Writing & Publishing
So you want to write for children? Gary Bower offers 10 suggestions...
I'm no expert on writing, but I have published a few things myself, and some with conventional publishers. I write these suggestions based on that experience, and I hope they are helpful.
Suggestion #1: Have something worth saying. A story is a powerful tool for planting something good in a fertile mind. I recommend that you write with purpose. Entertainment is great, but a great story has such potential to do so much more than merely entertain. A well-written book or article can open a mind, influence a life, and help change the world. The best writings that have passed the test of time have met — and continue to meet — real issues that people face every day. Write with a goal of helping someone discover something wonderful...to have an "aha" moment. Write from your heart. I know that conventional wisdom says to find out what's trending and follow the current, but I think there really is something to be said for the road less traveled. Have you ever noticed how few picture book themes are out there? Publishers run a business, and if they think that another book about Noah's ark or "my love is fluffier" is where the money is, they'll head that direction. But consider this: parents and grandparents can only buy what's available. Maybe parents and kids want — even need — a broader selection. Some writers make it big on the trendy stuff, but most writers who follow the trendy trail won't find the same success. Don't just parrot the same overworked ideas. Find something meaningful to say, and say it in a fresh way.
Suggestion #2: Find your voice. Not every style of communication will reach every type of audience. Sure, you want to use universally accepted standards of communication, but acquire your own distinct voice. Don't be afraid to say things your own unique way. The segment of society whose minds work the way yours does will appreciate it.
Suggestion #3: Know your audience. Your goal isn't to impress them but to walk (or run) with them through your story. Don't bludgeon them with your vast vocabulary, nor insult them by "dumbing it down." Be deliberate in your word choice and word count. Get inside their heads and hearts. Understand their needs, interests, and emotions. Address their pains and problems, and offer them something relevant and real.
Suggestion #4: Commit to sharpening your skills. There is SO much to learn. Work to develop your craft. Join a writers' group or take writing classes. Study well-written books. Discover the stylistic traits that make readers want to pick up a book...to turn the next page. Strive to make it easier for your readers to feel what you are saying. Pay very little attention to what those who adore you have to say about your book, but very close attention to truly objective critiques. Be teachable. Refuse to settle for mediocrity. Revise until you think your manuscript is nearly perfect. Then step back for a while and give it a rest. The next time you read it leisurely, you'll probably see more room for improvement.
Suggestion #5: Research potential publishers carefully before submitting. Acquisition editors stay current and so should you. Doing your homework will improve your chances. Get your hands on the most current Writer's Market Guide and follow its submission directions carefully.
Suggestion #6: Finish your manuscript and submit it. It's not going to email itself. All 'dream' and no 'do' is a recipe for discouragement. I meet aspiring authors all the time who have worked for years on a manuscript but never found the nerve to submit it. Fear of rejection is a far bigger foe than rejection itself.
Suggestion #7: If (when) you are rejected, refuse to throw in the towel. Recommit your work to your Lord, and get back to work. Seek advice humbly, and diligently make the necessary revisions.
Suggestion #8: If (when) your work is finally accepted, give thanks to God and get back to work. You are now merely at the threshold. The same passion that helped you write your book will be needed to help you market it.
Suggestion #9: Write regularly. An hour a day? An hour a week? Be realistic, but set a schedule and stick to it, whether you feel "inspired" that day or not.
Suggestion #10: Read constantly. When you read other published books (especially in the genre you want to write) you will glean a lot.
Storybook Meadow Publishing produces only in-house publications. We do not accept outside submissions of manuscripts or artwork.
BowerArts / Bower Books & Fine Art is the umbrella name of the business & ministry of Gary & Jan Bower and their family. We are a business in structure, a ministry at heart. BowerArts encompasses everything that is creative about us, including our web presence, publishing enterprises, art studio, and private dance studio. BowerArts also promotes the various creative businesses independently owned and operated by our children.
Bower Family Books is the retail division of Gary & Jan Bower's business by which they sell books to the general public at various shows and other events. (Note: We do not have an actual brick and mortar store that keeps regular hours and is open to the general public. We do, however, welcome people to call ahead and make arrangements for picking up books at our home studios, where we work six days a week. We reserve Sundays for rest, worship, and family time.)
Storybook Meadow Publishing is the name and imprint of Gary & Jan Bower's publishing company by which they write, edit, design, publish. and distribute their own books.
Self-publishing or conventional publishing?
Jan and I have been privileged to work with conventional publishers for 5 of our books. We have self-published over a dozen times. Which way is the better route to go? I'll share my thoughts on this topic soon.