The Set-up of a Children's Book

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The Set-up of a Children’s Book

1.     A children’s book is usually 32 pages long.

2.     It begins on page 5 and ends on page 32.

3.     In the middle of the book (usually pages 14 and 15) is a double page spread.  This is a page with illustrations, but no words.  It allows the reader to read the picture and pause for a minute or two.

4.     Every story needs a main character, a problem that the character faces, and a resolution to that problem by the character.  In other words, adults are not allowed to solve the problem.

5.     The character needs to show growth throughout the story, so that by the end, she has confidence and independence.

6.     Look at children’s books and notice how few words are on each page.  You may even want to count the words.  Remember to leave room for illustrations.

7.     Talk to your librarians and teachers.  What is missing from their bookshelves?  Perhaps you have an idea that would fill a need.

8.     Look at the world around you and gather ideas from your personal experiences.  Take notes on interesting conversations you hear (or overhear). 

9.     Keep writing!!

Tools for Children's Book Writers

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1.      The Children’s Writers and Illustrators Guide

A book that lists names and addresses of publishing houses and agents.

2.  (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)

A professional on-line organization for writers and illustrators.  They provide legal advice and connect you with other writers and illustrators in local critique groups.

3.     The Charlotte Huck Children’s Literature Conference

Held in Redlands, CA every March.  This conference brings in well-known writers, illustrators and editors from across the world.

4.     Art Center College of Design in Pasadena

Classes in children’s book illustration are offered here.  Worth the price!

5.     Local writing courses

Check your local colleges for writing classes.  It’s a great way to get feedback on your work.

6.     Cover Letter

When sending in a manuscript, include a cover letter that gives a short summary of the story, a quick bio of yourself (it’s okay if you haven’t been published before), and the reason you chose to send to this agent in particular.  In other words, do your homework on your publishing houses and editors.

7.     Keep submitting

There are as many book ideas as there are editors and publishing houses.  Keep submitting until you find the right house for your book.  Listen to constructive criticism and celebrate the good rejections that have personal notes written on them.