Want to know how to write a children’s book?
I get asked a lot “How do you write a book?” so I’m compiling this blog post with all the instructions you need on the process. Don’t be afraid to get in touch if you’ve more queries and if you’d like further one-to-one help, check out the One Hour Coaching Call here. EJ x
Watch the video version here.
The Urge to Write a Book
So your tucking in your little mushroom to bed and your beside the bookshelf choosing a book for them before they even get to ask (nothing like routine!). Your reading along practising your best array of animated voices and impressions and it strikes you… The idea… Your own characters, your own story, your own book!
Well dearest; if you’ve had the urge to write there’s nothing stopping you (except that little person your tucking in, their constant need for love and attention, food and nappy changes, playing and education, work, life etc. etc.) But if we were to all think that way the human race would long be extinct!
Writing a children’s book is easy, it’s everything else about the process that’s a little harder!
Recipe for a Children’s Book
Here’s a basic recipe for a children’s book (cue the Rachel Allen voice).
You will need:
• A beginning, a middle and an end – sounds simple but it’s true. Set the scene, tell the story, wrap it up.
• A main character – animal, human, plant, body part, household utensil, vehicle, planet, freshly invented monster … There’s no boundaries with a kid’s book, let your imagination run wild!
“You can make anything by writing”. C.S. Lewis
• A main message – a moral, a warning, an invitation to hug, share, love etc. Every juicy tale, regardless of audience, has a message in it.
• A defined target market – a ‘children’s’ book means 0 – 15 years old approximately. It’s very hard to produce a one size fits all so get your end user in your head and keep them there. General age groups are 0 – 2 years usually board books; 3-7 years; 8 -12 years; 13 +. Your target could also have special needs or be for a specific group or setting. It’s a bonus to have a real-life ‘target market’ in close proximity to use as a crash test dummy throughout the process; there’s nothing like instant (and brutally honest) feedback to steer you in the right direction (or crush your dreams)!
And viola, you have a story!
Next steps are as follows:
- Copyright it – Put a printed copy of your masterpiece clearly stating you are the author and the date, into an envelope, pop down to your local post office and register post it to yourself (yes really) and NEVER open it once it’s delivered.
- Decide your route to Market- Go the traditional route or self publish – the traditional route means getting an already established publisher to pay you and print your book. It’s a tough business to crack but if you’re good enough (and lucky!) you’ll succeed. A list of publishers are available here – www.writing.ie . Self Publishing is becoming much more popular as you basically become your own boss and DIY in your spare time (laugh at term ‘spare time’!)
I made a conscious decision to self publish because, put simply, I’m a control freak and nobody can do a job as good as I can! Joke, obviously! It was a decision though as I was in no rush to get it out and was genuinely interested in the process of how to make a book! You can read more of my story here.
Going to Self Publish?
Then you’ll need the following:
Oh I’ve no doubt you’ve spent hours reading and re-reading and making edits but trust me, an editor is the best money you’ll ever spend. Some Editors charge by the word, other by the page. Look for similar books to yours and find out who the editor is, it’s usually listed on the inside (boring!) page where the copyright jargon is. I use Aoife Barrett, Barrett Editing, Dublin. Its a to and fro-ing kind of process but it’s usually finished after three attempts.
“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words”. Mark Twain
Everybody can doodle and draw and I’m sure you’ve looked at illustrations inside some books and laughed at their simplicity. But unless you’re really good (really, really!) and have the right software, do not attempt to illustrate your own book! Researching the books in your little person’s library is a good way to find illustrators. Another option involves going to local art colleges and schools. Of course mother Google is always an efficient alternative. Try find an illustrator who’ll do design and layout as well. www.IllustratorsIreland.com has a fantastic showcase of Irish talent. I have worked with Kim Shaw from Kilkenny and Don Conroy from Wicklow (and RTÉ The Den!). Both have great patience! I love their individual styles which are perfect for telling tales from my childhood.
Then the legal bit comes with obtaining an ISBN number from the Neilson Agency in London http://www.nielsenbook.co.uk/ . Don’t forget to purchase a bar-code also, there are lots of vendors online for this.
You’ll need to consider the following: size of book, hardback or paperback, page quality and type, binding style and any other extra’s you may require for example if you want a ‘lift the flap’ or ‘pop-up’ book. With the advent of POD (print on demand) getting a book printed is easier than you think. Just ensure your using a reputable company and do your homework in terms of shopping around for quotes. General rule is the higher the quantity, the cheaper the individual product. Don’t let this over tempt you though, 10,000 books may seem like a great bargain but trust me, housing and selling these bad boys is a whole other ball game! Be realistic. I use KPS Colour Print in Mayo. They offer lots a various sizes, quality and styles and are super customer focused and professional. www.KPScolourprint.com
Do all this and easy peasy… You’re an author, well done! I can’t tell you enough just how rewarding it is.
Now all you need is a sales and marketing campaign; and balls of steel to elbow your way into the world of books. Oh and one more thing…
You’ll need some good luck!
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing”. Benjamin Franklin
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Watch me explain the process here