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How to get your children's book published

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Want to turn your vivid imagination into a children’s book? Creator of Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer explains how to make the bestseller list.

1. The idea

Don’t make the common mistake of looking at what’s popular in a bookshop and then trying to combine two already well-known books. The market changes constantly. Instead take notes of anything you see or think of, you’ll be amazed how your subconscious shapes them over time.

2. Find your reader

Think about who your book is for. Picture the children you know who you think would read your book. Then tell the story to that child – just avoid those who have an emotional link to you as they may be too scared to give you their honest opinion.

3. Getting started

A plan of your book will keep you on track. Knowing what’s going to happen at the beginning, middle and end of your book is essential. And remember your plan is not a finished product – you will keep adding and changing to it.

4. Create characters children love

Plan the characters, give them a back story – where were they born, what’s their favourite colour? You may not get all this on the page but it will help you write. Don’t tell the reader what the character is like, show them through the way they behave. I find creating a mood board can really help.

5. The writing process

Have a routine. I work a 9-5 day, but if you work full-time, steal an hour before or after work. Even if you're not feeling creative, always stick to your plan.

6. Starting your book

Open on something surprising that grabs the readers’ attention and intrigues them enough to want to continue reading. Remember those first few pages are what will also grab an agent’s attention.

7. Seek advice

You may want constructive advice as you write. Ask an objective friend, a local journalist or a teacher from a nearby writing school.

8. Getting an agent

See britishbookstoday.com for a list of suitable agents then submit 50 pages of your book plus a detailed plot summary. Never rush the summary; it needs to be as well written as the book. Include a short letter about yourself, and a cover sheet with the title and your name.

9. The final touches

Once you’ve got an agent, finish the book. Never submit your first draft. Instead, put it down and come back to it. You’ll be amazed at how much needs changing.

Eoin Colfer’s new adult book Plugged (£12.99, Headline) is out now

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