Info

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.
RSS Feed Subscribe in iTunes
2017
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: December, 2016
Dec 30, 2016

Today we’re going to talk about submissions. This is a topic that comes up frequently with each new contest. People ask about everything from naming and saving their Word documents to asking if we could rank all the entries. That way people would know where they stood. So, let’s spend a little time talking about the process of submissions.


Our contests were designed by the founders of ICL as a way for people to practice submitting their work to agents and editors. Let’s break down each piece of the contest process and how it applies to submitting to agents and editors.


FORMATTING GUIDELINES
Entries submitted to our contest must follow the guidelines listed in the contest rules page. Manuscripts should be double-spaced with one-inch margins and in Times New Roman or Courier 12-point font.


Why is this important in the publishing industry? It’s important because agents and editors may read hundreds of manuscripts a day, some from their current clients and some from hopeful writers trying to break through. By having a standard, it allows the editor to focus solely on the story and not be distracted by a strange font or hard-to-read size. It also allows them––at a glance––to get a feel for the length of your story. It also ensures that as
your manuscript goes up the publishing chain, formatting isn’t changed because someone’s computer doesn’t recognize the font you chose. Using the proper formatting and font shows you are professional. What did your teachers use to say? Neatness counts! (And it still does!)

 

For a better understanding of how submissions work (for our contest and out in the publishing world) listen to the full episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/032

 

You've got questions. We've got answers.

Let us answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Is your manuscript ready for submission? Get a critique from an ICL instructor.
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Dec 23, 2016

WHAT DO KIDS CARE ABOUT?
You may have heard me mention that the great nonfiction writer––and editor––Andrea Davis Pinkney said, when shekeynoted at the online conference, Picture Book Summit, that nonfiction sounds like nonfun. But you should know, kids love nonfiction. Sometimes we forget that some readers find nonfiction more exciting––it’s their favorite reading.

Also, there are very few magazines that don't buy nonfiction––but there are quite a few that buy only nonfiction. With this reality, most of us can see the value of dabbling in nonfiction, but some find their nonfiction pieces meeting rejection time after time.

How do we find the perfect topic and slant to make the sale? Often it comes down to connecting with our kid-side.


Let's sing that old Sesame Street lyric “One of these things is not like the others…” our example is that three of these articles ideas belong together, but one just doesn't belong here. Which one and why?


A Teaspoon of Kerosene for that Cough? Disgusting Doses from the Past
I Vant to Suck Your Fluids––Vampire Caterpillars.
Kids In the White House
Overcoming Homework Hassles––Helping Kids Set Priorities


Right, what kid is going to read an article on how to get kids to do their homework? If you wanted to write an article on homework, you would need to do it from the viewpoint of the kid, not of the parent hoping to get kids to work.

Many new writers produce nonfiction that would be of interest to adults––especially parents––but would not be of interest to kids. Now, writing for parents is a potentially lucrative market, but it’s a different market.
When you choose a nonfiction topic, realize that no one is going to make the child read it.

For tips on writing nonfiction kids want to read, listen to the episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/031

 

What questions do you want to ask our instructors?

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature wants to hear from you. Let us answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap.

Wondering if your manuscript is ready for submission? Get a critique from an ICL instructor.
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Dec 16, 2016

Do you ever wonder if you have a real plot in your short story––something that an editor will find satisfying and complete? It can be tough, but one way to find out is to imagine your main character in front of you and just ask him or her some questions. What questions? Ah, there’s the key.


Kurt Vonnegut said, ”Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water."


The first question to ask your character is what he or she wants. A character who wants for nothing is probably not someone an editor is going to find interesting. Let’s ask that question of the main characters in two short stories––one for young readers (Penny) and two from two different stories for intermediate readers (Hannah and Carter).


Author: Hi, so, tell me––what do you want most in the world right now?

Penny: I want to go back to my old preschool where all my old friends are.

Hannah: I want Olivia to move back to Texas before she ruins my life.

Carter: I want to make enough money to buy another new cell phone, but I don’t want to be bored to death doing it.

All of these wants are very serious for the main characters. Now, Penny and Hannah aren’t going to get what they think they want––Carter will, but he may learn something about being careful what you wish for. Penny’s family has moved, and they aren’t likely to move back. And Hannah’s nemesis isn’t likely to move away just because that’s what Hannah wants. We can
sense the problems inherent in their desire right from the moment they tell us what they want.

For more questions to ask your characters, listen to this episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/030

 

What questions do you want to ask our instructors?

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature wants to hear from you. Let us answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap.

Need a fresh set of eyes? ICL instructors offer critiques!
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Dec 9, 2016

One of the most common reasons for editors to reject a poem is bad meter. Meter is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem. When the pattern works, the sound of the poem aids the content of the poem instead of distracting from it. Many writers think it’s enough to for a poem to rhyme but don’t understand the nature and construction of meter.


So, if you know how to handle meter, you’re more than halfway to selling your poetry. But there is another problem that is probably just as widespread and can affect even writers with a totally perfect ear for meter.


I’m talking about forcing the rhyme. Sometimes a poem will be about a specific subject, or be telling us a lively story, but the writer will suddenly find herself stuck. She needs a line to rhyme with a different line. After all, rhyme scheme is important.


So, she’ll make a slight detour in subject so that she can make the rhyme––then she’ll return to the first subject:

While birdies all stand ‘round and preen
Spring wears a bright weskit of green
With buttons of white
A dazzling sight
The choicest of seasons I’ve seen.


Okay…why are there birds in a poem that’s basically a simile about how the bright spring grass and white spring flowers are compared to stylish clothes? Sure, there are birds in spring. And preening is kind of related to sartorial splendor, but let’s be honest––the birds snuck in to make a line that rhymes with green. And the poem’s writer knows it did. The editor knows it  too. The poem is not likely to sell, even overlooking the lame last line.

Once you’ve chosen what your poem will be about, you must be true to that. Rhyme and meter is essential but content is just as essential. It’s not a hierarchy. All must work together.

To find out how to make it work, listen to this episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/029

 

We want YOUR questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature wants to hear from you. Let us answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap.

Need a fresh set of eyes? ICL instructors offer critiques!
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Dec 2, 2016

8 INGREDIENTS OF A GOOD STORY

1. A cup of plot. A plot that proceeds logically from beginning to end, giving the reader a sense that this is exactly how the story must be told.


2. Four tablespoons of conflict. Okay, I’m dropping the recipe joke… let’s just get on with this! Conflict is an essential part of a good story plot. So, who or what is your main character in conflict with?


3. Dialogue. Exciting dialogue that brings the reader into the story. Dialogue where children
don’t talk like adults, and where all the children and adults don’t talk like each other. Make each
character a separate person and they will automatically speak differently and have more
interesting things to say.

 

To find out the other 5 ingredients, listen to this episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/028

 

We want YOUR questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature wants to hear from you. Let us answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. 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/

1