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What Makes a Children’s Book Sell?

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Millions of people love the idea of writing a children’s book, connecting to young audiences with interesting characters, colorful settings, and simple yet important messages about ethics and life.

But what makes a children’s book sell well? What steps can you take to improve your story to maximize its marketability?

The Importance of Long-Term Planning

No matter how much experience you have as an author or how inspired you are by your most recent idea, it’s important to spend some time researching and considering your idea carefully before putting pen to paper. Improvising a children’s book may result in an excellent finished copy, but not necessarily one that will sell well. Only through careful strategizing and meticulous planning can you maximize your chances of success.

You need to think about not only the story and core concept of your book, but also how you’re going to print it, distribute it, and market it. According to PrintingCenterUSA, simple changes to your production strategy, your target audience, or your book’s reading level can make a large impact on how much you eventually sell.

What Makes a Children’s Book Sell?

So what are the factors that make a children’s book sell well?

·       A well-researched target market. First, you need to have a target audience in mind, and you need to fully understand how that audience reads books. It’s not hard to write a generic children’s book, but doing so will introduce you to boundless volumes of competitors and make your book less relevant to each prospective reader. It’s usually better to write a book for a very specific audience.

·       A unique idea. Within those parameters, you also need to generate a truly unique idea. Rehashing old ground with fresh characters might appeal to parents with a fond sense of nostalgia for the original presentation, but it’s not going to help you sell a record-breaking number of new copies. Think outside the box.

·       Interesting central characters. We typically grow attached to stories because of our bonds with the central characters, says MotionPictures. Accordingly, it’s not surprising that some of the best children’s books are ones with interesting, compelling main characters. Sometimes, these characters take the form of traditional human characters; other times, they manifest as talking animals, plants, inanimate objects, or environments. What’s important is that there’s an agent that’s relatable at the center of the story.

·       A main theme or idea. What’s the main idea of your book? Are you trying to teach a moral lesson? Are you trying to introduce children to a specific concept, like how farms work or how to eat healthy? There are infinite ideas and themes that can be successful; what’s important is that you have a main one to prioritize and build around.

·       Colorful, signature artwork. Most children’s books have colorful, distinctive artwork. Bright, highly contrasting colors are interesting for children to see, and at younger ages, can even play a role in helping to develop healthy eyesight. Try to present an art style that’s uniquely yours, while adequately capturing the scope of your story.

·       Approachable, yet original wording. Younger readers appreciate limited vocabulary words, repeated words, and short, simple sentences that are easy to digest. These restrictions can make it hard to explore new narrative territory, and simultaneously limit your ability to fully verbalize your ideas. Still, it’s important to use these simple structures in novel ways so your readers aren’t bored with familiar presentations.

·       Interactive gimmicks. Sometimes, children’s books sell better when they have interactive gimmicks, like textured pages that kids can touch or interactive elements that demand outspoken reader participation.

Additional Tips for Success

These tips can also help you maximize your chances for success in the children’s book market:

·       Do your research. Don’t just assume that you understand the reading level of an average 6-year-old (more details). Back up your ideas with objective research. From analyzing competitors who are already on the market to better understanding the mindset of your target audience, research will always lead to a better finished product.

·       Get feedback before finalizing. When you have a draft of your children’s book completed, shop it around with kids and parents in your target demographics. What do they think of it? Do they have any ideas for how to improve it?

·       Sell across many different channels. Digital and traditional formats each have pros and cons; use both to maximize your potential impact.

·       Invest in marketing. You’ll generate much more interest in your book if you invest in marketing and advertising for it.

Selling a children’s book is never a guarantee, even with a brilliant idea and excellent craftsmanship. But if you’re willing to put in the proactive effort, and you can distinguish yourself from your competitors, there’s a good chance you’ll find your work on children’s bookshelves all over the country.

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