The Formula for Writing a Children’s Book, Revealed
Planning to start a career in the writing industry? Besides focusing on storytelling, you might also need to start planning for the publishing process. Nowadays, it has become much easier for authors to self-publish their work and gain popularity among readers. For instance, illustrated children’s books can be self-published as traditional printed books or ebooks. We have also written an article about what every children’s book author needs to know to prepare to publish their book.
However, before spending too much time on their publishing preparations, children’s book authors might want to know how they can improve the quality of their work. Here are 5 ways to become a successful children’s book author.
Read as Many Illustrated Children’s Books as Possible
To begin writing a children’s book, you must know how words are used in children’s books, what kinds of structures are effective, how characters should be built, what role storytelling plays, and what kinds of plots will be appreciated by readers. To know those things, you must start by reading children’s books—as many as you can, from famous to indie authors. As Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Know Your Target Readers
This is a very important step that you must know if you’re planning on making it to the publishing step. Knowing who you’re writing for can also help you find better story ideas, build better plots and characters, and decide what your illustrations should look like. Children develop within age-group ranges, including those who are starting to learn how to read (usually ages 0-3) and then pre-school and kindergarten-age children (usually ages 4-6). Therefore, when you write, you must try to put yourself in the mindset of children within a specific developmental range. This includes using understandable and easy-to-pronounce words. Also, it’s important to use short sentences when your target readers are those who are still learning to read.
In addition, keep in mind that you want to attract parents as well because they’re the ones who will actually end up purchasing your children’s book. Methods for attracting parents can vary, but they include offering a meaningful lesson that’ll inspire children and help them learn something, featuring attractive elements within the book, or just simply being entertaining to children.
Come Up With a Great Story Idea to Write About
Children’s books are built on two things: great illustrations and an engaging story. Children’s book stories can be inspiring, hilarious, silly, weird, or even serious. To create great stories, you can try using expressive, unforgettable, and cute characters, strange settings, inspiring problem-solving, and more. Reading a lot of children’s books might help you be inspired to create great story ideas.
Develop Your Writing Skills as You Go
Writing a children’s book takes a lot of skill. Moreover, writing is an art form that tries to influence other people through the use of words. If you’re planning on writing a rhyming children’s book, try to read as much poetry as possible and also read rhyming children’s books by other authors. You might also consider taking an online course. There are thousands available online that offer to teach you how to write a children’s book.
Hire an Experienced Children’s Book Illustrator
Another critical component of children’s books is the illustrations. Illustrations help children imagine the settings, the characters, and the story as if they’re all real. That’s why the illustrations need to be engaging and are often the most important component in a children’s book. To create engaging illustrations, you must hire an experienced illustrator, who you can find on Facebook, Instagram, Fiverr, or even their personal website.
As a team of children’s book illustrators, TullipStudio has 9 years of experience and has created many illustrations for authors. Some of our children’s books can be found on Amazon, Instagram, and Facebook. We’re also able to do illustrations in different styles, such as whimsical, cartoon, realistic, or anything you request. In addition to illustrations, we also provide interesting front and back covers, because people actually do judge a book by its cover.
These publishing tools—from writing tools to marketing tools—might help you to become a successful children’s book author.
To start your own children’s book project as an indie or self-published author, you must identify the idea of the story, the plot, the critical conflicts, the characters, and the setting. However, if you are still unsure about developing a story, you might need professional help to assist you through the writing phase.
Joel Friedlander's Book Start-up Toolkit: This tool aims to eliminate your doubts and get you in the creative process. It provides you with a strategy, a roadmap, and the exact steps you need to take to make your story stand out and get the writing going.
Scrivener: This software is designed by authors for authors. It is one of the best programs you can use to get your writing organized.
Reedsy Book Editor: This is a great production tool that helps you format and converts your work before finishing. It allows you to work online or with other contributors (such as your editors). After completion, you can easily export a perfect EPUB file or a printable PDF file that is typeset, and these files can immediately be sent to an on-demand printing service, such as Ingram Spark (web-based).
Grammarly: This online grammar and plagiarism checker will show you basic corrections for your writing.
Plagiarism Checker: This is an online plagiarism checker that you can use for free, or you can purchase a paid plan, depending on what features you’re going to use. It is easy to use and will check your book’s authenticity in just a few seconds.
Plagium: This is another quick and easy plagiarism tool you can use to check and make sure that your writing is original and not duplicated.
Now that you’ve completed the writing phase and checked your work for basic proofreading, you need to edit the written manuscript and do a proofread to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand, especially by children if you’re writing a children’s book.
Reedsy: This company provides carefully selected freelance editors. The freelance editors on Reedsy are experienced in editing book manuscripts and have been in the field for years, so you can be sure that you’re working with the best editing professionals worldwide, including editing evaluation, development editing, copy editing, and proofreading your manuscript.
Editors Association: Working with local editors who you find on Editors Association will also help you get your writing edited.
Book Design Tools
If you get to this step, you’re halfway to getting your book published by Ingram Sparks, Amazon’s KDP, or another publisher that supports indie authors. During this step, you’ll need to get your manuscript illustrated by professional and experienced illustrators.
Design Crowd: This website allows you to search for an artist who is willing to do book cover designs, book illustrations, and much more.
99 Design: Another website that helps you find a suitable artist to illustrate your manuscript.
TullipStudio: An illustration studio that specializes in children’s book illustrations and has more than 10 years of experience in the field. Offers many illustration styles, from cartoon and whimsical to realistic, stylized, and so much more. Additionally, TullipStudio will help you with your book cover design and book formatting, so all you have to do is send the finished product to the publisher.
Now, you need to choose a publisher to print your finished illustrations and turn them into a children’s book. Also, you’ll need to decide what kind of paper is suitable for your children’s book project and whether it will have a hard or a paper cover. Here are some publishers that will work with self-published children's authors.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): Created and owned by Amazon Company, KDP is a great tool for indie authors who want to self-publish their works in an eBook format and distribute it directly to Amazon’s readers, also known as Kindle readers. Since KDP and Kindle's first launch in 2007, the company holds more than 80% of the market share in the United States and the United Kingdom. The Kindle is a device that allows users to browse, buy, download, and read eBooks, magazines, newspapers, and other digital media that are sold in the Kindle Store. KDP pays authors royalties between 35% and 70% based on the book’s price.
Apple iBooks: Apple's iBooks is the second-largest e-book retailer after Amazon, accounting for 10% of total sales in the top five countries. It provides unique benefits for authors in more than 40 e-book stores in specific countries. For instance, they can set prices based on the price of comparable books or even in the local currency, so book prices differ in each country. In addition, authors can arrange free books and discounts at any time, and there is no exclusive distribution contract. To publish directly on iBooks, you must have a Mac device. Otherwise, you will have to go through the e-book aggregator. Apple’s royalty rate for authors is 70%.
IngramSparks: This self-publishing service was established by Ingram, the world's leading distributor of printed books, which is connected with 39,000 bookstores, libraries, and online retailers in more than 150 countries. Ingram Spark also distributes e-books to all top online retailers, such as Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many more. They also publish hardcover books and even offer advanced printing, which is useful for books that contain many pictures. After deducting the cost of book production, Ingram Spark charges a 53% commission for bookstore sales and a 30% commission from online sales. They also charge a setup fee of $49 and an annual fee of $12.
Book Marketing Tools
You have now entered the last phase, and this is where the fun part begins. Marketing, selling, and earning money by getting your book to offline and online bookstores makes the whole process of writing and publishing an illustrated children’s book real. Here are some tools that will help you as you start to market your books.
The Alliance for Independent Authors: This is a non-profit organization that gives advice and guidance on being an indie author, including how to market and promote your books, how online bookstore algorithms work, how to plan your book launch, and much more.
Facebook Creator Studio: Creator Studies helps you schedule posts from Facebook and Instagram at the same time. It also helps you to view the engagement with every post you share on Facebook and Instagram. This will give you an advantage by showing you where to put your money for advertising based on the age group(s) that most often view your content.
IngramSparks Free Courses: IngramSparks offers a lot of free courses to guide indie authors. For instance, “How to Build an Author Platform” is a free online self-publishing course that teaches indie authors how to get readers and stay connected with them. This is important because you need to understand your audience in order to know which marketing strategies will be most effective.
Last but not least, you need to make sure that your illustrated children’s book features as many of these elements as possible:
1. Memorable Story; Memorable stories and characters are some of the most important elements to have in a children’s book. The story should entertain children, and reading it should teach them some kind of relatable lesson.
2. Adorable Illustrations; Other than memorable stories, children’s books must include adorable illustrations. Children’s book illustrations come in many different styles, from whimsical and cartoonish to highly realistic.
TullipStudio has over 9 years of experience illustrating children’s books. Our growing team can create adorable and colorful illustrations according to the author’s chosen illustration style.
3. Professional Editing; Hiring professional help is sometimes necessary when you want to get the best result from your children’s book. Hiring a professional editor will help you to find corrections that need to be fixed. In addition, by regularly working with an editor, you’ll slowly learn new writing ideas and rules that you can apply to your next book project.
4. Outstanding Book Cover; Making sure your book cover is outstanding and engaging is another easy way to earn high sales for your book. Some illustrators include the creation of a book cover in their service. For instance, TullipStudio will provide you with a front & back cover and book formatting as well.
5. A Well-Planned Children’s Book Launch; A successful children’s book launch can help engage your audience and build connections with readers and other authors. Planning a book launch involves choosing a venue, sending invitations, signing books, and offering other entertaining activities like reading or Q&A for your fans.
6. Optimize Your Book’s Descriptions; Your book’s descriptions must include what the story is about, the genre, and the recommended age range of readers. Consider browsing other children’s books that are in the same genre as yours to see how they’ve written their book descriptions.
7. Advertise Your Children’s Book; Advertising is a powerful tool to increase book sales from your targeted audience. Designating an audience for your children’s book can be a little tricky because your target audience is parents whose children are approximately the same age as the age group recommendation for your book.