Some Things I’ve Learned

So, I decided I would share some of things I’ve learned over the last few years since admitting myself to the asylum for people who want to write books for children.

Why listen to anything I have to say, you ask? Unfortunately, that is a question for which I have no good answer. So I’ll simply ignore it.

There are blogs up the wazoo containing tips on writing for children. How to come up with ideas, how to format manuscripts, how to submit to agents and editors, and on and on. It’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed in all that advice. And I’m here to tell you … that there’s no easy way around it.

I’m not going to list every piece of advice out there. That’s for you to research. There are some great starting places like Harold Underdown’s Site and SCBWI. Unfortunately, there’s no one-stop-shop for all the do’s and don’t’s of getting published.

You probably will notice, however, that there are some tidbits that continue to pop up  everywhere – and you can take some of these as universal truths. A few I’ve come across include:

Keep Writing


You’re never going to get published don’t write. That statement may seem obvious, but you have to remember this every time you get a rejection letter (or don’t get rejection letters).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “and after ten years of writing, my first book was finally published.” And when they say ‘first’ book, it’s usually not the first book the author wrote. It’s usually the 6th or 7th. It’s very rare to hit it big (or even publish) the first you write.

The first book I wrote is in a state of disrepair, and I expect it will stay that way. Frankly, I’ve learned so much since writing that first book, that I’m not sure going back to it would do much good.

That leads me to my second point, which is …


Take classes. Go to conferences. Do research. Read books about how to write for children. Read blogs (especially my blog). Read interviews of authors you really like. Read books in the genre which you’re writing. Read books in other genres. See authors speak. Absorb as much as possible.

Calvin in Class

You don’t have to do all of those things. Personally, I don’t like reading (just kidding. Or am I?). But all the other stuff has been invaluable. Writing books for children is both an art and a business – two things for which I have no professional qualifications whatsoever. Everything I know about the writing world was learned in the last two and a half years.

That’s why, I also recommend that if you want to get published, you have to …

Dive in

Dive InHead first. Give it your all. If you’re gonna write, then write your heart out. Get your manuscript(s) critiqued by other writers. Do the learning necessary. And submit! Submit to agents. Submit to editors (that accept unsolicited submissions, of course).

You can’t just dip your feet in the water. If you never finish your story, it will surely not get published. If you don’t get it critiqued and revise, odds are likely that it’s not quite ready for prime time. And it never gets sent to agents and editors, it’s not gonna magically publish itself (although that would be pretty cool).

Don’t overdo it, though. Always …

Leave Your Readers Wanting More

For that reason, I’m going to end this post by telling you to check back later on in the week when I post ‘Some Other Things I’ve Learned.’

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