Become a Children's Author: Step-by-Step Career Guide
Learn how to become a children's author. Research the job description and education requirements, and find out how to start a career as a writer for children.
Requirements to Become a Children's Author
Children's authors create picture books and short novels geared towards children. In order to write for children, authors must possess the ability to create unique, age-appropriate stories that are easy to read while still capturing and holding a child's attention.
There are no formal education requirements for a career in this field, though a degree in English or literature may be beneficial. Primarily, an aspiring children's author needs to have the ability to write creative stories and market him or herself to publishing houses. The following table outlines common requirements for children's authors as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
|Degree Level||No degree is required, but a bachelor's or advanced degree can benefit an aspiring author|
|Degree Field||English, literature or a related field|
|Key Skills||Writing skills and creativity are essential; firm grasp of the English language; creativity and social perceptiveness|
|Additional Requirements||Marketing and persuasion skills can help aspiring children's authors when dealing with publishers|
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Aspiring children's authors may enroll in a 4-year bachelor's degree program in English, journalism or communications to advance their writing skills. Although courses may differ, most programs help students sharpen their grammar, editing and critical thinking abilities. Students may also take electives in literature and creative writing; some schools offer undergraduate children's literature courses as well.
- Read children's books. Reading children's books written by other authors may be beneficial in determining market trends. An aspiring writer can learn about what kind of themes, characters and writing styles are currently popular with children and publishers alike.
- Take marketing courses. Marketing electives can help prospective children's authors learn how to effectively promote their work to publishers.
- Submit to children's publications. Submitting short stories or articles to children's magazines or websites can help an aspiring children's author build his or her writing skills and resume while still in school.
Step 2: Gain Writing Experience
Writing is a craft that is practiced and honed over time, and it's important for children's writers to continually write and share their ideas. According to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, networking with other children's authors is a constructive way to stay abreast of current trends in the children's book market. Additionally, networking may help aspiring authors get feedback from other professionals in the field.
- Join a professional organization. A professional organization for children's authors can serve as a valuable resource for aspiring writers. Membership benefits may include networking opportunities, workshops and seminars.
- Attend workshops or advanced classes. Attending workshops or classes targeted toward children's authors can help writers build their skills and learn new ones from professionals in the field.
- Research publishers. Children's authors often specialize in a particular sub-field, like fantasy books for middle-school kids or children's poetry. Find out which publishers may be interested in your type of writing.
Step 3: Complete a Master's Program
While not required, a few schools offer Master of Fine Arts programs in children's literature. In these programs, students take courses in fiction and fantasy writing, non-fiction for children and publishing children's literature. Students also analyze classic children's books, participate in writing exercises and critique each others' work. Most programs culminate in a publishable manuscript.
Step 4: Get Published
Aspiring children's authors usually send their work to publishing houses for consideration; some writers opt for self-publication. Publishing companies may require either a query and a cover letter or a completed manuscript. A well-developed query includes a summary and sample chapters; a cover letter provides information about the writer.
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