How to Get Your Children’s Writing “Black Belt”

Successful authors have done one single, simple thing that has helped them vault to success.  In this video, Jon tells you exactly what it is!

Writing for Children: Should You Give Your Work Away?

Many authors are discovering the benefits of giving their work away for free.  Is this a good idea?  Jon has some thoughts…

Manuscript Making You Crazy? Create Some “Mini-Monsters”!

Do you have that one “big” manuscript that’s driving you nuts? Jon’s here with a simple solution:

Create some “Mini Monsters”!

Check out the video to see what he’s talking about…..



Want to Know Where Publishing is Heading? Listen Up….

Jon looks at where publishing is going — by examining where the music industry has already been.



The Successful Children’s Writer: Many Eggs, Many Baskets

eggsWe’ve been working with writers for more than twenty years, and we’ve discovered that what separates successful authors from also-rans isn’t always talent. A lot of times it has to do with it the way they think.

One way they certainly don’t think? Putting all their eggs in one basket.

Here’s what I mean by that.

Over the years we’ve had lots of folks come to us – aspiring writers – to tell us about their dream book. It’s the book they’ve been waiting to write all their lives and it’s all they want to work on.

So they work on it, they send it out and they start getting rejection letters — which is only natural — and then they get discouraged and quit.

That’s because they’re not really writers — they’re writers of that one specific book. Which now seems to be a lost cause.

Successful children’s writers may have a dream book, too. But while they’re working on it, they’re writing all sorts of other things. They’re writing to publishers’ needs, for example.

One of the the things we publish in the newsletter is news about publishers  seeking a specific sort of book. So, for example, let’s say a publisher is looking for historical fiction about the Revolutionary War — perhaps something you’ve never thought about as a subject of your writing.  But you figure “I’ll give that a shot” and you put together a query letter and  a sample chapter or two.  And maybe that’s what gets you published.

Successful writers write for websites. They create activities for kids magazines. They write greeting cards. They blog. They do all sorts of things to keep their name out there and make a few dollars while they keep working on their dream book. They recognize that it’s not a one-shot deal. It’s not all-or-nothing.  That’s a very important thing for you to understand if you aspire to be a writer.

You are writer. Write.

It doesn’t have to be the one specific book that you’ve had your had your heart set on. Develop your craft and you will some day get that dream book published. And will be a lot better probably than it is right now.

So don’t put all your attention and energy on only one project. Be like successful writers.

Many eggs. Many baskets.




Video Quickie: How to See the World Through the Eyes of a Writer

Jon’s here with some tips on how to view the world in a way that will make you a better and more successful writer.

Video Quickie: The #1 Thing That Can Kill Your Writing Career

Jon checks in with some ideas about how to bypass a huge pothole that often engulfs writing careers.


Video Quickie: How to Get Feedback & Handle Criticism

Getting honest feedback for your writing is absolutely vital — but necessarily a whole lot of fun if you don’t have a thick skin.  Jon’s here with some thoughts on how to get unbiased input,  and how to deal with criticism in a positive way.

Guest Post: Keeping it Simple — Things to Monitor When Writing for Children

by Rachel Thomas

There are many things to keep in mind when writing books or content for children. Age and skill level will play a very important role when devising your content. You want it to be comprehensible, but not overly loaded with words that are beyond his or her range. Careful planning goes into creating successful reading material and a different perspective is needed during the proofreading of this material. For those who have a range of writing talents, this could be complex at times.

1. Syllables - One of the more important aspects to consider when writing for children is the use of words with extensive syllables. You want to keep this level with what is currently the norm for the age group you are writing for. Simple syllable words can be understood far easier than those containing more. Sometimes, this will mean breaking up the meaning of the word in order to get your point across. Take the word "extensive" for example. It may be difficult for a first or second grader to break down however you can do it by saying, "too much of" or "too much."

2. Sentences - Your sentence structure will need to be simplified as well. On average, most professional writers could create sentences that are between 15 to 30 words. This may be OK for older children in higher grades, but younger children will need less to work with or they could become frustrated. That last sentence was 24 words, for example. For the younger age groups, you may want to reduce your sentences to 10 words or less depending on the age group of your target audience.

3. Paragraphs - The length of the content can drive many to become bored with it. The same is true when writing content for websites. With children, their attentions can be even harder to maintain. Keeping the paragraphs as simple as possible can help keep the flow of reading for a child. Not to mention that paragraphs can be used as stopping places and easier to pick up where someone left off. Each paragraph needs an individual point that the child can assimilate into their brains in order to keep the process fluid.

4. Metaphors and Slang - Try to stay away from metaphors and slang. While dating a book isn't necessarily bad as slang words evolve over time, you want the child to be able to understand the material without having to find a translator. A first-grader shouldn't have to think too deeply about the meaning of the content in order to get something out of it. He or she should immediately have a working knowledge of the content in order to provide a synopsis of what they had read. 

5. Appropriate Material - Could you imagine if Stephen King were to write a children's book while keeping his style of trilling horror? There is a good chance the child would never sleep again. Make sure the material you are creating is appropriate for the age group you are writing for. This may take a little bit of research to find out what children are reading in school these days, but it will help you from turning a pleasant story about a dog and its favorite chew toy into a nightmarish gory tale of the toy chewing on the dog.

6. Vocabulary - Not every age group has mastered the same words. You don't want to fill a book with words that the child hasn't had a chance to learn yet. However, you could produce a story with words above the target audience's age range in order to develop a primer for the future. While this may be a good idea to some, it may be too much for specific children to wrap their minds around. Like stated above, a child shouldn't have to dwell too long on a word in order to understand the meaning.

7. Closure -  One thing that some writers don't consider when developing material for children is the need for closure. It doesn't have to be a complex ending to the book, but you should end the story without leaving the child wondering where the rest of the pages are.

Keeping the language as simple as possible regarding the target audience's age group is a priority. You want the child to obtain something from the story through the use of the words provided. Any content can be leveled down as long as it's a simple to read text. You don't have to enroll in child psychology, but understanding your target audience is paramount in any content writing.


Author Bio:

Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to

This is Why We Write for Children

I wanted to write about this last week, but I couldn't quite express how I felt at the time. Now, with a few days having passed, I'll give it a try.

When, in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, I heard that a young child was among the victims, it hurt.  When I heard a name and an age, it hurt more.  But nothing could prepare me for the picture.

You know the one.  That beautiful child, Martin Richard, proudly holding the sign he made that now tells the entire world "No More Hurting People.  Peace."

It broke my heart.  I'm certain you felt the same way.

As the shock, the sorrow and the anger abated a bit, I realized something:

This is why we write for children.

There is a world filled with Martins waiting to be touched with our words.  For them, the thought of a world without hate, without violence, without senseless killing isn't an abstract notion for "some time way in the future".  It's real.  And there's no reason we shouldn't have it right now.

For goodness sake, someone has to tell them they're right, and the adults they see on the news are the ones who are crazy.

Families need to tell them that.  Teachers have to tell them that. And, I know in my heart, children's writers need to tell them that.

I know we all tend to obsess over rejection letters, and getting our apps published and having Facebookers "like" our pages.  And yes, those things are important.  But maybe it's time to take a step back and remember why we're really doing all this.

It's Martin.  And kids just like him.

Carry on this beautiful young man's message, and help his words reach other children across the globe.

Because that's why we do this.

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