Writing children's books may seem like an easy way to earn money. However, there is an art to writing a children's book that is entertaining and informative without being too preachy, cutesy or simplistic. Those who have mastered that art can earn a healthy income by working with legitimate publishing venues.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Computer with data storage and word processing capability
- Current Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (published annually)
If you have children or know a child well, consider what interests them and what books they enjoy. Think about why those books strike a chord with them.
If you have a particular subject, plot, or character in mind, think about how to present it from a child's point of view.
Research. If you desire to write a non-fiction book, make sure your information is accurate.
Also, visit a library or bookstore to find books similar to the one you want to write. Consider how they presented the material successfully and how you could improve on them.
Research possible publishers. Find the publisher's name and contact information for books similar to the one you want to write. Contact the publishers and ask for their editorial guidelines.
Follow the publisher's editorial guidelines, including subject matter, manuscript formatting, and anything else. If the publisher wants a double-spaced manuscript with one-inch margins, don't submit a single-spaced document. If the publisher specifically says "no talking animals," don't submit a story about Sammy the seal.
Write your story. Consider the age of the children you would like to read it and write the story as if you were speaking to them. Use common words and descriptions they would understand.
Only submit art if you are a trained artist. You may indicate in the manuscript what artwork is to be used and where it will be placed. If you know an illustrator who will work on your book, you may submit their artwork with the manuscript. Otherwise, the publisher will provide an illustrator once the book is accepted.
Submit your book to an organisation such as the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, a local writer's club or even a local university's English or childcare class. Society or club members may provide a critique of your book to help you fine-tune it. A teacher may be read the book to her students to gauge their interest. Consider whether to make any revisions.
Get a copy of the most recent Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market to find additional possible publishers. Follow each publisher's editorial guidelines carefully. You may need to submit an outline, a synopsis and/or a sample chapter, depending on the company.
Write an individual query letter to each potential publisher describing your book. Tell them why you are qualified to write it and why you believe the company is the right publisher for the book. The Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market includes a section on how to write a query letter.
Once your book is accepted by a publisher, carefully read all contract information before signing it. Ensure that the contract covers how many books will be printed, how they will be distributed, how they will be marketed, and how much you will be paid.
Consider self-publishing. There are several online companies that will help you through the self-publishing process, including several that specialise in children's books. Self-publishing assures that your book will be published. However, you must pay to do so and many self-publishers will not help you advertise or distribute your book.
Carefully proofread the book through each step of the publishing process: Do the pictures match the story? Are there any typos, grammatical errors or factual errors? Errors made early in the publishing process are easier and less expensive to correct than those found later. Publishers may charge you to fix errors discovered late in the process.
Carefully file and process all the paperwork from the publisher. Make sure you are paid when they promised. Politely contact the company if a payment is missed.
Tips and warnings
- Children's book publishing is a highly competitive market. Your book may be rejected by many publishers before it is accepted.
- Standard book publishing takes time. It may be months before your book is published and many more months before you receive any income from it. The amount of money you earn depends on many factors: the type of book, how many books are sold and other factors. You will likely need to write and publish several children's books in order to earn a living as an author.
- Use caution when selecting a publisher or self-publishing company. There are many dubious companies who promise authors fame and fortune but either deliver a low-quality product or poor distribution and marketing.
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