Whether you are trying to write a children’s story or publish a picture book, one thing is for certain, getting your story out there is anything but child’s play. Creating children’s literature has always been highly competitive, and, with e-books, self-publishing, and children’s web sites, you could easily assume publishing in books and magazines were a thing of the past. Think again. Not only are children’s books and magazines alive and kicking, now you can take advantage of modern methods and technology to create a name for yourself.
To get started as a serious children’s book writer, the first thing you might want to do is join The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). By joining the SCBWI, not only do you receive their annual publication guide that lists everything from publishers to agents, you get six of their Bulletin magazines each year that are loaded with information and dates for conventions and contests, you are part of their web site group which allows you to promote yourself and share information with other writers, and you have access to the best advice and contacts in the industry.
Easy Guidelines On How To Write A Children’s Book
To become a successful children’s book writer, you need some talent, some imagination, and, according to Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication, by Ann Whitford Paul, you need to master some skills. The SCBWI describes the book as helping “you develop the skills you need by walking you through techniques and exercises specifically for picture book writers….to craft picture books that will appeal to young readers and parents, agents, and editors.”
The book begins by telling you some things you should keep in mind about your reader. These things include the fact that “everything is new to children, children live in the present, children have strong emotions, and sometimes childhood is not happy.” Paul then says you should build a frame to your story by taking a scene, like a girl walking down the street, and adding a question to the scene. Next, answer the question. After you have drafted the story, cross out everything that does not relate to the question and answer. She also suggests you read new picture books during the process of writing your book.
Once you have developed the story line, it’s time to work on creating some compelling characters. Paul advises you start with choosing a type of character you care about. Next make the character likable, which doesn’t necessarily mean he is good. A bully can be a sympathetic character, for example, if the reader knows the cause of his bad behavior. The character should be childlike, have flaws, and behave in believable ways. The main character must be active, not passive, and he should solve his own problems.
Lastly, to create unique, memorable and consistent characters, it boils down to knowing the following five things about him: his name, his age at the time of the story, his appearance, his relationships with others, and his personality. The personality of the character is knowing his fears, strengths, weaknesses, and special talents, among other things. After you have written a draft, finalized the story, and rewritten it several times, it’s time to get it published.
How To Get Your Children’s Story Published
Getting a children’s book published is easier said then done. The SCBWI and the Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market supply comprehensive lists of publishers and agents, but getting an agent or publisher to choose your manuscript is a different story. In fact, it is rare to find a children’s book publisher who will even look at a manuscript that has not come through an agent. By the same token, no matter how well written a story is, it’s hard for an agent to take a writer seriously who has never been published. So where do you begin and how do you make a name for yourself?
Thanks to modern technology it is easier to make a name for yourself simply because their are more options available. For example, you can now submit your story via email to many children’s magazines or web sites like MeeGenius.com, or invest in yourself and publish your book through a self-publisher.
MeeGenius.com is able to publish stories by many new writers because of their unique system. They supply a list of illustrators and authors and ask that you join forces to produce a completed manuscript. If they accept it, the story is posted on their web site and people can download the stories to their media players for a small price. Not only is it a way for authors and illustrators to begin making money, it is an easy way to get stories published and create style and brand before starting to submit manuscripts to an agent.
Writing and publishing a children’s book may not be easy, but if you succeed, the rewards are great. It’s a satisfying way to put a little bit of yourself out there where the sky is pink, the grass is made of marshmellows, and laughter and imagination take charge of the day.
SCBWI.org. “Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.”
Paul, Ann Whitford (2009) Writing Picture Books. Writer’s Digest Books.