So you want to write a book? Step 2: WHAT?
Updated: Dec 5, 2021
Okay, last time we talked about WHY you want to write. Hopefully you were able to determine your at least one main reason. Now, for the fun part, we’ve got to figure out WHAT you want to write!
Let’s first look at the different categories of books that are in the kidlit realm.
Board books - these are usually for younger kiddos, think 0-3. They focus on simple concepts, ABC’s, 123’s, Colors, etc. If you are planning on self-publishing, there are not a lot of places who print on demand board books.
Easy Readers - These are meant to be read by the child. Words are simple and sentences are short. They are great for teachers but are slightly boring to write. They are usually the ones with the numbers on top (like level 1, etc.)
Fiction Picture books - These are fictional stories that can share a lesson or are just fun to read. Meant to be read by an adult to a child. Or sometimes older children (or adults who act like children) will read them. Low word count (500-800). Mainly focused on illustrations. 28-40 pages with 32 being the most popular. They come in all sizes, too. This is where I fall.
Non-fiction Picture Books - For those who love telling others stories, history, science, etc. Set up much like fiction, but are beloved by teachers everywhere.
Once you get past 8, or third grade, you get into graphic novels, mid-grade novels, and other books. Once I get picture books under my belt, I plan on branching out to these other avenues.
Now that you know a bit about the different categories, let's talk more about your WHAT.
What you want to write about is a loaded topic. You may be asking yourself; “I'm an adult, I'm writing this for a child, I can write about anything right?” And the answer is yes, you can. You CAN write about anything. However you may not be very GOOD at writing about everything. Because you don’t REALLY KNOW everything. And kids can smell a fake a mile away. So unless you want to do a whole lot of researching, what I’ve learned is to WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.
So, WHAT DO YOU KNOW?
Sports? Horses? Cars? Early childhood behaviors? ABC’s? Bullying? Cooking?
Having trouble? Jot down a list. Still coming up with a blank? Ask yourself this; What do people ask you about? What things do people ask for your advice about? What have you helped people with in the past?
Now, if you’re writing a self-help book that will be read by adults, you can just start typing away. However, a children’s book has to be short, fun, and have some sort of story and structure, but that’s a whole new topic for later!
Example time! For me, I know art, crafts, momming, and teaching. People come to me for advice on crafting, and now, books.
Try to think back to those times when you were a kid. Kids do strange things, but it’s perfectly normal to them.
How did you act in certain situations?
What was your favorite thing to do?
What was the most important thing in the world to you as a child?
Was there something that happened that was hard to deal with?
What was your favorite animal, toy, book?
I can fondly remember some times during my childhood that could make a great story.
Remember, you are ultimately writing this book for a child, so no matter WHAT you choose to write about, you MUST THINK LIKE A CHILD.
Now, it's semi-true that any good story you write will be read. However, sometimes, to get your book some traction, and ultimately, sales, you want to avoid writing in oversaturated markets. What is an oversaturated market? Well, I'm glad you asked. In children's books, it's a topic that has more books than readers. Go look up Picture Books about Covid on Amazon. I'm sure you will find a ton. And are they relevant? Maybe now, but soon they will be out of date. Not to mention that most people are ready to forget about this terrible pandemic.
So what do you do?
Look for holes in the market. For instance, I was about to start a color unit with a very special group of kiddos. These kids need simple, and they need repetition. I wanted to find a set of books about colors that could help them learn each individually. So I looked, and all I could find were a few random books about different colors, or books about ALL the colors. I had, without even trying, found a hole in the market! But please don’t steal my hole, these books are a work in progress!
ALERT! ALERT! IMPORTANT INFORMATION!
This information is GOLDEN and took me forever to find on my own.
Sometimes, you need to do some research to find those market holes. To do this, jump on Amazon in incognito mode (it’s a real thing, I just learned about it too!) Make sure you’re using an actual computer because it’s much easier to find what you’re looking for. Then, click on books. Next, start typing in keywords. Whatever people are searching for will auto populate in the search bar. Search different words that have to do with your knowledge, skill, or book idea and see how many books are available in that niche. (The amount of books will show up in a bar on the top left). If there are tens of thousands, it might be oversaturated and you could have difficulty selling your book. But if the amount of books for that search are limited, and it's one of the top on the auto populate list, you may have stumbled on a hidden gold mine! You can do this with other book retailers as well, but by far, Amazon is the largest book retailer out there.
You can also check to see how well a book is selling. To do this, click on the book. Scroll down a bit until you see the book stats. This should tell you its amazon rating. Make sure you get the main Amazon rating and not one of the categories. Then head over to kindlepreneur and check the Amazon sales rank calculator. It will tell you about how many books that person is selling per day! Truth: I was amazed that a book ranked in the ten thousands could be selling 9-10 copies a day.
All of this information and research is daunting, I know, but ultimately, it will help you make sure the book you really want to make will sell, if that is your objective.
Bottom line, find something you know and know well, and see if you can fill a void with that knowledge.
In our next post we will get into the WHO of kidlit. See ya next time!