Are you interested in writing for children?
Where to begin? The beginning of the journey of writing and submitting can be overwhelming. Here is some information I hope you find helpful.
First, what type of writing are you interested in? There are so many areas to choose from. Here are some simple categories:
Trade Market Options
- Board Books
- Picture Books
- Nonfiction Picture Books
- Early Readers
- Chapter Books
- Middle Grade Novels
- Young Adult Novels
- Nonfiction Books (all ages)
- Poetry Books (all ages)
Educational Market Options
- Leveled Readers
(fiction and nonfiction)
- Teachers’ Editions
- Online materials
Magazine Market Options
- Short Stories
- Nonfiction Articles
- Word Puzzles
I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). If you are seriously interested in writing for children, joining this organization is a great place to start.
I know that beginning the journey of writing and submitting can be overwhelming. Here is some info I hope you find helpful.
Picture Books 101
Most people who want to write for children start with a desire to write picture books.
Here are some of the most common facts about writing picture books that most people don’t know.
- Most authors don’t choose their illustrators.
- Most authors never meet their illustrators.
- You don’t need an agent to be a children’s book writer.
- Publishing houses prefer that you don’t send in illustrations with your story unless you’re trained in illustration.
- Most picture books are less than 700 words.
One way to get most of your questions answered is by reading books about writing for children. Here are some of the best.
The Bibles of Children’s Writing
Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino.
This is the ultimate book to purchase. It comes out every year and includes articles by and interviews with authors. It also contains an updated guide with publishing houses’ information: names of editors, what books they publish, whether they accept submissions, and contact information.
Children’s Writer’s Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner.
This is a book of lists; written like a thesaurus, it tells the grade level for a plethora of words.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold D. Underdown and Lynne Rominger.
A very thorough guide to be sure you know all the do’s and don’ts for the world of children’s publishing.
Books on Writing
the hero is you by Kendra Levin.
This book follows the premise of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. However, instead of applying it to your book, you apply it to yourself as a writer. Each chapter has helpful exercises.
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman.
Most editors don’t read beyond the first five pages before deciding whether to read on. This helps make yours stronger.
On Writing by Stephen King.
Bestseller Stephen King reflects on his journey as a writer. I recommend getting this book on tape/CD—King reads it himself.
Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon.
Great for breaking into nonfiction—I used it to help me write my book proposal for my book on OCD.
Escaping into the Open by Elizabeth Berg.
Written by the bestselling author Elizabeth Berg. Super writing exercises to warm up your mind.
How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen, AAR.
Great for writing a nonfiction proposal.
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.
Short, edible lessons.
The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron.
Another book with great writing exercises.
The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman.
Tips for strengthening your plot.
Blockbuster Plots by Martha Alderson, M.A.
Helps in plotting your story.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lemott.
A helpful book on the various elements of writing, written with an inspirational tone.
Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King.
You’d be surprised at how much editing writing entails. This will help to catch more than just punctuation and grammar.
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: www.scbwi.org
This is the organization to belong to. For a membership fee, you receive a newsletter, a discount for conferences and workshops, and access to a ton of information on the website.
The Highlights Foundation: www.highlightsfoundation.org
Offers writers and illustrators workshops year round at their beautiful retreat center, taught by editors, authors, and other professionals in the children’s market.
Regional SCBWI websites. Most states have local SCBWI chapters: http://www.scbwi.org/region-map/
I belong to the IL SCBWI, which offers local workshops and critique groups.
Institute of Children’s Literature: www.institutechildrenslit.com
Go to Books, then Advanced Search. From here, you can enter a publishing house you like and know all the titles they’ve put out.
An online dictionary.
An online thesaurus.
Online Etymology Dictionary: www.etymonline.com
Gives words’ origins, including year.
Renaissance Learning: www.arbookfind.com
Type in the name of a book and it can tell you the level and word count.
Rhyme Zone: www.rhymezone.com
Great for poets looking for a rhyming word.
My Blog: http://www.natalierompella.com/blog/
Contains writing-related posts.
You’re never too young to love to write. Here are some companies that accept writing by kids:
American Girl (8-12 years old) www.americangirl.com
Chixlit (girls 7-17) www.chixlit.com
Cicada (14+) www.cicadamag.com
Creative Kids (8-16) www.ckmagazine.org
Highlights for Children (2-12) www.highlightskids.com
New Moon (girls 8+) www.newmoon.org
Skipping Stones (under 18) www.SkippingStones.org
Stone Soup (up to 13) www.stonesoup.com