Tuesday, June 9, 2015

So you want to write a children’s book…? The ultimate Quick-Start tutorial.


When I started out writing children’s books, I was full of ideas, but I had no idea what to actually DO. 

Should I write the story?  Find an artist?  How was it all supposed to come together into an actual book?  Like I said, I had no idea.

You might be right where I was a few years ago, wondering how to get started.

I’ve put this quick-start guide together to help YOU skip over the mistakes I made.  I hope it’ll help give you a smoother launch into this incredible world of writing for children.

1. How can you write (or finish) your book?

You can’t do much until you have a finished book saved on your hard drive (or, if you’re the old-fashioned type, written down on paper).  Here are the basics, the least you need to know to sit down and get writing.

2. What should you know before submitting to an editor?

If you’re submitting to a traditional publishing company, you don’t need to have your book illustrated.  In fact, unless you’re the artist, it’s best not to.  Editors want to see a completed manuscript.  That means just the words, nothing else.

3. Have you thought about self-publishing?

It’s not for everybody.  Self-publishing is hard.  And you won’t get rich.  But it can also be rewarding (richly so), and let you get “niche” books into the hands of kids who really enjoy them.  With a little hard work, your book can become somebody’s favourite – without going through the gatekeepers of traditional publishing.

4. How do you get your book illustrated?

If you’re lucky enough to be able to draw your own pictures, pat yourself on the back.  For the rest of us… things aren’t so simple.  Here are a few ideas, and I will be posting more in the near future dealing with this important step in the self-publishing process.

5. How can you publish your own book in print?

Many self-publishers these days don’t even think about pring books.  It’s a lot of hassle, and you often make less money for each print copy of your book you sell.  But having your books in print gives you a legitimacy you just can’t get with ebooks.  There’s something about holding a book in your hand, right?  Especially since we’re writing for kids.  Print is still important, and you should consider doing it if you’re self-publishing.  Plus, it gets easier with practice.

6. What’s the best way to start digital publishing (ebooks)?

This is the brave new world of publishing, but it’s also a great, swampy morass of mediocrity.  Making your book stand out above the crowd starts with writing a terrific book and then understanding ebook formats, distribution and publishing.

7. How can you, a mere mortal, start selling your book like a pro?

Even if you’re traditionally published, these days you cannot overlook the marketing side of things.  Publishing companies expect their authors to go above and beyond to help promote their own books.  If you sit back and do nothing, you risk going out of print.  If you’re self-published, it’s all on your shoulders right from the get-go.  But don’t panic:  here are some tools to help you cope.

8. Why should you be career-focused?  (Think about writing your NEXT book!)

This is important.  Hopefully, by now you’re a writer with a BOOK.  (If not, go on back up to #1 and get it written!)  But I want you to be more than that.  I want you to be a writer with dreams… a writer with a career.  A single-book author has all her eggs in one basket.  I don’t want that to be you.  I’m not saying your book isn’t terrific.  I bet it is.  But I’m also betting you have MORE terrific books in you… somewhere.

This probably still seems like a lot to do.  Just take a deep breath.  It’s challenging, but then, who doesn’t love a challenge?  Taking on difficult tasks is how we know we’re alive, right?

Decide if writing kids’ books is really something you want to do.  I think so, if you’ve made it this far.  So hang in there.

If that’s truly what you dream of, you CAN make it happen.  You’re not alone.  Find a writing community, maybe by joining your local SCBWI group.  You can also sign up for my free emails for weekly bite-sized doses of encouragement.

Again, take a deep breath.  Close your eyes.  And dream of holding that book in your hands… the moment that makes it all worthwhile. 


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