So you want to write/illustrate?

If you want to write, or illustrate, for children and/or young adults, the first thing you must do is READ, READ, READ children’s and young adult books until your eyeballs fall out.  Seriously.  Along with this, meet as many children’s and young adult authors and illustrators as possible (regardless of whether you want to write and/or illustrate).  Go to bookstore signings, library talks, conferences, anywhere an author or illustrator is there in the flesh.  Don’t ask them to read or look at your works, but pick their brains about writing, illustrating, how they got their breaks, and ask questions about their books. Finally, pay attention to the publishers of the books you like/that publish the type of book you are creating.

A word of friendly advice if you want to write picture storybooks but you can’t or don’t want to illustrate yourself: don’t ask your (insert: neighbor, friend, grandma, second cousin’s former art teacher from 1986, someone you just met who drew a cute illustration on a cocktail napkin) to illustrate your book.  Publishers choose their own illustrators if they like your manuscript.  You can fatally weaken your product if the art is not up to speed. Unsure about your grandma’s art? Compare it to some Caldecott Medal recipients.  Yes, really.

For tips on writing and publisher information (addresses, contact persons) regarding where to send your story or manuscript, the book you should consult is the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. Always consult the current edition as the information for publishers and their addresses changes constantly.

If you are serious about writing for young people, it is recommended you join The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Articles, market news, manuscript submission, and other information is available to members. There are also regional chapters where you can meet up with other aspiring and accomplished authors and illustrators for support, encouragement, and practical advice.

Harold Underdown has information, tips, and suggestions on his site, which you can access here.

Of course, you must write and illustrate daily.  Join a writers’ group, attend regularly, and participate actively.

Good luck!  And send me a signed copy of your first published book 🙂

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