Susanna HillToday, I’m pleased to be hosting children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill. This is Day 3 of her virtual book tour through the National Writing for Children Center. Susanna will be talking about how her books can be used in a classroom setting.

Trade book Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Susanna Leonard Hill

I am in awe of teachers.

The patience, good humor, intelligence and caring that go into a career in teaching are monumental.

The job they do is one of the most important jobs there is and every teacher I’ve met is more than up to the task.

So I don’t think I have much to tell them about using books in their classrooms 

As far as my own books, though, I can suggest that PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS could be included in a Groundhog Day unit for preschool through Grade 2.  The story illustrates what happens on Groundhog Day, and back matter is appended for ease of lesson expansion in the classroom.  I also have quite a few free downloadable activities on my website which teachers might like to incorporate including coloring pages, paper doll kits, mazes, word searches, madlibs, library activities, and classroom guides.  (Please see http://www.susannahill.com/resources.html).  PHYLLIS can also be fun for signs of spring activities and classroom predictions about 6 more weeks of winter or early spring.

Most of my other books can also be used in the classroom for one unit or another.  APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS!, a sequel to PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS, is about April Fools’ Day and could be incorporated into a unit on that holiday, or on spring.

NOT YET, ROSE is about a little girl waiting for a new baby and could be included in a unit on families.

CAN’T SLEEP WITHOUT SHEEP is about a child who has trouble falling asleep and could be used in conjunction with discussions about bedtime and imagination and problem solving.

NO SWORD FIGHTING IN THE HOUSE is about brothers who take their mother’s instructions a little too literally and could be used in conjunction with talking about actual meaning vs. intended meaning, puns, or language.

ALPHABEDTIME! (forthcoming from Nancy Paulsen Books in 2015) will be able to be used for younger children learning the alphabet.

As a picture book writer, I like to see parents and teachers use picture books and expand on what they have to offer.  I run a weekly feature on my blog called Perfect Picture Books.  Each week twenty or more new books are added to our alphabetized and themed lists.  The books are always ones that are highly recommended by the reviewer and they are always accompanied by expansion activities to make life a little easier for parents, teachers, and homeschoolers looking for a way to include picture books in lesson plans or daily activities.  (Please see http://susannahill.blogspot.com/p/perfect-picture-books.html)  (I’m in the process of updating to a more user-friendly format, so please be forgiving as the transfer takes place – not all the books are currently on the lists.)

I hope you’ll come visit! 

PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS Susanna (Leonard) Hill is the award winning author of nearly a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner.)

Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one hopefully forthcoming in Korean.

To check out tomorrow’s hosting link, please visit the National Writing for Children Center site: http://writingforchildrencenter.com/

 

Jan 06

Tradebook Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Sally O. Lee

SALLY  O  Lee Today, I’m hosting Day 3 of a 5-day virtual tour (sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center) for Sally O. Lee’s new book, Pop! Pop! Bam! Bam!

Sally offers some tips that teachers can use to create a discussion after a classroom read-aloud.

Sally’s Tips for Teachers

I think my books are very good as teaching tools but not in a preachy way. Pop! Pop! Bam! Bam! helps start a discussion about how to deal with disabilities, how to accept people for who they are, how to accept ourselves, how to deal with bullying, how to deal with school shootings.

The truth is we all have to find our way in the world. Here are some discussion questions about that:

How do you do you find your way in the world?
How do you live an independent life?
How do you deal with people who can’t accept you?
How do you accept yourself?
How do you move on if a situation is unacceptable?
How do you find people who and accept you for who you are?
How do you deal with the loneliness that is inevitable for all of us from time to time?
How do you become your own best friend?
How do you report abuse?
How do you trust?
Who do you trust?

There are a million questions that are worth asking, these are just a beginning.

Sally LeeAbout Sally O. Lee

Award-winning author, Sally O. Lee earned her BA in Studio Art and Art History (with distinction) from Colby College and then went on to study graphic design and painting in Boston (Art Institute of Boston) and in New York City (New York Studio School). She has had several shows of her work and received an art grant from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology to conceive and create a series of paintings, and from this came her 2002 exhibition- A Journey Into Abstraction. Some of Ms. Lee’s paintings are in various private collections in the US.

In recent years, Ms. Lee has begun to write and illustrate children’s books. Some of them deal with the struggles of living with some form of handicap…or, as the author prefers to call it, imperfection. Many of her illustrations have been published and she has earned both academic and public recognition for her important work in children’s books. She has had illustrations published in Worldlink Magazine, IEEE Magazine, and several other publications. Sally has illustrated and written 29 books for children.

About the Book

School shootings are a topic no one wants to talk about, especially with young children. Yet, they do occur, so many young children are fearful. This is the story of an angry man who goes in to a school with a gun and hurts people. It is also a story about those who survived and how they coped.

Find out more about Sally O. Lee and her books at http://www.leepublishing.net

To follow Day 4 of Sally’s virtual book tour, tomorrow go to: www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com

~~~~~

 

Jul 21

Writing Children’s Books – Genre Differences

children's booksThere are a number of genres within the children’s book arena. The target audience ranges from babies right on through to young adults. This provides a unique situation for writers to pick and choose a genre that feels comfortable to write in, while still remaining within the children’s book market.

Each genre is geared toward a specific age group and has its own set of rules and tricks.

Children’s Books: An overview of the different genres and a description of each:

Bedtime stories: These stories are simple and soothing. They are written to help lull little ones off to sleep and are in the form of picture books. The age group can be from newborn to five or six years of age.

An example of a bedtime story is Day’s End Lullaby by Karen Cioffi. The classic Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is another example of a bedtime story.

Board Books: Board books are simple picture books geared toward babies and toddlers. They are designed to hold up to a toddlers prying and pulling fingers. Board books can be black and white or very colorful. These books usually teach simple concepts, such as numbers from one to ten, days of the week, colors, and simple words.

An example of a classic baby board book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is also a board book, a very well known.

Picture books for the 2 – 5 year old group: These books are meant to be read aloud the child. Rather than simply concept themes, simple story lines can be written with short sentences and words. These books are for children in the ‘pre-reading’ stage and the word count can range from 100 – 500 words.

An example of a very young child’s picture book is The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.

Picture books for the 4 – 8 year old: This genre makes up most of the picture book market. These books are also meant to be read aloud to children, but for the older child it can be read individually. The pictures will give a visual element for children learning to read, helping with the comprehension of the text. The wording and themes can be a bit more interesting, but still rather simple.

For the writer, in this genre you will need to use introduce ‘showing’ to create an engaging reading experience for the child. The average picture book is 32 pages and under 1000 words.

Two examples of picture books for this age group are Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Owen by Kevin Henkes.

Easy (early) readers are usually for the 5-8 year old group. Children in this group are transitioning from picture books and are developing their reading skills. The stories though should still be kept relatively simple and have only one POV. The font size gets smaller with these books and the word count is between 500 and 1,500 words. While these books are very short, they are divided into chapters. Illustrations are strewn here and there throughout the books. The easy readers usually come in series.

Examples of easy readers are LING AND TING: NOT EXACTLY THE SAME by Grace Lin and the Cam Jansen mystery series by David Adler.

Chapter books for the 6 – 9 or 7 – 10 year old group: Children in this group are learning to read. The vocabulary and storyline is expanding, but clarity is still a must. These books are designed to be read by the child and the word count is usually between 5,000 and 15,000. Interestingly, these books may be labeled as ‘early readers’ or ‘easy readers’ by educational publishers.

An example of a chapter book is Clarice Bean, that’s me by Lauren Child, another is Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

In regard to Because of Winn-Dixie, the protagonist is ten years old. Since children tend to read-up (the protagonist will be 2 – 3 years older than the reader), the target audience is around 7 – 8 years old, placing it within this genre and possibly the younger end of middle grade.

Middle grade books: The middle grader is between 8 and twelve years old. The middle-grader will go for stories that he can associate with and characters he can form a bond with. The word count is usually a minimum of 20,000.

As the child is able to comprehend more and is maturing, so should the stories. Stories and conflict can be more involved and you can now introduce more than one protagonist or point of view. This age group can also be introduced to science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries.

There are simpler middle grade books with less complex story lines and range from 20,000 to 35,000 words. And, there are the upper middle grade books  that run from 40,000 to 55,000 words and are geared toward the 12 year old. This type of book might be considered a ‘tween’ book.

An example of a simpler middle grade book is Walking Through Walls by Karen Cioffi. The early Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling are also middle-graders.

Young adult books: This genre encompasses the twelve to sixteen and up age group. YAs can be edgy; plots and characters can be complex and serious issues addressed.

An example of a young adult book is An Audience for Einstein by Mark Wakely. The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer is also in the YA genre.

A useful way to get a better idea of what the different genres consist of is to visit your local library and talk to the children’s section librarian. She’ll be able to show you books in each genre and give you tidbits of information on which are the most popular, which are classic, and much more.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Imagery and Your Story
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors
Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

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