Writing For Children

This post by Diana Hurwitz originally appeared on The Blood-Red Pencil on 8/12/15.

“I have an idea for a children’s book. Who should I pitch it to?”

I see this question often on writing forums and it takes willpower to refrain from posting, “Whoa, back it up, Nelly.”

Writing for children is hard, hard work. I do not advise attempting it without a thorough understanding of children’s literature. The best place to start is the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators.

Children’s literature has multiple categories based on age. There are board books, early picture books, standard picture books, easy readers, transition books, chapter books, etc. Picture books in particular have specific page and layout restrictions. There are language expectations based on target audience. You can find a list of categories at Write For Kids.

At the very least, you should peruse Writing Children’s Books for Dummies and the current version of the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market book.

Go into a bookstore and head to the children’s section. The first thing you will notice is it is full of “classic” children’s books, the books parents of baby boomers read to them. Then there are successful series by writers such as Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter series and Stan and Jan Berenstain’s Berenstain Bear series.


Read the full post on The Blood-Red Pencil.


Keys to Writing Books for Very Young Readers

This post by Olivia Snaije originally appeared on Publishing Perspectives on 3/25/15.

PARIS: Within a program of events celebrating French publisher l’école des loisirs’ 50th birthday, the cherished children’s book author, Grégoire Solotareff, gave a talk on Monday about how to transform an idea for a book into reality. In the tradition of Maurice Sendak or Leo Lionni (both of whom are published in translation by l’école des loisirs), Solotareff’s 200+ books for children, which he has been writing and illustrating for 30 years, continue to dwell in a magical and quirky universe. For the past 20 years he has also been the editor of an imprint called Loulou & Cie for children ages 0-4 where he has overseen the production of 400 books. It was in his capacity as both author and editor that he gave the following talk, loosely translated and edited here:

In 1985 I started publishing my books. It was lots of work at the beginning. I wanted very quickly to be published by l’école des loisirs because of its reputation. I presented my books to [co-founder] Arthur Hubschmid, and since then there have been lots of books.

One shouldn’t create books just to make them. You need to be passionate about it. At first you are shy and afraid of rejection. You’re not always confident. But you do need to be convinced about your work, you need to like it and want to do it. This is the first quality you need when you present a book to a publisher and say “This is what I do and what do you think?”


Read the full post on Publishing Perspectives.


How to Create Picture Ebooks for Kids

This post by Laura Backes originally appeared on Jane Friedman’s site on 2/23/15.

Until recently, creating ebook versions of children’s picture books was something publishers reserved for their best-selling authors and illustrators. If you wanted to self-publish a picture ebook, you either needed to be a whiz at writing code, or you paid an ebook creation service to do it for you. (That said, it was possible to find a few services targeted toward publishing books for kids on Apple devices, such as Book Creator.)

Last September, Amazon released KDP Kids’ Book Creator, which allows the average Joe to create illustrated children’s books for the Kindle and upload them directly to Amazon. These books can be designed in the landscape format (to mimic the layout of print picture books) and can include text pop-ups that enlarge the text with a tap or a click, making it easier to read.

Side note: Using the KDP Kids’ Book Creator means you’re publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. You can choose from several royalty structures within that program, and also choose whether or not to be included in KDP Select, which gives Amazon exclusive distribution of your ebook for a certain time period in exchange for marketing perks.

While the KDP Kids’ Book Creator still has a few rough spots (which Amazon is presumably ironing out in response to user feedback), it’s a good start. Those of us who have worked in children’s publishing for years recognized this move for what it was: a game changer.

Just how much has Amazon’s new free software changed the game?


Read the full post on Jane Friedman’s site.


Future Bright For Children’s Books As Industry Names Plot Next Chapter

This post by Imogen Russell Williams originally appeared on The Guardian Books Blog on 9/26/14.

A mood of optimism marked the Bookseller Children’s Conference, with sales up 10% and editors pronouncing themselves keen to experiment and push the digital envelope

The Purcell Room on London’s South Bank was awash with positivity on Thursday, as the Bookseller Children’s Conference celebrated a section of the books industry where everything is rosy. If current trends continue, said the magazine’s charts and data analyst, John Lewis, this year is set to become the best year for children’s books since records began. Sales in children’s and YA publishing are up 10% in 2014 – an extraordinary performance against the backdrop of a market that is down 2% overall. And it’s not just about new titles. The backlist is making a particularly strong showing in both picture books and children’s fiction, with five of the current top 10 bestselling picture books dating from pre-2011 – including Judith Kerr’s 46-year-old classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea.

Adding to the sense of celebration, Bookseller children’s editor Charlotte Eyre and publisher Nigel Roby also announced the launch of the Bookseller YA book prize, for which any young adult titles by authors living in the UK or Ireland and published in 2014 will be eligible. (Full disclosure: I’ve been asked to be one of the judges, and have been emitting a thin, gleeful squeal ever since.)


Read the full post on The Guardian Books Blog.