Writing A Children’s Book: Stage One (Planning & Research)

This year I decided to document my process of creating a book, from ideation to publication. So far I have produced two books, Tom and Geraldene (2015) and Peaty the Worm (2016). My approach takes the form of several stages. Writing A Children’s Book: Stage One (Planning & Research) focusses on generating ideas, exploring chosen concepts, gathering inspiration and examining the current market. The purpose is to have a starting point where the story can grow and develop.

Writing A Book is a feature on my blog where I discuss my process of writing, illustrating and self-publishing my own children’s book. The stages follow a personal strategy and should be an ‘inspiration’ rather than a how-to.

Ideation

It all starts with an idea. The basis for the story that will adapt and improve. Some ideas are a few words, while others become whole paragraphs.

Writing A Children's Book: Ideas
Story Ideas

Note: Over the past year I had been formulating a story, which centred around my selected idea. If I didn’t have a concept I was interested in, the number of ideas would be more extensive.


Selected Concept

My selected concept is ‘Jobs that women can do in a wide variety of fields, to inspire young girls to dream of the future.’ I chose this idea because I wanted to create a book that had a positive message. As a woman and person who seeks equality, it felt like the right choice.

My selected idea involves the story of girls pursuing careers in many different fields. The purpose is to show how strong, smart, kind, creative and amazing women are.

Details / Aims / Random Thoughts

  1. Empower young girls to dream of the future and understand they are capable of becoming many things.
  2. Present high diversity with women from all backgrounds and physical appearances.
  3. Each page is showing an adult female in a particular role with a short description of what they are doing (and why).
  4. The book could be in a series which focusses on specific fields (such as; creative, health, education, etc.).

Mind Map

A mind map allowed me to focus on a key topic (girls) and explore associated connections. I created branches on strengths, personality, appearance, aspirations and jobs.

Writing A Book: Stage One (Planning & Research) Mind Map
Mind Map exploring my selected concept

Inspired Words

I find words can be a great inspiration to my creative process. Using the words from the mind map and further additions I created a list of inspired words.

Writing A Book: Stage One (Planning & Research) Inspired Words
Inspired Words

Title Ideas

Choosing a title for a book doesn’t have to happen at the beginning. Sometimes it takes further time and consideration. I decided to generate ideas while I was in the planning stage and refine later.

Writing A Children's Book: Title Ideas
Title Ideas

Inspiration

Visual inspiration can be a compelling source to start formulating ideas and visualising your story. Categories of inspiration included; girls & women, children’s books, illustrations, typography and colour.

Girls & Women

View more Girls & Women inspiration

Children’s Books

View more Children’s Books inspiration

Illustrations

View more Illustrations inspiration in Traditional & Digital

Typography

View more Typography inspiration

Colour

Note: Images/illustrations and similar should never be considered as sources to copy. You can be inspired by art, but should not replicate it (unless given permission).


Current Children’s Books

In my analysis of current children’s books, I looked at 50 books from 5 stores (iBooks paid, iBooks free, Amazon, Google, Booktopia). I examined 10 books from each shop listed in the top 10 or ‘popular’ category. Books varied from eBooks to hard copy and the cover and preview (if available) were observed.

Analysis of current children’s books revealed that 28% focus on education, 40% are targeted towards boys (or have a male as the main character). 46% of books use a traditional hand-drawn style, with 40% using display typography on the cover and a combination of colours. The average price is $7.73, and the average page number is 30.

Note: It is also worthwhile to view as many ebooks and printed books as you can. Visiting a library or bookshop can provide a great insight into current books that are in the market.


Children’s Books With A Similiar Theme

In my analysis of current children’s books with similar themes, I looked at 15 books which had a focus on empowering girls through positive messages and education. Books varied in shop location and version (ebook or print). The cover and preview (if available) were observed.

Analysis of current children’s books with a similar theme revealed 73% of books were targeted toward the age groups of 4-8 years. 73% of books used a traditional hand-drawn style, with 47% using display typography on the cover and a combination of colours. The average price is $12.45, and the average page number is 39.

Note: Examining books with a similar theme gives you the opportunity to see what has ‘been done’ and where your book would ‘fit in’. Next week I will go into more detail about market gaps and target audiences. 


Title Ideas Analysis

I began analysing the 75 title ideas by conducting a google search to look for similar results. I also observed book titles on Amazon, Google and Goodreads. Finally, I checked for any registered trademarks or business names (in Australia).

In my first round of analysis, the list was narrowed down to 41. To ensure I had an accurate collection I carried out further investigation by searching for exact matches on Google, Amazon and Goodreads. I also recorded the number of results for each instance.

Writing A Children's Book: Title Idea Analysis
Example of my title idea analysis

Finally, through two rounds of searching my list of title ideas is down to 13. Is my future title in there? Only time will tell.  (:

Title Ideas Short List

  1. A girl can be many things
  2. A girls bright reality
  3. A girls brilliant future
  4. A Girls Dream Career
  5. A girls future can be awesome
  6. A girls grand job
  7. A girls path is bright
  8. All the jobs that girls can have
  9. All the roles that girls can be
  10. All the stars that girls can be
  11. All the things girls can become
  12. I’m a girl, and I can be a..
  13. Jobs that girls can have

If you have a favourite title from the list let me know or if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.  ou3uo


Summary

In the first stage of writing a children’s book, I was able to choose a concept, generate ideas, gather visual inspiration and examine current and similar publications. Through all of these tasks, it has allowed me to built a stronger connection to the concept of the story, so I can begin to establish the narrative.   :love:

About the author / Kya

I am Kya a twenty something who loves art, cute things, design, illustration, photography, reading, writing and creative adventures.

Website

19 Comments

  • Its neat to see how you work! As for the titles I like 12!

  • Looks like a lot of work.

    My boy is 2,5 years and I noticed he prefers to flip the pages rather fast so, at the moment we read books with only one line on each page. Like Peaty the worm :) If I would write children’s books for 2,5 year old boys, the themes would be bulldozer, front-loader, digger… all the machines I was never really interested in but know them all by now Hah!

    It’s hard finding a title – I wouldn’t put “job” in it though, sounds too adulty (for me). I also like #12 but I don’t think it’s my favorite. Hmm.. this is hard! Looking forward to your next book :)

  • Holy moly. I knew that writing a children’s book was a lot of work, but you’ve shown that it’s seriously an accomplishment! So much thought and planning goes into it. I love seeing how it all comes together! As a 1st grade teacher, I read a LOT of children’s books, so it was fun to see how it all comes together from an idea! Keep killing it girl!

    Susie | http://milehighdreamers.com

  • This is cool! OuO :luv:

    I knew creating children’s books is a lot of work (I wanted to to get some cute stories I have out there, but I’m just a writer and had a difficult time finding an illustrator n’D), but I didn’t know it was this exhausting. (I put my dreams on the back burner since I want to be a novelist career-wise, heh, and don’t want to establish myself as a children’s book author…I just have stories. It sucks.)

    I love seeing people’s processes for things and BTS stuff—I eat it up. :p Did you use a program to do your title availability research?

    Since you said you’re open to suggestions, what about something like “girl” + “unlocked”? I don’t know if “Girl Unlocked” works, haha. But…it sort of reminds me a bit of Girlstart, this organization that had after-school chapters at both of the middles I attended. They equipped and encouraged young girls to explore career paths and hobbies beyond the basic “girl stuff” expected of them, and we did quite cool stuff—learned about forensic science, coded our own websites, and learned a dance routine. “Girl Unlocked” reminds me a bit of it, because it’s like unlocked, like the “start” part of Girlstart.

    Ah, I feel like I’m just rambling now so I’m gonna shush. Q-Q `-`

    • The “n’D”: n’D
      (lol oops)

      • AH FAIL I GIVE UP.

        • Oh. It’s supposed to be n\ but goes to n’D

          • Never mind. I’m sorry. I give up. It’s just, like, a user error or some mess. 😳

            (If it doesn’t show up, I copy-pasted a blushing/embarrassed emoji.)

          • Kya

            Ahhh. I must have an issue in how I have named it. :sick: #n# #n#

  • You’re doing well with the children’s book streak! I think the process of putting your thoughts together is interesting. There’s a lot of ideas shooting at you in different directions and organizing them is a huge plus. Great job on the research so far!

    Haha, for some reason, my brain automatically filled #12…. “I’m a girl, I can be anything I want!”

    exquisitely.me

  • Holy wow! Your process is so detailed! I’ve only written fanfics, but even when I planned out my stories, it was never to your level! I am impressed that you’ve covered all the basis in your planning and that you kept everything so organised! Thank you for sharing this, and I can’t wait to see your next children’s book ^^ The idea and concept you chose this time is a great one!

  • I LOVE READING THIS.

    It is so structured and organized and just on point. I always thought writing could be messy and thought I should read a book about it to see how it was really done. Your tips are so practical. I’m recommending this to a friend since she seems interested to write but just a bit lost (like me).

    Nice to meet you :*3

  • Wow, this is a very detailed process! So much work goes into writing a book and I’m really impressed that you’re so organized with all the creative stuff going on :) I love the concept that you chose and I think it’s going to be very timely too!

    As for the titles, I love #12! It’s simple to understand but leaves a positive feeling! :D

  • Wow, I really enjoyed reading the process of writing a children’s book! Well done Kya, super proud of you. Your work is incredible and this one, in particular, has warmed my heart and really excited me about the potential! You know how much I love talking about Women Empowerment!! I think having all these positive messages at a young age – especially through a book – is powerful. I’m sure it will help build the confidence of many young girls on what they can do – the sky’s the limit!!

    Title: I’m a girl, and I can be a.. is my favourite! :love:

  • I keep my fingers crossed for your book! I’m sure it will be amazing <3

  • It’s interesting how much work goes into a children’s book! With novels, there is similar brainstorming, outlining, and drafting, but then you pretty much pass your novel off to someone who completes it (an agent or publisher).

    One of my friends is writing a children’s book. I’m going to pass this link off to him!

  • Wow! This is so exciting, and the process is so cool to see!! I’ve always wanted to write a book, whether it be children’s or a novel… But a novel’s “easy” in a sense because you just need words that fit well together. Children’s books are such a different world because it needs to be visually pleasing, have a good message, easy to digest, and loveable by kids!
    Best of luck, and I look forward to seeing your book!!

  • Cat

    I always like seeing behind the scenes type things, so I really love seeing your process! You put so much effort in, and it really shows in your end results. I think it’s great that you also analyze current books and trends. It seems like a good way to see what’s been overdone and what the current audience is like.

    Of your possible titles, 1, 3, and 12 are my favorites! I think I wasn’t a big fan of the “all the” type titles because it could come off as limiting. (What if they want to be something that isn’t listed?)

    I can’t wait to see how this turns out!

  • Oh, I’m so happy that you’ll be making a series of these! I’ve illustrated a couple of children’s picture books before, and love writing and stories in general. It’s so interesting to see your process (and how pretty your story notes look compared to the mess that I usually make…) so I look forward to the next post! Good luck with planning and writing! <3

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