RESEARCH your topic. The more you know, the more convincing your characters will be and the more authentic your world will become to your reader. Even if you don’t actually use the facts in your writing, you’ll want to be able to answer any question thrown at you throughout the process.
EXAMINE YOUR MOTIVATIONS FOR DOING IT. Are you trying to teach a moral? To entertain? To raise awareness? Or are you just doing it for yourself or your family? IS this really a project suitable for commercial publication or are you better off publishing it yourself?
WRITE A GOOD STORY. Learn about how to write. Just because they are usually shorter does not make them “easier” to write. If it felt easy, then you’re probably doing a bad job of your story.
KNOW THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. If you plan on your books being used in schools, then you should make sure you know the curriculum (or at least the topics the kids study at certain ages).
TEST YOUR WORK. Actually take your work and test it on an audience of the appropriate age. Then LISTEN to the feedback the kids give you.
SPEND TIME WITH KIDS. You MUST do this. If you don’t have kids or grandkids of your own, try volunteering to be a big brother or big sister, or volunteering for some type of children’s group.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Not every story will be good enough, and you will never get better if you don’t practice.
USE AN APPROPRIATE VOICE. Make sure that the character telling your story is someone the kids can relate to, and that they would use words at the appropriate vocabulary level.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Who will this book be sold to. Who would be the reader of this book? Cut out a picture, or take a photo of a child you know who would be exactly the audience you are targeting. Make sure that you pin this photo up beside your “moral statement” to remind you who you are writing for. Tell your story TO THIS PERSON.
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE WILLING TO DO TO MARKET YOUR BOOK. Publishers will want to know, and if you’re doing it yourself, then you’ll have to know. Are you comfortable around children? Do you have experience working with kids? If not…now is the time to get some.
RESEARCH YOUR PUBLISHER. You don’t want to submit without having done your homework about that publisher, or you’ll be wasting everyone’s time. Guides you get from the library are great – but chances are the information is outdated. By all means, do use the books as a jumping off point, but make sure that you visit the website of the publisher to confirm as many details as you can.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE YOUR READER. Kids are extremely smart, and don’t appreciate being talked down to.
DON’T PREACH. It’s fine to teach a lesson through your writing BUT it has to be subtle. If you have a message you want to get across to your reader, write it up on a piece of paper and pin it to a board somewhere near where you’re writing. Then, DON’T WRITE THOSE WORDS IN YOUR BOOK.
DON’T ASSUME THAT THE TYPE OF BOOKS YOU READ AS A CHILD ARE WHAT KIDS ARE READING NOW. Things have changed. See Spot Run is not going to cut it in today’s fast paced, complex world. You need to be imaginative, current, hip, interesting and very sneaky with your lessons and your teaching in your writing. Go to your local library and read at least 30 books of the type you want to write. Explain to the librarian that you are writing for children and want to know what the kids are enjoying most. Ask the librarian what are the must read books and he/she will likely be able to tell you what the kids love, what the parents love, and what teachers are loving.
DON’T FORGET THE RULES OF A GOOD STORY. You must have a plot. Character. Setting. Goals for your characters. Conflict, and a resolution. UNLESS, your story cannot be told without it being a certain animal, then you probably want to change it.
DON’T GIVE UP. There is more than one way to achieve any goal. Don’t give up if things don’t go the way you want the first time.