ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Writing for Children

Updated on September 30, 2010

Always wanted to write for children?

Well, there's a lot you should know first. Words of warning: don't do it for the money and don't expect it to happen overnight. It's a very slow process (but fun if you love it), and unless you're the next J.K. Rowling or Margaret Wise Brown, don't expect a huge payday. The pay is the satisfaction of having your work matched with wonderful illustrations that will bring joy to many children and promote literacy for the next generation of readers (and writers).

The great thing about writing for children is the community around it. Authors - published and unpublished, are all rooting for you to get published. And, in general, we're a really nice group of people.

DON'T

  • Don't ever give up. As long as it is something you love doing, keep at it. Once you've sent one ms off to the editors, start writing another. Not only will it keep you from obsessing over the one that is either getting rejected or receiving no response, it will be giving you something else to send and you'll be honing your writing skills. You should have seen my first manuscript - what a mess!
  • Don't submit your manuscript and cover letter on fancy, colored paper. It screams amateur.
  • Don't tell the editor that 'my son's preschool class all loved it, so your readers will too.' Again, beginner assumption and remark.
  • Don't submit your manuscript to more than one imprint at one publishing house at a time. Big no-no. Wait for a rejection, then resubmit to another imprint. :)
  • Don't submit a manuscript with a cover letter addressed "Dear Editor". Find a name, spell it correctly, address them with respect. Hint: if you find a book you love that is in the genre in which you're hoping to be published, check the acknowledgements - you may just find an editor's name!

Some tips for beginners

I've only been at this for a few years, so I don't claim to be an expert (even if I was published, I would still not consider myself an expert) but I've learned a lot of Do's and Don'ts so far that I was glad someone shared with me. Here are some tips for novices that will put you ahead of the pack.

DO:

  • Join SCBWI - www.scbwi.org This organization is chock full of information and will connect you into the heart of children's book writing.
  • Read as many books as possible in the genre you're looking to break into .
  • Get to know your local children's librarians, your local bookstore staff
  • Join /form a writing critique group. Even if you are all beginners, they will have valuable insights to share.
  • Attend conferences and workshops. This is great for the knowlege you gain, but also the network you build.
  • Make friends with published authors
  • Buy a copy of the latest Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market put out by Writer's Digest Books. Or buy a subscription to it online.
  • pay for a critique if you have the $. Sometimes it's nice to know you're not a complete idiot by getting valuable feedback from an expert. You can often submit a manuscript for critique through a conference you are attending, or you can find some freelance critiquers as well.
  • If you've not heard anything for 3-4 months, follow up. (if that is allowed). Do so by writing a very nice note, letting the editor know when you submitted it, and ask politely for a response in the next 6 weeks. Even if you get a rejection, you've at least been able to rise to the top of the slush pile.

Agent or No Agent

This is always a tough question. And the annoying answer is: it depends.

Some agents hesitate to sign on with a first time picture book writer who has only written one pb, simply because the return on their investment will be low. Some don't care about that if the writing is good (they see your potential). Some will sign on if they know of the YA novel you're also writing, or if you've written 4 picture books and they can see you're prolific and a hard worker.

It is sometimes just as easy to shop a picture book around to editors on your own. But if you have written a 200 page YA or middle grade novel, it would probably benefit you to get an agent. They can do the selling for you and have the connections.

Bottom line: it's up to you.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      10 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks for the great info. I have atteneded on writer's conference and I think this is the best way to get the real attention of of a publisher or agent.

    • AroundtownSue profile imageAUTHOR

      AroundtownSue 

      10 years ago from Mountain View

      Verla is great. I met her at a conference in 2007. She is an excellent resource, author, mentor, and offers a wonderful weeklong workshop/intensive that perhaps I can take when my kids are older! It is hard work - half the work is learning the biz!

    • profile image

      marketingtheweb 

      10 years ago

      It's interesting that you mention Verla Kay. She visited with my K-1-2 class and me back in 2000, or so, through an online chat. It was great to for the us all to "talk" to a real, live author.

      Thanks for the ideas. Writing for kids is hard work, but a lot of fun.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)