I like to think the story of how I became a children’s book author is unique. I’ve realized during the publishing process that not all paths are the same. I want to empower others to find their own road by sharing my journey and best practices.
In my son’s early years, I struggled parenting him. He was strong-willed, defiant and very intelligent. At that time, there were more bad days than good. Struggling to stay confident in motherhood, I started writing short stories to get clarity on my son’s behavior while attempting to improve my parenting skills. After a hard day, I would type and type and type and type. I used my laptop as a therapy session. Assuming I would be the only one to every read my stories, it was still important for me to put a positive twist on my creative outlet. A bad guy didn’t exist in my world. My stories turned into an optimistic, humorous way of how to handle a difficult child.
Sporadically, I submitted one of the stories to a local publishing company. Getting the call from my publisher was a memorable day. I realized in that moment I aspired to be a children’s book author. I realized I developed a road map for parents and children to strengthen their relationships with each other. A few short months later, I conversed with an editor and illustrator on bringing the story to life. The book progressively flowed together, and a dream that I never knew I had come true. I was a children’s book author.
During the publishing process, I discovered writing a book for children sounds simple to a lot people. Announcing to friends and family that I was getting published was a thrilling time. The initial reaction was happiness, followed by congratulations, ending with, “I should write a children’s book too”. Since publishing, I have had a lot of acquaintances reach out for advice. Thinking that the way my book got published was unconventional., I didn’t give much advise or guidance. Publishing a book was a wonderful accident. I have relished in every step of the creative process. During that time, I was able to comprehend what separates me apart from my peers. That reflection allowed me to develop some simple advice to anyone that asks, “Where do I start?”
Like I said before, my advice to any aspiring children’s book author is simple. There are three rules I live by; know your vision for the book, create an uncomplicated and relatable story. When I spoke with my publisher initially, the first question she asked was, “What vision do you have for your book?” For me, it was vital to stay true the main character of the story. The main character was based on my son. He had to be adorably defiant, enthusiastic, and slightly tenacious. Though those characteristics are not common for a children’s book character, it was the entire reason my story existed. I can honestly say, I would not have moved forward with publishing if the character was asked to significantly change. It was a deal breaker.
Secondly, create a story that is uncomplicated. I love telling stories to my friends. Periodically, I catch myself going on and on rather than getting to the point. I get carried away in the details of what I am trying to say rather than just saying it. I saw that with my first, second and third draft of Roman Plays Outside. I was writing the story like I was talking to an adult, not a child. So how did I uncomplicate my story? I did it by simplify the words used, slowing down the pace and speaking direct. My book starts with the character introduction, moves on to engaging similarities children can relate to, then to the climax and a lesson at the end.
Children are easily distracted; attention spans are short. As a parent, I see that every day with my own children. Especially when I am really trying to drive a point home. They start looking out the corner of their eyes. Parental tone kills a conversation. With that, my last guidance is to keep the story relatable. Remember, parents are reading the books, but children are your true audience. Children want to believe they are seeing themselves in the story. Engaging a child’s imagination is the key to any successful book. Observing what excites a young mind is the starting line.
My hope is that my journey and best practices will produce more aspiring authors to carve their own place in the children’s book author world. Remember to know your vision, remaining uncomplicated and keep it relatable. This guidance will assist in creating a starting point to create an image of your aspiring children’s book.