'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 21 May 2009

Writing and Publishing Your Own Book

During a recent reading of Riley and the Sleeping Dragon at Mawson Primary School in Canberra, I was thrilled when teacher's aide Dorothy approached me about teaching her kids more about the book writing process.

Explaining the ins and outs of writing and publishing your own book to an 11 year old is kind of huge, so I sent her a list of ideas that she could use to help the kids better understand the whole book completion process.

I'm hoping this simple list can also be shared with your own children/students, or even learned from in your personal quest to become a published children's writer. Enjoy. And if you have any questions, please ask!


Story Ideas

  • Something that has happened to you
  • An interest – a hobby, a sport or an interest you enjoy
  • Something you want to do one day or someone you want to be
  • Something a little crazy or imaginative
  • It helps to have a theme – adventure, mystery, scary, romantic, funny
  • Think of the characters first then the storyline will follow
  • Look and listen – sometimes stories are right in front of you
  • Brainstorm in a group – have everyone start talking about storyline ideas
  • Read books!

Planning Your Story

Set the scene
Choose the characters
Introduce the storyline
Tempt the reader

Keep the story moving
Bring up a problem to be solved
Create conflict
Bring the story to a climax
Make hints about the ending

Wind the story up
Solve the problem
Make it a surprise!
Have a message

Creating the Book

  • Source an illustrator
  • Design and typeset the book’s pages
  • Find a printer
  • Calculate costs
  • Does your book have a market? which market? who is it aimed at? research this!
  • Have a focus group reading to garner children's interest
  • Have someone you trust edit and look over your work; be open to criticism
  • Purchase ISBN(s) – this is done through Thorpe Bowker in Australia
  • Purchase a barcode (can source through Thorpe Bowker)
  • List your book with Global Books In Print and other online book agencies/databases
  • Register your book for Educational Lending Rights (ELR) and Public Lending Rights payments – these are annual funds you receive for having books in librarys and schools
  • Contact your national library about Cataloguing-in-Publication (CIP) data needed to publish the book – you will be given a dewey number
  • Send a copy of your printed book to your national library and it’s then “published”!

Promotion and Marketing

Writing and printing your book is only the beginning… marketing, sales and distribution is where the hard work really begins.

  • Advertising – contact magazines, newspapers and post about it on the internet; creating your own blog is a great idea
  • Events – launches, readings, markets, book signings in stores
  • Schools – book weeks, book fairs and book readings
  • Stores – selling in bookstores, online
  • Distribution companies
  • Literary festivals and writer’s weeks
  • Giveaways to magazines and online sites, book clubs, literary websites
  • Networking with other writers, illustrators, children's magazines, websites, and companies
  • Join writer's societies and the Children's Book Council of Australia