The Everything Guide to Writing Children's Books: How to write, publish, and promote books for children of all ages! (Everything®)
The first edition of The Everything Guide to Writing Children’s Books was published in 2002. Luke Wallin and Eva Sage Gordon’s 2011 second addition is part children’s book history and resources, part writing encouragement, and part basics of writing craft. While intermediate and advanced writers may not find much new, for beginning writers the parts add up to a down-to-earth overview and useful how-to.
There are many good books on children’s writing available. In fact, the Further Reading section in the Everything Guide lists a number of them. So why pick this book over the others?
If you are familiar with the Everything Guide series, you’ll recognize the knowing and accessible tone and format. The basics are well covered. Beginners will find in one accessible book what it can take years to learn through research, conference attendance, networking, trial and error.
It’s the kind of book you can read first page to last or skip around to pick up tidbits and tips. Finding the useful nuggets is aided by boxed highlights identified as either 1) question—answers to common questions, 2) fact— important snippets of information, 3) alert—urgent warnings or 4) essential —quick handy tips. You might think of the highlights like Cliff Notes. Be forewarned that if you do read front to back, they are often redundant, summarizing longer text that immediately precedes them.
Mr. Wallin and Ms. Gordon’s explanations of the different categories of children’s books are clear and informative. Especially useful is that for each category they recommend examples of published works for reference. Many of the listed titles were published 30 to 40 years ago and are still favorites. The drawback is they don’t show the reader what editors and publishers are looking for now.
The book contains myriad topics. Some, like self-discipline, finding a writing space, cultivating ideas, being open to feedback, and revising will benefit any beginning writer—and not just those writing for children.
The same is true for the concise overviews of the editorial and book production process, the writer’s rights, and marketing and publicity. There are also many resources specific to children’s writing such as grants and awards, professional associations, and children’s book publishers’ contact information.
Details about e-resources and the evolving and dynamic e-publishing options could be more robust, and the query section could be beefed up with sample letters.
Overall this guide offers a lot of good advice in an accessible manner. It will help the beginner figure out if he or she has what it takes and simplify the abundance of information that can be hard to find and often daunting.