Checklist for Writing a Children's Book:
Determine your target audience: Identify the age range and interests of the children you want to write for.
My new book for kids is for ages 8 to 11 years-old. I asked my niece to help me write the book and dialogue. We decided to take scenes from her life and incorporate them into the book.
2. Develop a story idea: Come up with a unique and interesting story that appeals to your target audience. Kids are going through a great deal these days and it is not hard to find something you went through in childhood that a kid today can relate to as well. Look deep.
Everyone has a story to tell.
3. Plan your plot and characters: Decide on the main plot and characters of your story and create a rough outline. We kept our plot and our characters simple. Why? Because it was easier and we wanted to get a feel for who would be important in sharing the main characters life and her journey.
4. Research your market: Research the children's book market and identify the current trends and popular themes. This is not an easy task. I find myself looking at kids books and wondering how do I break the glass ceiling. In other words, how do I get eyes on my book? Trends are not always the way to go. Sometimes popular books saturate an area too much and there is literally no room for your book. Hence, why we added a superhero to Sakura's journey and went with less story and more pictures. Everyone is visual these days. Even big kids.
5. Choose your writing style: Determine the writing style that best fits your story and target audience. We opted for funky and youthful. We hope kids love it.
6. Create your protagonist: Develop a strong and relatable protagonist that children can connect with. This was the easy part. She is how Sakura was when she was a kid and part fantasy. How Sakura wish she had been when faced with such challenges like a huge move and starting a new school.
7. Write your first draft: Write the first draft of your story, focusing on the plot and characters. If I could do this again, I would have written it all out by hand first and then downloaded everything onto Canva. Either way, we are happy with our ending results. Make sure you feel the same way before uploading it to Kindle or self-publishing your book.
8. Revise your story: Read over your first draft and make revisions to improve the pacing, dialogue, and overall story flow. This is sound advice I have received time and time again, and still, I don't do it all the time over and over again like I should. How many times should you revise? It is really up to you.
9. Seek feedback: Share your story with beta readers and seek their feedback on what works and what doesn't. I have heard about beta readers recently and I am not sure how I feel about it, but I wanted to list it here as sound advice #9 because if you do not have a workshop group or others to give you honest feedback, this would be the way to go.
10. Edit your story: Make changes to your story based on the feedback you received. Nothing more to add here. The sooner you get that feedback and make the changes the sooner you can sell your book. Don't let this part be the 'excuse' to keep you from publication.
The Bonus Ten Tips to get Your Book Published!
Add illustrations: Consider adding illustrations to your story to make it more visually appealing to children. I know this is a no-brainer, but if you don't want to worry about illustrations, then you should write a YA - Young Adult book.
Hire an editor: Consider hiring an editor to review your story and make suggestions for improvement. Because I did not do this and I do think it is sound advice, I had to add it here. You can find inexpensive editors on Fiverr, Upwork and so on.
Proofread: Carefully proofread your story to ensure that it is free of typos and grammatical errors. I read this book several times and each time found something wrong, missing or out of place. Get extra eyes on your manuscript, it will do you and your readers good.
Choose a book format: Decide whether you want to publish your book as a physical book or an e-book. I say this because when you do KDP for Amazon, you have many options: Hardcover, paperback, e-book. If you format the manuscript in a variety of ways you are all set to sell many variations of your book and that should mean more readers. See the link in the above #9 for details.
Design a cover: Create a visually appealing cover that attracts the attention of children and their parents. Canva is great for this. I do almost everything on Canva.com But if you know someone, then by all means, get them to do your cover for you. And the artwork inside and wow look at that, you have a collaboration going on. Sweet!
Choose a publisher: Consider self-publishing or seeking a traditional publisher to help bring your book to market. I say this like there are many options and I guess for some there are. But I knew I was doing this to make a book on Amazon. If you go the traditional route, network and meet a lot of people in the children's publishing field. It can't hurt you, so go for it!
Market your book: Develop a marketing strategy to promote your book to your target audience and this can be and probably should be done weeks if not months before you plan to release your book. See marketing your children's book for more information on Youtube.com, Barnes and Noble and various other resources to assist your marketing needs.
Launch your book: Launch your book and start promoting it to your target audience. This can be a daunting task. If you are not up for it, get help. I am overwhelmed with the marketing aspect and honestly don't get the key words here and hey words there SEO portion or marketing, but I keep trying and lord willing, I will get readers one day even if I have to pay for a marketer to help me out.
Track sales and reviews: Monitor your book sales and reviews to gauge its success. I am still learning this portion of marketing. I would suggest hiring help or watching a few tutorial videos on how to track sales and reviews. When I look at my book it seems as if no one as laid eyes on it but me. So, we shall see.
Plan for your next book: Start planning your next children's book and continue building your writing career. This is assuming you only write children's books. If you don't, switch it up. I am going to work on a screenplay next and then back to another book before I work on book II of Sakura's adventure. But I wanted to give sound, 'I know what I am talking about' advice. After these tips, I think you get the idea and if not, you are off to a great start.
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Have fun and happy writing!