The world of publishing can be a competitive place – especially in the children and young adult genres. To help you put your best foot forward, here are 10 tips for writing a successful children’s book.
Even if you already feel like you have a winning idea, don’t just run with it without exploring other options. Take a few days or weeks to properly brainstorm and see how your idea develops.
You may find in the process that while your idea sounded good initially, it may not have much potential for character development or a good ending. You may even spot ways to make it better, or, an even better idea may come to you.
Like any type of content creation, it is crucial that you understand the market that you are writing in. When writing a book for children, that means you need to actually understand children.
Take time to research:
Once you do a bit of research, you will be in a good place to better understand where your story fits in, and how it can stand out from the rest.
Nobody enjoys reading about the straight-A student or the perfect siblings that never argue. People, especially children, need something relatable to read about – and that means your characters need to have flaws.
Even if you are writing a children’s book for toddlers, characters are much more enjoyable when something goes wrong, they make mistakes, or they must overcome the impossible. Make sure that the characters in your story feel authentic, real, and relatable.
The children’s book market is oversaturated, and that means children are looking for characters that are unique, a bit quirky, and different from the rest.
For example, if you have a great story about a girl and her dog, why not make the dog a very specific breed that nobody has ever written about before? This makes your book not only a bit more interesting for illustrators, but it helps your story be memorable with your audience.
Especially when writing for children, it is so important to make sure that you grab attention early on. Kids do not have a long attention span, and you need to hook them in with something interesting from the get-go.
That means you shouldn’t waste the first few pages on describing the setting or universe of your story. As fascinating as it may be, kids will not necessarily find it enjoyable and they may put the book down in favor of something with a bit more action.
Many children who enjoy books either cannot read or are just learning how to read and write. To make your book is more understandable for them, make sure that you keep your tenses and point of view consistent throughout.
That means that if you choose to write in the first person, you should write in the first person for the duration of the entire book.
While this tip may not give you the most creative freedom, it is still your job as a children’s author to make sure your audience (in this case, children) can understand your story without becoming unnecessarily confused.
Nobody – especially a child – likes to be preached at. They likely get enough of it at school and at home, and they will definitely not find your story interesting if it is too ‘preachy’ or if the moral message feels too forced.
That doesn’t mean you cannot include teaching moments or gems of wisdom in your story. You can still incorporate moral themes in your book, but make sure that you get your message across in an engaging way. Oftentimes this may incorporate a bit of humor, rambunctious characters, and good old fashioned quality storytelling.
As mentioned previously, children have a limited attention span and will lose interest quickly if your story is too long.
When writing your children’s book, makes sure that it is the appropriate length for the age range of kids that you are writing for. A toddler will not be able to read a book for as long as a 7-year-old, and a 7-year-old will not be able to read as long as a 12-year-old.
When reading through your book, make sure that everything there is relevant to the story. Avoid going off on unrelated adventures and try to keep descriptions to a minimum.
The real work begins once you have the initial manuscript ready for editing. If you can afford to hire an editor – great! If not, there are other ways that you can invest in the editing process.
If you are editing yourself, wait a few days or a week once your initial draft is finished and take an honest look at what you have written. Seeing your writing with a fresh set of eyes will help you spot inconsistencies, plot holes, and unnecessary text.
This stage is also a great opportunity to get opinions on your story from real kids. Let your own children, relatives, or friends you know offer their thoughts and opinions on your story and how to make it better.
Last but not least, people cannot buy your book if they do not know about it! Once it’s on the shelves or available on Amazon, don’t underestimate the importance of driving traffic to it.
Remember, even though your book was written for children, the audience that will be buying it is adults – think parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. To reach these potential buyers, try your hand at some copywriting. Potential channels that you can use for promotion include social media, Google search, newspapers, book clubs, and many other online publishers/blogs.
If you have an idea for a great children’s book but don’t know where to begin when it comes to writing, we can take care of all of your content needs. Contact us today with what sort of content you need, and we will match you with one of our 3,000+ talented writers.