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: Category: nonfiction
Jun 16, 2017


1. Magazines are often picky about their nonfiction magazine sources. Although few prohibit using Internet sources, they should never be your only–or even your main sources. And never, ever use Wikipedia as a source.

2. One good thing websites are good for is pointing you toward primary sources that you can contact by email for specific information pertaining to your subject. Often you can find the email addresses of professors at major universities, curators at museums, and other experts from the websites to which they contribute.

For all eight must-know facts, listen to the full episode.


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Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question:


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Nov 4, 2016

If you’re like most writers, you’ve heard by now that magazines need nonfiction. Actually, magazines are desperate for nonfiction. Magazines never get enough nonfiction. So, many writers smile and settle down to write an article. How tough can it be, after all, these are just kids? Well, tough enough that many of those writers collect rejection letters. How did that happen? Are editors hot for nonfiction or aren’t they? Well, it depends.


Children’s magazine editors are just as picky about sources as any other editors. They want to know that your information is current, unique, and accurate. Most writers can only be as good as their sources. An article on penguins cobbled together from watching a Discovery program and touring a few websites is not going to impress an editor. Television documentaries are notoriously inaccurate (after all, they need drama – lots of drama) and websites often pass misinformation from one site to another.

Nonfiction requires good research and good research requires work.

Listen to the full episode for four steps to avoiding getting a rejection!

Read more in our show notes:


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 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:
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Aug 19, 2016


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.


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


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 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

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)


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