Some people mistakenly assume that writing for children is simple.
Multi-published children’s author, Diane Stortz, disabuses us of that notion. Writing for children is every bit as challenging – and rewarding – as writing for adults.
In today’s episode, Diane shares the secret to her success:
Think about books as products.
“Most writers think about their story or their message,” says Diane. And that’s important. But we also “want to write books that sell. We want to write important books that matter.”
That means doing lots of preliminary research:
- What kinds of children’s books are popular?
- What isn’t being published that needs to be published?
- Why would anyone buy my book?
- Who is it for?
- What is the strong hook that gives my book structure?
Only after you answer those questions are you ready to develop a book proposal and begin writing your book.
“By the time I sit down and write, I know exactly what the parts and pieces are for every story” (that will go in my book), adds Diane.
As the author of picture books, board books, Bible storybooks, and devotions for children – not to mention years of experience working at a publishing house as a children’s book editor, in-house author, and acquisitions editor – Diane knows children’s publishing from the inside out.
During our chat, Diane shares how her lifelong love of reading and books began when she was in first grade and continued through high school journalism and college, where she majored in journalism.
Like many college students, Diane realized her senior year that she was “not cut out to be a hotshot reporter.”
After graduation, she began working at Standard Publishing, developing a new Sunday School curriculum for two- and three-year-olds. That was the beginning of a long and “storied” career focused on writing for children.
In this information-packed episode, you’ll learn:
- How to find and shape a new idea
- The problem with picture books in the Christian market
- Why picture book authors need the ability to think in pictures
- The critical role an illustrator plays in creating a children’s book
Diane also recommends seven things prospective children’s writers should do to get started:
1. Read widely in children’s books.
2. Write. “You don’t have to start by writing a book,” advises Diane. Practice by writing for children’s magazines. (In addition to writing books, Diane reviews Christian children’s books on her blog.)
3. Attend conferences to learn the craft, the industry, and to network with agents, editors, and other writers. “Go to more than one conference,” she urges. “It helps agents and editors see you as someone who’s committed to the craft and is in it for the long haul.”
4. Learn on your own. A treasure trove of resources is available online.
5. Join a critique group, as well as organizations for children’s writers:
6. Educate yourself on platform building, marketing, websites, newsletters, blogging, and social media marketing.
7. Most importantly: Be patient. Be consistent. Do the work.
About Diane Stortz
Diane Stortz is a multi-published author with books for children and adults published by Tommy Nelson, Zonderkidz, Bethany House, and IVP.
She has experienced both sides of the publishing world, having also served as an editor, acquiring editor, and editorial director during her career with Standard Publishing in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Diane and her husband have two married daughters and five grandchildren—all boys!
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