I Have an Idea for a Book. What Do I Do?
Somewhere, right now as you are reading this, someone is having a burst of inspiration that could become a great book for kids—or maybe even a series of books.
But sadly, most of them will never be written.
Not you, though. You may have never written a book, or even thought about writing a book before now, and yet here you are. Right now, all you may have is just an idea. That’s okay! Here are some next steps for you and your new book idea.
Write it down.
So obvious, you say. So simple. Of course you won’t forget your book idea!
Except, how many times have you had a thought while doing dishes or taking a walk or in the shower that you were convinced you would remember? And how many times did you end up scratching your head and saying to yourself, “It was such a good idea too. I just can’t quite remember what it was.”?
Yeah. Write it down.
(And then maybe put it somewhere where you can easily find it and not lose the outline of your book for nine months. Ahem. Not that that happened to me or anything. *cough*)
Decide who you’re writing for.
Children’s book, kids’ book, kidlit—they’re all very broad terms.
You wouldn’t give your typical three-year-old and twelve-year-old the same book to read, would you? Of course not! You need to narrow down who your audience is. Is your reader five and just starting school? In late elementary or middle school? Do you intend for someone to read this book to your reader, or can they read it all by themselves?
Once you know your audience, make your final* decision. Are you writing a picture book, chapter book, or middle grade or young adult novel?
(*Your final decision might not be your final decision. Say what? Here’s what I mean. You might decide right now that your story is a picture book . . . only to write it, revise it, and then have it critiqued and hear from others that it might be better as a chapter book. But for now, make a decision and get started. You can always revise it later if you need to.)
Read books in the category you plan to write in.
Now that you’ve decided if your book is a picture book, chapter book, or middle grade or young adult novel, it’s time to start reading in that category. Read lots of books in your category—and not just books you remember reading when you were a kid. You can reread those if you want, but focus on books that were published in the last two years, five years max. That’s going to help you as you think about how you want your book to be.
And no, you don’t have to buy all of the books you read. (Although the authors of those books would appreciate it!) You can check out books from the library (even picture books have ebooks these days), take advantage of free or 99-cent promotions online, and find books on Kindle Unlimited if you’re already a subscriber.
If you are buying physical books, consider purchasing them from your local indie bookstore.
Keep thinking about your book/series.
Give yourself time each day to daydream and think about your characters, plot, setting, etc. Take notes (but don’t lose them!), and if you have an idea for a line or two of dialogue, write those down too.
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is the professional organization for kidlit authors, including pre-published authors like you. Find out more about SCBWI and why I think you should join here.
There is a wealth of information out there for kidlit authors. A suggestion—when you join online groups, take a few days to get the lay of the land. Lurk (aka read without commenting) to see what others are talking about. Use the search feature to research any questions you have. Then you can start posting and commenting and building your network.
It’s easy to keep thinking and planning and researching . . . and never write your story. *raises hand* There comes a time when you need to spend less time researching and more time writing.