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Your New Year's resolution: Write that children's book!

Have you toyed with the idea of writing a children’s book? Perhaps you’ve read so many to your children that you’re sure it would be easy to write your own. Will 2010 be the year that you write it all down? Before you get started, here are a few things to consider, but don't get discouraged--you can do it!

There are many other people trying to get their children’s book published. When you send your manuscript to a publisher, you are only one out of the multitudes of submissions they receive every day. The collection of unsolicited submissions is referred to as the “slush pile,” and these manuscripts are usually read by interns. Most submissions, however, don’t make it out of the slush pile. If you want your manuscript to make it out of that slush pile, educate yourself about children's book publishing. You can start with our children's writers resources.

Writing a great book is a lot harder than it looks. Of course you want the reader to keep turning the pages, and you want the words and subject of your book to be appropriate and interesting to your intended audience. In addition, with children’s books, you need to consider the reading level of your audience.

Now here is some good news: You don’t need to find your own illustrator. The illustrations can seem like a stumbling block to many aspiring picture book writers, because it is a common misconception is that they need to find an illustrator. Your publisher will have an art director who prefers to do this themselves. So don’t look for an illustrator, unless you want to self-publish.

When you’ve finally completed your manuscript, where should you send it? There are a lot of children’s book publishers out there. Some of them don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts at all. Some accept manuscripts only through email, while others refuse email submissions. Still others only accept manuscripts during certain months of the year. Just as important, which publisher is more likely to appreciate your story? The only answer to this is research, so check out the resource list.

Quite honestly, you may have many more questions than answers once you start writing your book. (This may be why you haven’t written it yet.) The best first step would be to join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. They have resources for their members that will get you started, and they have a discussion board where you can ask questions of other, more experienced, members as you progress through your journey as a budding author. Don't stop there, however, because there are some other great websites, social networks, and books that are ready to help you complete your manuscript and get it into the hands of the right publisher.

2010 is the year to get it done!