Children's Writers' Frequently Asked Questions
do I get started?
The first step is to do research. Decide what types of children's
books that you want to write, and then go to bookstores and see what
the most current books are like in that style or category. Great
writers are well-read. Your reading needs to be devoted to the latest
children's books so you can know what today's readers enjoy and to have
a better feel for what editors are
have read and studied as many of these books as you can find, then
check out the Writer's Digest book, Children's Writer and Illustrator's
Market. This book contains all the basic information and etiquette on
how to submit stories to publishers. It also has a listing of all of
the children's book publishers with their policies toward accepting
manuscripts for consideration. Another great resource is Harold
Underdown's "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing
Another step in your quest to writing children's book should be to
conferences. Not only can you learn a lot of important aspects of
writing for children at
conferences that will
help your writing career, but writers' conferences also give you the
opportunity to meet
publishing houses, agents, and other authors.
If possible, you should also consider joining a critique group.
To become a better writer, you need objective feedback on your writing.
groups can help you improve your writing skills and help you discover
elements that might be missing from your stories. You can
find information on critique groups local to your area through your
local chapter of SCBWI. Visit SCBWI.org for contact information on your
local chapter. Your local library might also have information on
critique groups in your area.
have no artistic talent and I don't know anyone who can illustrate my
what do I do?
Children's book authors don't need to worry about creating
the illustrations for their books. In fact, the majority of publishers,
all, do not want authors to submit illustrations with their stories
author is also a very talented illustrator. When you submit a story for
publication, it needs to be able to stand on its own merits. If the
decides to buy your story, the publisher will then decide who will
- Do I
need an agent?
It depends on who you ask. This has been a long debated
question. There are pros and cons in having an agent and in not having
agent. It really depends on what you want the agent
to do for
-Agents can help you get your first publishing break.
However, many writers feel that it is harder to get a "good" agent
than it is to sell a excellent story on your own to a publisher. I was
sell my book, BRAVE LITTLE MONSTER to HarperCollins without an agent.
-Agents can help you negotiate your contracts. If you're
not comfortable negotiating your publishing contracts or if you simply
want to, a "good" agent can be invaluable in this area. If you have no
fear or if you want to negotiate your own contracts, there are plenty
resources on the Web and books that you can buy that can guide you in
-Agents can help propel your writing career. In my opinion
this is the best reason for getting an agent. However, not all agents
propel your career. Most good agents know the publishing industry and
contacts at the major publishing houses, but you'll need to do your
see if the agent your evaluating has the influence and capability to
you build your career. Of course, before an agent can do anything for
have to have the writing skills and talents to back up that successful
The bottom-line you is that you don't necessarily need an
agent to have a successful writing career, but being able to get the
can definitely help your career. But don't forget, no agent is better
than a bad
it okay to submit a story to more than one publisher at a time?
It depends on the publisher. Some publisher won't accept
any simultaneous submissions, while others don't care. You simply need
out their submission policies by looking on their Web site, send them a
with an enclosed SASE and request their writer's guidelines, or look up
policy in the latest Writer's Digest Children's Writer and
If you do submit simultaneously, as a courtesy you need to inform the
that it is a simultaneous submission.
the best thing I can do to get my first break in selling a story?
Don't stop writing. Write all the time. After
you finish a story, start on a new one. The more you write, the better
writing will become. It can take several years of writing tons of
receiving tons of rejections letters before you have the skills or
whatever it takes to write a story that will be noticed and wanted by a