How to Write a Children’s Book

Writing a children’s book can be a truly delightful and satisfying journey. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the steps of weaving an enchanting tale for youngsters, starting with brainstorming ideas all the way to polishing your story. No previous experience in book publishing is needed, as we’ll provide you with helpful tips and hands-on guidance on how to develop a children’s book that is not only fun but also educational.

The Art of Brainstorming and Developing Ideas for Your Children’s Book

Brainstorming ideas:

Begin by brainstorming ideas for a children’s story that is both entertaining and educational. To do this, consider the following:

  • The target age group: Think about the age range of your intended readers and what types of stories might appeal to them. For example, picture books are generally aimed at children aged 2-6, while middle-grade novels cater to children aged 8-12.
  • Interests and themes: What subjects or themes might engage your target audience? This could be anything from adventure and fantasy to real-world issues, like bullying or friendship.
  • Lessons or values: Think about any significant morals or principles you’d like to communicate in your story. These could involve fostering empathy, embracing diversity, or inspiring a sense of curiosity and adventure.

Developing Your Story

Once you have a general idea of what you’d like to write about, start fleshing out the details of your story. This includes:

  • Setting: Where and when does your story take place? Consider whether your story will be set in a real-world location, a fictional world, or a combination of both.
  • Characters: Who are the main characters in your story? Think about their personalities, backgrounds, and motivations. Be sure to create well-rounded, relatable characters that your young readers can connect with.
  • Conflict and resolution: What challenges will your characters face, and how will they overcome them? Develop a clear conflict and resolution to keep your readers engaged and invested in the story.

Research What Makes a Children’s Book Engaging and Memorable

Study popular children’s books:

To better understand what makes a children’s book successful, study popular titles in your target age range. Take note of the elements that make these books engaging and memorable, such as:

  • Captivating illustrations: Many children’s books rely on eye-catching artwork to draw in young readers. Study the visual styles and techniques used by successful illustrators and consider how you might incorporate similar elements into your own book.
  • Relatable characters: Successful children’s books often feature characters that young readers can identify with or aspire to be like. Look for examples of strong, well-developed characters in popular titles and think about how you can create similarly compelling characters in your own story.
  • Age-appropriate vocabulary: Pay attention to the language and sentence structure used in popular children’s books. The vocabulary should be accessible and engaging for your target age group, without talking down to the reader.

Learn from the Experts

In addition to studying popular children’s books, consider attending workshops, conferences, or online courses focused on writing for children. These events can provide valuable insights and guidance from industry professionals, as well as networking opportunities with fellow writers and illustrators.

Ensure Age-Appropriate Content, Strong Plot, Relatable Characters, and a Clear Message

Age-appropriate content:

When writing your children’s book, it’s essential to ensure that the content is appropriate for your target age group. This includes:

  • Language: Use age-appropriate vocabulary and sentence structure. Keep in mind that younger children may require simpler language, while older children may appreciate more complex phrasing and a richer vocabulary.
  • Themes and subject matter: Choose themes and subject matter that are relevant and engaging for your target audience. Be mindful of addressing more sensitive topics in an age-appropriate manner that respects the emotional maturity of your readers.
  • Length and pacing: The length of your book and the pacing of your story should be suitable for your target age group. For example, picture books tend to be shorter with simpler plots, while middle-grade novels can be longer and more complex.

Strong plot:

A strong plot is crucial for holding your readers’ attention and keeping them engaged. To ensure your story has a solid plot, consider the following:

  • Conflict: Introduce a central conflict or problem that your characters must overcome. This can be an external challenge or an internal struggle, depending on the nature of your story.
  • Structure: Follow a clear narrative structure with a beginning, middle, and end. This typically involves setting the scene, building tension as the conflict unfolds, and resolving the issue in a satisfying conclusion.
  • Pacing: Ensure your story moves at a steady pace, balancing action and dialogue with quieter moments for reflection and character development. Be mindful not to rush through important events or linger too long on minor details.

Relatable characters:

Creating relatable, engaging characters is essential for connecting with young readers. Consider these tips for crafting memorable characters:

  • Develop distinct personalities: Give your characters unique traits, quirks, and motivations that make them stand out from one another. Avoid relying on stereotypes or one-dimensional characters.
  • Create relatable experiences: Ensure your characters face challenges or situations that your target audience can relate to or empathize with. This can help readers form a deeper connection with your story.
  • Show growth and change: Allow your characters to learn, grow, and change throughout the course of the story. This can create a more satisfying and realistic narrative arc.

Clear message:

A clear, meaningful message is essential to a successful children’s book.
To convey your message effectively:

  • Integrate the message naturally: Avoid being overly preachy or moralistic. Instead, weave your message seamlessly into the narrative, allowing readers to absorb it through the characters’ experiences and actions.
  • Make it age-appropriate: Ensure the message is accessible and understandable for your target age group. Younger readers may respond better to simpler, more concrete messages, while older readers may appreciate more nuanced, thought-provoking themes.
  • Keep it consistent: Maintain a consistent message throughout your story, reinforcing it through various plot elements and character interactions.

Writing a captivating children’s book requires a combination of creativity, research, and attention to detail. By focusing on crafting a great story, researching what makes children’s books engaging and memorable, and ensuring age-appropriate content with a strong plot, relatable characters, and a clear message, you’ll be well on your way to creating a book that resonates with young readers. Remember to stay patient and persistent, and don’t be afraid to seek guidance from industry professionals or fellow writers as you embark on your publishing journey.

The Path to Publishing a Children’s Book

Publishing a children’s book can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. This blog post offers detailed guidance for aspiring authors on the steps to take in order to successfully publish a children’s book in the UK. We’ll discuss the importance of seeking feedback, finding a literary agent, attending writing conferences, submitting to online portals, and networking with other authors.

Get Feedback on Your Manuscript – The Importance of Constructive Criticism and Valuable Suggestions

Seek diverse perspectives:

Share your manuscript with trusted individuals who can offer constructive criticism and valuable suggestions for improvement. This may include:

  • Family members and friends: They can provide an initial round of feedback, focusing on general impressions and emotional reactions to your story.
  • Other writers: Fellow authors can offer insights on your writing style, plot structure, and character development, as well as advice on common writing pitfalls and industry trends.
  • Teachers and librarians: These professionals have experience with children’s literature and can offer feedback on age-appropriateness, educational value, and overall appeal to your target audience.

Be open to feedback:

When receiving feedback, it’s essential to keep an open mind and be receptive to suggestions. Remember that the goal is to improve your manuscript and increase its chances of success in the publishing world. Consider each piece of feedback carefully, but also trust your instincts and maintain your unique voice as a writer.

Title: Find a Literary Agent – Research and Secure the Right Representation for Your Children’s Book

Research literary agents:

Identify literary agents specialising in children’s books and have a proven track record of success in the UK market. To find potential agents:

  • Consult online resources: Websites like the Association of Authors’ Agents, Writer’s Market, or AgentQuery can help you find agents who represent children’s authors.
  • Investigate book acknowledgements: Many published authors thank their agents in the acknowledgements section of their books. This can be a valuable source of information for finding agents who have experience in your genre.
  • Follow industry news and blogs: Stay informed about the publishing industry by following relevant news sources and blogs, which may feature interviews with or articles about successful children’s book agents.

Prepare a submission package:

Once you’ve identified potential agents, prepare a submission package that includes:

  • A query letter: This is a one-page letter that introduces you and your book, providing a brief synopsis, target audience, word count, and any relevant writing credentials or awards.
  • A manuscript sample: Depending on the agent’s submission guidelines, including the first few chapters of your manuscript or a specified number of pages.
  • A synopsis: Write a one- to two-page summary of your entire story, including major plot points and character arcs.

Submit and follow up:

Send your submission package to your chosen agents and follow up according to their guidelines, usually after 6-8 weeks if you haven’t heard back. Be patient, as the process can take time, and keep in mind that rejection is a normal part of the journey.

Title: Attend Writing Conferences – Networking and Learning Opportunities for Aspiring Authors

Find relevant events:

Participate in writing conferences, workshops, and seminars focused on children’s literature. These events can provide valuable insights and connections that can help you on your publishing journey. To find suitable events:

  • Search online: Websites like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and The Bookseller often list conferences and workshops for children’s authors.
  • Join local writing groups: Connect with writing groups in your area, as they may host events or have information about upcoming conferences.

Network with industry professionals:

At writing conferences, take advantage of networking opportunities with other authors, agents, and publishing professionals. These connections can provide valuable insights, advice, and potential leads for your publishing journey. To make the most of these events:

  • Prepare an elevator pitch: Craft a brief, compelling description of your book that you can share with others during networking sessions.
  • Bring business cards: Design and print professional-looking business cards with your contact information to share with new connections.
  • Be engaged and proactive: Attend panel discussions, participate in workshops, and ask questions during Q&A sessions. This demonstrates your commitment to the craft and helps you build relationships with industry professionals.

Submit to Online Portals – Exploring Online Platforms and Writing Communities for Exposure and Feedback

Critique groups and writing communities:

Explore online platforms and writing communities where you can submit your manuscript for feedback, exposure, and potential representation. Some examples include:

  • Critique Circle: An online writing workshop where members can submit their work for critique by other writers.
  • Scribophile: A writing community that offers detailed feedback, critiques, and the opportunity to connect with fellow writers.
  • Absolute Write: An online forum with dedicated sections for discussing children’s literature and sharing your work.

Literary journals and online magazines:

Submit your work to literary journals and online magazines that specialize in children’s literature. These publications can provide valuable exposure and help you build your writing portfolio. Research submission guidelines, pay rates, and target audiences before submitting your work.

Ask for Referrals from Other Writers – Connecting with Successful Authors for Guidance and Support

Reach out to fellow authors:

Connect with other writers, especially those who have successfully written and published children’s books in the UK, and ask for recommendations or introductions to agents or publishers. To establish these connections:

  • Attend local writing events: Participate in readings, book signings, and writing workshops in your area to meet other authors.
  • Engage with authors online: Follow and interact with authors on social media platforms, join author-specific online communities, or comment on their blogs.
  • Join writing organizations: Becoming a member of writing organizations, such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), can provide access to a supportive community of fellow authors.

Seek guidance and advice:

When reaching out to fellow authors, ask for their insights and experiences in the publishing process, such as:

  • The process of finding an agent: Learn about their journey to secure representation and any tips they may have for approaching agents.
  • Preparing a submission package: Gain insights on what worked for them when submitting their manuscripts to agents or publishers.
  • Navigating the publishing process: Seek advice on contract negotiations, working with editors, and promoting your book.

Publishing a children’s book can be a complex and competitive process. By seeking feedback on your manuscript, finding a literary agent, attending writing conferences, submitting to online portals, and networking with fellow authors, you’ll increase your chances of success in the publishing world. Be patient, persistent, and open to learning from others as you navigate this exciting journey.

About Jamie Rand

I'm the Business Development Manager at Imprint Digital, a leading book printing company. This blog is where I share insights and strategies from my journey, offering advice for everyone in the publishing and printing industry.