What’s Here: Scroll for Big-Picture Insights
Thinking about writing for children and/or teenagers? Here are the easy answers:
- Yes, it’s as hard as writing for adults.
- No, you probably won’t make a lot of money, even if you do sell a book.
- No, selling a first book is no guarantee of a second just like selling a second is no guarantee of selling a third and so on.
- No, I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
Still with me?
Good. Now, we can talk.
First off, if you’re a teacher or parent or the coach of the local girls’ soccer team, that’s great. But if you’re the only kid you’ve ever really understood, that’s okay too. You need to be an expert on only one child to write for children and on only one teenager to write for teenagers. That child, that teenager, is the person sitting right where you are reading this message right now.
There are all kinds of sources on the nuts-and-bolts of children’s writing and publishing (and you can learn about them on this site), but this is my big-picture take:
Writing for Children and Teenagers
- Reading counts as writing time. The more you do, the more you’ll have to draw on in your own writing. Study and reflect on the books you read, and try to articulate what does and doesn’t work for you and why. You’ll learn a lot that way.
- The children’s and YA literature community includes a lot of wonderful individuals, organizations and programs that can offer you support. You’ll find information on much of that on this website.
- Tell the stories that ignite passion within you, those that only you can tell in a way that only you can tell them. But if you also have to write projects mostly to make rent and feed yourself, that’s totally okay. A lot of us do that. Just remember that the audience is young readers, and they always deserve good work.
- Believe. Believe even if your spouse or your day-job colleagues or that annoying neighbor minimizes your dream or the importance of children’s and YA literature. Summon up the strength to continue at least long enough to reach out to the writing community for a sympathetic ear and a pep talk.
This isn’t an easy thing to do, writing for young people. Set your standards high. Strive.
Community, faith, and writing are all precious.
So are young readers. Remember, we work for them.