Mar 28

The Writing for Children Ropes – 8 Tips

I always enjoyed writing. I’ve written poems, short stories, even songs. And although I enjoyed writing, I never thought of publishing my work or making it a career until around 2007.

As a novice, I figured it’d be a breeze – easy peasy. I mean how difficult could it be to write simple children’s stories?

Since I always felt comfortable writing, I thought it be a natural transition. Writing was something I always went to when in awe, when being inspired, or during struggles. And, I was always able to think of things to write about.

So, I began the process of actually writing children’s books with the intent of having them published.

My eyes were quickly opened. Another world sat before me, one filled with a lot of hard work, time, road blocks, and rejection letters.

While I did minor in English Lit in college, it had been many years ago. Along with this, it’s not really the background specifically needed in writing for children or writing to get published in the market at the time … or now.

To write for children …

  • You need to know what the current market wants.
  • You need to know techniques such as the Core of Threes and having the protagonist solve the problem, not the parent or grandparent.
  • You have to know showing is a must, and telling should be limited.
  • You need to have the right sentence structure along with proper grammar and punctuation.
  • Your words and dialogue must be age appropriate.
  • You need to have an age-appropriate plot.
  • There should be only ONE point of view, one main character.
  • Your main character needs to grow in some way as a result of his journey.
  • You need to watch out for blind spots in your writing. Spots where you know what you intended to be conveyed, but the reader won’t.
  • You need to understand and utilize words such as tighten, good voice, focus, point of view, hook, and lots of other writing elements. It goes on and on and on.

Well then, just how do you learn all the information needed to write for children, especially if you don’t want to get a degree in children’s literature or are unable to enroll in a school specifically geared toward this subject?

The answer is the internet.

Sounds easy, right?

Well, think again. Since I’ve gotten my Bachelor’s degree, I’ve taken a few college courses and other courses long distance and online and I can tell you that learning a subject in a classroom is much easier than learning through other means.

And, learning on your own with the internet is even more difficult and very time consuming.

Why is it so hard?

The reason for the difficulty is there are thousands and thousands of websites and blogs that offer children’s writing information.

You’d think this is a good thing, but not everyone online knows what they’re talking about. For this reason, it’s important to use common sense when searching for information.

Make sure the site is current and posts content regularly. Another must is to research the blog owner. Does she have published books? Traditionally?

Is she in the business of writing or a hobby writer?

Another difficulty is that finding good sites can be time consuming.

If possible, get recommendations from other authors or folk in your writing groups.

So, what can you do to ease into this?

  1. Writing Groups

Your first order of business is to join a children’s writing group. One of the best is Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). There are new and seasoned people in the business of writing there who are willing and able to help. This is also a good place to network.

You can also do an online search for other groups.

  1. Critique Groups

Next on your plan should be to join a children’s writing critique group. You’ll be able to find one in SCBWI.

  1. Writer Conferences

It’d be a good idea to attend writer conferences. Some of the bigger ones are:

SCBWI Annual Conferences
The Highlights Foundation Workshop Retreats
Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference
Northwestern Christian Writers Conference

You can also do a search for others. Just be sure to look at dates. I’ve found a number of sites that list events that are outdated – by years.

  1. Writing Workshops and Webinars

There are also a number of sites that offer online writing whether workshops, zoom meetings, or others.

MasterClass
SCBWI
WOW! Women on Writing
JaneFriedman.com
WritersDigest.com
Gotham Writing Workshop

The workshops and sites mentioned in this article may not all focus directly on writing for children, but they will offer great writing information.

  1. Blogs

Another source of advice is children’s writing tips is children’s editors, publishers and agents’ blogs. Often, you’ll get great tips and information.

Find reliable and well-established sites. An excellent one is GoodStoryCompany.com and KidLit.com with Mary Kole.

Here are a few others:

Steve Laube Agency
Caitlin Derve
Truby’s Writing Studio
Children’s Book Insider
The Write Practice
Writer’s Digest
Writers Helping Writers.net
Writers on the Move.com

  1. Books on Writing for Children

Below are a few:

How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book by Karen Cioffi
The Magic Words by Cheryl Klein
The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard
How to Write a Children’s Book by Katie Davis and Jan Fields
Yes! You Can Learn to Write Children’s Books by Nancy I. Sanders

  1. Read, Read, Read

Read writing books and books in the genre you want to write.

Pay close attention to the books in your genre as you read.

What do you like about the book? How did the author convey emotion? How did the author hook you? How were the sentence, paragraphs, and chapters written?
How was the dialogue written? How did the story flow? Who was the protagonist? How did s/he grow through the journey?

Pick up on everything you can.

  1. Industry Standards Matter

Keep up with the industry standards. What are traditional children’s publishers and literary agents looking for? What’s being published? What are the standard word counts for the different genres? What books are winning valid awards?

This matters whether you’re traditionally publishing or self-publishing. You want a professional book. One that screams that the author knows what she’s doing.

While the world of writing for children can feel overwhelming, it can also be very rewarding. Take the time to learn the ropes so you can create a publishable book. And, create a time management plan.

Keep on learning; keep adding tools to your writing toolbox.

With hard work and perseverance, you can write a children’s book that you’ll be proud to be the author of and one that will be publishable as well as marketable.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Self-Publishing: 3 Perks and 4 Warnings

What is an Author Platform – How Do You Build It?

Small Home-Grown Book Publishers – Good or Bad?


Apr 16

Traditional Book Publishing – Contract to Sales to Career

Submitting to traditional publishersYou’ve chosen to write books, possibly children’s books, and you’ve done it right. You did your homework and learned the craft of writing. You created a polished manuscript and submitted it to publishers.

And, knowing it’s not necessarily the best writer who gets published, but the one who perseveres, you were steadfast and didn’t let initial rejections and lapse of time prevent you from moving forward.

Now, it’s finally happened – all your hard work paid off. A publisher accepted your book and you’re on your way.

But, this is far from the end of your writing journey . . . this is just the beginning.

After your book is accepted for publication, there are three steps you will go through on your writing journey . . . if you intend to make writing books a career.

1. The Book Contract

Once you get a publishing contract, you may want to sign it as soon as you can.

DON’T DO IT!

Be sure to read the contract carefully before signing it. If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation. Once you’re sure everything in the contract is okay and you agree with it, sign away.

After you sign a contract, you’ll be ‘put in queue’ and at some point editing with the publisher’s editor will begin. This will most likely involve revisions to your manuscript. This is okay. It’s part of the process.

Keep in mind that the publisher wants your book to succeed as much as you do. Everything they do is to make it better.

After the story is revised, edited, and proofed, it’ll be ready to go. Depending on the genre you’re writing in, if it’s a children’s book, the publisher will have illustrations created. Your book will also need a book cover.

From contract to actual release, the publishing process can take around 18-24 months.

2. Book Promotion

Once you’re in the submission phase of your manuscript, even before you have a contract, you should begin creating an author website and platform. This will help you create visibility for you and your book. And, publishers want to know their authors are capable of promoting their own books.

You need to become a ‘blip’ on the internet radar. To create and maintain this ‘blip,’ you’ll need to post content to your site on a regular basis and use a number of other strategies to extend your promotional reach. This will include using social media.

After your book’s release, you will want to take part in virtual and real book tours, do radio guest spots (online and off), do school visits, and all the other standard book promotion strategies. You can do this on your own or you can hire a book promotion service or publicist, if it’s within your book marketing budget.

There’s much involved in book promotion, so if you can afford it make use of professionals. Just be sure to ask around for recommendations. You want to use a service or individual who knows what they’re doing and who will give you value for your money.

TIP: Book promotion generates book sales.

You can check out these articles for book marketing tips:

Book Marketing – The Foundation
The Author Platform – You Definitely Need One and It Should Have Been Started Yesterday

3. A Writing Career

Now, you’ve got your children’s book and you’re promoting it like crazy (this is an ongoing process). This is super-exciting and the beginning of your writing career.

To have a writing career though, you need to repeat the process. This means you need to write and publish other stories. Ideally, you should have been writing a new story or stories when you were waiting to get a contract for your first manuscript.

If you haven’t been writing new stories, get started now.

Keep in mind though that it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality.

You want to write good books. You want to take your time to make sure you create books that will engage the reader. Books that the reader will want see what happens on the next page.

This will establish you as a good writer.

But, a writing career can also be about more than just book sales. It can open doors and lead to other writing opportunities. These opportunities include: speaking engagements, conducting workshops, teleseminars, webinars, and coaching.

Summing It Up

Writing books, whether children’s books or other, is about learning the craft. And, if you’re taking the traditional publishing route, it’s about submitting to publishers and getting contracts. Then it’s about book marketing and repeating the process.

Keep your focus on your goal and persevere.

Articles on writing for childrenWorking with a Children’s Ghostwriter – The Process
Successful Writing Strategy – Know Your Intent
5 Top Fiction Writing No-Nos

Be a children's writerBeing a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.

Check out my 180 page ebook that gives you all the basics of Fiction Writing for Children, finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books. GET STARTED TODAY!

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