How to write books for children

Hi, Mums!

I know I have not been punctual with the articles. Many things happened ( I will update you in another article) and I have been studying several ways to keep this journey about “making money online from home” possible. 

Online courses are a very good opportunity to have some passive income, as I already told you. The most you make the better ( in my case, with three small children and no family to give a hand, the voice recording is very challenging, so I am finding other ways to make passive income). In case you have not read my article about How to make an online course, please click HERE.

Mum.ceo once upon time

In today’s article, I will give you information about how to write books for children.

First of all you should know that before writing you must choose for what age group are you doing it.

CHILDREN BOOKS AGE GROUPS

According with Rob Parnell , in his course  How to write great books for children , you must know the following :

You can rarely write just “for children”.

You have to know whether the child is

1)a baby,

2)a pre-schooler,

3)a junior reader,

4)a reluctant reader,

5)young adult

and you need to know who your target audience is before you start writing.

This becomes very important when you self publish your own books because you’ll then know how and where to categorize your stories – and how to market them effectively.

This first information is very relevant and we must understand that for different ages there are different approaches and interests.

WHAT KIND OF BOOK WRITE FOR EACH AGE GROUP

BABIES (0-2)

The ideal are board books with images, colour and almost no text ( a maximum of 200 words).

They have a reduced size, so the baby hands can leaf through the book, that is usually made with durable and folded paperboard, with round corners not to hurt.

It must have plain words and commonly they tend to teach these young human beings some new vocabulary.

PRE-SCHOOLERS (3-5)

For this public, an early picture book is the most adequate ( maximum 750 words and avoid more because some editors don’t accept). 32 pages is the standard, even if there are picture books with 24 or 48 pages, 32 is the most accepted amount of pages for this category.

The story must be very simple. You should start it without delays, in the first page if possible, around a character that has to face an obstacle and surpass it after struggling. The images must fit the story properly, with one character preferably the age of the child, which creates empathy and is easy to understand.

JUNIOR READERS (6-9 or 7-10)

For this age picture books are still very popular even if early chapter books are also accepted.

Once they are mostly for children who are starting to read or learned to read not long ago, the vocabulary must keep somehow simple and the number of words, if is a picture book,  is still 700 words. For an early chapter book, between 3000 to 10000 words.

Chapter books don’t have images or have just a few, in opposition to picture books .

When you are writing picture books, the images must capture the public attention and be in line with the text.

YOUNG ADULTS (12-18)

For young adults, the books in the market are mostly chapter books. 
These are the ones which you can sell the most in Amazon kindle, for example.

The emphasis is on the story itself and even if many authors write about drugs, alcohol, or family problems, remember that reading works as a kind of escape from the “real world”,  from the daily problems, so the story should allow the young adult to run away from the reality and travel in an exciting adventure, whatever it is; one not dictated by adults, where he or she can connect with the main character and feel a cathartic effect at the end.

In opposition to the other ages, where the ending has to be happy, here there is space for a “not so happy” one. Teenagers can already understand that life circumstances are not always easy.

WHAT TO WRITE FOR CHILDREN?

Children are probably the most demanding public in what concerns to write a good story.

However, there are some tips from popular children authors that can give you a clue about what should you write about.

  1. Write a story with a character that has the age of the child you are writing for ( don’t make an adult character. Children want to be the hero, the center).
  2. The story structure for children of any age should be, in resume, something like this: the main character has a problem to solve. When trying a solution it fails twice. When all seems lost, then the character finds a solution ( or it “appears”). And there comes the happy ending.
  3. The main character must solve his problems alone, through the qualities/ abilities that he or she has. Just if is a very young character, may need the help of an adult. Otherwise, children always like to be the heroes without adults to rescue them.
  4. Start the action immediately in the first page, otherwise children can lose interest. Don’t make big descriptions and when one problem in the story is solved, jump immediately to the other one. Keep the story going and never stop it to give background information. This way you won’t get children bored.
  5. Show, don’t tell! This means that you should use some adjectives and adverbs to make a child understand how a character feels. Rather than saying immediately “John was afraid of turtles” you can try something like this “John looked to the giant turtle. His hands got cold and his legs shook just with the thought of touching her”.
  6. Write not only happy endings but endings that bring a feeling of “surprise”, of something unexpected in a good way.
  7. Write a story that is relatable. This means a story that makes sense for the young reader , about big emotions or situations experienced by the child in her daily life. It can be about an argument with a best friend, get lost, lose a pet,  feel lonely and need to make a friend, sibling rivalry, body issues…
  8. Catch a wave. A story with a character or tendency that is fashionable have high chances to be successful. If you want to make a story about a videogame, for example, you contact the company which made the game and ask if you can use their character(s) to write a book for children. If is a good story and they agree you can earn more and they have advertisement for free.
  9. Add potty humour or jokes. If children can laugh (and parents too) it’s half way to be well succeeded.
  10. Pick popular topics: dinosaurs, princesses, unicorns, ninjas…

DO NOT
Here is a lost of things you should not do when writing for children:

  • do not write in a complex way. Keep the language plain.
  • Don’t write about something very serious.
  • Don’t lecture directly.
  • Don’t write like a mum, trying to fix kids.
  • Avoid too much drama ( unless you use humour).
  • Avoid subjects children don’t care about ( for example, religion).
  • Don’t lecture.

WRITE ABOUT BIG EMOTIONS

When you write for children is always a good idea to talk about big emotions : Have a new animal, have an argument with a sibling or a friend, be lost, be afraid of the dark, and so on; something that has some impact and helps to create empathy with the main character.

IS IT BETTER TO WRITE PAPER BOOKS OR BOOKS TO SELL IN INTERNET?

That will depend on what your goals are.
if is true that a paper version can bring you more income, is also true that nowadays many people read in kindle. Even if not so profitable at a first glance , you are saving time and if you become a known author , with some reputation , then you can increase the prices of your books.
if you wrote for Amazon, you can publish faster and also receive money faster, without the complications that a traditional book implies.

Is all for today, Mums!

Have a good week!