Children's Books Tips

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What are early readers?

Early Reading For Children

Understanding the genres of children's fiction is essential if you are planning to self publish a children's book. This will help with writing, layout, marketing and promotion of your book. "Early readers" are books aimed at children aged six to eight who are starting to read on their own. Like children's picture books, they may be highly illustrated, but they will have longer stories of up to 2,000 words. Early readers books may be as long as 64 pages and may have a few sentences on each page. This contrasts with picture books, some of which may have one sentence or less on a page.

What age are children's picture books aimed at?

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words

If you are planning to write and self publish a children's book it is essential to understand the different genres. Children's picture books are illustrated books of up to 32 pages aimed at children aged 4 to 8. These picture books usually contain a simple story of about 1,000 words, though they may go up to 1,500 words. There are no sub-plots and the illustrations on most pages help to tell the story. Most children's picture books focus on one main character. There are also early picture books for children at the younger end of the spectrum. These rarely exceed 1,000 words in length and tend to have color illustrations on every page.

If I self-publish a children's book, does that rule out trade publishing?

Self-Publishing Or Trade Publishing For Children

Self-publishing your children's book does not rule out trade publishing. In fact, it shows publishers that you believe that your book is saleable. Many successful books that are now printed by traditional publishers started out as self-published books.

When self-publishing a children's book, authors have to think about illustration, editing, choosing a printer, distribution, sales and promotion. Many self-publishing websites offer guidance on different aspects of this process and some will assist writers with some of the areas. Once your self-published children's book has racked up a few thousand sales, you may get some interest from trade publishers.

How should I decide what type of children's book to self-publish?

Children's Self-Publishing Decisions

If you are planning on self publishing a children's book, there are two approaches you can take. The first is to use magazines and directories to keep you abreast of trends in publishing. Publisher's Weekly is a good source of information about publishing trends and resources. Books such as Children's Writers and Illustrators Market are available to find out what genres publishers are looking for.

What resources do I need if I am planning to self-publish a children's book?

Children's Self-Publishing Resources

Successful self-publishing requires the same market research as trade publishing. Market research will help you to know what genres are popular and how to write a book that will fit into your chosen genre. It will also keep you abreast of trends in publishing. Publisher's Weekly is a good source of information about publishing trends and resources. Books such as Children's Writers and Illustrators Market and Children's Writers and Artists Yearbook are also an invaluable source of information for the new children's writer. Not only do they contain helpful articles and information about genres, but they also contain addresses and contact details for publishers.

How does a child book illustrator work?

Working With A Children's Illustrator

A child book illustrator is usually someone who has had some training at an art school or college. However, illustrators are different from other artists. Instead of creating a vision on a blank piece of paper or other artistic space, illustrators are required to interpret a text that is already written and create drawings to match. In some cases, these drawings are quite literal; in others, illustrators are quite liberal in their interpretations of the text.

To get started, most illustrators need pen, pencils, paints and brushes - whatever medium they are comfortable drawing in. Some illustrators also use computer drawing programs such as Illustrator or Freehand to create illustrations for a book. Illustrations eventually need to be transferred to disk so they can be laid out with the text to look like a professional children's book.

What types of books do child book publishers handle?

Just Kidding About Genres

The children's book industry is continually growing, thanks to the success of J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter series , and a subsequent renewed national interest in literacy. Publishers Weekly recently estimated that the children's book market is divided as follows:

  • Picture books - 27%
  • Books for babies and toddlers - 17%
  • Books for younger readers - 20%
  • Books for middle readers - 20%
  • Books for young adult readers - 17%

Should I read "Publishing Basics for Children"?

Publishing Basics for Children's Books

Want a digestible book on self publishing? This one follows the question and answer format as most self publishing guides, only this one is packaged just like a children's book - full of color! You will learn book publishing basics for children, including the world of digital press color printing. You will not only understand just how to self-publish books like a 32-page children's book, you will actually see the different full color book printing results from different originals supplied. Results from different scanners are shown as well as a valuable list of self publishing resources. This book is written by Iwana Ritabooke and is available online and in bookstores.

Why should I self publish my children's picture book?

Self-Publishing For Children

Although the children's book market is large, some writers have a hard time breaking into the market. More books get rejected than get published each year, so it's a good idea to consider self-publishing your children's book to start. Self-publishing your children's book allows you to have the final say on every aspect of the book's production. This includes text and illustration, layout and cover design. Self-publishing allows you to craft your vision for your children's book, and there's always the chance that with proper promotion your book will be spotted and reprinted by a mainstream publisher.

Do I need an illustrator if I am self publishing a children's book?

Illustrating Children's Books

When self publishing a children's book, whether you need an illustrator will depend on the genre that your children's book fits into. Picture story books and books for babies and toddlers are highly illustrated, as they are intended for children at the pre-reading stage who will use the pictures to familiarize themselves with the story being told. If you are writing for this market, you will need illustrations for your self published children's book if it is to look professional. A professional look is essential if your book is to be able to compete with others in its genre.

Even books for younger readers have illustrations. When you write for older readers and young adult books, it is important to have illustrated book covers. With trade publishing, publishers usually have their own illustrators available to illustrate your book. Publishers will likely have a bank of artists who draw in different styles so you
can find someone who matches the vision you have for your children's book. Many self-publishing firms will also provide this service.

Do children's books have a different layout design?

Layout Design for Children's Books

The book layout design for a children's book is a bit different than many other books. Children's books tend to be smaller, use bigger text, and almost always include color graphics.

*It's a great idea to use a "san serif font" for children's books, because they have clean straight lines that are very easy to read (some of the most common slab serif fonts are New Century Schoolbook, Classic SSK, and Clarendon).

*Keep in mind that trade books and children's books are worlds apart when it comes to design. The most talented trade book designer might be a horrendous children's book designer.

What is the best way to learn about publishing a children's book?

Publishing Basics for Children's Books

Children's books aren't all gumdrops and lollipops! If you're going to self-publish a children's book there are some issues that might not come up in self-publishing another type of book. Try getting a book on self-publishing that addresses specific issues to publishing a hardcover children's book. Writing and marketing for the children's market is quite different so make sure you're going about it the right way.

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William Pirraglia