How To Write A Children’s Book

If you’ve ever thought about how to write a children’s book, but are not sure where to start, then this is the article for you! Writing for children is extremely rewarding and a great way to unleash your creativity and imagination and in turn capture the heart’s of young readers. That said, we’ll be sharing key steps to help you get started on your own children’s book, so keep reading!

How to write a children's book

Did you know that children’s books accounted for the largest percentage of all books sold each year for 5 years in a row, and the market is growing in the U.S.?

You’ve got the writing skills, the passion, and the drive to make it happen, and even the outline of an idea, but sometimes knowing where to start is the hardest part.

Follow our guide to ensure you know exactly how to make a childrens book and how to make it a success!

14 Steps for how to write a children’s book

It’s a common misconception that writing a children’s book is easier than writing a novel.

In fact, having fewer words and pages to work with can make it harder! They often take years of drafts and edits before finally being shared and enjoyed by young readers.

However, by following these steps, you can make writing a children’s book an enjoyable process and create a great body of work that children will love!

Here are 14 key steps to help you get started:

1. Read a lot of children’s books first

Before you can learn how to write a children’s book, you need to read a lot of them first. The more you read, the more you can improve your vocabulary and communication especially for your target audience of young readers. With children’s books, there is also a particular format, style, and pattern that makes them successful.

It may have been a while since you’ve read one, but reading as many children’s books as possible will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t, as well as certain elements that you want to include in your own story.

Children’s books are short, so it won’t take you long to read lots and gain some invaluable insight. Don’t skip this crucial first step in your book-writing journey!

2. Think of a simple yet engaging idea

Children’s books need to be about something children can relate to. Successful book themes can change over the years, so it’s important to do some research to see what is selling at the time you begin to write your children’s book.

Use prompts to inspire your writing and help you learn how to get over writer’s block.

For example, if you know you want to write about animals, try a prompt such as “Write about an animal that moves to a new home.”

If you find yourself coming up with ideas that have already been done before, don’t just discard them. Instead, give the idea a new perspective. There is nothing wrong with taking an existing topic and making it unique.

Popular children’s book themes include:

  • Friendship
  • Family
  • Courage
  • Animals
  • Bedtime
  • Change
  • Growing up
  • Holidays

3. Create a unique main character

Once you’ve got your theme sorted, it’s time to come up with the star of your book. The main character is often the selling point of a book, so take your time with this stage to ensure you get it right.

Focus on the main character first, then move on to other characters. Don’t overcrowd your book with too many characters, though. Less is more!

Many authors find it helpful to create a profile for their book characters to help them shape their personalities. This will cover their physical appearance, as well as their dreams and fears.

The main character of a children’s book should be:

  • Relatable
  • Realistic (even if the situation they find themselves in isn’t!)
  • Memorable
  • Likeable
  • Educational

The main character shouldn’t be:

  • Greedy
  • Manipulative
  • Spoiled
  • Immature
  • A bully

4. Define your target audience

Unlike adult books, children’s books cover different age ranges that cater to different needs and interests. The age range you choose will determine the type of book that you write and how to write a good children’s book for that audience.

Here are typical word counts by age group according to Mary Kole Editorial:

  • 0 to 2 – Board books: Up to 100 words
  • 2 to 6 – Picture books: Up to 600 words
  • 5 to 7 – Early readers: Maximum of 1500 words
  • 7 to 9 – Chapter books: Between 4,000 – 15,000 words
  • 9 to 11 – Middle grade: 15,000 – 35,000
  • 13+ – Young adult (YA) books: 50,000 – 95,000 words

One of the most important early steps in the how to write a children’s book process is understanding children’s reading abilities in each of the age ranges and what they like to read about.

Once you know this, you should be able to have a clear idea of which category your book will fall into.

5. Structure your story

As with any story, a children’s book should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. There should be a problem or event that your leading character needs to solve that takes your little readers on an exciting journey.

The characters in your book will often need to overcome some mild conflict as they deal with the challenge that you have given them. It must also end with a satisfying resolution if you want to keep your readers happy!

Mindmaps and timelines are great ways to get all of your ideas on paper and logically structure your story using the elements of a plot.

6. Write the story

So, it’s time for the bulk of the work – actually writing your children’s story. It can be tempting to start writing before this stage, especially as a first time author, but the steps prior to this one are crucial and shouldn’t be missed! Trust us, your book will be better for it in the end.

Here are our top tips to help with your writing and how to write a good children’s book:

Think about your audience while writing and learning how to make a children’s book

Put yourself in the mind of the age of the child you’re writing for.

How do they think? What do they like? Asking yourself these questions will help keep you focused.

Use simple language, but don’t talk down to your audience

Children won’t be impressed by words that they don’t understand in a book. They will just put it down and are unlikely to pick it back up again. Make sure each word you use is appropriate for your chosen age range.

In the same way, if you use words that are too simple, it won’t make children want to read your book.

Try repetition and rhyme

Repetition creates a sense of familiarity, which children love. Rhymes also spark a child’s imagination and keep them interested in the story.

7. Use illustrations 

Illustrations are a huge part of how to write a book for children.

Images help people to read between the lines in terms of what is happening in a book. This is especially important for children who are developing their reading skills.

Keep in mind that illustrations should match the text perfectly and make sense in the context of the story.

A great way to decide which illustrations to use in your children’s book is to create a book mock-up. Print out all your words and break them up into sections for each page. You’ll then be left with lots of white space so you can visualize what image should go there and how the book will flow.

Sketch rough drawings so you can get your ideas down on paper. Then, either create the illustrations yourself if you’re arty or hire an illustrator.

When hiring an illustrator for your children’s book, choose one that has an art style that suits your book. Online marketplaces such as Upwork and Reedsy are good places to find illustrators who are looking for work.

Don’t forget to set a budget and stick to it!

8. Write a memorable action title

Your children’s book title should be short, catchy, relevant, and fun. It should also be one that is unique, so don’t get tempted to choose an existing one you like and change it slightly.

A good title clearly explains what your story is about and makes your audience want to pick it up and read it.

Need some inspiration?

Try using your main character’s name and include some action words and emotions. Write down your list of ideas and practice saying them out loud to see how they sound.

Here are some examples of successful children’s book titles:

You also want to ensure your book has a great blurb that can be used to grab attention.

9. Proofread and edit your children’s book

You’ve been working on your children’s story for a while now, and it’s finally time to start editing!

Even though children’s books have less text and bigger fonts than fiction books, the different formatting and font types, as well as the bright images, can make it tricky to spot errors.

You should always proofread your own work first and know how to edit a book, but using a professional editor is key to ensuring a high-quality, publishable product. Poor grammar, spelling, and structure will only lead to fewer sales and bad reviews.

Finding a good children’s book editor is simple but it’s important to find one that has good reviews from other children’s book authors. The Editorial Freelancers Association is a great place to search for reputable editors.

Freelance websites like Reedsy are also worth looking at.

10. Get feedback from readers

Knowing how to write a children’s book that will do well isn’t just about your writing style and idea, which is why feedback is an invaluable part of the process.

Many children’s book authors get so caught up in writing their book and getting it published that they forget to ask children for their feedback before it goes on sale.

A great way to do this is to create a focus group. Give a copy of your book to parents of children in your age range, ask them to read it, and share their thoughts and feedback with you.

Think of a few questions that you can ask the children directly, such as “What did you like about the main character?” and “What do you think is happening in the picture on the cover?”.

Online book communities are excellent places to discuss your book and get feedback from like-minded authors. You may also pick up some great tips on how to make a childrens book here!

11. Decide on how to publish your children’s book

There are two options to consider when it comes to how you want to publish your book.

You can self publish for free on sites such as Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or Apple Books.

Or you can go down the traditional route and find a publisher. If you choose this option, you should know that there are some book publishers to avoid because they won’t give your book the attention and care it deserves.

There are different advantages for each route.

For example, self-publishing will give you more profit and creative freedom, whereas publishers have strong connections in the book world, so they can open doors for you in terms of promoting your book.

12. Avoid common writing mistakes

If you want to know how to write a children’s book that publishers want, don’t make these common mistakes.

Mixing age categories

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a story and forget who you’re writing for. Don’t let your book be a flop by always keeping your target audience in mind. Some authors find it useful to keep a brief profile of their readers in eyesight whenever they are writing.

Using too many words

If there are too many adjectives and unnecessary words in a children’s book, it can make reading feel like a chore rather than enjoyable. Keep your story to the point and avoid fluff writing, only adding words if they improve the sentence.

Making the story too simple

Children don’t like to be made to feel like they are too young to understand something. They want to learn things and grow. Always do your research on what your target age range knows before writing.

Choosing a boring, vague title

The job of a book title is to give readers a hook. It needs to explain what the book is about in a short and snappy way, but it also needs to contain strong action verbs to make it fun. A boring book title is likely to be put back on the shelf rather than bought.

Underestimating the importance of a good cover

Let’s be honest, this is ultimately what makes a child pick up a book. A good cover will clearly hint at what the book is about, grab the reader’s attention, and be age-appropriate. It also needs to stand out on a shelf in a bookstore.

13. Market your book

A good marketing strategy will get your book shared with as many people as possible all over the world.

These fun marketing and book promotion ideas will stop your book from getting lost in a sea of published children’s books.

Social media

Sharing your writing journey and announcing your book is available to buy is a powerful marketing tool. Remember to use relevant hashtags and consistently share content with your followers to increase the visibility of your posts.

Book signings

Attending book signings will help get your book known and allow you to start creating a name for yourself as an author. It’s also a great way to connect with your readers and build loyalty.

School and community readings

Some authors choose to read parts of their book (or the whole thing) to local schools and communities to promote their story and boost book sales.

Promotional giveaways

Giveaways are an inexpensive way to expose your book to a wider audience. A popular way to run a giveaway is to do a competition, with a copy of your book as the prize.

14. Celebrate your achievement: You wrote a children’s book!

Celebrating your book launch is a must. You worked so hard to make it a success, now it’s time to acknowledge your work and celebrate you through self-care.

It doesn’t have to be anything lavish. You could gather some family and friends for a small party or simply do a celebratory dance.

However you decide to treat yourself, you deserve every bit!

Knowing what publishers are looking for is one of the keys to success when writing a book for children. Nobody wants to put all of their time and effort into a story that won’t sell. Doing your research upfront will hugely increase your chances of writing a best seller.

A great way to research current trends is to follow publishers’ websites and social media where you will often find articles written about children’s books and what’s popular at the moment. Or you can simply browse some bookshops and make a note of reoccurring themes!

Children’s literature is constantly changing, so make sure your research is fresh before deciding on the topic for your children’s book. Knowing how to write a children’s book becomes easier once your story is clear in your mind.

How much can you make from writing a children’s book?

On average, children’s book authors make around $55,000 and $71,000 a year. Exact earnings will depend on many factors, such as the type of book you write and how many books you’ve published.

In addition, you’ll need to think about the RRP (Recommended Retail Price), the royalty percentage, what publishing route you take, and how many sales your book has made.

To increase your sales, you might try using influencers in the children’s space to help promote your book. This is a proven way to reach a wider audience. Attending book festivals and applying for book awards are also ways to get your name and book out there.

How do you start writing a kids book as a beginners?

To start writing a children’s book as a beginner, here are key things you can do that will make a difference to the quality (and, therefore, success) of your children’s novel:

Write every day

To hone your writing skills, setting time aside to write every day is a must. Writing regularly allows you to expand your vocabulary, refine your tone and style, and allow you to document your thoughts and ideas logically. All of these factors are essential for budding authors and a key part of how to write a kids book.

Develop your characters one at a time

Characters in a story can often become muddled if they are not created in isolation. Focus on your main character first until you know everything about them. Then, move on to the next most important character in your book, and so on.

Use mindmaps and bullet points to develop your plot

Not only does a well-thought-out and documented plot make it easier for you to turn your notes into a story, but it also creates a better end product.

Set a writing schedule – and stick to it

Turning your ideas into a book requires a consistent and disciplined writing schedule. Your schedule needs to be realistic and fit in with your other commitments for it to work.

Find the time of day that you’re most productive and block out that time in your calendar every day. As well as setting daily hours, try setting a daily word count goal to motivate you to hit your milestones.

What do I need to know before writing a children’s book?

Here’s what to know before you begin writing your children’s book:

Understand how well kids can read at each age range

This is really important. If you want to know how to write a children’s book for a six-year-old but don’t know their reading ability, writing something that would suit them can be challenging. Do your research before you start to write to avoid wasting time (and money).

Be cautious of negative subjects

Learning how to write a kids book isn’t just about being able to write well and tell a good story. You also need to be aware of social factors.

Promoting positive topics and values is an important part of children’s literature. Books like this are used by parents all over the world to start meaningful conversations with their little ones.

Dealing with negative emotions is equally important and is essential to a child’s emotional health. If you’re writing a book for children that deals with negative emotions, be mindful of how your message can come across to different readers.

Only create characters that have a purpose in your story

Each character in your book should have a role and goals. Otherwise, they are hard for the reader to relate to and can often get lost in the plot. Writing profiles for each character can help to ensure each one has a part to play.

Don’t hurry the process of writing a book for children

The actual writing of your book could take between a few months to a year, if not longer. But if you’re using an illustrator, editor, and publisher, this will add to the overall timescale. Printing can also take time, depending on demand.

Whilst self-publishing tends to have a much shorter process, remember that it comes with extra responsibilities such as marketing and financing.

If you enjoyed learning how to write a children’s book, these other articles will inspire you too!

Start writing your own children’s book today!

So now you know just how to write a children’s book, and more importantly, how to write a good children’s book.

Children adore books, and seeing their little faces light up with your words will make the entire process and hard work worthwhile!

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