Don’t assume that your first children’s book is going to be a smash success, the next Harry Potter, Little Prince or Madeline.
Writing great books for children is incredibly difficult. Start by writing because you want to. Then improve because you want to be the best you can be.
Don’t write a story because you want children to behave in a certain way.
Just like us adults, kids hate being preached to or talked down to. They prefer a good story. The moral is a tag-along.
Don’t write what you think the public is interested in.
You will only end up writing someone else’s story. Write because you have a story to tell. Yours.
Don’t take all day to get the action going.
Picture books are short, often less than 500 words long. Start at the very beginning and get the reader hooked.
Don’t be serious when you can be funny.
Kids love humor, nonsense, ridiculousness and irony. Just like the rest of us humans. Maybe more.
Don’t rhyme unless you are incredibly good at it.
Rhyming involves not only the words at the end of the line, but also the rhythm (meter) of the words that precede it.
A good rhyming text is like a song. If you are a songwriter, then you can probably write in rhyme. If not, please consider avoiding it.
If you can rhyme as well as this, you can ignore this tip. Totally.
Don’t ignore comments, suggestions and critiques and the importance of revision
To be a writer you have to believe in yourself, but also make room for suggestions, comments, fixes. If you are 100% satisfied with your manuscript, there is probably something that needs improving. Writers revise manuscripts dozens of times, often many dozens of times.
Don’t be afraid of reading other authors’ children’s books.
Don’t be worried that you might find a similar theme in someone else’s book. There are a finite number of themes, and millions of books. Probably someone has already written a similar book to your own. So what? That is actually a good sign that people may be interested in the subject. Write yours differently. And read read read. It’s a great way to get inspired.
Don’t spend thousands of dollars self-publishing your children’s book.
No matter what you believe, the odds are against you. You will, in 99% of the cases, lose 90% of your investment. Try to find a way to publish them without spending more than a few hundred dollars. In any event, courses are a better investment than self-publishing.
You don’t have to obey all the rules.
With children’s books, rules can be broken. There are no ‘children’s book police’ coming to arrest you for not following them. Can’t find the right word? Invent your own. Kids will love you for it.
Don’t lose the compass on what it’s all about.
Writing is not about becoming rich and famous. Very few authors make money. It’s about the journey. The journey transforms us enriches us, and if we are hard-working, talented and lucky, our stories will transform the readers as well.