An author’s guide to writing children’s books

Kinderling News & Features

Jaquelyn Muller is the author of two children's books, I Love You 5 Lollipopsand Elizabeth Rose on Parade.

A lot of people harbour close-held dreams of writing a book. Our perceptions of writers churning out pages of masterful prose are fuelled by countless montages from film. Apparently all it takes is sitting at a desk and filling a waste basket with scrunched up balls of paper to the beat of a catchy tune, while dirty dishes and coffee cups pile up on the desk.  The scene usually ends with said author, looking somewhat dishevelled, typing the words ‘THE END’ on the last page.

The reality is, those two words should be changed to ‘THE START’, because that is really what it is, just the start of a long but potentially rewarding experience.

Listen to Jaquelyn on Kinderling Conversation:

More specifically, children’s books are a feel-good genre, as we engage with bright, colourful sometimes mystical characters in faraway lands, where words dance delicately with illustrations.  Many people find that after having children, children’s books unlock some subliminal creativity that may have been the luxury of youth but has since rescinded with age and responsibility. Opening your imagination via the magic of children’s books can unlock a part of ourselves that we had lost or forgotten about. Either that or the lack of sleep has made you a bit nuts; both scenarios make you a perfect candidate for writing a book!

Don’t be that person that regrets never giving it a try. You will never know unless you have a go. Here are some of my tips for beginners or even those with a burning curiosity.

  • Start off realistically and set a goal to begin with. Aim to write 2-3 story ideas every week in a journal for a few months to help open up your mind to ideas. Once that builds your confidence, then try writing a story from one of your ideas.
  • Enrol in writing courses. These can be done as short courses via local adult education centres. This is not as terrifying as it sounds as everyone is in the same boat and just as petrified. You may find some writing buddies that you form a writing group with. Arrange to meet regularly to discuss and review each other’s work.
  • Attend relevant literary festivals, conferences and book launches and listen to other authors and children’s publishers speak about the industry. Across Australia there are multiple festivals and conferences that you can attend. They help you really understand if this is something you want to do and how far you are prepared to go and how hard you need to work to get there.
  • The Australian Society of Authors and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators are also extremely helpful sources of information about how to get started and connect you with helpful sites and events. 

In doing these things I have met some wonderful people, and as a result am now on the management team of the KidLitVic Meet the Publishers conference. KidLitVic is a national all-day conference held on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at the Melbourne Town Hall.  It caters to beginner, emerging and established writers and illustrators in helping them understand the children’s publishing industry so that they can manage their career and provide valuable advice and foster solid connections and networks.  There are also opportunities to have work assessed and have one-on-one meetings with publishers.

There will also be a series of workshops and masterclasses which offer hands on interactive lessons with industry leaders.

Tickets for KidLitVic 2018 go on sale on November the 1st at 8pm. More details about the conference can be found via www.kidlitvic.com