Publishing for children: a thought-piece [winning blog idea October]

children publishing

Each month BookMachine offers a community member, with great ideas, the chance to write on the site. This month Barb Kuntova, a publishing student at University of Stirling, had the winning idea. She is very much interested in children’s publishing and poetry publishing. You can follow her on Twitter (@ibreakfastbooks), instagram (@laylajaglovs), or read her blog (

Children’s publishing is definitely at its peak – never have there been so many children’s books published as there are now.

Diversity is a hot topic and an important consideration. It is important to think about including a range of races, disabilities throughout books, and consider learning difficulties and the fact that some children find it very difficult to read. This should not be confused with not wanting to read. We need to include as much diversity as possible in children’s books – represent them in fiction as well as non-fiction, so that they know it is okay to be themselves.

Some people assume that writing and publishing for children would be the easiest way to write. There is nothing easy about publishing for children and, more importantly, it is most definitely not easy to write books for children – especially write them well.

Lots of people think they can write picture books, for example. Picture books need to be short, make sense, help development and be readable for the hundredth time for the parent as well. Not an easy task.

When we are children, we are the most curious, and question things more than at any other point in our lives. Children will question everything in your book: plot holes, character holes and lazy development of the plot.

The difficulty about publishing books for children is that there is not one target audience, but two. Children are rarely the buyers of the books. It is their parents or teachers who do the book selection and the book purchases, which, for a publisher, means that they have to target their book campaigns towards two separate audiences.

One of the ways authors find audience for their titles nowadays is through social media. However, if you are writing for children, you cannot, and indeed should not, have contact with children through social media. This means writers need to find different ways of interesting their readers – and their buyers.

Children’s non-fiction books are also on the rise. It shows just how interested children are in the world around them. They want to learn. They want to know. And they want to read. Let’s make it even easier for them to do this and keen focusing our energies on this upward trend!

Some of the ideas in this article were inspired by Kathryn Ross (literary agent) and her visit to the University of Stirling.

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  1. I’ve always thought of children’s publishing (of which I have done a bit in my working life) as being a bit like the production of catfood. All the cat can do is reject the offer – so you have to produce a product that the cat will not reject. The selection and choice is done by the cat’s owner – the person who you target all your marketing, promotion, presentation at. The owner will only know if the cat accepts or rejects the food – not any reasons for the action. And you can be pretty sure that the cat owner doesn’t actually sample the product, either.
    Cat = child
    Owner = parent or teacher or librarian (though to be fair to librarians hey probably do sample the product in some detail)

    So there is a lot of guessing and then second guessing going on.

    1. This is actually a wonderful comparison. I say triple guess everything for the sake of the little ones being happy and not talked down to.

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