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8 Steps to Creating a Kids’ Nonfiction Book

8 Steps to Creating a Kids’ Nonfiction Book

I love it when I have two whole weeks to focus on writing, which has been the case since my last post—yay! I’m collaborating with another Kingston, Ontario writer, and we’ve been working (slowly) on a children’s book project for nearly a year, on and off. Together, we are infusing new life into an old manuscript, making it accessible, engaging, and lively for today’s awesome kids. OK, yeah, I know you want to know what the book is, but I can’t say just yet. Mum’s the word! (The above, slightly skewed, pic of my Backyard Circus proposal is an example of a winning proposal, but this isn’t what I’m currently sweating over.) Suffice it to say, having a block of two weeks to focus on this project has been downright glorious.

The early stages of writing a book and securing a contract are super-duper time-consuming. Until the idea really takes hold of me, I can be lured away by other work and responsibilities (uh oh)—and fun stuff like emailing friends and walking my dog. But I’ve come to learn that when I unexpectedly land some treasured downtime from my editorial work, I need to be disciplined and continue working full days. This is a challenge because, at this stage, there are no real deadlines. It’s smart to make up your own deadlines, however, to keep the project on track.

Writing time is precious. It has to be reasonably quiet (i.e., no jackhammers) and can’t have any distractions from family members  (“Mom, can I have a playdate tomorrow?”). In fact, it usually means acting like a hermit, forgetting to have lunch until it’s late, covering my desk in loose papers and stacked of books, and obsessing over digging up the smallest details. But in a collaboration with another writer, I actually get to leave the house. Whoo-hoo! It’s pretty cool to discuss concerns and brainstorm brilliant solutions with someone who shares the same passion for the book and topic. And, I often get to have cookies and tea!

In short, these are the first eight steps that I follow in creating a nonfiction book.

1. Think of a great idea.

2. Create an outline and a table of contents.

3. Make “thumbnail” sketches showing what content will appear on each page.

4. Research.

5. Conduct market research to determine whether or not there is a need for this book. (Will it sell? If not, go back to step 1.)

6. Write some sample pages.

7. Polish the sample pages.

8. Examine publishers’ lists and think about which publishing house might want to publish it.

 Now, clearly, this leaves out a lot of nitty-gritty details–sorry about that! If you want more information about particular steps, I’d love to hear from you. Perhaps I could write about various stages another time (note to self). Once these eight steps are complete, it’s time to put together an eye-catching, interesting, and market-savvy proposal to send out to publishers. You can read more on that in my next blog.

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