How To Write A Children’s Book
If you’ve never written a children’s book before, the thoughts of writing one and getting it published probably seems like something that’s beyond you.
In fact, anyone who decides to write a children’s book nowadays has a far easier route than the authors that went before.
You don’t have to send a manuscript to publishers, look for agents, or anything else, if you want to write a children’s book and publish it on your own.
‘Easy for you,’ you’re probably thinking.
And in today’s post I’ll go through all the steps you need to get your book created and published.
How To Write A Children’s Book Step By Step
Step 1 – Story line – You’re going to need a story line. If you haven’t got a story line, you’ve got nothing to work with. Unless that is you want to make a book that doesn’t require one. If you don’t, you can still create a children’s book with this.
Now if you’ve never written for a book before you’re probably wondering where to start, here are a few ideas…
- Watch some cartoons written for your target market and ‘borrow’ a storyline from one of them.
- Use content already created. There are some websites that have content you can use like https://www.gutenberg.org/. Here you’ll find works of writing that have fallen out of copyright and are now in the public domain. You can either use some stories, tales, or fables as is, or you can use them as a starting point.
- Combine two children’s story books together. If you’ve children’s books already in your home, why not find two that would work well together and combine their ideas to make one of your own.
- The book Wicked is an opposing look at the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz. Could you take a character that’s popular and show them through a different lens?
- Just ask kids for ideas? What would be the greatest book they’d like to read?
Whichever option you choose. Bear one thing in mind, you’re going to be creating something original so if you choose one (other than Gutenberg.com) make sure you’re not infringing on someone’s copyright. It’s not worth being sued for a children’s book.
When it comes to story line, and depending on the age group you’re targeting your book at, most books like TV shows and movies follow the same path.
It starts with someone living a normal or boring life, and then something happens to change that. It’s something they can’t avoid or ignore and they’ve got to take action on what’s happened to make things alright once more. But they haven’t got the talent, skill, discipline to do this. Now they’ve got to change until they’re the ideal person that’s to solve the problem. Once they’ve overcome what obstacle they faced, they finish the book a better, stronger, happier person because then when they started.
You mightn’t have noticed it before, but most entertainment follows this format.
- Person leading boring life.
- Event happens that they’d got to act on.
- They try to fix it but they’re not up to the job and they fail.
- They try again to fix it and it still doesn’t work out. Maybe they make things worse.
- They come to a point when they know they need to be more courageous, or have to stop doing that bad habit they have to win.
- They try once more, and for a moment it seems like they’re going to lose again, until they eventually have a breakthrough.
- It finish with the person happier, in love, or far from begin the person they used to be.
Although I’ve rushed through these phases. I’m sure you’ve seen them in your favorite books, movies and the TV shows you return to regularly.
If you haven’t, pay attention to the next piece you read and watch. Once you’ve seen it, it’s hard to un-see and you’ll see these plotting signposts everywhere. – If you’re still a little lost, you’ll find more on plotting here.
Characters – Although I work the opposite way – characters and then story line – I’m putting today’s post it this order in case you’ve never written a children’s book before.
If I asked you to create a character and then story line you’d probably quit before you started.
But now that you’ve got a story line idea, I’m sure you have a better idea of the type of character that would work well with it.
If it’s a small children’s book, like a picture book, you’ll probably use someone of that age as the hero or heroine, or substitute it with an animal. Usually something cute and non threatening that has the curiosity, rebelliousness, or lack of experience that a child that age works well.
If it’s more of an older fiction piece, the story line sign posts will be of more use to you.
Now you’ll have an idea of what your character’s going to be like at the beginning of you book because you know what they’ll be like at the opposite of your book.
Most characters go from being…
- Weak to strong.
- Doubt to knowledge.
- Hate to love.
- Fear to courage.
What makes us read any piece is to see the change in a character as they progress through a book.
We want to see Harry Potter become courageous.
We want Luke Skywalker to learn how to become a Jedi.
We don’t want to get to the end of a book and find that the main character is still the same old, boring, lazy, coward they were at the beginning.
And not only has your character to change but they must be up against something or someone that’s bigger than they are.
We want to see how Harry is going toe to toe against Voldemort.
We wonder how Luke is going to face Darth Vader.
Give them a weaker foe or none at all, and there’s nothing there to force them to grow.
I’m sure you get the idea by now. But if you’re like more help with your character building go here.
How To Write A Children’s Book With Pictures
Step 2 – Pictures – If your book is going to be a straight fiction piece, you can bypass this step. But if your book’s going to require pictures, you’ve got a couple of decisions to make.
What’s your budget?
If you’ve got an unlimited budget, you’ll find a host of places you can to to hire an illustrator including, Upwork.com or Fiverr.com. – If you’ve never hired or outsourced work before here are some things to keep in mind before you do.
If you don’t have the money. Don’t give up hope just yet. If your funds are limited, you may be able to find someone at your local college that would be willing to do the work for you. – Either for cash or you might be able to negotiate a lower price so they can add that work to their portfolio or CV.
If you’re still faced with this problem, don’t give up. You can still create your own images yourself for free even if you can’t draw to save yourself. Here’s a post that shows what you’ll be able to make.
Step 3 – Editing – Depending on your knowledge of grammar, and how eagle-eyed you are, you’ll probably do well to hire someone to look over your work for you. If there’s anything that draws criticism of self-published authors it’s their lack of editing.
Again, you can go down the route of outsourcing your work to someone on Fiverr.com, or Upwork. Here you’ll find people who will happily read through your work for a fee. Like before with the earlier section on pictures if your budget is tight you could hire someone locally with a strong understanding of the English language to look over your work.
When it comes to hiring someone for proofreading and editing, pay attention to whether this is the only service they offer. If you find someone offering web design, Facebook ads, and proofreading experience, there’s a very good chance that they’re a master of none. – Focus on the people whose sole job is editing and proofreading.
Step 4 – Book Cover – Now that you’ve got your content created, you’re going to need to wrap it in something attractive and eye catching. Again this is a hurdle many self-published authors trip themselves up on.
When you want to put yourself across as a serious author – and who wants to spend money on something that looks amateurish – you’re going to need to get a good book cover created.
If your children’s book is more of the picture type, you can ask your illustrator to create a book cover using one of the illustrations, if not you’ll need to hire someone with experience that can do it for you.
While you can go down the more expensive of paying a lot for getting a book cover designed on a site like 99designs.com, Upwork and Fiverr are probably in the majority of peoples budgets. – Like before, stick to the people whose job is only book cover design.
When it comes to book covers, you’ll need to have an idea of where you’re going to publish your book and in what format. If it’s only going to be an eBook or Kindle book you’ll need a single front cover image. – You’ll find the Kindle book cover dimensions here.
If you’re going to publish your book in a physical form, then you’ll need a front cover, spine and back book cover image. – You’ll find CreateSpace.com book cover dimensions here.
Step 5 – At this point you should have a book written, edited and a book cover created. If you know where you’re going to publish your work, you can either go to the Amazon KDP platform and get your book in the Amazon kindle store. Or you can go to CreateSpace and get your physical book in the Amazon store and a host of other locations.
What Do I Need To Write A Children’s Book?
While I’ve kept this blog post to a simple five step post. I could write three blog post on each section to give you more information, but I chose not to do that today. I didn’t want to overload you with information and cause you to quit before you start.
Simply take your time going through each step before moving onto the next one. Like everything, once you’ve put your first book together the next one is a hundred times easier. Then before you know it, you’ll be churning them out a regular basis.
If you’d like to know more about the children’s books and how to write, illustrate and publish one in the Amazon Kindle store, click here.