Saturday, July 16, 2016

Writing for the Younger Set

Have you ever thought about writing for children? Most writers have the misconception that writing for them takes less skill than writing for adults. In fact, the opposite is true. While most people have either read children’s books when they were kids or have read them to their children or grandchildren, they don’t associate the skills needed to write them with the ones they already have.

Books written for children are special, but not in the way you think. They require as much knowledge of our language as you already have and the steps to producing a children’s book are similar to what you would use to produce a book for adults. Just because a children’s book has fewer words doesn’t mean that it takes less planning and forethought. And don't fall victim to the misconception that writing for kids is a stepping stone to getting published in adult fiction because the writing is shorter and simpler.

The fact is that it’s not easy to publish children’s books. The more you learn about the field and the business of children's publishing, the better equipped you’ll be to achieve success. This is what you should be doing when writing for adults.

But before you start studying how children’s books are published, it’s a good idea to become familiar with their categories. Generally, children’s books fall into six major categories—picture book (toddler to grade 4), easy reader ( kindergarten to grade 3), young chapter book (grades 2 to 4), middle grade novels(grades 3 to 7), young adult novels (grades 8 to 12)., and nonfiction. Publishers base each of them, except nonfiction, on grades in school and also on age. So it’s logical that the more familiar you are with children in the age group of the category in which your book will be placed, the better.

The categories of children’s books are only meant as a guide. Many of today’s books fall somewhere between one category and another.

A generation ago, children's stories were much more idealistic. Main characters almost exclusively came from white, middle-class suburban families. Stories often contained lessons. And the moral was always clear.

In addition to being "politically correct, today's children's stories are more about fun.
In order to get them to read a book, you have to entertain them.

There’s no magic trick. Finding success in the children's market is like any other genre. It takes persistence, patience, plenty of revising, and a true appreciation of children's literature.

Opportunities are limitless. For every idea there’s a potential market, including short stories, chapter books, articles, picture books and poetry. Topics can be serious, funny, factual or pure fantasy. And there's a market for just about any topic, writing style, and genre.

Before you get into children’s writing, ask yourself the following: Do you enjoy browsing the library shelves in the kids' department? Do you find yourself flipping through picture books when you visit bookstores? Do you still like to read kids' books? If you answered yes to each of these questions, then you’re going in the right direction.

Next Week: How to Get Started in Children’s Writing.

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