Become a Children's Author: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Mar 05, 2020

Learn how to become a children's author. Research the job description and education requirements, and find out how to start a career as a writer for children.

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Career Info

Children's authors create picture books and short novels geared towards kids. In order to write for the young, authors must possess the ability to create unique, age appropriate stories that are easy to read while still capturing and holding a child's attention.

For children's authors, competition for agents and publishers is often intense, and a great deal of persistence may be required for success. There are no formal education requirements for this career, though a degree in English or literature may be beneficial. Primarily, an aspiring children's author needs to have the ability to write creative stories and market him or herself to publishing houses.

Degree Level No degree is required; bachelor's or other advanced degree can be beneficial
Degree Field English, literature or a related field
Key Skills Writing skills and creativity are essential, firm grasp of the English language, social perceptiveness, marketing and persuasive skills help with publishers,
Salary (2108) $62,170 per year (Median salary for all writers and authors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Aspiring children's authors may enroll in a four-year bachelor's degree program in English, journalism, or communications to advance their writing skills. Although courses may differ, most programs help students sharpen their grammar, editing, and critical thinking abilities. Students may also take electives in literature and creative writing. Some schools offer undergraduate children's literature courses.

Reading children's books written by other authors may be beneficial in determining market trends. An aspiring writer can learn about what kind of themes, characters, and writing styles are currently popular with children and publishers. Those in an undergraduate program might take marketing electives to learn how to effectively promote their work to publishers. They might also submit short stories or articles to children's magazines or websites to build their writing skills and resumes while still in school.

Gain Writing Experience

Writing is a craft that is practiced and honed over time, and it's important for children's writers to continually write and share their ideas. According to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, networking with other children's authors is a constructive way to stay abreast of current trends in the children's book market. Additionally, networking provides aspiring authors with feedback from other professionals.

A professional organization for children's authors can serve as a valuable resource for aspiring writers. Membership benefits may include networking opportunities, workshops, and seminars. Attending workshops or classes targeted toward children's authors can assist writers with building their skills and learning new ones from professionals in the field. Aspiring writers should also put time into researching publishers. Children's authors often specialize in a particular genre, like fantasy books for middle-school kids or children's poetry. Authors should find out which publishers may be interested in their type of writing.

Get Graduate Degree

A few schools offer Master of Fine Arts programs in children's literature. In these programs, students take courses in fiction and fantasy writing, nonfiction for children, and publishing children's literature. Students also analyze classic children's books, participate in writing exercises, and critique the work of other writer's. Most programs culminate in a publishable manuscript.

Get Published

Aspiring children's authors usually send their work to publishing houses for consideration, or opt for self-publication. Publishing companies may require either a query and a cover letter, or a completed manuscript. A well-developed query includes a summary and sample chapters. A cover letter states information about the writer.

To recap, there is no one path to becoming a children's author. However, earning an undergraduate degree in writing or English, consistently honing writing skills, networking with other authors, and researching the industry could help set aspiring authors on their way.

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