10 steps to writing and publishing an illustrated children's book Part 1 Coming up with your Idea.
Ever since I have written and published my children's books I have had so many folks asking
how to do it. I thought I would do a wee series on How to write and self publish an illustrated children's book using some of my books as knowledge basis. I am going to break it down into the 10 steps shown below.
1. Come up with your idea
2. Identify your audience
3. Work out your narrative voice
4. Develop engaging characters
5. Show, don’t tell
6. Edit and seek feedback
7. Illustrate your picture book
8. Format your picture book
9. Publish your picture book
10. Market and sell your picture book
Each week I will go into more depth on some of the points so that if you should want to try writing and publishing yourself you can either follow along with the process as we go through the steps or just enjoy learning how much time and effort goes into each book you read with your kids. I often get asked how long it takes to write illustrate and publish a book. It has varied, but most of the time it will take 6 - 12 plus months self publishing from start to finish and around 2 years with a traditional publisher.
There is no one specific thing that makes a book sell well, however it is a combination of many things. Initially the cover and title have to draw the readers eye. Following that you have to be able to engage both the parents and the child when you are writing. However the children are the ones that you perhaps want to concentrate thinking about when you are writing as they will be the ones who ask for the story time and time again.
When I am coming up with ideas for my books, most of my stories start as 'talking stories' Ones that I tell my kids when we are in the car, hanging about or as an extra story just before bed. At that stage there are a multitude of stories, only a few make it from talking to being written down. Think of it as an initial edit where the most engaged children (most kids love their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents stories) you are going to have access to get to say Yes or No to the first story ideas. If they don't engage, then either bin it or rewrite it in your head. I have often started writing something and found that after running it past either my own, or others kids that the story changes as they ask questions about the characters.
Often there are themes to books, for example Kindness, Friendship, Positive Thinking,
Nature. As you are thinking up your idea, you might want to think if you would like to have a theme throughout the book and what it might be. For example in Molly and Eddy Go Skiing the overall theme is of friendship and adventure. However there are a number of other topics that get thrown into the mix as well, for example perseverance, encouraging, meeting new friends, challenging conditions, these are all sub plots to the main theme.
Your story needs to connect with your audience and inspire them to keep reading it, often children want to be able to picture themselves within the story, being the hero, facing the challenges and making things go well in the end.
I often use the following things to help me develop my ideas once I have had the initial impetus to tell a story
1 Why do I want to tell this particular story?
2 What is the story about?
3 Will children and adults find it relevant and connect with the story?
4 Is it unique and will there be any possibility of marketing it?
Once I have my initial idea for a story and it has gone from the talking stage to getting written down, I go back and revisit these points, sometimes finding that I leave the story idea for another time or bin it. I have a notebook full of random stories, rhymes and poems that won't go anywhere, but I had fun writing them. Every now and then, I will take the time to develop one of my stories and start moving onto Part 2, and identifying who is going to be my ideal reader.
If you would like help self publishing your book, please do get in touch, I have now helped a number of folks turn their musings into reality.
If you would like to read Molly and Eddy Go Skiing or any of my other books. You can buy them from my website (usual best for you and me), any good bookstore (I always try to recommend your local bookstore, ours is The Bookmark in Grantown on Spey) or from online retailers such as amazon. I have included an link for it below*.
*This is an affiliate link and I may get a small referral fee if you buy using this link