Hello, and welcome to Writing Tips Oasis, the place where you can find writing tips for any genre, from fantasy and science fiction, to children’s fiction and nonfiction as well.
In this guide, we will focus on how to write a children’s book step by step, and we will try to cover most of the categories within the genre. This guide is meant for new and aspiring writers, but also for anyone who wants to try their hand at writing a children’s story.
Before we start, we want to impress upon you the most important thing about children’s fiction – you’re not just writing for children. Of course, the children will be the ideal intended recipients of the book you will write, but before that, you have to satisfy the parents of those children – or guardians, or older sisters, aunts and uncles – in other words, your story, first and foremost, must satisfy the adults who will buy your book and give it to their children. And, if you’re attempting to get traditionally published, you need to know what will be worthy of publishing to agents, editors and publishers.
And, the best way to do that, of course, is with research.
Table of Contents
- Step 1: Read and research
- 1) Infant books – up to age 3
- 2) Picture books and picture story books – ages 3 to 8
- 3) Children’s stories – ages 6 to 8
- 4) Chapter books – ages 6 to 10
- 5) Middle grade and tween novels – ages 8 to 14
- 6) Young Adult novels – ages 13 to 18
- Step 2: Choose the right themes
- Step 3: Get into a child’s mindset
- Step 4: Create the story
- Step 5: Write the first draft
- Step 6: Revise the draft
- Step 7: Get feedback
- Step 8: Second revision and proofreading
- Step 9: On publishing a children’s book
Step 1: Read and research
Yes, you might want to just sit down in front of your laptop, computer, or maybe even a drawing board if you’re talented in illustrating and drawing and want to add a bit of flair to your novel, and just write your damn story.
And then you may discover, a certain amount of time later, that it just doesn’t fit into any category of children’s books. The characters might be too young for the YA themes you’ve placed there. Perhaps an 8-year-old protagonist would not really be filled with so much angst. And perhaps that theme of domestic violence you wish to explore may be more suitable for a nonfiction book or an adult novel. Yes, all themes, no matter how painful and taboo they are, deserve to be explored, if the writer wishes to do so, but children’s fiction is, like children themselves, very delicate. Young minds are like dry sponges – they absorb everything, and quite often, take what they read as to be true in real life. Children’s books are not just a means for escapism for the children, they’re also behavioral guides, windows through which the children can see more sides of the world. Children often copy the adults around them in behavior, parents, teachers, older siblings, friends, so it should come as no surprise that children will also behave and take in lessons from the books they read. For that reason, children’s fiction is divided into several categories that differ primarily in themes, plot construction, characterization, and length. These divisions may differ, depending on the publisher, and for that reason, here, we will divide children’s fiction primarily by the age of the intended readers.
1) Infant books – up to age 3
These are also most commonly called board books or baby books, and are meant for infants and toddlers, up to age 4. These books are very short in length, less than 100 words, and often have less than 10 words per page. They’re often cardboard books with colorful illustrations. The idea is that if you give this book to a young child, he or she will be enticed by the illustrations first, and then as the child begins to learn to read, he or she will be able to read the book as well. The story is simple, the protagonist is usually a child around the same age: a baby, a toddler, or an animal (fox, cat, duckling, dog, etc.). There is little to no plot, and the protagonist is learning a concept through a very slight rise of action and a very gentle climax. For example, a small baby meets the family dog and warms up to it. These books are always written in present tense and in third person point of view. The illustrations need to be simple and minimalistic, to enable the child to understand the concept even without being able to read the words.
2) Picture books and picture story books – ages 3 to 8
Picture books are intended for children aged 3 to 5 years old, and picture story books are mostly targeted to children aged 5 to 8 years old. These two categories are very similar because both rely on the illustrations and pictures for storytelling, and in both categories, the storytelling is a bit more complex and developed, the protagonist is presented a problem that they have to solve, and the story follows a rising action and ends with a climax. These books are not overly descriptive and mostly depict action and dialogue, while the descriptions of places and scenes are left to the illustrations.
Picture books – ages 3 to 5 – are short, ideally 500 words, although they can go up to 1000 words in length. The protagonists are usually in pre-school or kindergarten, and the plot is simple, but the themes are heartwarming and sweet. You may introduce twists and subplots in the illustrations.
Picture story books – ages 5 to 8 – are also short, no longer than a thousand words. The protagonist is usually just starting school. Here, you can introduce themes that are more mature: poverty, being an outcast, making friends, but handle them with care, because your audience is still pretty young.
These books usually have a third person point of view. Most of them are meant to be read aloud to kids by adults, but you still need to keep the language simple and fit for a younger child.
3) Children’s stories – ages 6 to 8
These are not picture books, but short stories – from 500 to 2500 words, intended for children who are just discovering reading books on their own. At this point, children are in school and may be encouraged by the adults around them to read on their own, but they still may not be ready for longer chapter books.
In these stories, the protagonist is 6 to 9 years old, or, you may go the way of fables and have an animal as the protagonist. Here, you may introduce a character or a protagonist with a flaw that they overcome by the end of the story – but, be careful with the character’s arc, because these books are not meant to be read aloud by any adults, so the children have to be able to understand everything on their own. Because of that, the language in these books needs to be even more simple than in picture story books.
4) Chapter books – ages 6 to 10
This category can also be divided in two, with early chapter books targeted to children aged 6-7, and late chapter books targeted to children aged 8-10. Here, the protagonist may be a bit older than the intended reader – somewhere around 9 to 10 years old (or maybe older, but with simpler themes than middle grade).
Early chapter books are shorter, from 5000 to 10000 words ideally (and no longer than 20000 words). Here, the protagonist is faced with a problem, and may have a deeper character arc, and you may use the rule of three to arrive to the climax of the story. In addition, you may introduce twists and turns of the story.
Late chapter books may go as high in word count as 35000 words. Here, you can go for a three act structure, and may even introduce a small subplot to enrich the story.The protagonist can be the same age as the intended reader, or up to two or three years older. You can touch upon darker themes, like death, however, please keep in mind the fact that these are children, and that even darker themes need to be handled carefully and with a lot of sensitivity. The most common themes here are coming of age, making friends, and dealing with school related problems.
5) Middle grade and tween novels – ages 8 to 14
Middle grade and tween novels are very close to each other. Middle grade is usually targeted at the younger children – ages 8 to 12, while tween novels are targeted to children aged 10 to 14, hence the overlap. Middle grade novels are shorter, they go from 30000 words to 45000, while tween novels might be a bit longer, 55000 words at most. They can be even longer if the book falls within the science fiction or fantasy genre.
It goes without saying that in middle grade and tween novels, we have a fully-fledged plot and characters that are well rounded and fleshed out, even the secondary characters. You can have one or more than one protagonists – or points of view – especially in tween novels. The stories will revolve around the usual themes for this age: fitting in at school or within a group, making friends, and dealing with life problems, like death, divorce, and more, from the perspective of a middle grade child. In addition, here you can have a protagonist that’s flawed and may hurt another person’s feeling in the novel and learn from it. Tween novels may touch upon the subject of first love, first crush, and maybe even first kiss – depending on the age of the protagonist. With tween novels, you can have a protagonist that’s five years older (at most) than the youngest intended readers, however, it’s a bit extreme to have a thirteen-year-old protagonist in a book that’s intended for an eight-year-old reader. The safer course is to have a protagonist that’s only a few years older than the youngest intended reader.
6) Young Adult novels – ages 13 to 18
Like middle grade and tween novels, not all young adult novels are equal or intended for the same target audience. For that reason, we can divide this category into two subcategories of early young adult, targeted to readers aged 13 to 16, and late young adult (or just young adult) novels targeted to readers aged 15-18 (and up).
Now, early young adult novels have a word limit of about 70,000 words because the intended readers are still quite young, and may not be attracted to very long books. On the other hand, late young adult novels are treated the same as adult novels – meaning, they can be of any length, depending on the genre. The usual length for a full-fledged novel is considered to be 80,000 – 100,000 words, although, this limit can be extended for novels belonging in the science fiction or fantasy genre.
In both categories, what happens is that you have a fully developed plot in accordance to the three act structure and the hero’s journey. There will be one or more subplots that keep the story going, and secondary characters that are very well developed, and undergo a character’s arc of their own. Both categories are very welcoming to teenage angst and dealing with problems relating to family, friends, sex, and even violence, with the sole difference that the last two are handled a bit more gently in the early young adult category.
It’s advisable, before you begin to write your story, is to read as many children’s books as possible within your category. This type of research will allow you to deduce what are authors are doing – and what they’re not doing – and you will have a better overview of the types of stories that children like to read, regardless of which category your story belongs in. You will get to understand the “rules” of the genre or category and decide which ones you want to keep and which rules you would like to break.
Step 2: Choose the right themes
We’ve already established the separate categories of children’s fiction, and since board books and early readers’ books are lighter in terms of storyline and themes, here we will talk about prevalent themes in middle grade and above.
What, exactly, is a theme? In the driest of definitions, the theme of a book is the topic or subject that the story, the plot, and the character’s arc revolve around. It’s the lesson that the protagonist will learn by the end of the story, and beyond it, it’s the author’s opinion and statement on the subject itself. Now, when it comes to adult novels, all bets are off, and there are no limits to themes that you can tackle and statements you can present, as the writer, in the novel. But, when it comes to children’s fiction, the themes need to be handled carefully, and most of all, they must be appropriate for their age.
Some writers choose the themes and then build their stories around the theme. Other writers instinctively feel the story as they write it, and even without intention, certain themes become prevalent as the story progresses.
The most common theme, of course, is coming of age. The protagonists in children’s fiction are children themselves, and the first and foremost thing that children do is grow up and learn. This does not mean that the child protagonist will start to think like an adult, of course, but, he or she will reach a new level of maturity by the end of the novel.
Besides the coming of age aspect of children’s novels, the most prevalent themes include friendship, family, fitting in, prejudice, and if you’re writing in the category of tween books and above, you can also tackle the themes of first crush and first love. There are many other themes. Anger, fairness, compassion, empathy, cooperation and team work, self-restraint, acceptance, hard work, and many more.
Some themes will go together. For example, a friendship theme easily goes together with love and compassion. This does not mean that one should mix and match and include every universal theme in a novel, however. That’s why it’s actually more important to choose the prevalent theme in your novel before you start writing it. Then you’ll be able to create the story around that theme, ensuring that each scene says something more about it or shows another aspect of it. An adult novel allows the writer to tackle more than a single theme throughout a novel, but for children, it’s better to focus only on one and create a storyline around it.
Step 3: Get into a child’s mindset
Baby board books show concepts, or things that are easily understood and learned by babies and toddlers. Picture books and picture story books also depend on the illustrations to convey the story. But, as we go towards children’s stories, chapter books, middle grade, tween and young adult novels, the stories become dependent on the words, actions, and language that you’re using in your book.
After determining the age of your intended readers, the category that your book will belong in, and the theme that your book will revolve around, it’s time to figure out how you will get into the mindset of a child.
The best and easiest way, of course, is to spend actual time with the children you’re writing for. However, you may not be a parent, or maybe your children are too young or too old, or you may not be involved with children on a daily basis. That’s not a problem, however. Try to remember what if was like for you as a child, the things you found interesting, funny, or exciting.
Depending on the age of your intended readers, you have to mind your language, and not only in terms of curses. Technically, the only category in which you’re allowed to use curses is young adult, and even then it’s better to write “he cursed,” instead of writing the actual curse word. Marissa Meyer, author of the young adult Lunar Chronicles, often does this, for example. Late young adult may allow for some curse words, but be careful, because you do not want to be censored by parents and guardians.
On the younger spectrum, however, you need to be careful of long sentences and long winded descriptions. It’s not that all children do not have large attention spans, it’s the fact that many of them will not be able to follow sentences that are very, very long, and if a paragraph gets longer than a page, then you have a problem (actually, a page long paragraph would be a problem even in an adult fiction book).
We will talk about constructing the story in the next step, but here, it’s worth mentioning that getting into the mindset of a child means:
- Knowing the things children would find interesting;
- Striving for humor and lightness in storytelling;
- Preparing to curb your eloquence;
- Focus on action;
- And, most importantly, refrain from preaching.
One of the biggest offences you can do as the writer of children’s fiction is to preach. It’s very easy to slip into preaching mode when you’re writing for children, but there are many red flags that you can catch as you write the story. For example:
- If your protagonist does not come to a solution, but a helpful adult does;
- If your protagonist does not come to his or her conclusions on their own, but they’re taught these conclusions, verbatim, by an adult;
- If your characters often tell instead of show.
Children read stories because they want to know that they’re not alone in their emotions, their doubts, and their mistakes. They like action and adventure that is more on the lighter side, and middle grade novels and up allow for flawed protagonist that do not learn because an adult told them so, but because they made a mistake of their own, felt bad because of it, and learned about friendship, compassion, empathy, and the importance of family from it. Children are young, yes, but that does not mean that you need to tell them everything in words. You need to show them through actions, even if that action is an apology.
Step 4: Create the story
It’s easier to create the story after you’ve decided on the category, the age of the protagonist and the intended readers, and the theme your book will focus on. Creating the story means creating two things: the characters that will drive the plot, and then the plot of the book itself.
Creating characters for adult fiction is different than creating characters for a children’s book, of course, but there are similarities as well. For example, characters need to be just as three dimensional as they would be in an adult novel, you just have to find different ways of showing it. Characters will have their own motivations, and will not be there just to move the plot forward as a plot device.
However, you’re still writing children’s fiction. When it comes to creating characters, here are some of the things you need to think about:
– Names: they say never use the same name twice in a novel, and never use names beginning with the same letters either. However, novels are long, and it would be perfectly okay to use the names Lina and Laurel, for example. On the other hand, children’s books are shorter, so it’s more advisable to use names starting with different letters instead.
– Appearance: if you have illustrations in your book, you can avoid describing the characters’ physical appearance and what they’re wearing. Their actions and dialogue will be more important.
– Motivation: don’t forget, all characters need motivation. Children’s books may not be the perfect place to include enemies and villains, but you can have antagonists: either uncomprehending adults or classmates. However, keep in mind the age of the protagonist and the readers when you’re creating the antagonists, and keep them on the lighter side.
You may choose to just write the story as you go along, or you may choose to plot it out before you begin to write. The choice in this matter is always up to the writer. However, it’s useful to understand how basic storytelling works in order to tell a story that’s coherent and complete. Plotting out a children’s novel is also very different from plotting an adult novel. We’ve already covered the complexity of the plots as per the categories. Middle grade and above is when you can start plotting using the three act structure, and what the three act structure stands on is the protagonist.
In the setup, you introduce the protagonist and the characters that are closest to him or her at that moment, like parents, grandparents, best friends. You may have multiple protagonists, but, keep in mind that three protagonists might mean six parents, and twelve grandparents, if they’re present in the story, and maybe three siblings (older or younger). Here, you also introduce the protagonist’s problem that he or she will have to solve. If you’re writing tween or young adult, you may also introduce a subplot or two that will reflect the daily life and the personality of the protagonist. For example, you may have the main plotline involving school and friendship, and the side plot could involve an after school program, or an activity that the protagonist does for fun.
After the setup, and the problem – introduced via the inciting incident, the protagonist makes a choice. At the moment, it needs to appear like the right decision. What follows is the result of that choice. At first, it appears that all is well and that the problem has been solved, and then comes the high point, the moment when the protagonist is convinced that all will be well. This is when the twist comes into play and shows the protagonist that the original problem has not been solved at all. Here, the protagonist makes a second decision – the right one this time around, acts upon that decision, and we reach the resolution of the problem and the finale.
Step 5: Write the first draft
Writing the first draft may seem like the most difficult thing to do, however, once it’s done, you will be able to edit it until everything fits perfectly, from the characters to the plot and the theme. A few things you should remember when writing the first draft include:
- You’re writing for children, so remember to use language that children can understand;
- Children love to read humor, and angst belongs only in YA, so don’t use angst in middle grade, chapter books, or even tween novels;
- You may use first person point of view in young adult, but in books intended for younger readers, third person omnipresent point of view may be the best way to go;
- Show, don’t tell, but also, make sure that the children are able to understand what you’re showing;
- Draw a clear line between good and bad. YA allows for more ambiguity in characters, and grey characters are welcome in YA, but in the younger categories, good is good and bad is bad, and that’s it. This doesn’t mean you can have two dimensional characters and adults that read like caricatures. Adult characters can also have a character’s arc, and they may also learn something just like the child protagonist will;
- The rule of three is welcome in all fiction, and in children’s fiction, you can begin using it chapter books (the rule of three says that when something happens two times in the same way, there has to be a different outcome the third time it happens);
- Writing is not easy. Attempt to write every day with the occasional day off, but if the story is not working even after the day off, break through the writer’s block by just writing until you go back into the steam of the story.
Step 6: Revise the draft
It’s advisable to take some time away from the story after you’ve written the first draft. Attempting to edit the novel a day after you’ve finished writing the first draft will not lead you anywhere. You need to look at your story with fresh eyes and a clear mind. And then, you need revise your draft, and before you start proofreading for spelling errors and sentence structure, you have to analyze several things:
- Voice and language: are you using the right voice and language for your protagonist and characters? Most children’s books are written in third person point of view, unless your book belongs in the older categories of middle grade and up. Even then, do all your characters speak with the right voice for their ages and personalities? Does your narrative voice come through as the author, or is it easy for the reader to get lost in the story? If your protagonist is on the younger end of the spectrum, does this come across in the writing?
- Characters: are your characters consistent? While it’s important for characters to show change and have an arc throughout the story, remember, this change is portrayed in their opinions and principles, and there is still a core consistency of character that you need to keep throughout the story.
- Plot: for the plot to make sense, you need to keep in line with the chain of cause and effect, and you need to make sure that each action taken on by the protagonist (and the other characters) makes sense. The characters need to take steps that are logical in terms of the story. If a character can fix the problem very easily, then you need to find ways to logically prevent this. For example, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry is given an enchanted mirror from his godfather, who tells Harry to use it for communication. Harry decides on the spot to never use the mirror, and he does not use it in a moment of need. Had Harry not made this decision so firmly at that moment, it would have been a plot hole later on when Harry can actually use the mirror and avoid falling into Voldemort’s trap.
- Theme: and here is the most important thing to keep in mind when analyzing your first draft. We’ve already mentioned how some writers simply write the story (or first draft) without preparing an outline. Even if you have an outline, you may have allowed your story to branch out and change significantly from your original outline (as stories often do). At this point, it’s important to check that the theme you want to present in your novel is still there, regardless of whether that theme is family, friendship, fitting in, or all of them.
Once you have determined that the story, the characters, the plot, and the themes are portrayed just as you intended, you can proceed to proofreading your draft. In the meantime, do not be afraid to make extensive re-writes to ensure that your draft is as good as it’s going to get before proofreading.
In addition, please do not give into the perfectionist side (or your inner critic) and try to make your draft 100%, because that way you will only put way too much pressure on yourself. At some point, you have to stop improving the story, and move on to proofreading. When you’re proofreading, make sure you’re not using words that are too complicated for your intended readers, and keep in mind that long sentences and long paragraphs are not overly present on your pages.
Step 7: Get feedback
After you’ve edited and revised your draft, it’s time to get feedback – not submit it to agents, editors, and publishing houses. There are several ways to get feedback after you’ve finished your novel.
First, you may ask your friends and family to read your book and give you feedback. If you decide to do this, make sure that you will get honest feedback. Many of your family and friends will be inclined to be kind and to tell you that they loved the story and the characters, and may offer no constructive feedback in how you can improve the novel.
Second, you may try to get beta readers. Some beta readers work for money; other beta readers would do it for free. The way you proceed in this case is up to you, however, please make sure that these beta readers are genuine and will provide you with constructive feedback. In addition, you may consider hiring a professional editor (many of them are freelancers), who will not only offer feedback, but they could also help you edit your novel. In this case, look for editors who have background in writing and editing children’s fiction. That way you’ll ensure that your novel will get the best possible chance for constructive feedback. They should be able to catch even the smallest inconsistencies in plot, character, world building (despite the short length of children’s books, if you’re writing in the fantasy genre, you need to build the world and keep it consistent).
Finally, try to give your draft to children that like reading books and are the same age as your intended readers. The children will not talk to you about plot holes and characters inconsistency, but they will tell you if they like the story. They may ask you questions that will make you realize which parts of the story are not clear enough. Most of all, though, if they love your novel, then you will know that you’re on the right path. If they don’t, then you may need to wake your inner critic up and take a very good look at the possible problems you may have in your draft.
Step 8: Second revision and proofreading
A second revision is what we call the revision after receiving feedback. Here, you have received feedback, some of it positive, some of it negative (hopefully, the positive feedback has prevailed), and now it’s time to make another revision of the draft.
Here, we’re going to talk about two major problems that may occur in your draft. The first one is preaching. Preaching is something that children do not want to read – this is why they have school textbooks. Moreover, children learn all the time, and everyone is trying to teach them something: their parents, their teachers, maybe even their older siblings. Sometimes, that teaching is done in a positive way, and other times, it’s condescending and becomes a root of anger for the children. How to avoid preaching in your novel?
Well, for starters, analyze the behavior of the adults in the story. The adults also need to be realistic, however, the teacher who tells the child what to do and the teacher who becomes the child’s friend and confidant are two different characters entirely. Second, analyze your narrative: do you have sentences that sound like:
“And at that moment, Maria understood that lying is very bad for you.”
The above sentence is too much telling, very little showing, and it tells the children something they probably hear from adults every single day. Instead, make sure that this message comes across in the story you’re telling. Maria never has to have a moment of clarity where she understands this. Instead, put Maria in a situation where lying would benefit her, whereas telling the truth would be for the wellbeing of another character, and show that Maria has actually changed during the course of the story.
The aforementioned is just a very simple example, however, there are many other ways of preaching in a story. Please remember that even though the theme is nothing but a representation of your own statements, as the author, about the subject, you need to make sure that you are not preaching about them in your novel. Yes, this is even more important when you’re writing for children. Try to entice the children into thinking about the theme and the subject, instead of trying to cram your opinions in it. That’s what nonfiction is for.
On the other hand, and this is highly important if you’re writing in the fantasy and science fiction genre, you may have written an adventurous book full of twists and turns and villains. In this case, make sure that none of the events in your novel are sending out the wrong message. The main antagonist or villain of your story may be an adult or another child, but in both cases, make sure that you do not end the villain’s arc with a sort of finality that sends the wrong message. For example, let’s say that you want to represent the villain as a sort of sympathetic character who has suffered a lot. The villain hurts the protagonist a lot, and maybe the villain (or antagonist) dies, or even worse, commits suicide (which is a big red flag in a children’s book). In other words, make sure the way your protagonist deals with the villain and the antagonist does not send the wrong message of violence, death, an eye for an eye, and so on. These themes are interesting to explore in an adult novel, but have no place in children’s fiction.
In some cases, the antagonist and the villain can be the same character, in other cases, the antagonist and the villain are two different characters. The antagonist’s role is to prevent the protagonist in acting out his intentions – for a very logical reason. The villain can be an antagonist, but the villain’s primary role is to be the enemy. For example, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the main villain is Voldemort (or the diary that holds part of Voldemort’s soul inside), but the antagonist is Dobby, the house elf, who tries to prevent Harry from achieving his goal because he wants Harry out of Hogwarts, and thus, out of danger. At the end of the novel, the diary is destroyed, but Dobby is rewarded by Harry with freedom.
In addition, while you may be tempted to portray the world as it is, please make sure that you do not send wrong messages about sensitive issues like racism, discrimination, and other taboo topics in your book. If your characters are ostracized due to their skin color or weight or any of their characteristics, make sure that this is properly handled, and in an appropriate manner. Otherwise, it’s best to leave those themes aside – even if they have accidentally propped up in your novel.
Step 9: On publishing a children’s book
Congratulations! If you’ve reached this step, this means that your book is very close to being ready for publication. Now, you have a few choices ahead of you.
You can try to get your novel published traditionally. This means that you need to find an agent that specializes in children’s fiction, or try to submit your novel to an editor or a publishing house. Most publishing houses, however, do not accept unsolicited submissions. Make sure that you gain as much information as possible for the publishing house you’re targeting. This is easy, since most of them state this on their websites. Some of them may have a window of opportunity when they do accept unsolicited submissions, so make sure that you send in your novel at the right moment.
Otherwise, try to get an agent to sign you on. The agent’s job is to sell your book to a publishing house. However, be careful of scammers. The easiest red flag to spot is if the agent is asking money upfront, or if they promise you unrealistic things like getting your novel published within a month if you pay a premium fee. This means that the agent is probably after nothing else but easy money, so do not give in to tempting offers that sound too good to be true – if you pay a fee. Agents are supposed to read the novels and try to sell your novel essentially for free, because they get their payment after they’ve sold your novel to a publishing house.
If you go down this road, prepare yourself for rejection. Publishing houses and agents get a lot of submissions, and even J.K. Rowling was famously turned down plenty of times before she was signed on by Bloomsbury. Make sure your skin is thick enough to take rejection. On the other hand, some publishing houses may reject you – but offer constructive feedback that you can use to edit your novel and write better books in the future.
On the other hand, there is always self-publishing. In this case, self-publishing may be a really expensive thing to do for your novel, especially if you want illustrations in your novel. You will have to pay an illustrator to make them, and then the actual printing of your books will be even more expensive due to the need of special paper for the illustrations. If you don’t, you still need to be prepared to pay for a professional book cover. Amazon currently has a print-on-demand option, which, again, may not be the perfect solution for an illustrated book.
There is always the e-Book option, however, while adults can browse Amazon and buy the books they want, it is the adults that do this for the children. This means that even if you pay a lot of money for a gorgeous cover, it will not be put on display in a bookstore where a child can be impressed by it and ask their parents, guardians, or grandparents to get it for them. It will be on Amazon, or another realtor, and maybe your book will get lost among the thousands of books that are already there.
In the end, when it comes to publishing a children’s book, you should consider traditional publishing as the preferable option for the moment. In the future, this may change, since children are quite tech-savvy already. Do not despair if things do not go very fast when it comes to the publishing process, and also, if you’re self-publishing, get ready to spend a lot of time and energy (that you could use to write another novel) on the actual publishing process.
Whichever way you choose, we wish you the best of luck!
Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As a screenwriting student, she is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, watching a film or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her own.