by Yvonne Blackwood
Now that you have a fabulous idea for your children’s book—the tale of Ronnie Rabbit—and you have researched both the subject and the market, you are ready to write.
Wait! Not so fast! Assuming that this writing project is not just a one-time exercise, you should prepare a bit more.
Buy, Borrow, but do not steal
It is imperative that you join the public library or renew your membership if it has lapsed. Why? Because you need to read several children’s books. Naturally you should buy some books―books that you can mark-up and highlight, books that you can handle as you please. But in order to avoid spending a fortune in purchases, you should borrow some too.
When I was preparing to write Nosey Charlie Comes to Town, I bought many books. In addition, I would borrow seven or eight books at a time from the library, read them, return them, and borrow another set until I was fully versed in how they are written. Of course you can review children’s books on the internet, and this will give you a cursory view of the books. However, if you are serious about writing in this genre you must familiarize yourself with several aspects of the books which the internet cannot provide realistically.
Sizes and Page Count
Children’s books come in several sizes, from small 5 X 5 to over 11 inches. They also have various page count. It was only while doing my research that I learned that children’s books for ages 3-8 usually have 24, 32, or 48 pages. Knowing the number of pages your book will contain is important because it will dictate the number of words you can write and the number of illustrations the book can have.
All children’s picture books are not created equally. You should be aware that each has a different lay-out. Some books have text and illustrations on alternate pages, others have illustrations on every page with text above, below, or to the side of the illustrations. Some even have text written in the illustrations.
Pricing is important
By examining books bought or borrowed you will observe that prices vary, that hard cover books tend to be more expensive, and that soft cover books fall within similar ranges. The last thing any author wants to do is to overprice her/his book because of lack of knowledge.
Your inspection of the children’s book section of the library will make it clear very quickly that children’s picture books cover a wide category, and that it is broken down further into ages 1-3 and 3-8. The first group can only handle board books. These have thick pages made from cardboard or chipboard, have brightly coloured pictures and little text with about a dozen pages. Since you have a tale to tell in your Ronnie Rabbit book, the age group you will serve is ages 3-8, and the word count should be a maximum of 1500.
You can only learn the above information by physically examining books―bought or borrowed.
Guest post contributed by Yvonne Blackwood.