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Writing for Children: How to Write a Children's Book, Writing for Magazines, Getting Paid for Writing, Getting Published

Do you want to learn how to write a children's book? Make money writing for children's magazines? Every Friday the Writing for Children podcast publishes from The Institute of Children's Literature. Since 1969, ICL has taught over 470,205 aspiring writers. Listen to the director of both The Institute for Writers and The Institute of Children's Literature and bestselling children's author Katie Davis host the show as she focuses on the craft of writing for children. She talks about how to write a children’s book, how to write for children’s magazines, how to get paid for your writing, and how to get published in the world of kidlit. There are listener questions, with answers from the experts at the Institute, plus hard-to-find resources, tips, and links included in every week's show notes.
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Now displaying: August, 2016
Aug 26, 2016

NONFICTION DOES NOT MEAN NONFUN

Many new writers connect the word "nonfiction" with horror filled memories of slogging through dull textbooks and trying to memorize all the war dates through history. Or trying to memorize the states and capitals. Or trying to memorize scientific terms for the test. In other words, we remember mostly painful associations with nonfiction as a child. So we assume kids won't want to read our article unless we jolly them into it.

So many beginning writers will do one of the following:

1. Address the reader directly, a lot, in kind of a jolly voice, and often asking questions about the reader’s life to try to draw comparisons with the article’s subject.

2. Mix fiction into the nonfiction much like you'd mix tasty syrup into icky medicine to force it past the lips of a cranky child. Since we assume fiction is tasty and nonfiction is icky, we're sure we need some fiction to make the nonfiction fun.

And yet, those are two things editors hate to see. You could easily get a rejection over that. Why?

Listen to the episode and find out!

Read more in our show notes plus get clickable links at http://writingforchildren.com/014

 

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.speakpipe.com/WFC. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Aug 19, 2016

WHERE DID YOU GET THAT INFORMATION?


If you do much nonfiction writing, you’ll hear a lot about sources. How good are your sources? Do you have primary sources? Nonfiction is only as good as its sources – meaning, everything in a nonfiction book or article needs the support of a good source. Now, if you happen to be an expert (or in the case of personal experience articles, if you happen to be the person who had the experience) then the need for outside sources lessens a bit, but it may not disappear altogether.


WHEN DO YOU NEED SOURCES?


Anytime you state a fact, you need a source:

  • In Iceland, steam from volcanoes heats homes.
  • In an annular eclipse, a ring-shaped part of the Sun remains visible.
  • Benjamin Franklin once worked out a magic square of sixteen x sixteen.

Read more in our show notes plus get clickable links at http://writingforchildren.com/013

 

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.speakpipe.com/WFC. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Aug 12, 2016

Is This a Picture Book?

Okay, you've written a great story. It's pretty short, under 1000 words (hopefully closer to
500). You like it. Your critique group likes it. It really is good, but is it a picture book? It isn't
enough that it be good or even great, a picture book is a particular kind of writing. So, ask
yourself some questions:


1. Does your story sing? Whether the story rhymes or not (and not is usually better), your
prose needs to sing. Read it aloud, or better yet, try humming the story to yourself. Does it
have a flowing, singing rhythm? Not sing-song, but melodious. Picture book stories require a
special attention to the sound because if they succeed, they will be read again and again.


For 6 more valuable tips on evaluating your story, listen to the show!

Listener Question of the Week:

Jennifer asks:

How do you know if the book you're writing is targeted at the right age group?

 

Two episodes you might like:

Episode 003 - Creating Characters for Children's Magazines

Episode 005 - Picture Books 101

 

Will you please review our podcast … It really makes a huge difference in iTunes. Thank you!  Click here

Aug 5, 2016

Magazine Nonfiction that Grabs Kids

Too many of the children's nonfiction articles that editors receive each day lack a connection with kids. We hear and read over and over that editors are looking for nonfiction, but many times that isn't translating into sales for individual writers because of these missed connections. Here are some tips to help stop those missed connections:


1. Don't Parent. Do Entertain and Inform.
Kids don't read nonfiction to replace parental involvement. They read nonfiction because it's interesting, lively, fun and includes things they want. Too many writers are crafting nonfiction to fix a perceived flaw in today's kids and editors know kids won't read lectures, so editors don't buy them.


2. Don't skim. Do focus.
The number one flaw in nonfiction that editors receive is the lack of focus; when you try to say everything about frogs, you end up with an article that skims the subject and is likely to contain a great deal of information the target audience already knows. But when you focus on one aspect of the subject, that frogs can survive freezing solid and what scientists are learning from that, then you can really dig in and give fascinating details kids don't know.


3. Write for the kid in you, but know about the kids out there.
Editors complain that not enough writers are writing for today's kid. You need to remember this is a kid living in a technologically rich world. This is a kid who worries about the environment, is probably really informed about recycling, and is maybe following the news on self-driving cars. This could be a kid who never heard of a tomboy, doesn't worry about being one, but does have gay friends. This is a kid whose school probably has "what to do if bad people attack the school" drills. A kid who wants information to help in today's world.


4. Know that one‐size doesn't fit all in magazines.
The only cure for this is getting to know the individual magazines and what they're actually publishing in terms of tone, approach, length, and format. It's time consuming. It can be expensive. It can force you to become creative about seeking out issues in libraries, but it's always worthwhile to know the needs of the consumer (the magazine) before trying to sell your product (the manuscript.) So, please, editors are begging, put away the shotgun for submitting and try using a scope to target instead.


5. Don't write for anyone you can't respect.
Kids don't like to be baby-talked any more than they liked being lectured, so speak to your reader as you would have wanted to be spoken to as a kid. You don't have to be jolly to be lively; strong clear verbs, specific details, and clear crisp writing will win out over hyper-bright cheerleading peppered with exclamation marks!!!

 

Listener Question of the Week:

Tammy asks:

What’s the best way to have your story reviewed before you submit to an editor?

 

Three episodes you might like:
Episode 002 - Three Keys To Writing Nonfiction For Children


Episode 003 - Creating Characters for Children's Magazines


Episode 006 - Writing Holiday and Seasonal Material (for magazines)

 

Will you please review our podcast … It really makes a huge difference in iTunes. Thank you!  Click here

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