Tuesday, June 30, 2015
So You Want to Be a Writer for Children?
Then listen now to what I say.
Just get an electric guitar.
And take some time and learn how to play.
- The Byrds (1967)
It sounds like an attractive proposition. Write books for children. See your work on Amazon and in Barnes and Noble. Work from home. Sounds pretty good. Unfortunately what I have found in my brief experience in the publishing world is that it's a tough climb just to write something and get it published. As for making enough money to have a career, you may not want to quit your day job. Very few writers make enough to survive alone on income generated by their writing. What I haven't said is that it is impossible. You may be the one. Or you may just be interested in trying to get one book published. If so, let me offer a little advice from people smarter than me.
1. A good place to start is Neil Gaiman's 8 Good Writing Practices. You have to write every day. You have to finish things. That's where it starts.
2. Read books about writing. Interested in writing picture books? This book from Ann Whitford Paul would be a good start.
3. Join SCBWI. They are the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. This is a great place to get advice, find resources, and connect with other aspiring writers. You will learn what to do when you have a finished piece.
4. You need to hang out with kids. Find out what they like. Learn what they are reading. You'll be surprised if you don't do this on a daily basis. Often prospective writers are stuck in their childhood and aren't connected with current children.
5. Read, read, read! Read good books that are like the ones that you want to write. Make connections with librarians and find out what is moving off the shelf. Librarians are your friends!
6. Find a niche and/or develop your voice. You're going to need something unique to get your foot into the door.
7. Use the blogosphere to find fellow writers. If you're not already, get comfortable with social media.
8. Steve Perry used to sing, "Don't Stop Believing." As I said earlier, you may be the one.