10 things to remember when writing your first children’s book

So you’ve decided to write your own children’s book? Congratulations! it’s an exciting and fulfilling project but there are a few things to consider. Here’s my top 10:

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1. Do it!

One of the things I find interesting when talking to people about writing a children’s book, is how many of those people instantly confess to a dream of writing one themselves. My first question is always ‘well why haven’t you?’. Time? Rubbish! Everyone has time it just how you use it. More likely it’s motivation or lack of self belief. Thinking of writing a story? Do it! You might surprise yourself the worse that can happen is you discover it’s not your forte, but at least you know.

2. Have a plan

People vary on how they write stories, so this part is going to be personal for you, but from my experience I often have an idea but when I delve into it I find out, actually it has no depth. I have seen many kids book written on a flimsy idea and it rarely results in a best seller.

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3. Think to the finish

This is similar to the last point, stories need to follow a journey, think about the whole story. Where is it going? Is there a point? If you think there isn’t don’t just give up, but take the time to think about this before you perfect the start.

4. Make it your own

Read and read and read some more. Don’t let yourself be pigeonholed, we’ve all read great books (like Julia Donaldson’s ‘The Gruffalo’) which seem to have absolutely nailed the formula for a great children’s book but that doesn’t mean thats the only way to write a great book. Explore as many different children’s books as you can to gain inspiration but remember in the end you will need to find your own path!

5. Believe in yourself

Nobody starts out a success! As with everything in life, becoming a successful children’s writer will take hard work and dedication. Expect lows, but don’t give up! If it was easy everyone would be doing it! Remember, you’ve jumped the first huddle by actually writing the book.

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6. Check and check again

Ok so you think you’ve nailed it. You probably haven’t; not yet anyway. A story needs patience, it needs feedback and it will need changes. Constructive criticism is vital, take it as it is meant, don’t take things personally. Equally don’t feel like you have to take everyones opinion on-board either, after all it is your story.

7. The game has changed

You can spend hours writing carefully worded emails and letters to publisher and literary agents, but here’s the hard truth: they’re really only interested in celebrity writers and authors with previous works. The chance of a book deal through these more traditional methods are slim, not impossible, but slim. Don’t get downhearted its not you and it’s not necessarily a reflection of your writing. Never ever give money upfront to publishers, it may seem legitimate but it is effectively a scam. Consider instead self-publishing on Amazon.

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8. Illustration is within your reach

Writing a picture book is great but as the name suggests the pictures are pretty important, you may think finding an illustrator is going to be an impossible task. Well finding a budding artist may not be as difficult as you think if you make the effort, post adverts on art college notice boards etc. However, consider that picture book profits are relatively small. Do you really want to split that? No good a drawing? No problem. With very little experience you can produce good quality artwork using programs such as Inkscape. Youtube videos and on-line tutorials are a great help.

9. Understand formating

Ok so you’ve decided to self-publish? Great! But before you proceed make sure you understand formatting, what size your book is going to be, how big you need the font to be, number of pages etc. It’s far better to get this right before you begin than try to fudge it after you’ve finished. Amazon will help you with all of this! Also remember if you plan on doing an ebook the formatting may be slightly different from your paperback version.

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10. Sing from the hill tops

So you’ve finally done it! Your book is out there! Now is the time to tell everyone. Never miss an opportunity to tell people about it, offer readings, make use of social media, donate to book giveaways and make use of your friends and family.

Good luck. Please let me know how you get on! 

This blog was written by Huw Jones author of ‘Sydney the Salesman Centipede‘ and other children’s books all of which are available on Amazon.

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