Writing Children's Books For Dummies, 3rd Edition book cover

Writing Children's Books For Dummies, 3rd Edition

By: Lisa Rojany and Peter Economy Published: 04-25-2022

Discover the fundamentals of writing for children, including common book formats and genres, and the structure of the children's book market. Learn to create a spellbinding story with scene description, engaging dialogue, and a child-friendly tone. This new edition includes how to choose a publisher, or self-publish, and how to use social media and other marketing techniques to get the word out about your new masterpiece.

Articles From Writing Children's Books For Dummies, 3rd Edition

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56 results
56 results
Writing Children's Books For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-16-2022

When you explore writing children's books, you enter a different world, one filled with book formats — from board books to young adult novels — and a whole different set of rules to follow and restrictions to heed for each. If you want to become a successful children's book author, you need to know how to edit your work and how to promote your book.

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Children's Books Genres

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Genres are the general nature of major children’s book categories. They’re like big buckets into which a bunch of books written with certain similar conventions are thrown. For example, mystery fiction is a genre, as is action/adventure.

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Baby and Toddler-Friendly Books with Lots of Pictures

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

What the children's book publishing industry loosely refers to as “books with pictures” describes any of the formats focusing mainly on heavy illustration and few words. Books with pictures are therefore perfect for babies and growing toddlers. Usually, parents read these to their kids, rather than the kids reading the books themselves.

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Children's Books with Lots of Words

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

This list takes a look at children's books that focus on telling a story through words. This category includes early readers, first chapter books, middle-grade books, and YA books.

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Walk through the Illustration Process for Children's Books

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

After your manuscript is in house at a publishing company, the art director takes over. She and the editor in charge of the project get together and discuss possible directions for the art. Artists are considered, agents of the shortlist of preferred illustrators are contacted, and a decision is made. After an illustrator is hired, he follows a specific process to deliver the art to the publisher. First, if requested by the art director, he draws some concept sketches — quick drawings that demonstrate where the illustrator sees the project going. Next come the black-and-white pencil drawings, followed by the finished color art and completing the various bits and pieces the publisher might require. Often, the cover is left for last. Tim Bowers is a multitalented, award-winning, New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestselling illustrator with more than 30 children’s books to his name. Illustrating in styles as diverse as those found in Memoirs of a Goldfish written by Devin Scillian (Sleeping Bear Press) to Fun Dog, Sun Dog written by Deborah Heiligman (Amazon Children’s Books), Tim Bowers agreed to share with us his particular process for illustrating the picture book It’s a Big World, Little Pig written by Kristi Yamaguchi (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky).

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How to Set Up Your Workspace for Writing Children's Books

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Before you can revel in all those copies flying off the bookstore shelves and into online shopping carts — you have to write a children's book! For some fortunate writers, this is the easy part; for others, it’s like waiting at the dentist’s office for a root canal.

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How to Conduct Research for Writing Children's Books

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

The best children’s books have some grounding in a child’s reality, and the best way to discover what that reality is rather than what you imagine it to be is to get out there and explore. Besides of looking through bookstores, libraries, and online book sellers, here are some of the best ways to find out more about kids and about the people standing between your manuscript and the children you’re trying to reach: how they think, how they act, what they like, what they think is gross versus what they think is cool, and what proves perennially popular.

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More Than Ten Great Sources for Storylines

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Certain premises for story lines can be employed time and again. Whether your take on an existing story sounds derivative is up to you and your writing skill. Here are some fabulous resources for story lines that you’re welcome to pilfer and tinker with to your heart’s content because no one — and everyone — owns them. To find out whether anyone owns a story — and whether you can retell it in your words without getting in trouble — use this fairly reliable test: If you can find three different sources of adaptations or retellings in the public domain, then you can fairly assume the story is up for grabs.

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What Not to Do when Writing Children's Books

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Just as writing children’s books has a unique set of rules to follow (you know that the good guy or gal always wins), there are some things you should never do — never! Don’t even consider doing any of the following in a book for children: Write books that preach or lecture. Talk down to children as if they're small, idiotic adults. Write books that have no real story (nor a plot with beginning, middle, end). Use art that is totally inappropriate for the story or vice versa. Pack picture books with lots of text. Pack nonfiction books with too much text and too few visuals. Create characters who are boring or unnecessary to the development of the story. Create main characters who have a problem they don't solve themselves or who don't change throughout the course of the story. Tell instead of showing by using narrative as a soapbox. Anthropomorphize animals or use alliterative names (Squishy Squirrel, Morty Mole — Wretched Writer).

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Tips for Writing Books for Younger Children

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The rules for writing books for younger children (ages 2–8) are different from the rules for writing books for middle graders or young adults. Keep the following 12 commandments in mind. (As with most commandments, you may be able to dance around one or two, but you'd better have a good reason.) It's okay to be different from others, but it's not easy. Bad guys never win. The good guy must come out on top in the end. Extremes rule (the world is black or white, not both — most children ages 10 and under can be quite literal). All characters should be drawn with both good points and weaknesses. No one is just one or the other — even the good and the bad guy. It's fine for something to be scary, but it can never touch a little kid's body. Little people can triumph over big people. Poopoo, peepee, tushies, passing gas, burping, underwear — they're all hilarious. Turning things upside down is funny — as long as those things make sense in the first place right side up. Magic can occur as a logical reaction to an action. Regular children can perform extraordinary feats. Regular children can go on implausible missions sanctioned (or not) by adults in charge.

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