A couple of weeks ago my blog post was a list of fun ‘quirks’ that potential children’s writers have. But every children’s writer knows that there’s a lot more behind writing a children’s book than all the fun we have once it’s finished. Today I thought I’d look at some of the more ‘serious’ qualities that children’s writers have.
You might be a children’s writer if…
You have patience—
Writing for children takes a lot of patience. Most likely, the story starts out in your head. You finally get it down on paper at about 2,500 words. Then you realize that a picture book is more likely to be between 300 and 800 words! Many revisions later you finally have a nice tight story, ready for a publisher to snatch it right up.
You send it out, and wait—months, sometimes longer, before you hear back from the editor. Many rejections later you finally find the right editor who loves your story! After more revisions it’s finally finished, ready for the illustrator. Who takes a year or more to finish the artwork. You wait for the physical book to be put together, for reviews to come in, for your author copies to arrive…. Lots of patience, but totally worth it!
You can handle rejection—
There are many types of rejections. There are form rejections—a printed card or letter simply saying it’s not right for them, a letter signed by the editor saying it’s not right for them, a letter signed by the editor telling you why it’s not right for them (encouraging because they took the time to give you feedback!), or a letter signed by the editor saying it’s not right for them but asking to see more of your work (don’t pass on this!). And of course, there’s the rejection that you don’t receive, from a publisher that says ‘if you don’t hear from us after three months, we are not interested.’
You believe that children are intelligent and deserve your best effort—
Children’s writers see their readers as intelligent human beings, who soak up knowledge from the world around them. And they drive you to tell the story that opens their imagination, and that will captivate them!
You like to interact with children—
You enjoy being around children and love to hear what they have to say. Their perspective on things opens your own imagination, and helps you to see the world around you in a new way.
You have a sense of humor—
Your sense of humor lets you laugh and not take life too seriously. Things like—
“You’re pretty! I like your gray hair and wrinkles.” Or
“Are you more than 80 years old?”
don’t bother you at all!
Your ‘casual’ reading includes author, editor and agent blogs as well as books, magazines and newsletters about writing for children—and lots of children’s books!
Because this is your introduction to learning how to write children’s books well, and you don’t settle for less.
You attend events such as author appearances and book fairs—
Your love of books and writing spills over into your social life. You’d rather be here than at the amusement park.
You value what you do over how much money you make—
Sometimes you wonder why you do all of this work with no guarantee of publication. But you just can’t seem to stop. Stories pop in out of nowhere, and follow you everywhere. The objective is much more than the money you make, which is probably less than minimum wage when you figure in all the hours spent before your book is published. But all it takes is one child who loves your book, and you know why you do it.
If you have these qualities, combined with any of the quirks of my previous post, I’d suggest that you seriously consider writing for children!