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From Idea To Bookshelf: How To Publish Children’s Books

It takes more than just dedication to write a children’s book. Children’s books are all about life lessons woven into the heart of your tale through exceptional storytelling. So, unlike when writing for adults, writing for children requires you to tap into the creative side of your brain and really focus on how to share a lesson in a way that children would enjoy.

This is where a lot of great writers struggle.

But even for those who have no problem adapting to their audience’s reading level, going through every step of the process until your book is something children will instantly enjoy seems like a tall order. And it is. Children’s books are illustrated, formatted, and even marketed differently than most literature.

And if you’re reading this and thinking: “maybe writing for children isn’t for me,” read on for a little more.

Our job here isn’t to dissuade you—it’s to prepare you. Remember: there is a mountain of tasks on any writer’s to-do list—but when writing for children, that mountain is Everest. And while we all know that it’s no easy feat to climb it, we also know that it isn’t impossible.

Ready to climb your personal Everest—read: write and publish the next best children’s book? Then you’re in the right place.

The Complete Guide to Self-Publish Children’s Book

In this detailed guide, we will take you through the following:

  • The writing process of a children’s book
  • How to explore different genres before you begin
  • Deciding the age group of your target audience
  • Self-publishing options as an author and the factors to consider
  • Benefits of seeking help from a professional publisher

With all this and more, let’s dive into this blog right away.

How to Write a Children’s Book and Get It Published

The process of writing a children’s book is not straightforward. From choosing the right genre to picking a subject matter, the possibilities are endless. The ultimate goal is to create something beneficial for young readers, helping them learn about different perspectives, enhance their vocabulary, and improve comprehension.

If you’re clueless about where to begin, this article will give you the perfect direction to write your book. But if you already have a plan in your head, this article will still guide you through the in-depth writing and self-publishing process to make it smoother.

Types of Children’s Books

When you’re writing a book to publish, your readers are your target audience. So before you begin, it is important to know exactly who you are writing for. Obviously, a children’s book is for children, but you need to be more specific with your approach to ensure you deliver exactly what your readers would like to read.

Answering the following questions will help you determine your target audience more specifically:

  • Is your book gender-specific?
  • What age are you targeting?
  • What’s your engagement strategy for young children?
  • Are you writing for free spirits or introverts?
  • What are their leisure time activities?
  • How much leisure time do they really have?

You can achieve better control over your book’s direction when you learn more about your audience. Answer the questions above and keep your readers at the forefront of your head. Assessing this will also help you determine reading levels—which we will discuss in detail later in the article—and help you set the right engagement strategy.

Depending on the age bracket of your readers, you may be writing a children’s book that will be read to your audience instead of being read by your audience. So you need to keep those factors in mind too.

Once you have explored and conducted the market research, focus on the different genres of children’s books and select the one that sits best with you.

Typically, there are seven different genres of children’s books:

  • Picture Book: Books that offer a visual experience using images to tell a story.
  • Traditional Literature: Under this category fall fairytales, folktales, legends, myths, fables, and other stories that are passed down from generation to generation.
  • Historical Fiction: Books about specific historical events conveyed through a child’s viewpoint.
  • Realistic Fiction: Books based on modern times and situations. Such stories often let children experience a variety of cultures and lifestyles to match their own.
  • Scientific and Fantasy Fiction: This popular genre involves the use of myths or stories based on worlds of magic, imagination, or mythical places.
  • Non-Fiction: Fact-based books about important concepts and subjects.
  • Poetry: Books written at relevant reading levels that convey through imaginative expressions and creative perceptions.

Some of these above-mentioned terms are based on age-level categorization. Exploring these genres further will help you determine your area of interest when writing and publishing a children’s book. 

Children’s Books Reading Levels

The self-explanatory term is another crucial aspect of writing a children’s book. Most parents choose books for their kids based on their specific reading levels. The term is a measure of a child’s ability to read the text independently. Your target audience will help you determine their suitable reading levels so you can provide appropriate content for them. Writing a book that your young audience can read, enjoy, and connect with is the key to making your children’s book a hit. 

So how do you measure your target audience’s reading level?

If the age group you’re targeting is school-going kids, reading levels are determined based on the grade they’re attending. For younger children, the reading levels are based on their own understanding of different words. The easier, the better.

The concept behind measuring and understanding reading levels guarantees reader engagement. The more you research about your specific audience, the more relevant content you can come up with. For instance, some children are fonder of certain topics such as wildlife, the solar system, or dinosaurs.

As an author, it should be as important as the parent for you to understand the child’s interest and write a book that will fully engage the kids and make them excited for the reading session. Unfortunately, this is trickier than it sounds since you’re not one-on-one with your audiences and still relying pretty much on your research.

For instance, not every five-year-old will have the same reading level.

People skilled in writing children’s books have more knowledge on the subject and can utilize all the tools and techniques to ensure the book is as relevant for the target audience as possible. However, if you’re writing a children’s book for the first time, it may take a lot of patience and endless research to determine this crucial aspect.


How to Write a Children’s Book

Another aspect of writing for a young audience that is often overlooked is the sense of voice and flow in the piece. If the story lacks natural rhythm and flow, it becomes awkward, especially if it is meant for younger children who will have someone else read to them. Additionally, it becomes even more difficult for little ones learning to read, as they may not understand words or sentences that don’t make sense.

Authors with no experience in writing children’s books often force rhythm into the content.

However, instead of improving, it ends up interrupting the flow of the book. To avoid ruining the reading experience for your young readers, make sure you follow the right tone, voice, and flow when writing a children’s book.

Here are the top steps to make sure you create a flawless copy for your young audience:

Work on Your Ideas

If you’ve decided to write a children’s book, chances are that you already have a plan in mind. But before you start executing the idea, it is crucial to check what’s already out there. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean ditching your idea because hundreds of other writers have already used it. In fact, it is a sign that the topic is popular amongst kids, and there’s a chance for you to penetrate and make it big with your own unique concept.

Just make sure there’s a unique element about your book that distinguishes it from the other books.

Develop the Subject/Character

The best books showcase unique characters. They are quirky, funny, and may even look strange. If you’re focusing on a story-book genre, creating a character that feels real can change the game for you.

Don’t Lose the Book’s Length

What word count are you targeting? The right number of pages or words plays an important role and is relevant to the age range you’re writing for. One of the most common categories is picture books, written for ages between 3 and 7. Here’s a general guideline on how you can target the right word count:

Age Bracket Type of Book Recommended Word Count
0-3 Board Book 200 words
2-5 Early Picture Book 200-500 words
3-7 Picture Book 500-900 words
4-8 Older Picture Book Maximum 1000 words
5-10 Chapter Book 3k-10k words
7-12 Middle Grade 10k-25k words

Don’t Delay

Kids are not as patient as adults. Building the story gradually can kill the excitement and damage the engagement. For children’s books, start the story quickly instead of setting up detailed scenes.

Don’t take away from the story, and make sure the main subject is discussed right on the first page.

Don’t Hesitate To Repeat

Unlike adults, children are more engaged with repeated content.

If you are not mentioning the main plot, again and again, it is not going to be a great children’s book because children don’t have the same retention capacity. All of the most popular children’s books and comics are built on repetition to allow them to connect with the story as it proceeds.

Don’t Compromise on a Good Illustrator

Visual impact is crucial, and finding the right person to do your illustrations is half the job done.

It’s excellent if you can do this job yourself. But if you are looking for a professional illustrator, make sure you give all the relevant material to help them radically improve your book. Don’t forget, when it comes to publishing, your book will not be evaluated on the content alone. It’s the combination between the right pictures and the words that make a difference.

Don’t Drag

Just as we told you that it’s important to start the story early, we also recommend ending the book quickly too—unless it is for an age group with a higher reading level. For younger kids, you just have a few pages to cover the entire story, so make sure you wrap it up without dragging it. 

How to Publish a Children’s Book

The self-publishing route allows authors to enjoy complete editorial control over the entire publishing process. Unfortunately, this may be a bigger struggle than you think. Most popular platforms and retailers are interested in collaborating with known distributors and authors, and getting your book through the big box can take much more than following the rules.

Therefore, it is crucial to understand the marketing and publishing needs and learn about the different platforms to make self-publishing a success.

How to Self-Publish a Children’s Book

First and foremost, you need to understand the requirements for self-publishing children’s books from different genres. A picture book may take much more work than a regular book. Self-publishing may promise artistic and creative control, but it takes a lot of dedication and hard work, along with footing the bills for editing, printing, illustrating, distributing, marketing, and finding reliable tools is another struggle.

As far as the best choices for platforms are concerned, Amazon KDP tops the list. Undoubtedly, Amazon offers substantial exposure to a bigger audience. The best part is that the publishing division is willing to work with just about anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or a highly-skilled professional. The process to publish children’s books on Amazon, although long and time-taking, isn’t rocket science either.

All you need to do is create a KDP account, upload your book, pin all the product information, and publish it.

The platform does have strict formatting guidelines to meet, and if this is your first time writing or publishing for this specific genre, it can be a while before Amazon’s review panel finally approves your book. But remember: you don’t want to compromise the quality of your book, even if it takes a while. And, if you’re up for it, you can reach out to publishing experts who can dramatically change your publishing timeline and get your book approved in one go.

Publish Children’s Picture Book

When it comes to picture books, there are even more specifications that you cannot miss. Designing a children’s book is not an easy task. A picture book doesn’t only have to be visually engaging to be noticed by your target audience but should also follow more rules depending on the platforms you choose to get published successfully.

For instance, certain self-publishing websites may have requirements related to image trim size, fonts, structure, and more.

Some books rely entirely or majorly on illustrations, copy, and fonts as the primary design element. If you’re not an artist or a professional, consider hiring children’s books literary agents to save yourself from the hassle. Each publisher has its own guidelines for the format and design. You must adhere to these guidelines to publish a picture book without any hassle. 

How to Get a Children’s Book Published

As stated earlier, simply having the idea is not enough to execute publishing a children’s book. You need certain skills and expertise to do the job successfully. If you do not possess the abilities or time to sit down and write a children’s book, hiring a professional service to research, write, and publish your book is always an option.

So before finalizing your route, it’s great to discover why hiring the best publisher for children’s books is an excellent option.

Execute Your Ideas

Working with professionals is an efficient way to get started on the project. With years of writing and publishing experience under the belt, these people can guide you, prepare you, and start giving shape to your ideas in the form of a children’s book.

Additionally, you get to work around a timeline that encourages you and the writing services professionals to stick to it and get the job done in time.

Saves You Time and Hassle

Naturally, since the professionals are handling the main task of children’s book writing and publishing the book, you can save more time and effort. The professionals will not only proofread and edit the book for you but will also take care of the research and marketing part.

They are a team that will handle the overall process of starting a project from scratch and taking it all the way to its final destination.

Constant Support and Guidance

A team of professionals will be available at your service to guide you and support you with your book publishing process. They help build confidence and enhance your work throughout the process, involving you and your ideas along the way.

Smoother Process

With years of experience and a reputation in the publishing industry, these people know the exact process to publish your book on the top platforms without rejection. By working with the right group of people, you not only guarantee to publish a children’s book successfully but also ensure a smoother process with less risk.


How to Find Literary Agents for Children’s Books

Finding the right literary agent for your children’s book greatly increases your odds of establishing yourself as a trusted author for children. Here’s how you can find reliable sources:

Make Sure You Pick the Right Genre

Failing to categorize your book in the correct genre makes it difficult to find suitable offers from literary agencies. Picking the right genre with content that’s relevant to the age group you’re targeting will improve your chances of finding the right children’s literary agent.

Follow the Rules

Now that you’ve picked the right genre, make sure you thoroughly follow the rules associated with it to make your book appear more legit. For instance, sticking to the right word count for the specific genre or using themes and ideas that are appropriate for your young readers.

Work on the Pitch

When putting your project forward, create an exceptional pitch that’s hard to reject.

Choose the Right People

Now that you’ve followed all the steps properly, it is time to pick a children’s book literary agency that’s suitable for publishing your book. 

Traditional Vs. Self-Publishers

So, what exactly is the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing?

As a self-publisher, you own the royalties and rights to the book. When traditionally published, the publishing company claims the rights.

But here’s the thing: self-publishing is much better and probably, even easier than traditional publishing. First thing first, getting an offer to publish through traditional publishing is a task on its own. If you’re new to the game, chances are that you won’t be entertained by any traditional publishing companies. These spots are usually taken by celebrities, A-list actors, famous athletes, politicians, professional writers and novelists, and more.

So if you don’t fall into that category, it’s better to go the self-publishing path and share your ideas with the world—in this case, the little kids!

To give you clearer insights into why you should choose self-publishing over traditional publishing, here are a few facts:

  • Even if you get lucky with traditional publishing, it requires a huge time investment with an overly complex process
  • You don’t get to have ownership of your manuscript rights with traditional publishing
  • Little to no marketing control or financial benefits with traditional publishing
  • No creative say over your own written piece
  • Traditional publishing doesn’t entertain niche books
  • Self-published authors have complete customizable control in all aspects

Self-publishing doesn’t come with gatekeepers telling you what you can and cannot do

Final thoughts

All in all, there is a lot that goes into creating a children’s book a success. It’s more than just writing down your ideas. Getting a team of professionals to help you pen down your ideas while also giving you the best illustrations, children’s book editing, cover designing, and amazon publishing services can save the day.