Many aspiring writers and published authors dream of writing and publishing a children’s book. While it’s not completely different from a regular storybook, you need to consider many factors and standards before you start writing one.
Unless you have a large online following or are already a celebrity, it’s not going to be easy to publish a children’s book on your own or guarantee its success.
You’ll have a much higher chance of getting your manuscript seen and published by an editor or publisher if you present a well-performing book.
So here’s everything you need to know to write a children’s book.
Before writing a children’s book, you need to know your target category, or in other words, the age of your target audience. Fortunately, children’s books are fittingly divided into categories based on age.
These categories help you craft the standards of the book you write, including the number of pages, illustrations, word count, writing style, etc., to ensure it is age and developmentally appropriate. Children’s books fall into one of these five categories:
These are designed for the youngest and most impressionable audience, infants and kids upto three years old. Board books are entirely made of cardboard or heavy laminated paper, including all the pages and the cover. The word count of these is obviously zero because kids that young usually can’t read.
These books are made for children a bit older, around the age of 2-5. Picture books use illustrations and small, simple sentences to teach kids and communicate a story. The Word count is typically 200 to 400 words. Children are introduced to these books by a parent or teacher reading aloud to them.
At this point, when kids read chapter books, they are independently able to read them. A successful chapter book presents kids with an interesting story, unforgettable characters, and a somewhat-challenging vocabulary. These can go upto 10,000 words and are usually read by kids aged 6-9 in grades 1 to 4.
If you’re writing for readers in middle school, you’re writing a middle-grade book. This is when children’s books start to resemble adult novels. You have to pay close attention to the genre and structure of the story. They usually consist of 60,000+ words.
Young adult (YA) books are the last category as these books are for teenagers. But they are enjoyed by many other audiences, including young adults and retirees.
You can follow the same approach as adult readers, but having teenage characters and relatable themes will make it more likely to succeed. These books can have upto 100,000 words and little to no illustrations.
Now that you have the general idea of what kind of book you’ll be writing and who you’ll be writing for, you can start writing. This is where the fun part begins. There are quite a few steps to writing a book, including deciding on a story, incorporating strong storylines, and developing characters. You’ll also need to find a children’s book illustrator if you’re not doing it yourself.
Read and compare recent books that have succeeded in the age-based category you’ve chosen to get a sense of what is popular and what the readers want to read.
Every stage of development in a growing child’s life requires a different book structure and setup. Kids lose interest fast, so it’s crucial to adapt to each stage and their reading abilities if you want your book to be fun, exciting and meaningful.
You probably have an idea in mind, but you should work on refining and polishing it once you start writing it down physically. You can do this by searching for books that are similar to yours and seeing how they are presented to the readers.
Choosing a winning title is just as much, if not more important, than the story itself. A title and book cover are the two things that act as deciding factors if a person will read your book or not. Having a title in mind while writing the book may also guide you in the writing process. An excellent title should:
- Grab the readers, or in some cases, parents’ attention.
- Clearly explain what the story is about.
- Be easily searchable; not be confusing or similar to something that might create confusion.
- Have relevant keywords to what your audience searches for.
Adding a subtitle under your book’s title will make it easier for parents to immediately know what your book is about and if it’s what they’re looking for. The additional keywords also help the book’s marketing, so doing some research on keywords is helpful.
You might be an experienced blogger, an excellent writer, or an already published author and have a sense of writing style. Still, when it comes to children’s books, you must implement a new mindset and an age-appropriate writing style to your book.
There are plenty of popular options to work with, including:
- Past/Present Tense: Younger children typically prefer books in the present tense that engages them actively instead of narrating a story that has already happened.
- First/Third Person: Children tend to like third-person narrator perspective books rather than first-person ones. A third-person narrator’s voice gives you more flexibility with the story. But there are no right or wrong methods, so if a first-person narrator’s eyes make more sense to your story, then go for it.
- Rhyming: Rhyming books can help children develop phonemic awareness and thinking and listening skills. But besides the literacy learning potential, they are also incredibly fun to read. Rhyming can be difficult, so avoid bad rhymes and be consistent.
Whether it’s a children’s book or an adult novel, there are some elements that every good book needs to include. Your idea of a story will only be as impressive as you can tell it. Some major things you should have in your children’s book are:
- Memorable Characters
- Suspenseful Hooks/Twists
- Relatable Dialogue
- Instant Recall Factor
Once you’re done writing the story, you need to proofread and edit it. A good editor plays a significant role in the success of your book. A professional proofreader or line editor can help with spelling and grammar mistakes while looking at the bigger picture and ensuring the story is consistent and properly structured.
If your story is anywhere over 600 words long, then sending it to a proofreader is a worthwhile investment. Getting an unbiased and professional opinion of your story will make your manuscript the best it can be.
The majority of writers don’t do illustrations on their own. Hiring a professional illustrator saves you a lot of time and effort that you can put into refining your story. But many people dont think about the material or inspiration they’re going to give the illustrator, which causes a lot of disappointment if it’s done incorrectly.
An excellent illustrator can enhance the quality of your book to a whole different level, but they only work with what you give them, so put some thought into it.