It’s common to think how easy it must be to write children’s books, dreaming of a shiny pile of colourful book covers, hoping that your children’s book is the one that parents roll their eyes at because their children ask for it again and again and again! Well, the bad news is that it is NOT that easy. Here are six tips to help you navigate the world of writing children’s books:
1. Find Your Target Children’s Book Market
It can be tricky appealing to children; they are a more challenging target market than they first appear. The niches in children’s books are much smaller, so your aim must be truer. Don’t give up though! Put on your thinking cap, do your research, and you can have a reader relationship that grows as your child readers grow.
2. Write to an Age Range
While this may vary, in my experience your book will be slotted into a three-year age group based around the schooling system. The categories are ages 1-3, ages 4-6, ages 7-9, pre-teens in ages 10-12, young teens in ages 13-15, and young adults in the 16-18 age range.
Do some research to find out the age group of your children’s book. Have a thorough review of the formats, layouts, and language used in each age group. See the subtle differences? There are more syllables used, heavier themes, and more suspense as the age of the reader matures. Find a book and an author that really appeals to you and allow them to influence you. Understand and mimic elements of their success to create your own success.
3. Write the Way Children Like to Read
Children are very different now to when you and I were growing up. If you talk down to them, it shows. They are not idiots, nor tiny adults. They are very market savvy, much more so than we were as children. Find out exactly what children in your target age group are reading. What styles do they like? Ask what the children of friends and family are reading. Perhaps chat to school librarians about gaps in the market.
4. Read Out Loud to Check the Book’s Flow and Length
You will need to adapt your writing to the age range you’re writing for, including the length of sentences. If your book will be read aloud, you’ll need the font to be large enough for parents to see from a distance. Practise reading the book out loud to yourself. The length of the book is also important as bedtime stories need to be long enough to create a story, but not too long to lose momentum.
5. Test it On Your Target Children’s Market
Try reading your book aloud to some children in your target market. Perhaps you can read it to children at your local school. What is their engagement level? Are they asking further questions beyond the story?
6. Plan Your Children’s Book Marketing Campaign
Can you think of features you can build into your story such as games the reader could play with a parent/caregiver? If you're publishing a picture book, perhaps downloadable colouring-in pictures or activity sheets at your author website? These are very popular and go beyond just a book to read into the territory of gifts and keepsakes. These book marketing strategies for children’s books are a few ways to open up new sales markets for you.
Happy writing and remember to keep it short and simple!