Publishing a children’s storybook
I recently found myself seated down with a young reader’s storybook. What first attracted me to it was how beautiful all the colours merged and how splendid they spread on the covers. The title of the book is Mickey and the Troll and this specific volume was published in 1990 by The Walt Disney Company. Back to my story… I slowly picked it up and carefully inspected the covers and the rest of the pages. After I finished, I thought about some tips that could help writers and publishers or editors in the development of a similar creation.
Before we start, let us have the following in mind;
- Picture Books: under 5 years old, under 1,000 words
- Early Readers: 5+ years old, 2,000 to 5,000 words
- Chapter Books: 6-9 years old, 5,000 to 10,000 words
- Middle Grade (MG): 8-12 years old, 30,000 to 50,000 words
- Young Adult (YA): 12-18 years old, 50,000 to 100,00 words (Anon., n.d.)
The points above help in understanding the requirements for writing children’s fiction. However, if it for a school curriculum, you might want to speak to an institute for education to understand more specific requirements.
The second point to note would be on carrying out proper research in the market. You can walk into bookstores that sell children’s storybooks and see which authors are trending, the topics that are selling more and the publishers who are publishing most of these books. When you find out which books you are competing with this will help to understand the reader’s taste. However, I would add that it is important to follow your gut when writing as long as you are providing an interesting read.
Exhaust all editing options to refine your manuscript completely. Look into every sentence, every picture and illustration and how it all comes together. With sentences, avoid complex sentences or ones that are too long. For pictures or illustrations, make sure that they are appealing to the eye and bring out highlights you want to be seen. You may also refine the quality to suit the demographic you are targeting. Another thing I have noticed before is that at times main characters take quite some time to be introduced. Therefore, ensure that your main character is not waiting for their introduction on page two!
Have a look at the blurb too! What message is contained? Can the character of your protagonist be seen and felt? Does the blurb cover the exciting adventures that are in the book? Does it mention any other books that are in the series? Perfect the blurb by ensuring that is sparks curiosity and intrigues the reader.
On more editorial tips, consider using repetition. Children’s books do great with this style. You can use repetition in a particular phrase or a word on page/across the entire book and repetition on the story structure. Let your words be balanced well with the illustrations to avoid detraction. It takes more than just spelling and grammar to make a book perfect.
Consider reaching out to an influencer if you are a new author. This can help you get your foot through the door and get people buying your storybook. You can reach out to an influencer, introduce yourself and your work and offer to send them a book. For children’s books, you can do this with parents who have young children to help you reach a bigger audience. If you have written about a topic like, “brushing teeth”, for instance, you can reach out to a CEO of a toothpaste company or a dentist who can leave a short review in return as they talk to their audience about you.
These are only a few things to note, however, my last point would be whether it is a self-published book or from a publishing company, give it your best and do all the research that you need to. When you hand your manuscript to publishers, they will help you with more tips on editing, design, marketing, an ISBN and so much more.