Conversations: 5/5/2017

LET’S PLAY!

WRITE YOUR CHILDREN’S BOOKS!

Have you ever considered writing books for children? I took a swing at it when my daughter was just starting kindergarten. The plan was to use her experiences to develop a story that would be great fun for lots of children as well as give her a book filled with many of her very own memories. As the pages fell from my typewriter—no personal PC at my house in those days—my embellishments carried her story into an imaginary realm. Although I read it to her at the time, and she laughed and became surprised at all the right spots, the manuscript never left our house. Today, I’m thinking of revising it a bit and try it out with our great-grandchildren. I’ve learned a lot over these years. What better time to share these children’s writing techniques with you than springtime when the world comes alive with blossoms and playgrounds full of children.

children's picture book

Possibly the best advice—and instruction—I received when seeking “the way” to write for children of various ages was this:

Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Keep it moving. Those were the key points given by a well-known children’s author I met at the first writer’s conference I attended. Although she was speaking specifically about writing for young children, I’ve sown those guidelines into all my writing efforts.

Keep it simple. We’ve all heard that educating our children “starts in the womb” when Mom reads aloud. And that infants and toddlers are “sponge learners” absorbing sights, sounds and language very quickly. However, if we over-write a children’s book, it will be of no use to the child/audience we’re want to reach.

  • Hold the story to a 1,200-1,500 word length.
  • Each sentence should reveal one single specific idea.
  • Use words that describe the idea—words that translate into beautiful illustrations.
  • Paragraphs: no longer than three sentences.
  • KEEP YOUR WORDS VISUAL. I’ve added this piece to my Start Here list because once an infant’s eyes begin to “track” the sounds and voices they hear their world expands dramatically.

Keep it focused. It’s all about the available “attention span” of the age group we’re writing for.

  • Picture books/Board books: full color pages with large, easily identifiable characters and illustrations, and one-to-five words per page. These stories need to be tightly written.
  • Short Story books where each page of eight to fifteen words is considered a “chapter.”
  • Longer Chapter books connect to the specific likes of kindergarten and first grade age children. Remember, the parents are still selecting these books, and if the illustrations appear too “different” to them, they will buy a different book.

Keep it moving. All great stories are built on the same essential elements: character(s), interesting setting and plot—ups and downs of some level of conflict—and the resolution. When author Margaret Wise Brown wrote a rhyming poem (1947) describing the bedtime ritual of a bunny rabbit she could not have guessed the millions of children who have enjoyed it. GOOD NIGHT MOON gave very young children the rhythm of the words which flowed with the actions of the main character resulting a peaceful night’s sleep.

Takeaway for today: whether you aim to make a career in the children’s books world, or write in ANY other genre, take the opportunity to exercise your skills and follow the above steps to create one Picture Book. Think of this as PLAY TIME and allow images to float in your thoughts as the words pour onto the page. You may just find yourself writing the next book that sells 48 billion copies. ⚓︎


Royalene

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Self-Publishing Week in Review: 03/17/15

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Tuesday to find out the hottest news.

Self-publishing matters, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

This Science Codex article looks at self-publishing statistics and trends. It illustrates why self-publishing is a viable option for authors and why people should take self-published works seriously. It is an interesting read for all writers.

Is Self-Publishing Good For Women? Study Says Yes!

There has been an increased focus in recent years on sexism in publishing, but there seems to be one corner of the publishing world where women are doing quite well for themselves. According to a recent investigation, self-publishing is helping women break the publishing glass ceiling and have the kind of success that tends to skew very male in the world of traditional publishing.

Google Ads 101: A Guide for Indie Authors

This article provides tips for how indie authors can make the most of Google AdWords to target potential readers. It covers mapping your audience, keywords, bidding, and more. It is a must read for authors interested in using Google Ads to promote their books.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Self-Publishing Week in Review: 03/03/15

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Tuesday to find out the hottest news.

Four Reasons to Self-Publish Your Children’s Book

In this Huffington Post article, author and illustrator Sue Shanahan shares what she learned during her publishing journey and why she thinks self-publishing is a great option for children’s book authors. This is a must read for all writers considering self-publishing.

A Recipe for Success: Tips for Self-Publishing Your Cookbook

This Publisher’s Weekly article offers helpful tips for cookbook authors. Topics covered include building a platform, finding your niche, creating a team, and more. It is a must read for authors interested in self-publishing a cookbook.

LAPL, SELF-e, Surprising Stats | Self-Publishing & Libraries

This Library Journal article discusses self-publishing statistics and how they impact libraries. This is an interesting read for authors and librarians.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

How to Write and Publish a Children’s Book

Books for children and young adults are among the hottest selling titles right now, and there are a variety of reasons people want to write books for children. Some writers have a particular lesson or story they want to share with kids. Others simply love children and want to write for them. And then there are those writers who are just children at heart and connect best with a younger audience. Whatever your reasons for wanting to write for children, you can write and publish a children’s book. Here’s how:

1. Learn about the market and your audience.

Writing for children is not the same as writing for adults, and there are different types of children’s books: picture books, easy readers, middle grade novels and young adult novels. Each of these different audiences expect different things from a book. To help you better understand the craft of writing for children, take a class or pick up a few books on the topic. It is also helpful to study your audience. Watch the shows they are interested in. Listen to the music that is popular. Go to a public place and observe how they interact with people. If you want to create believable characters, you need to understand your audience.

2. Figure out your goals.

Once you have a good understanding of the market and your audience, decide what you want to write. What is your mission as a children’s author? What do you want to tell your audience? This is the time to start generating story ideas and creating characters. You can use your own childhood, current events and your imagination to inspire your writing.

3. Write and Rewrite.

Once you know what you want to write, you have to actually put the words on paper. This is often the most difficult part for many writers, but don’t get discouraged. Simply make an effort to consistently work on your story, and remember that a first draft is not a finished product; it doesn’t need to be perfect. Don’t be afraid to rewrite your story several times. Writing for children is not easy, and it can take several attempts to find just the right words.

4. Start the publishing process.

Self publishing is a great option for children’s book authors because it provides complete control over the project. For instance, authors who publish with traditional publishing firms typically have no say in the illustrations that accompany their story. Since the pictures can make or break a children’s book, it is important that the author’s vision is considered during this process. Many self publishing companies offer a variety of illustration services and various publishing packages to accommodate your needs.

I’d love to know, why do you want to write for children?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.