Find Your Target Children’s Book Market
It can be hard for an author to make their children’s book appealing to everyone. Don’t just write a book and hope that everyone likes it. Understand your target audience and pick a niche/theme.
Write For A Specific Age Range
Before you write your children’s book, know what age range you want it to be for. Understand how well kids are reading at each range. Go to a library or book store and look at books similar to your idea. Do they write 1,000 words, 3,000, 5,000? Are the words very easy for kids to comprehend?
Write It In A Way That Children Like To Read
Kids like shorter, easier to read sentences and especially, rhyming. Make it fun and engaging so that they truly want to read your book. Make the topic something kids really enjoy.
Write It In A Way That Adults Like To Read
Make sure adults find the story entertaining as well. They are the ones buying the books most of the time. Test out the book on some of your adult friends to see if they would pick your book up off the shelf if it was in the store. Is there something about the story that they say, “this would be a great book for my child.”
Read Your Children’s Book Out Loud To Listen To The Flow
Read it a few times and listen to how it sounds. Does it have good flow? Do you get stuck in certain parts that could be re-written differently? Now have a child read it out-loud. Does it flow well still?
Time How Long It Takes To Read
Is the length too short, too long, just right? Set a timer as you begin reading. Don’t try to read it fast or slow, read at a normal pace as if you were reading to someone. Kid’s do not have long attention spans. Books that are about 2 to 5 minutes long sell the best. Some good ones are still around 7 or 8 minutes, but when you start going over 10 minutes, you start leaving the children’s book genre. Parents appreciate the shorter books at bedtime. I can’t tell you how many times at bedtime I go to grab a book out of our bin and I look for the books that are shorter.
Test Read Your Children’s Book To A Group
If you can, read your book to a group of kids. Gather your nieces and nephews and read to them. See if they are engaged and enjoying the book. Get their feedback. Adults and children can have very different ideas about what makes a good story.
Start Your Story Quickly!
Skip the prologue! I have actually seen children’s books that have a prologue. Kids do not need nor care about any information they might need to know before the story begins. Jump right into the story on page 1 or 2 (start the plot or problem the person is facing).
To get an idea of how soon most children’s jump right into the story, below are some stats:
Page 1: 23%
Page 2: 36%
Page 3: 39%
Page 4 or more: 2%
Just as you should start quickly, make sure you end it quickly. Don’t make it long and drawn out.
Think About Repetition
Kids love repetition and so do adults. It actually makes the book much easier to read. There will be times where my brain is half asleep but I can still read the story effortlessly to my child because it just keeps repeating. Kids can memorize books better and it gives them a sense of accomplishment that they can remember parts of the books. My two year old son memorized a board book we used to read to him because the main words repeated over and over and all he had to do was see what character was on the page to fill in the rest with the right name. He loved this book because of that.
Write With Illustrators in Mind
Make sure there is enough information for an illustrator to be able to help elevate your story. Be descriptive enough so that they know what the characters and background look like. Pick funny looking characters or unique things that draw a young reader in with appealing visuals. When laying out your story, break the words up almost like a movie storyboard. Think to yourself, this paragraph will be one page and should be illustrated like so. Then this page will be these words and so on. Keep doing this until you have a storyboard.
Edit Your Children’s Book Over and Over
And then edit it some more. Until you’ve started writing your first children’s book and gone through this process, you don’t truly understand the importance of editing. You should edit your children’s book for grammar, spelling, flow, sounds, and anything else you can think of. Use spelling and grammar check on your computer. Then read it over and over slowly, looking for something that sounds off. Check for words that are spelled correctly but are the wrong version! I have seen fully published books do this. Words like affect vs. effect or Santa Claus vs. Santa Clause. Let several other people proof read your story. A different pair of eyes helps a ton. I thought I was fully done with my book and semi-publishing it when a new pair of eyes caught several grammar mistakes. Then even after we fixed it and had it up on Amazon KDP, we found more issues. It’s a good idea to hire a professional book editing company. They are used to editing children’s books often and will be able to help catch frequently made mistakes. This applies especially to self-published books. These are the books most often filled with grammar mistakes because the new authors do not take the time to edit the book properly. Even if you think you know your grammar, ask someone else to review it.
Edit Your Children's Book Illustrations
One thing that gave me some anxiety in the process was making sure the illustrations looked perfect. Tweaking a character slightly on a page, making sure all the color shades matched up on every single page. I did find that the first time around, the eye color was different, hair was slightly different. Make sure everything matches up on every page. Once all your illustrations are done (you think they are), get a single copy of your book printed. See how it actually looks in your hands.The way certain companies print can cut off parts of your book. Keep in mind, printing companies are not all the same. A book from Amazon KDP and one from IngramSpark will have slight differences. In my opinion, KDP is easier to set up and use as a self-publisher, but they do not print the best quality books. The version of the book I prefer to give out to people is printed through IngramSpark. Once you go through every page and see what needs to be edited, have your illustrator make changes. Reformat your documents for uploading to IngramSpark (or other aggregator) and KDP. Get another single copy printed and review it again.
I Did Say Edit It Over and Over
Now that your children's book has been fully edited for grammar and illustrations and you have your final printed copy, look for issues again. I think I went through what I thought was my final version of my book 4 or 5 times. Let several people read and look over your book for any issues or things that stand out. You just want to be super thorough to make sure your final copy is perfect before you start selling it or ordering thousands of copies. I have had authors order 3,000 copies of their book and when I read it, there were still grammar issues.
Finding A Children’s Book Publisher
Just some quick tips since this can be a lengthy topic. If you are not going to self-publish on something like Amazon or IngramSpark, look for reviews of a good publisher. Ask around for other authors who had good experiences. Make sure whoever you choose gives you complete full use of all work. I’ve seen some publishers that do not let the authors have pdf copies of their book and put watermarks all over the files. The book and illustrations should be 100% yours to do whatever you want with. One of the best books I’ve read was published at a local (to them) company in the UK and their marketing is horrible. It was very hard to even find the book to purchase. A publisher should not only help you create a finished copy, but make it available for purchase everywhere. Be weary of small publishing companies. These tend to not have the resources to help you as much as the bigger ones. There are lots of scam publishing companies out there, be aware.
What Not To Do When Writing Children’s Books