Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Questions about writing #2 - Writing for 'children'

I have several times been send queries by email from my website and when I try to reply these have bounced. One such came in recently from a lady called Jacqueline who is writing a 'children's story'.  If you read this Jacqueline, please email me again!

One thing that always worries me when someone says they have written a 'children's story' is that this is such a 'catch all' that it tells me almost nothing.  The first question that comes to mind is who is this story for?  Children require different books at different ages  and the books they want are quite different in concept.  For example -

A space story could be a picture book perhaps something like Stella to Earth by Simon Puttock

or Simon Bartram's stories about Bob (the man on the moon) such as Bob and the Disappearing Moon

For older children a short novel  is more their kind of book - a space adventure story like Theresa Breslin's    Alien Force.

So if you are thinking of writing for children, or have written a book or a short story for 'children' please go back and think about who it is for and what kind of book that child will be wanting to read or have read to them.  See which publishers publish which kind of books so that you are informed about the market.

If you want to get your story published you do need to know what kind of books are being published NOW for children today. Don't rely on what you might remember about when you were a child but go to the bookshops and look at the books. Read them and see how long they are, if there are pictures, and the way the story is told. Find out where your story fits in generally.

After that you may have to change your ideas or the way your story is told and don't mistake a shorter book or a picture book for being one that is easier to write. Usually the fewer words there are, the harder you have to work to get it right.

If you do all these things there is still no guarantee that you will be published, no one has the right to expect a publisher to put out money to publish and promote a book unless they believe it will sell enough to make more than it cost them - that is only common sense!

My best advice is  - be professional, get to know the market and make it the best you can.

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