Equipping Writers for Success
The Writing Life
The Writing Life
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by Marie Cecchini
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The children's market is chock-full of possibilities, in addition to traditional fiction and non-fiction stories. This market also includes poetry, songs (new words written to familiar children's tunes), kid-friendly recipes, how-to projects and games, and puzzles. There is a wealth of opportunity for both creativity and additional income.
Poetry and Songs
Younger children have a limited range of experience, so you will need to use concrete images and write about common experiences. Children also love sing-song rhyme and rhythm. Your work should flow naturally. Poems with action and movement are easy for children to visualize, even imitate, and humor is always a plus. Some publishers look for poems that teach some sort of lesson, such as good manners or counting. Last, but not least, poems for children need to be simple, simple, simple -- kind of like reducing to the lowest common denominator in math.
Songs for children are simply poems set to familiar tunes. Think of the tune "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". Create new lyrics to that tune and you have a song. One caution, though most familiar tunes are in the public domain, some are not, "Happy Birthday" being one of them. One website you can check to see if the tune is free to use is http://www.kididdles.com. Tunes listed on this site should be fine to use.
All it takes is a quick trip to the children's section of your local library to see how popular recipes are with kids. Not only will you find an entire shelf of books on the subject, but you'll get an idea of what kinds of foods kids like to prepare. Many children's and family publications also publish recipes for kids and do so on a monthly basis. If this is something that appeals to you, start by asking or observing what kids like to eat and what is easy to prepare. As you begin to develop an original recipe, keep nutrition in mind. Many publishers prefer recipes that encourage children to eat healthy foods. When you are ready to begin, remember that ingredients should be listed in order of use, and the directions should be very specific. Don't leave out a single word of explanation thinking that it's self-explanatory because for kids, it's not. For all measurements and cooking times use numerals, not words. Finally, always try out your recipe with children before sending it to a publisher. This will help you determine whether or not the recipe will work, if it was easy to prepare, and if the kids enjoyed eating the finished product. If you don't have kids of your own, borrow your neighbors or call on your nieces and nephews.
How-To Projects and Games
This is a very popular area and you will be able to sell your creations to both print and online publications. How-to articles include things like arts and crafts, woodworking projects, and science experiments. Obviously your topic needs to be kid-friendly and all safety precautions should be included. Materials needed should be listed in order of use and nothing should be left out. For instance, if you need to line your working surface with newspapers, then newspapers should be listed in "What you need." Step-by-step directions should be very specific and use words kids can understand. Use numerals, not words, for all quantities and measurements. You can increase your chances of publication by doing a little research and re-creating a craft made or game played by children of other nations or eras. Keep in mind that each publication has its own form of presentation, so it's wise to check this out by reading samples before you begin to write. You will also need to check publication guidelines, as many editors will want to see either a photograph or prototype of the finished project along with the instructions.
If you love to work puzzles, this could be right up your alley. Educational as well as traditional publishers use puzzles for the simple reason that kids love the challenge. You can develop a kid-friendly crossword, word search or mind-bending math puzzle. Publications like Jigsaw, put out by the Highlights Corporation, publish only puzzles, which increases your chances of a sale.
If you're looking to get the best "bang for your buck", the following websites would be the places to start.
It's easy to see that the children's market, though not as simple as it may seem, holds tremendous possibilities. It could be the perfect addition to your normal fare. If you have any doubts remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.
Marie E. Cecchini is the author of five books. She writes informational articles for writers, parents, teachers, and children. She also writes children's poetry and designs children's craft projects.