OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
This podcast is for people writing for children of all ages. I get so many questions in this area but I know little about it myself so here is a great interview to tell you lots of detail.
Fiona Ingram is the author of award-winning children's book ‘The Secret of the Sacred Scarab‘ in the Chronicles of the Stone series. Fiona is a journalist and lives in South Africa. She is also a very entertaining and enthusiastic podcast guest!
In this podcast, you will learn:
- How Fiona progressed from making up stories as a child, to drama, mime and performance in grassroots theatre, through to journalism and finally to writing books for children.
- Her children's books are based originally on a trip she went on to Egypt with 10 and 12 year old nephews. She then wanted to write down their story and this became the backbone of the Chronicles of the Stone.
- Children are really capable of digging into a fat book, if they are engaged. Just look at Harry Potter.
- Fiona's tips for writing for children: Capture their imagination. Books can fascinate and grip children, but it should be what they want to read. Don't talk down to them. Focus on telling the story.
- The ultimate site for children's writing: The Purple Crayon. Immerse yourself in the world of children's literature. Research your project and check out the competition. Great advice on this site. Highly recommended. JK Rowling is not the only author out there. Ask a child what they are reading for fun (not just reading at school).
- Your audience is very important. Think about age group and genre. Place yourself in the industry ‘timeline'. Children/middle grade/ YA. Ask librarians, teachers and bookstore people if you don't want to ask kids. Think about perennial favorites and also popular books right now in the industry. What do they have that resonate?
- Keep in touch with the industry through newsletters and ezines. Check out Book2Book for starters and branch out from there.
- Kids books also sell by word of mouth. Parents have the money, but they buy based on the children's desire.
- Fiona gives the example of speaking at a school, using her own book with bookmarks and games. Creating desire for the book in the kids led to the books being bought. Speaking in schools is basically marketing direct to kids.
- Marketing to parents' can be done through bloggers, many of whom are parents themselves. Get reviews on the book review blogs. Before you even start, get your author platform going so you look like an authority. You have to package yourself and your book professionally before people will be interested. So build your author platform , then build relationships with book review bloggers.
- Try searching e.g. “Childrens books + travel”, or whatever your genre is. Go through Google and surf and you will find the right people. Great resources: The Children's Literature web guide, Childrens Book Biz News plus The Purple Crayon, Children's writers and illustrators market, Society of Children's Book writers and editors.
- Blog tours are fantastic to promote your book. Women on Writing helped. Here is the list of blogs that Fiona visited. Enter competitions as well. Any kind of press helps. You have to get out there. Recommends Penny Sansevieri, Author Marketing Experts – marketing creates exposure, and exposure sells books.
- On illustrators. Decide what you want and find examples of what you like. You need to have a starting place, not a blank page.