39 Tips for Writing Children's Books (KidLit)

Here are 39 tips for writing a children’s book (kidlit) to help bring your manuscript to market. From tips on how to format a manuscript to kidlit submission tips this roundup covers many of the basics in children’s publishing.



Tips for Writing a Children’s Book


Preparing to Write

1. Imagine the stories you wish you had read as a child

2. Read comparative books in your chosen genre

3. Research your subjects and keep a list of sources, especially if you intend to write non-fiction

4. Make sure you know what details and subjects are appropriate for you audience’s age range

5. Research children’s book word counts

6. Consider if your story will stand-alone or if it will better suit a trilogy or series

7. Join a writing group or find a writing partner for support and accountability


Writing

8. Write to your audience

9. Avoid over explaining

10. Show don’t tell

11. Avoid moralizing

12. Use your own words; do not ever plagiarize

13. Avoid cliches

14. Draw out your pacing and page turns to make sure it fits to your book length if you’re writing an illustrated work


Getting Initial Feedback

15. Share your story with your writing group or partner

16. Have a kid beta read your book

17. Consider having a sensitivity reader provide feedback to help ensure any experiences outside of your own are well represented


Revising

18. Make sure your story has a beginning, middle, and end

19. Check your story arc and character arc for growth and development

20. Ensure plotlines are resolved (or will be resolved in future books if you’re writing a series)

21. Remove scenes that don’t propel the plot nor aid in characterization

22. Delete needless words and rewrite convoluted sentences

23. Check your manuscript for grammar and spelling errors

24. Ensure the reading level of your manuscript matches your intended audience (Flesh-Kincaid Readability Tests are an option for checking)


Formatting

25. Remember picture books are usually 32 printed pages

26. Cite sources consistently if you’re writing non-fiction

27. Include illustrator notes in italics or square brackets in your manuscript if needed

28. Use an easy to read font (12 pt New Times Roman is generally acceptable)

29. Double space your manuscript

30. Use different headings to differentiate side bars and pull quotes from text in non-fiction (chapter headings are usually all that’s necessary in fiction)


Preparing to Submit

31. Research potential publishers and check their submission guidelines

32. Research book query templates

33. Do a market research to analyze competing books to your story

34. Write a compelling hook for your query letter

35. Create an elevator pitch for your manuscript

36. Identify your book’s unique sales points

37. Brainstorm ways you can help potential publishers promotion your book

38. Connect your manuscript to current curriculum tie-ins

39. Create a spreadsheet to track queries and submission (record who you pitch to along with any requests for partial or full manuscript submissions as well as important dates like when you submitted)


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