With over 100 children’s books published by a wide range of traditional publishers, I thought I might share with you today my top ten tips for becoming a children’s book writer:
Join Writers’ groups
These can be local or online writers’ groups. By joining writers’ groups you will be able to network, learn about the publishing world, obtain feedback on your work and make friends with similar interests. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) have a large network of online and local critique groups.
Read a lot of recent children’s books
Take notice of what you like and what seems to work. Study the writing. You’re reading for research first, pleasure second. Actively look for recent releases. Ask your librarian. Send for publisher’s catalogues or pick them up from book fairs. It is important to keep up with the market and what’s being published. If a book with a similar story line has been published in the last few years, your story is unlikely to be published, no matter how good it is.
Know the different types of children’s books
Take into consideration the various age groups when writing your own books. Think about the word lengths, language, style, etc.
Write the type of children’s books you enjoy the most.
If you enjoy the books you are more likely going to write something someone else enjoys too.
Write every day if possible
Practice makes you a better writer.
Take courses on writing for children
There are lots of writing courses specifically aimed at writing for children out there. Take a look at the SCBWI masterclasses or those offered by NAWG.
Enter competitions specifically for writing for children
There are a lot of competitions for aspiring children’s book writers. Check the rules and the closing dates. Some of the competitions specifically for children’s writers I am aware of are:
- SCBWI Undiscovered Voices
- Chicken House/ Times Children’s Fiction competition
- Greenhouse Funny Prize
- Winchester Writing Conference
- National Association of Writing Groups (NAWG)
Extend your CV
Seek ways of filling your writer’s CV with publishing credits, such as writing articles and short stories. Contact your local newspaper about writing a column or regular slot or write fillers for magazines.
Send your manuscript out to publishers and agents.
Get a copy of the latest Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook and find out who takes unsolicited manuscripts for the age-range you are writing for. Check if they take emails submissions or prefer them to be posted. Usually they want the first three chapters, one page synopsis and a covering letter. It is very important the book is finished.