Today it is my pleasure to share the blog with fellow children’s book author BROOKE VAN SICKLE who recently published a PB titled PIRATES STUCK AT “C”. She is here to share her own process for writing picture books. She has tons of free material and some great links to get you started in writing for children.
Millions of people say they want to write a kid’s book, but not everyone does. There’s a lot of work and patience that goes into writing, and tons of rejection, after you’ve created your story, which causes many people to give up. But if you can make it through all that, it’s so worth it!
To help prepare you, here are 6 easy steps you can start today, in order to have a completed kid’s book to share with others this year.
How to Write a Kid’s Book that Attracts Readers:
I firmly believe that every book deserves a place on a child’s bookshelf if you can write it well enough. And the writing part may not be as hard as you think! You don’t have to be a master writer or someone with a big degree in creative writing. (Let out that breath you’ve been holding!) You simply have to be willing to put in the work. This is what you need to do to write a book that sells:
Six Steps to Write a Kid’s Book Well:
1 – Decide what kind of book you’re going to write.
All picture books are children’s books, but not all kid’s books are picture books. In fact, there are 6 main categories of children’s books! (If you’re unsure of what those are, here’s a helpful article with the full list to help you.)
The best way to decide on the type of book you intend to write is to think about the age of your reader. Who is going to read your book? About how old are they?
2 – Once you have an idea, make sure it’s saleable.
An important step for writing a kid’s book is to make sure it’s going to sell. (No one wants to spend over a year on something only to get stuck trying to publish it!) There are a few things I do on this step:
- Search your topic idea to see what already exists
- Read books that are similar to your idea
- Research and read top-selling books in your genre that have been published in the last 3-5 years.
Doing this research will help you find comp books to use later in a query letter, let you know if your idea already exists to know if you should change it or find a new idea, and help you understand what’s been selling or is popular already with readers and publishers. All of which are important when you decide to sell your manuscript!
3 – Join SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) and find a writing group.
I would never have been able to publish a kid’s book without the help of all my writing friends and SCBWI. You need other writers not just to read your work and offer critiques, but to also encourage you as you begin your journey. It can be a long and hard process, but with others who are going through it, it will also be some of the most fun you’ll ever have. Plus, you’ll have a group of supporters to celebrate with you when you finally get to hold your published book!
4 – Outline your story.
There are a lot of pantsers out there that would disagree with me on this step, but I think outlining is VITAL to writing any book. (You can’t find your destination without the direction for where you want to go!) Even if you change your mind later, or decide that you want to go in a different direction, it’s better to have a plan going in. At least outline who your characters are, what’s going to happen, and how you expect it to end before you begin writing.
5 – Write your first draft.
This is the exciting part! You know what kind of story you want to write and you’ve done your research. You’re ready. So start writing!!
6 – Edit your draft and write again and again until you get it right.
Sorry, the first draft you write won’t be the only draft. In fact, it may take you 30 or 50 versions to get it right! And then your agent or editor may have even more edits!!
I’ve mentored some writers that get discouraged with editing or don’t think they need to edit their stories at all, but I would caution against that. No one gets it right on their first time. So don’t be afraid to listen to good critiques and to try again.
Your goal should always be to write the best story you can!
If you want to get started writing a kid’s book, get my “How to Write a Kid’s Book” guide here. It’s free and has everything you need to start writing your book idea today! And if you want to dive deeper, visit journeytokidlit.com for more articles to writing and publishing tips for children’s book writers.
Brooke Van Sickle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and Regional Webmaster for the Iowa-SCBWI region. She’s also a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MiPa).
PIRATES STUCK AT “C”, published by BiblioKid Publishing, is Brooke Van Sickle’s debut picture book. She also has 2 more books expected in 2020. When not writing her own books, Brooke teaches other aspiring writers how to write and publish kids’ books at www.journeytokidlit.com.
Learn more about her on her website www.brookevansickle.com and connect with her on social @journeytokidlit.
Brooke will return next month with a post about PIRATES STUCK AT “C” and a give-away.