Advice for Writers
So You Want to Write a Children’s Book?
Writing a children’s book can be one of the most rewarding experiences. But most people don’t know where to start. Here are some guidelines on how to get started:
First, get inspired and stay inspired. Inspiration is all around you. Do things to spark your creative juices. Take a walk. Go see a movie. More importantly READ! Read books from all genres. You never know what may strike a nerve and lead you to your next masterpiece.
I also recommend going through Julia Cameron’s workbook The Artist’s Way. Through helpful exercises and techniques, you learn how to harness your creative talents. It’s like a creative retreat in a book.
Second, start by asking yourself some very important questions.
- What age group are you targeting?
- What type of book do you want to write (picture book, chapter book, young adult, etc.)?
- Do you want to self-publish or go the traditional route?
- What do you really hope to accomplish by publishing this book?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, I highly recommend you read The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard. It’s a clear and concise go-to guide for navigating the art and business side of writing a children’s book. This book is enough to get you started, but there are many other books on the topic that will help as well.
Third, join the local Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). This is a MUST for any children’s book author. It’s a chance for you to connect with authors and illustrators in your area, keep pace with the latest news and events in the world of children’s literature, and learn from seasoned professionals. The first night I attended a meeting, I met my publishing consultant. Within months I had a publisher and illustrator all because of my connection with the group. It’s truly invaluable.
The final step is to write. Writers write; it’s that simple. Set aside time to practice writing. Write about something or write about nothing. The key is to get in the habit of writing without inhibitions. I could discuss writer’s block and all that jazz but honestly if you are always seeking inspiration then you shouldn’t run dry of ideas. If by chance you do run dry, then review step one.
And try to write without editing. Let your ideas and concepts flow freely. Remember there are always professionals who will edit and re-edit your work before it goes to print. If you plan to self-publish I strongly advise you to find a budget-friendly editor to review it. The goal is to complete the manuscript first. If you struggle with completing your manuscript (like I did), then ask someone to give you a deadline and hold you accountable. An incomplete manuscript benefits no one.