| About Aaron’s Kidwriting Books | | Aaron’s Kidwriting Page | | Aaron’s Home Page |
| Search | | New | | Contact |

Aaron’s Kidwriting Book!

The Business of Writing for Children

An Author’s Inside Tips on Writing Children’s Books and Publishing Them


How to Write, Publish, and Promote a Book for Kids

Book cover graphic

By Aaron Shepard

Library Journal On‑Demand Best Sellers, Feb.–May 2001

Writing books for children is both art and business. If you dream of becoming a children’s author—or even if you’re well on your way—this handbook can help you in writing sellable stories, getting them published, and promoting your books.

Topics include common myths about children’s writing, children’s book categories, elements of successful stories, manuscript format, submission strategies, contract negotiation, the publishing process, and career building. Also included are specialized subjects such as querying for multiple manuscripts, promoting a first book, and self publishing.

Read The Business of Writing for Children to learn the secrets you might spend years discovering for yourself.

Aaron Shepard is the author of The Legend of Lightning Larry, The Baker’s Dozen, and sixteen more picture books and early readers, along with several chapter books for middle grades, extensive resources for storytelling and reader’s theater, and a graphic novel. His publishers have included Atheneum, Scribners, Clarion, Lothrop, Dial, and HarperCollins, as well as Cricket and Australia’s School Magazine. Aaron’s work has been honored by the American Library Association, the National Council for the Social Studies, the American Folklore Society, The New York Public Library, and the Bank Street College of Education. He has been a judge for the Golden Kite Awards of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Shepard Publications
Paperback ~ 2000/2013
Ebook ~ 2013

The following links may earn commissions for this site.

Book cover

Reviews and Comments

“BRAVO! I thought it had pretty much all been said, but I was wrong. All the nuts and bolts are here as well as rules that bear repeating, PLUS insights not usually found in how‑to books. Clearly and concisely written, this is an invaluable resource for both beginning and more accomplished writers.”—Susan Pearson, Editor-in-Chief, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books

“Aaron Shepard has written one of the most comprehensive guides available to anyone wishing to enter the competitive field of children’s books. It’s all here, from initial idea to successful sale, and then beyond to the essentials of contracts, promotion, and the ABCs of building a successful career. If you’re starting out, start out here.”—Stephen Mooser, children’s author

“Here’s clearly written, no‑nonsense help for children’s writers by a craftsman. Every fledgling author should own this book.”—Stephen Fraser, Executive Editor, Aladdin Paperbacks

“The best practical guide for anyone wanting to get books for children published.”—Julie Cummins, former Coordinator of Children’s Services, The New York Public Library

“Aaron Shepard’s The Business of Writing for Children is a wonderful resource. His experience-based insights into the art and business of children’s writing will save beginning writers years of wasted effort—and help published writers achieve long‑term success.”—Kathleen Duey, children’s author

The Business of Writing for Children is a one‑stop shopping center, a complete how‑to-do‑it guide for the writer who wants a jump-start on looking professional even though he/she may be turning out a first book. Editors will love you if you do it Shepard’s way.”—Audrey Baird, Editor, Once Upon A Time

“A clear, concise, straight-ahead starting place for a new writer or a newly published writer. Shepard knows his stuff!”—Jane Yolen, children’s author and editor

“I carry around a file folder of materials which I share with unpublished writers and illustrators. This book is so comprehensive, I plan to replace my file folder with it. Whether you are a novice or a professional, The Business of Writing for Children needs to be in your library. DON’T write a book without it!”—Leslie Tryon, children’s author/illustrator

The Business of Writing for Children is a clear, concise guide to the often misunderstood field of children’s books. No matter what your level of experience—from beginner to veteran—there is much to learn from Aaron Shepard’s nuts-and-bolts approach to surviving the bunny-eat-bunny world of writing for children. Read it and learn!”—Larry Dane Brimner, children’s author

“Writers attempting to break into the children’s book market will thank Aaron Shepard for graciously sharing his own hard-earned knowledge. I am adding this to my list of must-reads for newcomers to the field.”—Margaret Read MacDonald, author and librarian

“Aaron’s book is worth the price just for the wealth of inside information found in the introduction. For the beginner who wants an in‑depth overview of the field, or a pro who needs a shot in the arm, this is an excellent choice.”—Dian Curtis Regan, children’s author

“Finally, a thorough, concise overview of the business end of writing for the children’s market. This book is a wonderful gift to the budding authors of the world. Aaron has combined great talents for writing and storytelling with smart and informed business practices to create a great career. Now he shares what he has learned, to help others do the same.”—Kip Nead, co‑owner, Seeds of Change Children’s Bookstore

“For aspiring writers of picture book fiction and folktales, this is a great introduction to the complicated world of children’s book publishing.”—Harold Underdown, Senior Editor, Charlesbridge Publishing, and Webmaster, The Purple Crayon

The Business of Writing for Children is a clear, concise, resourceful, often eye-opening guide that is filled with solid advice to help aspiring writers sell their manuscripts and to help published authors boost sales. I learned a good deal from this handy resource. I am sure anyone who is serious about the business of writing for children will profit from it.”—Robert D. San Souci, children’s author

“Written by an experienced picture book author, this guide covers all the basics of writing for children in a realistic, practical manner. The fun—as well as the work—of writing, selling, and marketing books for young readers is evident in every step of Shepard’s approach.”—Judith O’Malley, Editor, Book Links

The Business of Writing for Children is a tool every writer needs.”—Carol Farley, children’s author

“This is a book that I would like to gently place into the hands of every aspiring children’s book writer. It answers the questions they most often ask, and the questions they really ought to ask. It is realistic without being discouraging, and practical without being cynical.”—David K. Brown, librarian and Webmaster, Children’s Literature Web Guide

“There is a great deal of good information in these pages. A valuable resource!”—Barbara Kouts, agent

“This is a generous book—not so much a primer for the would‑be writer as an attempt to pass on everything Aaron has learned about writing for children. Full of useful information and tips, it’s also a personal and personable account of the joys of scholarship, the fostering of genuine relationships with people like me (editors, publishers, publicists), the love of story.”—Jonathan Shaw, Editor, School Magazine (Australia)

The Business of Writing for Children provides both helpful advice and welcome reassurance to authors trying to navigate the complexities of the children’s book industry. It is the next best thing to having an experienced author friend in the business.”—Susan Salzman Raab, author, An Author’s Guide to Children’s Book Promotion, and children’s book publicist, Raab Associates

“It should come as no surprise that the author of Savitri, Master Maid, and more than a dozen other first‑rate books for children should be able to describe clearly what is involved in writing a children’s book. Here it is, all laid out, everything you need to know—all handy and clear.”—Katy Rydell, Stories

“A treasure.”—Jan Lieberman, TNT: Tips & Titles of Books, Spring 2000

“Sage advice and practical pointers. . . . Aaron Shepard bundles his years of experience and presents invaluable information. There’s a lack of fluff and pomp, and a bare-bones approach to giving the reader what really matters: information you can apply almost immediately! Don’t let the slimness of this book fool you. Compared to many writing resource books, Shepard’s is direct and delivers nothing but meat and potatoes. Planning on writing for children? You need this book—today!”—Bev Walton-Porter, Inkspot, May 25, 2000, five‑star review (top rating)

“Shepard does an admirable job of covering the basics clearly and concisely. The opening section is a must-read for anyone contemplating jumping into the world of writing for children. . . . This is a useful book, especially for beginners, and its cheery tone, sound advice, and clear style make it a good addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in writing for children.”—Tracy Barrett, BorderLines (MidSouth SCBWI newsletter), Winter 2000–2001

“A very good book that offers some different examples and information.”—Freelance Writer’s Report, Feb. 2001

“Aaron Shepard brings to bear his considerable expertise in providing the aspiring children’s author a wealth of tips on how to write, sell, and promote their books. . . . A superbly presented, highly recommended introduction.”—Midwest Book Review’s The Bookwatch and Internet Bookwatch, Mar. 2001

“Exceptionally useful, reader-friendly—lots of great tips.”—Maggie Frisch, editor, Working Writer

The Business of Writing for Children outlines the basics in a clear, concise, memorable and easily reference‑able way. As such, it’s a necessary tool in achieving success. . . . If you’re an aspiring and/or struggling children’s writer, then you should pick up this book. With The Business of Writing for Children, Shepard has gotten the business down to an understandable science.”—Lynne Remick, Author Showcase (www.authorshowcase.com)

“Shepard speaks with the authority of one who has seen nearly twenty books published.”—Penny Peck, BayNews (newsletter of the S.F. Bay Area’s Association of Children’s Librarians), Feb. 2001

“Looks like we all need a copy of Aaron’s book.”—Jennifer Stewart, The Write Way, June 11, 2004



Dangerous Myths and Terrible Truths

PART 1—The Basics

Writing Your Story

WriterSpeak #1: Book Categories

Submitting Your Manuscript

WriterSpeak #2: Book Publishers

Negotiating Your Contract

The Publishing Process

WriterSpeak #3: Booksellers

Building Your Career

Self Publishing

PART 2—The Inside Story

Script Your Story!

Words That Make Pictures

Rhythm and the Readaloud

Researching the Folktale

In Praise of Post‑its

The Picture Book Query

10 Ways to Promote a First Book

Promo Pages for the Children’s Author

Info For Author Days

Sample Text

Getting Started

Let me begin with a word of caution. If you’re thinking of taking up children’s writing as a lark or as an easy way to make money, my advice is: Forget it.

True, there are always those beginning writers who will whip out a children’s story, sell it to a publisher on the first try, and wind up with a successful book. But for most of us, entering the profession takes years of practice, self-education, and not a little frustration. And there’s more of that after we’re published.

But if you’re serious about writing for children, this book should significantly speed and simplify your professional development. Though not at all meant to be comprehensive, it lays out the basics, points you toward additional resources, and most importantly, provides tips and strategies not commonly found elsewhere. Along with that, it offers detailed looks at some of my own specialties and points out changes due to new technologies.

The material comes from several sources. Most of the
Introduction and Part 1 is based on handouts created for my former classes and workshops on writing for children. Part 2 consists of articles first written for the SCBWI Bulletin and Once Upon A Time. All materials were updated as needed for this book.

Reflecting my own expertise, the focus here is on writing picture book stories and selling them to major publishers. Much of the information, though, will apply to other areas of children’s writing as well.

I hope this guide will help in your professional and/or personal growth. Good luck, and don’t forget to have fun!

| About Aaron’s Kidwriting Books | | Aaron’s Kidwriting Page | | Aaron’s Home Page |
| Search | | New | | Contact |