Hey, you know who ELSE reads kids books? Kids! And it turns out (surprise, surprise), that they have opinions… they won’t just read your book because it has colourful pictures or a thoughtful message (gack).
Are your books turning off the kids they’re supposed to appeal to?
Just because you wrote it for them doesn’t mean they’re automatically going to love it. According to Erik Weibel (aka Erik the Great, aka “this kid”), the 12-year-old lead blogger, head honcho and grand high poobah over at This Kid Reviews Books (A place for kids and grown-ups to discover books.), there are a few obvious turn-offs that you must avoid at all costs. “There are a couple of things that will make me want to put a book down,” he says.
What are Erik’s Big Three No-no’s?
Hold on a minute and you’ll find out what they are… and don’t worry, I’ve listed three quick fixes to go along with them!
In addition to posting book reviews, interviews, and profiles – in a very strict 5-day-a-week schedule – on his ever-more-popular blog, Erik has also now written a book of his own, The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, Book 1: A Bad Idea, the first in a series (in case the subtitle didn’t tip you off that he has more in mind!).
Believe me, if you write children’s books, Erik is the kind of kid you don’t want to turn off. He’s literate, articulate and the reviews and interviews on his blog are full of great information about what parts of books – and the writing process – clicks with a person his age.
Let’s find out more!
WriteKidsBooks: What annoys you most in a children's book?
Erik: There are a couple of things that will make me want to put a book down, one being bad grammar or bad editing. I read a lot of self-published and independent books and some of them I can tell haven't been through an editor. Another big turn off for me is foul language. Some authors tell me it makes the characters "realistic" but I know that my friends and I don't talk like that. I know in some cases that rough language does help the plot or character development but I think a lot of times it's just put in there to have it in there. I also get annoyed with extremely slow beginnings. I want a hook right away.
Erik: I can say that reading a lot has made me a better writer. I have reread some of my first reviews I posted and I am astounded how bad some of them are. “Did I seriously write that? It must have been an imposter!” (even though I remember typing it). I think writing reviews has also helped me become a better writer. All my reading makes me think about different styles of writing or see what I really like about some stories and maybe not so much about others. It gave me a lot to think about when I wrote my book.
Thank you so much for participating, Erik!
Just to recap…
Erik’s Big Three No-no’s:
- Bad grammar / bad editing
- Foul language
- Slow beginnings
How many of these sins have you committed? Do you have a work-in-progress you can go back to now to see what you can improve? I know I do…but never fear – here are three quick fixes to make your book “This Kid”-ready:
Three Quick Fixes for Erik’s Big Three
- Hire an editor! A sister-in-law who “reads a lot” is not the same thing.
- Cut the $#!% – oops. It may be justified, but most isn’t. Kill it unless it is absolutely necessary in the context. Remember, this is a children’s book! If you want to write that kind of stuff, maybe you should consider another genre.
- Get yourself a hook – and quick! Here are two articles that may help.