By Jo Johnstone ( JustFamilyFun.com Writer ) I Want To Write A Children’s Book Where Do I Start
I’ve been writing since I was little. In fact, as a child, the only thing I loved more than reading stories was making up new ones (well that and ponies), but like many children, as I grew up, I used my imagination less and less. The last time I wrote a story was as university, after I graduated, I got a job and carried on with my life, that was it, I read, but I didn’t really write, except when I was on holiday when I’d keep a travel journal. That all changed when I had my first daughter.
As I sat at home on maternity leave, I found my sleep deprived self, reading stories from my childhood to her. I found old copies of Meg and Mog and Funnybones in the attic and had great time reading them and remembering being little reading them myself. It rekindled something and I decided to write her a story, something just for her. So, I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote her a cute little story about Squirly the Squirrel, the little squirrel shaped nightlight I had bought her. I am very lucky that my father working in advertising and has always loved to draw cartoons in his spare time and so he agreed to illustrate the story for her.
Soon enough we had a completed picture book and that was when a lovely friend of mine, Harper Fox, told me all about self-publishing. She isn’t a children’s writer, but the principles were the same and so I set myself up an Amazon KDP (Kindle direct publishing) account and self-published Squirly. I didn’t think much about it really, other than it let me get a very nice, professionally produced copy of my work. I Want To Write A Children’s Book Where Do I Start.
Again, life continued and I wrote nothing else until I found I was pregnant again. I couldn’t very well have written a story for one of my girls and not the other, so once again I grabbed my trusty pen. This time I had read a lot more children’s stories and had a lot more experience with children too! My eldest daughter was now obsessed with dinosaurs and had decided she didn’t like eating anything except cheese. These two things were in the front of my mind as I sat down and I very quickly came up with There’s a Dinosaur in my Soup. The story of a little girl who uses dinosaurs as an excuse to not eat her dinners, at least until the dino’s pinch her pudding!
Once again Dad was drafted in to illustrate it and once again I self-published, but this time I advertised it a bit, through facebook and friends and it started to sell, just a little, but it made me happy to think that other children were enjoying the story. I had no plans to write anymore at that point, but then something happened that has affected us all. Covid 19 reared its head, yes it was 2020.
With the girls a little older (eldest was ready for school) I had begun looking for a job, but was soon faced with the realisation that it was going to be easier said than done to re-join the workforce. I was applying for jobs when lockdown hit and I knew at that point there was no way I was going to be able to find work. Schools and nurseries were closed so childcare was going to be impossible even if, by some miracle in a time when people were being furloughed, I could find work. Moreover, the types of jobs I had been applying for were in industries which were being badly hit.
One evening as I played around on the internet, I stumbled upon a website which advertised writing jobs that could be done from home and decided to pitch for a job I saw. It was writing an article for Just Family Fun, the site you’re reading right now. Gavin gave me a shot and I wrote a couple of short articles for him, it was great. The kids helped me with ‘research’ and wrote up the text after bedtime. It gave me the confidence to pitch for other jobs and to write my third book, a sequel to Dino in my Soup, T-rex Ate my Toothbrush, based on my eldest’s vain efforts to stave off bedtime.
Now here’s the thing, a lot of people reading this will have a kid’s story in their head. Maybe they’ve been thinking about it for ages, or maybe they just think their pet dog would make a great kid’s book character, it doesn’t matter, it’s there and maybe it’s time to do something about it. I have to say, there is no better time than lockdown to take a chance and write it. So, you may not end up with an agent and copies in a bookstore, but Amazon will help publish your story your own way. In fact, you’ll find self-publishing with them to be incredibly easy, the biggest problem is advertising and letting folks know you and your story exist, but if your prepared to work at it, you can get sales.
If you don’t have an idea, but still like writing, just look around you, inspiration is everywhere and it may surprise you. My latest book is based around my eldest daughter’s soft toy dog, Shaefer. You see she is always asking me to tell her what Shaefer has been up to today and his antics were getting wilder and cheekier by the day as I strived to come up with new tales for her and then I realised he’d be the perfect protagonist. The rest is history.
So, several months later here I am. I’m still working as a freelancer, pitching for work and getting enough in for me to decide to make it my job. I have three picture books online with Amazon and, if the editing fates are kind, a short children’s novel based on Shaefer will soon join them, I really need to get it finished since it’s a Christmas tale. I’m happy, I can set my own hours so I can do the school run and still earn a little money too! And what would I say to anyone out there thinking they’d like to write, go for it, give it a shot, what do you have to lose?
If you are interested in any of my books, or learning
more please visit the links below, Jo xx
T-rex ate my Toothbrush link https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08BCRLPGP/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0