Set your writing up for success!
It’s a great question and one that I get asked a lot.
It’s such a good question that I’ve decided to split my advice about this into two blog posts! I could talk about writing, research, and publishing planning for ages, but I’ll try and keep it concise and bitesize so you can get started straight away…
To begin with, I’m going to use my experience writing children’s books to get you feeling comfortable and confident enough to bring your idea to life.
So here are my top 4 recommendations for getting ready for writing success:
1. The first thing I always recommend is determining your WHY. Why do you want to publish a book? What do you want to achieve? What are your goals – immediately and long term? Is this going to be a one-off personal project? Do you want to become a best-selling indie-author? I encourage you to be ambitious! It’s ALL possible, but not until YOU decide what YOU want. Once you do, you can be sure that you’re setting off in the right direction. Once you know your WHY, why not pop it on a post-it by your computer to drive you as you write?
2. If you’re not confident about your writing, you might also find it useful to sign up to a children’s book writing course. I joined Alan Durrant’s ‘Writing for Children’ course at Penguin Random House a couple of years ago and it was brilliant! I came away, enthused, more confident and definitely a better writer. I now also attend Alan’s ‘Writing for Children’ critique group which is an invaluable source of HONEST feedback and inspiration.
3. Get stuck in! If you haven’t written your first draft yet – what are you waiting for? Get writing! It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but you at this point. Just get it down and it can only get better from there. Grab a pen and paper and get scribbling, or why not try a stream of consciousness onto your laptop? Maybe dictation would work best for your first draft? If you have already put pen to paper, brilliant! I always like to let my first draft ‘rest’ for a week or two before moving onto…
4. Editing! Once you’re happy with your story it’s time to hire an editor. I can’t stress this point enough: Always work with a professional children’s book editor – your story will only be the better for it - and find one you feel comfortable working with too! Putting your work out into the world for the first time is scary, so having someone you like and trust looking at it will help tame some of that stress!
You might be wondering why I haven’t included ‘hiring an illustrator’? That’s because I need to get all of the above straight first. There’s no harm in browsing and reaching out to illustrators alongside this but I wouldn’t start the illustration process until all this has been decided. I say this from bitter experience!
Writing that first book is only half the story for getting your book into the little hands of your adoring (and adorable!) fans, the second half is planning the publishing yourself! If you thought there were a lot of decisions to make when you were writing the book, then just wait till you start planning that publishing strategy!
I hope you’ve found this useful. In my next blog I’ll elaborate on the publishing side of getting started. From personal experience, I’ll suggest what you need to think about, key decisions to be made, and some examples of where I went wrong (so you don’t have to)!
Tell me, is there anything you’d add to this list?