How to Write a Children’s Book in 7 Incredibly Simple Steps.
Writing a children’s book and getting it right gives you the same feeling of making a kid laugh his heart out, happiness. Although it is a competitive field, there are endless possibilities for creating stories. Bring out the inner child in you and create something funny, engaging, and enjoyable.
Writing a children’s book is no joke either, especially if you are entirely new to this field. If you are still not sure about how to write a children’s book? Here are the steps that will help you write.
Find your Target Audience
Enough with the “story for all ages.” Think about the target audience for your book. More specific the target audience, the better. Is it for young children (ages 2-6), (ages 8-11), or young adults (ages 12+)? Although the first age group mentions 2-6, 6-year-olds read more compared to a 3-year-old, so it’s important to get the target audience right. If your book doesn’t click with at least one of these groups, it won’t click with any of them.
Here is the list of different types of children’s books and their target audience. It will help you make an informed choice.
● Picture Books (0-5 years)
A picture book or board book narrates a simple story through illustrations and words. It is usually read to children by adults, and later, children start reading it themselves once they begin reading. Themes are simple and straightforward, like about grandparents, the concept of sharing, animal stories, etc.
Word count: 500-700 words or even lower.
Examples: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers.
● Early Readers (5-8 years)
It is often created to help children develop their reading skills. It has more text compared to picture books. The story is narrated in simple language and includes illustrations as well. The theme is usually of friendship, pets, magic, etc. It acts as a bridge between picture or board book and chapter books.
Word count: 700-1500 words.
Example: One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
Elephant and Piggie Series by Mo Willems.
● Chapter Books (7-12 years)
Chapter books include both shorter and longer books for age groups 7-9 and 9-12 years, respectively. The shorter chapter books focus more on action and dialogues of character, and the themes tend to about life in school, friendship, overcoming challenges, etc. The longer books are more advanced with respect to the story and language.
Word Count: 5,000-15,000 words (Shorter chapter books).
20,000- 40,000 words (Longer chapter books).
Examples: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.
● Young adult (12-18 years)
Young adult fiction is usually full-fledged novel that has a three-act story structure. It is one of the most popular categories under children’s literature. The subject of these books is usually about adolescent life, their issues, challenges, and discovering one’s self.
Word Count: 50,000-1,00,000 words
Examples: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
Choose a Relatable Theme
Choosing a theme is very important for writing a children’s book. For instance, you can’t have a picture book with no words for children who are 13 years and above or a story of a coal miner winning the lottery. The story must be relatable for the target audience so that they read it over and over again.
It is crucial to have a theme when you write books for children. Try finding answers to these questions so that choosing a theme becomes easier:
- Is the idea/theme relatable for the kids?
- What is the story about?
- Did you find similar books with the same topic?
- If yes, how is your story different from the rest?
Develop an Engaging Story
The story needs to have a clear beginning, middle – a high point of the story, and end with closure. Children’s books don’t need to have cliffhangers if there is a series of books.
The middle part of the story needs to have a clear moment. Was there a problem the character encountered, what was it? Did they meet anyone new that day? Having pictures help children learn better, and faster.
These are some of the key pointers you need to keep in mind while developing an engaging story for children:
● Let the Story be Crisp & Exciting
A story about a boy going to a park plays with ducks, and goes to bed is not a story. It’s a day in almost every child’s life. A detailed story with many adjectives, with a talking duck or something out of the ordinary, gets a child’s attention.
● A Message Isn’t Necessary.
If your story has a message you want to pass on, make sure it is subtle and not make loud and clear. Children mostly read stories for fun. Although many books do not have any message, it can play a massive role in the growth and development of children. Think of it as covering peas with chocolate so children will want to eat them.
● Rhyme vs. No- Rhyme
Forcing a book to rhyme unless there is a particular reason is not a good idea. If it’s easy for you to make your story rhyme while writing, then great, or don’t force it.
Write Well-developed Characters
Characters are the backbone of any story or book, so you need to create well-rounded characters. The main character has to be unique and real. Remember all the main characters in various children’s books like Harry Potter or Matilda. They are the best examples of remarkable characters that are a huge hit among kids.
Try these questions to develop interesting characters:
- What are the good/bad traits of the character?
- Do they have any secrets?
- What makes the character happy/sad?
- What does the character desire?
Decide on the Illustrations
Illustrations are the central element in any children’s book, so don’t settle for less. Set a realistic budget and get a professional illustrator. If your book is completely picture-based, then you need to invest well in a professional illustrator. You can find illustrators in places like UpWork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.
Decide on the sizes of illustration. Do you want half-page or full-page illustrations? What is the layout and size of your book? All of this will help you determine your illustrations.
Rewrite & Edit the Book
Once you have the first draft ready, take a short break, and then read the manuscript. You might find places that you need to rework on, and also identify errors in terms of spelling and language. Reread the manuscript, and edit it brutally.
In children’s books, each word counts, so make sure you have only added necessary words that help the story flow effortlessly. You can self-edit the manuscript at first, and rewrite the parts wherever necessary. Then, you can hire a professional editor to give the book its final shape.
Try to Test Your Story
As the author, your story might seem interesting to you, but the best way to find out is to test your story. Once the dummy of the book mocked up with words and layout is done, find children from your target audience age group and read it out to them. Pay attention to when they laugh, getting bored, and losing patience.
Writing a children’s book might not be as easy as it looks. You need to put in your best ideas to use. It is indeed a tough task to create a children’s book, but the joy of seeing your book in those tiny hands makes it all worthwhile.