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poisonedantidote's avatar

How to write books for 4-8 year olds?

Asked by poisonedantidote (21638points) March 10th, 2010

A while back i discovered a site that lets you publish your own books, this site takes your book and they print copies to order, once a sale is made you get a percentage.

So, i thought i would give it a shot. i have a fairly good imagination and im sure i can tell little kids cool stories because i still remember being a kid like it was yesterday. however, as many of you have no doubt noticed my spelling and grammar are not too good, and on top of this i have no idea how books are supposed to be written, the rules and regulations so to speak.

so, do you have any advice or useful links about writing books in general, and do you have any advice or links about writing for kids?

i already have a fairly good idea of what i would do if i did things with what i know now, but would like to see if i can get some advice to help make the books better.

the general idea for now, is a kid (boy) that likes to mess and round and experiment things, he goes on adventures, gets in trouble and solves the problem and some times learns a moral lesson along th way.

i imagine the books to have big friendly cartoon pictures on each page, with about one paragraph per page in large print.

any help is appreciated, thanks.

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13 Answers

PacificToast's avatar

It sounds as if you got it down. Is the site not clear on how to go about using it?

poisonedantidote's avatar

@PacificToast the site simply does not care by the looks of things. there dont seem to be any standards they want you to stick to, but do offer an editing service. the thought behind it really is improving my books for a better reputation and thus sell more copies.

Pseudonym's avatar

See Bob run. Run Bob run. Run run run.

janbb's avatar

I would go to a library or bookstore and do a lot of reading of books for that age group. Get a feel for the vocabulary, the plots, and the length of text. Also, 4–8 is a pretty big spread; you might want to skew it to one side or the other. Again, familiarizing yourself with literature for those ages will help.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I recommend that you narrow your age even more. The reason is that 4-and-5-year-olds usually can’t read. Someone reads to them, and that type of book is vastly different from others.

6-and-7-year-olds are often just beginning to read, so that type of book is extremely simple.

8-year-olds make the transition to what we call chapter books. This area provides greater leeway for the writer to really tell a story.

Learning to write is a skill that takes time.

There is a site call where you can post your stories for other amateur writers to comment on, but I’m not sure if they have a section for literature for small children.

escapedone7's avatar

For beginning readers, something like Dr. Seuss perhaps. Many children seem to love whimsical characters, small sight words that are easy to memorize, and repetition. “Hop on Pop” was so much cooler than “See Spot Run”. Kids seem to like rhymes, rhythm, alliterations, and simple vocabulary. Test your ideas on some kids before you go to the expense and trouble of self publishing.

Once children are no longer struggling with simple sight words they seem to like stories like Arthur and ones about Clifford.(Clifford is a big red dog.)Again, they love animals and fanciful creatures. However, stories for older kids can be more complex. They often have a simple problem in the plot that gets solved. As a child I loved Madeline and Curious George. If you have any “test subjects” read some library books to them and get a feel for stuff kids like. Think about other stories that are popular with children, and what commonalities they share (colorful illustrations, children and animals as characters, etc.)

elenuial's avatar

If the site charges you money at any point in the process, you are probably being scammed, and you’re better off taking your material and trying to go to a real publisher.

Honestly, write the book first, talk to other childrens writers and get some feedback from them, revise your work, and when it’s polished start showing it to agents.

Self-publishing doesn’t have to end poorly, but the vast majority of the time it’s a scam. The few times it’s not, then you’re still probably only going to get your friends and family to buy a copy even if you bust your butt publicizing your work. Of course, that might be what you want, and if so more power to you.

talljasperman's avatar

I read cat in the hat during that period in my life(I stopped when I lost my last book at 15)...try that for suggestions…make it plesant and easy to read….and slowly introduce more and more complex themes

talljasperman's avatar

You can also watch cat in the hat movies from the library…50 years of fun.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

This sounds like a cool site. What is it?

ChocolateReigns's avatar

@poisonedantidote Cool! I think I’ll check it out!

Janka's avatar

I know people who have published stuff via Lulu. It works, if you already have an audience. For example, in the cases I know of, one is a martial arts teacher who put into book format stuff his students wanted to get in a Real Book format, and another is a fairly popular blogger who put a selection of her posts to a book format for her readers to buy as presents for other people. What is common for these cases is that neither makes real money, let alone a living, out of it, but rather this is a book they wanted to make available for a limited audience, and Lulu is a way to get a small print without putting much money into it beforehand.

However, your case sounds not like this, but rather that you want to write a book, have someone else promote it, and make money from it. I do not think Lulu offers that sort of service: they are more a print-on-demand & deliver type of business. Promotion of a book and finding an audience for one is time-consuming and costly work, and actual publishing houses only do it for books they have preselected and have confidence on. You can purchase a “marketing package” from Lulu, but I am afraid the general consensus of actual authors who have made it is that if you are paying the publishing house, instead of the other way round, the chances of your book actually making money for you are slim.

I would therefore suggest that before even thinking how and where you will publish the work, you will concentrate on writing it and drawing the pictures. Once it is ready, get feedback, polish, etc, and then see if you can get an actual publisher to carry it. Only if you cannot, go for print-on-demand and self-promotion. But the main thing is, write the thing first and then worry about how to get it out there.

I would personally suggest that as the very first thing you give up the idea that “your spelling and grammar” are something that are bad, end of the story. I admit that they are bad right now, judging from this one sample, but you can make them better. Start from fixing one thing – say, how about you capitalize first letters of every sentence from here on, whenever you write to the internet? – and keep on fixing until they are no longer bad. Get a spell-checker. Read like crazy to increase your vocabulary.

Then just write the damned thing. And draw the damned pictures.

And good luck. ;)

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