How to Write a Children’s Book in 8 Basic Steps// I’m writing a children’s book! Besides using this video to announce my children’s book, I also wanted to talk about the basics of writing a picture book. We’ll be learning the different categories of children’s books and how to create a children’s book from creating a storyboard, illustrations, and publishing. Let me know if the comments below if you want these topics covered in more detail in future videos.
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Have you ever wondered if it’s easier to write a children’s book just because the book is shorter? We’re about to find out in today’s video. Hello everyone. My name is Mandi Lynn. I’m an author, book cover designer and the creator of The Book Launch Planner. And if you want weekly videos on writing, publishing, and book marketing, be sure to subscribe and hit the bell icon so you never miss an upload.
So I bet some of you are wondering, why is Mandi talking about writing a kids book when all she’s written is adult, young adult, and nonfiction? Well, I guess it’s a good time to announce that I am indeed writing a children’s book and this is my way of telling you. So I don’t have a title for the children’s book yet and I also haven’t finished with the illustrations or writing it, but I figured I’d share my knowledge on the progress that I’ve made so far. So later on this month I will be showing you how I’m illustrating my books. But for now, I’m going to show you just one illustration that I’ve created that will most likely also be the cover of the book and this is one of the illustrations. So the book is going to be all about my cat. Of course, my cat’s name is Moon, also called Mr. Moon.
He’s adorable. He’s got a whole personality, so it felt natural to have a children’s book about him. This is more of a passion project for me. I don’t plan on making anything big out of it. I just thought it would be something fun to do. A new way to practice my graphic design skills because yes, I’m illustrating the entire book myself. I am not a professional illustrator, but I’m making it work. So with that said, I’m going to go ahead and tell you guys the eight steps that you should follow if you also want to write a children’s book.
How to Write a Children’s Book in 8 Basic Steps
More so, who is your audience? So kids books vary a lot depending on who your audience is. So when it comes to children’s books, there are a few different categories that range anywhere from newborn all the way to young adult.
- Board books- ages, newborn to three years old.
- Picture books- ages two to eight.
- Early level readers- ages five to nine.
- First chapter books- ages 6 to 9 or 7 to 10 d
- Middle-grade books- ages 8 to 12
- Young adult- ages 12 and up.
So before you even start writing, you do want to keep in mind what age group we are writing to. Not only for reasons of say limited vocabulary, but also just to know what type of story will appeal to that age group.
Think about how will a story be told. The fun part about children’s books is that they can be a little bit more magical and fun, so you don’t always have to have just your regular old narrator. For example, sometimes you can have the story told through the point of view of an animal.
What other elements are you going to have in your story? Even though a book is short, you still need to include some important things such as locations. Other characters and objects or anything else that appears in your book. Just because the book is short doesn’t mean you can skip out on these things. You still need to make your story dimensional, realistic, and have feeling.
What is the theme of your story? AKA, what lesson are you trying to teach the kids that are reading this book? Kids are smart, so you can’t just make the theme outwardly obvious. You want to make sure it’s in there. But that it’s subtle.
When you’re actually starting to write your story, it may seem like, “Oh, it’s just a picture book. It’s going to be easy to write.” And then once you get into it, you realize, okay, this is a little more complex than I thought. Especially if you’re someone who’s used to writing novels like myself. You may think that you’ll be able to just whip out the whole story in one day, which sometimes you can do, but it’s gonna require a little bit more thought and care because the story is so short. So you need to be more selective about what you write. A good thing to do is to create a storyboard.
So for me, my picture book is going to have photos that I recreate as an illustration. And then of course I have the story that goes along with those photos. So I had an index card for every single sentence and then I paired up the index cards or the scenes with a photo that would go with that. That way I could kind of keep in mind what photos worked, what didn’t. Now in your case, it may be illustrations, which also brings us to the next step.
As the person who’s going to be illustrating the book myself. And also knowing that my illustrations were going to be based on photos that I had taken of my cat when he was just a kitten. That meant that I need to make sure that everything paired up nicely.
So these two steps for me intertwined, but for you they may not. So if you’re hiring an illustrator, it will be easiest to actually just storyboard the whole story yourself and write down ideas for illustrations and then handing it off to your illustrator. But if you’re someone like me, you kinda need to intertwine these steps to make sure that you don’t waste energy illustrating something that won’t work anyways. As far as illustrations go, like I said, I’m doing the illustrations myself. I’m a graphic designer, I design book covers and now I’m trying out doing digital painting, which is a whole other ball game. But if you don’t have the artistic ability to create illustrations yourself, there’s no shame in hiring someone to do so because illustrations can sometimes be the most important part of a children’s book. Because children are so visual. You need the illustration to tell the story just as much as the words do. Otherwise it won’t quite stick as well or it won’t end up being their favorite children’s book. You can hire a freelance illustrator.
I will let you guys know I’m not a freelance illustrator, so please don’t contact me asking me to illustrate your children’s book. I barely know how to do it for my own book. Like I said, this is a passion project, but you can find them online. You can find them on freelance websites. One of my favorite resources is Upwork. So if you’re interested in hiring a professional illustrator there, be sure to check it out. Which brings us to step seven, which is beta readers.
7. Beta Readers
So just because it’s a children’s book doesn’t mean you get to skip the beta reader step. Now, this actually might be just as important, maybe even more important than your regular fiction book because kids can tell the truth really well.
Children have this wonderful gift of being unfiltered, so if you show them a children’s book, they will be brutally honest with you about what they think and what you may need to improve. You don’t have to get real fancy with your beta readers. All you have to do is find someone with kids that are the proper age that you’re looking to aim for. Have them check out the book and ask them if they liked it, if they hate it, if they thought the illustrations were cute. If they thought the story was cute. It’s pretty basic, but it’s a step that you should still include.
8. Editing and Publishing
This step will vary a lot depending on what your goals are. I plan on self-publishing my book, so I plan on hiring a children’s book editor I feel like this is very important just because when you hire a children’s book editor, they know the different struggles that come with writing a children’s book. They know what trends are in the community at that time and they’re just more knowledgeable then a regular book editor. Now if you’re looking to publish traditionally, your publisher will provide an editor for you and if you are looking to publish traditionally, then you have to start down the long road of finding an agent. Then having that agent find you a publishing house, and a whole bunch of other different things like that. I will let you guys know that it can be very hard to publish a children’s book traditionally, just because so many people want to write a children’s book and the market is very saturated and that really goes for any book genre these days, but even more so for children’s book. So just keep that in mind when you go down your publishing journey, and also know there are great resources out there to self-publish your book, which I would probably be talking about here on this channel.
Let me know in the comments down below what other videos/posts you want to see on writing and publishing a children’s book!
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