Saturday, February 13, 2010

Writing For Children - The Secret to Selling More of What You Write

By Suzanne Lieurance

If you write for children, you need to know all the elements editors look for in fiction or nonfiction for kids. But that's no secret.

You also need to be sure you choose to write about topics that are not only interesting for children, they are appropriate for them as well.

Again, that's no secret.

So just what IS the secret to selling more of what you write for children?

Well, it's this. Try to choose topics that haven't already been written about over and over again in fiction and nonfiction for children. Here's an example of what I mean.

I once submitted several manuscripts to Scholastic when they had an open call for submissions to their Rookie Reader series of beginning readers. One of the topics I wrote about was shoelaces. Specifically, I wrote about how shoelaces all work the same way, no matter what kind of laces they may be - boys' laces, girls' laces, laces with a name. When tied in a bow, they all work the same.

I figured that children who are just learning to read - and are the target audience for Rookie Readers - are also learning how to tie their shoes, so this would be an appropriate topic to write about for this age group. As I studied all the Rookie Readers I could get my hands on before writing my story, I realized that shoelaces - and learning to tie shoes - was not a topic that had been overdone. There were not dozens and dozens of other children's books out there on this subject.

When the editor called to tell me my manuscript had been accepted, she said that one of the reasons they bought my story (as opposed to over 900 other submissions they had received during this open call) was because it was the ONLY manuscript they'd received about this topic, whereas they'd received hundreds of stories about loose teeth and losing a tooth.

So there you have it. The secret to selling more of what you write for children is to look for topics that appeal to children and are appropriate for them, but haven't already been written about hundreds of times.

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