Where to start
For many people, their love of books and reading can be traced back to the stories they read as a child. Whether it was the adventures of ‘Just William’, the mysteries of the ‘Famous Five’ or recent additions such as the work of David Walliams, there is something special in the relationship between children and stories they feel have been crafted for them.
The term “children’s book” is more diverse than you would think. Like adults, children are into a wide variety of things such as fantasy, mystery, action thriller and comic style books all available for children.
What to think about
In order to get a children’s book published in the UK, ideally, the first place to start is if you know or have children of your own. This is a great way to test whether it works in terms of their level of enjoyment.
There are more factors to consider when writing a children’s book. The first is the ages you are writing for, as this will affect the kind of language you use and the style of narrative. If it’s for toddlers just learning to read then it needs to be very simple, whereas for older readers the plot can be more complex.
With younger children, the rhythm of a book can make a difference. Ideally you don’t want too many words and a rhyme can help make it feel engaging. With older readers, it can be harder but it is possible to find ways to make it ‘talk’ to them without having it feel like you are trying too hard to ‘get’ them. As with any other story, you can think about what you were into when you were young and what made you like those particular stories. It also helps to do a little research into current media for children such as animation, video game, films and so forth as that will help create a language for it.
This also affects the kind of characters you choose – do some of research on the kind of things kids of that age are interested in as that will make it easier to determine what you can work with. Ideally, you also want something that can tie in with personal experiences as children also tend to know if a story feels like it’s been too obviously crafted with them in mind (as personified in the “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme).
It is also important to remember that children’s books are not “easier” than any other form of narrative. For example for smaller children crafting rhymes with a rhythm that fits and makes sense can often be more challenging than you think.
Another factor is younger readers often favour complete stories as opposed to cliff hangers or ambiguous endings. Even with a series, children tend to want each part to feel complete.
You may also want to consider whether to add illustrations or work with an illustrator – the latter may be an additional cost but can often be something that draws the attention of a potential publisher. A good publisher will, of course, be able to assist with the illustrations. This is especially useful for smaller children’s books as it is recommended you limit the amount of words. With older children and young adults it does depend on the genre (such as world maps for fantasy stories).
At ShieldCrest we offer an illustration service, using our own team of experienced illustrators. For younger children, it is recommended that the story stick to around 50 to 800 words, with the illustrations highlighting the main point of the story.
If you are writing a young adult novel then this is different as they are more likely to engage with reading providing the concept is strong enough and sufficient interest created by the writing. For example, you may only want an illustration such as a map to indicate the key locations in a fantasy novel or possibly pictures at the start of each chapter to highlight key events.
At the heart of it, crafting a children’s story is the same process as crafting a story for adults. You still need characters that they can engage with, a plot that entertains and for them to be left satisfied by the end.
ShieldCrest can not only publish your work but we also offer proofreading, editing and other services to help get your children’s book out there. We want to see you succeed and we have the tools to help you do it. For more information by all means contact us today and we will be happy to discuss our publishing packages in more detail.