A guide to writing and illustrating for children

Does every lover of reading also love writing? I don’t know about you, but I have always wanted to be a writer. As a kid, I would staple a few pieces of A4 paper together, come up with a title, illustrate the cover, write a blurb and review (one celebrity or another always thought my work was “the best ever”) on the back, and leave the inside pages blank.

In my teens, I wrote experimental poetry and novels about love and death. I even got paid to illustrate a book written for Korean children learning English. Now, I still love words, still occasionally jot down an idea for a novel or picture book, still dream of being known as THE literary talent of our time … but that’s as far as it goes.

For those of you who are smart enough to know that in order to get published you must actually write something, the library can help you become the next Margaret Mahy or Gavin Bishop.

Top tips from those in the business

  • Do your research – get to know your audience and the works of other successful authors writing similar material;
  • Be original, use humour, and stay clued up on what’s current;
  • Keep your writing simple but effective;
  • Respect your readers;
  • Prepare to rewrite, revise and edit again … and again … and again;
  • Make sure your manuscript is well-presented;
  • Remember to include your name and address, cover letter and relevant CV, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope (ouch, the publishing industry can be cruel).

Writing and Illustrating for Children was originally prepared by Bill Nagelkerke and is now freely avaialable online from your library.