A quick post before starting my working day in Real Life:

In Chapter 3 in Writing Bestselling Children’s Books Gordy highlights the necessity of knowing the age-group you are writing for.  These can be broken down into:

  • Picture Books
  • Beginners Readers
  • Young Fiction
  • Older and Teen / YA Fiction

Best way to figure out what age group you are writing for, is to visit your local bookshop that has a decent amount of kids’ books on display or a large library with the same.  Where does your story fit into?  Find books on the shelves that are similar in type to what you have in mind – check them out.  Maybe, if you have the chance, speak to kids (if they can speak) and ask them what they like about these books that they read.  Importantly, check with librarians too – these gatekeepers are an untapped source of amazing knowledge.  I just laughed re-reading this, thinking how wrong this advice can go – encouraging people to stalk others in bookshops and libraries – hopefully this will never backfire on me! Just be sensible, okay?

Also, reading these books are very important for many reasons, chief amongst them is to educate yourself as to what is out there at the moment.  But don’t just read for your age group you are interested in, read wider than that.  Read both older and younger – know what they’ve read when they were younger, build on that or read what they will be reading once they are older.  Look at themes and overall stories.   Also, never use the excuse of “I don’t want to read books that are the same as mine, as I don’t want to be influenced.”  It’s a fair enough excuse, but one with giant holes in it.  How else will you be able to produce something that is unique and different if – yet again – you don’t know what has gone before? Knowing the market is very important – not just to spot gaps or to see what sells, but to educate yourself to see what works, what you like and it helps stimulate further ideas.

If you know your age group you are aiming for, things fall in place:

  • length of book
  • content
  • themes
  • characters
  • difficulty of plot  

All of the above will no doubt be dealt with in other chapters of Writing Bestselling Children’s Books!  But for now, I’m off to start my day.