So you want to write books for children, but do you know how to get started? As with all books you need to know a number of things before you start writing. After-all, you do not want to write your masterpiece only to find that a similar story has just become a best seller!
Of course the best way to get started in children's writing is to enroll on a course. By doing this you'll find out all the tips and tricks that get children's writers published, learn how to research the market and have your work evaluated by professionals.
This is by far the best way to start your career as a children's author – especially of you have no prior experience of writing. But, if you want to go it alone, below are some tips to help you.
Know what you want to do
Begin at the beginning. Decide what kind of children's writing you'd like to do. There are lots of genres to choose from, including:
• Puzzle or activity – these can be straightforward books that contain crosswords, word searches and the like without a connecting story, or they can contain a theme running through them.
• Picture – these concentrate on telling the story through the pictures rather than the words. Some picture books contain no words at all, allowing the reader to make up the details of the story as they progress through the pictures. An example of this is 'Clown' ( http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Clown.html?id=8m6mB0S8LmYC ) by the famous illustrator Quentin Blake.
• Novels – there are numerous famous examples of novels for children including 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' by CS Lewis, 'Charlotte's Web' by EB White and 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl. These can be aimed at readers from age seven all the way up to 18 years old and will differ in length accordingly.
• Rhythmic – this includes nursery rhymes and lullabies and, as you've probably guessed, they include a rhyme or musical element. Some well-known examples of this are 'The Cat in The Hat' by Dr Seuss and 'The Gruffalo' by Julia Donaldson.
• Folklore, classics or fairytales – these re-tell stories that have been passed down through the generations by word of mouth, or classics such as Shakespeare's stories, in an easy to read format for children.
• Educational – often books for children have some lesson to offer, but these have more than an obvious teaching theme. It may be that you choose to teach the children how to tell the time, dress themselves, count to 10, the colors of the rainbow or animals found on a farm. Or they could cover an issue such as divorce or getting a pet or baby brother or sister.
• Non-fiction – children's books can also be non-fiction too such as 'Julia Donaldson A Biography', which is specifically written for early readers.
Know your market
Once you've made a decision about what kind of book you want to write you now need to find out who is likely to publish it. To do this you need to research the market thoroughly. You should find out:
• which publishers accept freelance, unsolicited work
• what kinds of books they accept
• how many books they publish each year
• what they currently have in their catalog and upcoming releases
Many of the larger publishers do not accept unsolicited work, so seek out the smaller independent publishers.
All this research can be done using a combination of the internet and your own observation in libraries and book stores.
Know your audience
Now that you know what you want to write and who you are going to send it to for publication, the next step is to write your book and test it out on your target audience. Give your story to friends with children, to local toddlers / nursery / play groups or ask at the local schools of they'd be willing to read the story in class. You should get some great feedback as children tend not to hide what they think of something. Plus, it'll help when you send your work to a publisher if you already have great reviews of your book to offer.