Checkout children’s books on Amazon, your local bookstore, Barnes and Noble or any other chain book store and you will notice there are thousands on thousands of books written specifically for children. As a parent the choices are endless and you are amazed at the options out there for your child.
As a writer it can seem overwhelming and unlikely that your book would ever be chosen to join the ranks of so many books.
I have heard from many that celebrities are taking over the industry. Yes, there are singers, producers, actors and actresses writing children’s books and it can make the genre seem watered down and too easy to get into.
Writing a children’s book is just like getting into any genre, it can be difficult. You are entering a world of books that have rules and restrictions depending on the age range you are writing for.
With all that being said, don’t be discouraged. Writing a children’s book is something that you can do, you just have to be well versed on the rules and restrictions when it comes to getting started. Some of the things that you need to ask yourself are,
- Do you want your book to have illustrations, or will it be text-only?
- Do you want to write fiction or non-fiction?
- Non-fiction or informational books require research or knowledge of the subject matter.
- Non-fiction books can have photographs in place of drawings.
- What is the age of my audience?
A good idea would be to read children books in the age range your audience will be. Start with classic stories and then work your way to current books. It may also be a good idea to also watch cartoons and TV shows that your audience would be watching.
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Bad guys never win.
- Good guys always come out on top.
- Extremes rule (the world is black or white, not both — most children ages 10 and under can be quite literal).
- No matter how small you are you can always triumph over big things.
- Give a moral at the end but do not lecture children.
- You are not just writing for children you are writing for their parents as well.
- Scary things are okay but they should not harm anyone in the story.
- Looking for comedy? Burping and passing gas is always funny.
- Personification of animals are okay.
Once you have a children’s book that you have edited and are proud of, you must ask yourself another question.
- Will I seek to publish my book traditionally or self publish?
You also have to worry about how will you market and sell your book. You have to understand that no matter how you publish you as a writer hold some responsibility in marketing and selling your book. Here are some things you can do to accomplish your goals.
- Explore live readings.
- Make a website or a blog
- Make you tube videos reading excerpts of your story or make a trailer for your story.
Always remember however, that with all these restrictions it is still helpful to be as original as you can. It’s not easy but it will pay off.
*Chart taken from How to write a Children’s book for Dummies
Age Levels for Children’s Books
If you’re writing a children’s book, it pays to be familiar with how publishers classify them. Publishers generally assign age groups for readers of various formats as set out in the following list:
Board books: Newborn to age 3
Picture books: Ages 3–8
Coloring and activity (C&A) books: Ages 3–8
Novelty books: Ages 3 and up, depending on content
Early, leveled readers: Ages 5–9
First chapter books: Ages 6–9 or 7–10
Middle-grade books: Ages 8–12
Young adult (YA) novels: Ages 12 and up or 14 and up