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Alexander Residence: How to write a children's book #1 Research

Monday, 4 July 2011

How to write a children's book #1 Research

I received lots of lovely advice on my idea to write a children's book, thank you, this morning I am acting on it.

1.  I read this account by one of the Children's Laureates, Michael Rosen How to write books for children. What he says about negotiating the space between the child and adult world is fascinating, the line between the child you once were and the children you know now.  His tips are helpful.  Research the market, work to specific genres and standard lengths.  Find ways to write both for the child you once were and the children who will be your audience.

Spend time with children, that's the easy bit, I spend lots of time reading with my own children and often get asked to read at playgroup/nursery.  Michael Rosen suggests reading in libraries, schools etc is a big part of his job, as a drama teacher I love that stuff too.

2. The Penguin website has a top three tips for Children's writers, including obtaining the Children's Writers Yearbook, as the really supportive and wonderful waterbirthplease already suggested, but also catalogues from publishers so you can see exactly what kinds of books they publish.  Here's the Puffin picture books one.  I had a look at my children's favourite books and made a quick list, there are lots of publishers out there, and definitely subtle differences in the genres of book.

3. A couple of people helpfully let me know that publishers match authors with illustrators. My research confirms this too, in fact illustrations, unless you are a professional illustrator, are the last thing publishers want.  Silly, all those years I have though 'there's no point writing a children's book I can't draw and I don't know any illustrators'.  After two minutes on Google it's quite clear that is not an issue.  It's really quite ridiculous the ludicrous blocks you can conjure up to obscure your own path as a writer.  That's a whole other blog post.

4. It's competitive, and it's not well paid,  but in the words of Louise Jordan, of The Writer's Advice Centre for Children's Books, 'if you believe in your story you will, eventually, find success'.  Hold that thought.  Very tight.

5.  Honest mum who is also a filmmaker, screenwriter and all round lovely in real life person, left me a very encouraging letter in the comments on my last post.  So I am going now, as she suggests, off to write, write, rewrite, write, edit, and write some more.  Hone that voice! 

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At 4 July 2011 at 15:51 , Anonymous Midlife Singlemum said...

Good luck. The only difference between you (and me)and other authors is that they sat down and wrote those books and you(and me) haven't yet. Not a very big difference I think.

At 4 July 2011 at 18:06 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

That is a very good point. Will hold tight to that too. Are you joining me on this mission?!

At 5 July 2011 at 06:30 , Anonymous northernmum said...

Crack on lovely x

At 5 July 2011 at 09:01 , Anonymous Honest Mum said...

Thank you for the lovely shout out m' dear. Totally agree with Midlife Singlemum, well said or written as the case may be.

Writing and success takes a lot of work, tenacity (once you are getting it to agents) and self belief. A recent project of mine is finally moving after several years but I never stopped believing it, improving it and being passionate about it. That's the key. Once you know you have a cracker on your hands-keep pushing until the 'gatekeepers' as they are known in the industry believe it too. You can do it, you write like a dream x

At 5 July 2011 at 22:36 , Blogger Claire said...

This is super exciting! I think I would buy a book about a child wanting to go to the moon. I can't wait to hear how you get on. Google Barefoot Books (although you have probably heard of them). They sell beautiful books about far flung places so why not the moon! x

At 6 July 2011 at 20:25 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Thanks Jane!
honest Mum, you are a legend, I agree its so much about self belief and confidence. All this encouragement is def helping :)
Claire - thanks, my kids have some Barefoot Books, so will def check out their catalogue some more.


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