Monday, January 10, 2011


By author Mayra Calvani

You don’t have to have kids to become a children’s author, though that’s the way it happens with many writers. However, you must have an affinity with kids and be able to go to their level and understand their fears and motivations. For those of you interested, here are some writing tips.

First of all, study the craft. Just being a mom or a grandma doesn’t qualify you to be a children’s writer. There are two books I’d strongly recommend: WRITING PICTURE BOOKS, by Ann Whitford Paul, and PICTURE WRITING, by Anastasia Suen. Keep them on your desk and analyze them regularly.

Another thing you can do, if you’re not familiar with the genre, is take a class or an online workshop. A good one is: Or you could enroll at an online school such as the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Then, you have to read and write regularly. Make a plan and stick to it. Writing once in a while won’t do it. You need to keep improving your craft and the only way to do that is with practice.

Join a critique group that specializes in children’s writing. We writers are our own worst critics, so we need that pair of objective eyes.

When your story is the best it can possibly be, start submitting it. Get a copy of BOOK MARKETS FOR CHILDREN’S WRITERS and make a submission schedule. Submitting only once a month is a drop in the bucket. I’d recommend submitting several times a month. I usually submit in batches of 10 or 20 at a time.

If you’re serious about becoming a children’s writer, join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators at You can also join a yahoo group called Childrens-Writers. You can interact with other children’s writers, share information and resources, and ask questions about the industry and all aspects of writing for children.

RE AGENTS: Children’s authors don’t need an agent to get published. There are plenty of mid-size and small presses that consider unagented authors. However, if you want to be considered by the large New York publishers, you need an agent because most editors from big houses won’t even consider queries unless they come from an agent. So it really depends on what your goals are. If you have big goals, then you should search for an agent first.♥

Mayra Calvani is a wife and mother of an 8-year old author. She is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction for children and adults, who just signed on with Mansion Street Literary Management. Mayra is also a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books and co-editor of Voice in the Dark ezine. She’s had over 300 reviews, interviews, stories, and articles published in print and online. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Children's Writer's Coaching Club.

Visit Mayra’s website at

Visit her blog at

For a full length interview with Mayra, visit The Latina Book Club.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the insights and advice, Mayra. How has your part of the industry fared in today's market? How have eBooks affected children's books writers and illustrators?