How to Write a Children’s Book Proposal, by Crystal Bowman

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Crystal Bowman is an author, speaker, freelance editor, and Mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). She has written over 70 books for children and three books for women. She also writes stories for Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and lyrics for children’s piano music. Her children’s books come in all shapes and sizes and many of them have become best sellers. Whether her stories are written in playful rhythm and rhyme, or short sentences for beginning readers, she tries to make them so enjoyable that kids will want to read them over and over again. “But the most important part,” she says, “is to teach children that God loves them and cares about them very much.” Crystal and her husband live in Florida and have three grown children and one granddaughter.

Before I went to the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference, I submitted ECLAIR GOES TO STELLA’S, the first book in my children’s chapter book series, to Crystal Bowman. She not only read and edited the book, she endorsed it! I was ecstatic. Still am. Thank you, Crystal! I’d never met her before, but I knew she was going to be at the conference, so I reached out to her before I went. As a conference perk, writers were allowed to submit their stories for editing purposes. I took advantage of Crystal’s experience, and I was really glad I did.

(By the way, I highly recommend going to writer’s conferences. Even if a publisher doesn’t buy your books or articles you’ll make connections that can open doors later. It’s worth the money.)

Crystal took the time to answer a few questions about publishing children’s books. I hope you’ll take the time to listen. Click on the ZOOM001 below and listen while you’re cooking, brushing your teeth, or planting your flower garden. This is a great hands-free way to learn.

A few of the questions I asked her were as follows.

  1. What does it take to be a children’s author?
  2. How did you break into the genre?
  3. How did you spend your first royalty check?

Click here for interview:  ZOOM0001

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Writing a Strong Proposal

Concept – In one or two short paragraphs explain the idea behind the book. Why should someone publish this book?

Strengths – Clearly explain the strengths of your book. Why would someone want to buy it?

Format – What should the book look like? How many pages? Should it be hard cover or paperback? What kind of illustrations would complement the story?

Market – Who will buy your book? You must list specific audiences that will find your book appealing.

Competition – What other books are currently in the market that are similar to yours? List specific facts about the books: publisher, price, page count, date of publication.

About the Author – In one or two paragraphs explain why you are qualified to write and market your book. List any publications you may have, even if you were not paid for them. Only include what applies to your writing credentials or subject matter.

 

Some of her most recent titles are:

My Grandma and Me – rhyming devotions for you and your grandchild (Tyndale) Screen shot 2013-03-17 at 4.12.52 PM

 

God’s Big Promises for Kids (Standard)

God’s Big Ideas for Kids (Standard)

Do You Love Me More? (Standard)

Will I See You Today? (Standard)

My Read and Rhyme Bible Storybook (Tyndale)

The One Year Book of Devotions for Preschoolers (Tyndale)

J is for Jesus (Zondervan)

An Easter Gift for Me (Zondervan)

My Thanksgiving Prayer (Zondervan)

I Can Read – numerous titles (Zondervan)

Forth-coming book: Lily’s Easter Party (Zondervan)

Here are a few other places you can find Crystal.

website: http://www.crystalbowman.com

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/crystaljbowman

blog: http://www.christianchildrensauthor.com

email: crystaljbowman@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. This is one of the simplest, most helpful guide to writing a book proposal I have come across. Other topics I would love to see more about include how to market your book and perhaps primers on using Twitter, Facebook. So much to learn!

  2. Michelle, I really enjoyed this post & listening to the interview with Crystal. I also met her at a Writer’s Conference & she edited my proposal and my book, which will be published by Zonderkidz in Jan 2015. She is such a wonderful person and role model for me, as she is for you! Blessings, Glenys Nellist

    • Hi Glenys!
      Thanks for stopping by. What is the title of your book to be published? I can’t believe it’s not going to be printed until Jan 2015. That seems so far away. This novel thing takes major patience, doesn’t it?
      Michelle

  3. Great topic, Michelle. So much to learn. I have a completed children’s story, that’s just sitting there. Illustration costs are so expensive! The least expensive Illustrator is charging me $4000.00. Any suggestions would be welcomed. Again, thank you so much for this post. Blessings.

    • That is a lot of cash. Are you a member of SCBWI? If so, perhaps you could find someone on there who could illustrate it for you for a little less. Is it a PB?

    • Hi Johnny, Wow, that does seem like a lot of money, but I don’t know what illustrators cost. Judy had a great suggestions about joining the SCBWI. What is you children’s book about? Were you going to self-publish it? My sister-in-law loves to draw children’s picture books and coloring books. There’s also a gal in my writer’s group that does amazing art for her own work. I’m not sure if she’d help you or how much it would cost but it never hurts to ask. Here’s her website: http://www.marycoonsdesigns.com/
      Let me know how this project goes for you.
      Michelle

      • Hi Michelle, Thank you. I hate to sound dumb, but as you know by now, I’m new at this. What is SCBWI?
        In response to your question, my books is about a kitten named kit. The plot evolves around kit, and his family, a grown cat, a dog, his human mom, and the problems he encounters, as his curiosity gets the best of him. It has been test read to some children, and they fell in love with the character. I have considered Book Baby, as a possible publisher. I will also contact the person in your writer’s group. Blessings.

        • Please do not feel dumb. I am a big novice at all of this myself. SCBWI stands for the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Publishers. I personally am not thrilled with them, but they do have a number of illustrators who are members. The book sounds cute. Is this a PB? I am thinking if it is a chapter book, perhaps you could get by with fewer drawings. Keep us posted.

          • Michelle….my book is called The Little Love Letters Bible..but that title may be changed….another of the publisher’s prerogatives. You will be shocked when I tell you that I first pitchd the book to them in 2010…it will have been 5 years in the making!! So yes…patience, patience, patience! (Crystal Bowman’s first book also took 5 years.) Johnny..my best advice to you would be to attend a writer’s conference to get your book into the hands of an agent or traditional publisher…then the worry of illustrations will not be yours 🙂

          • Wow, I can’t believe it took FIVE years for them to buy your book. You get the award for patience, for sure. I really appreciate you mentioning that part of your journey with us here. So many authors lose hope and this will encourage them. Thanks for the tip for Johnny too.
            Let us know when your book is out so we can share it with our viewers and tweet about it.
            Michelle

          • Thank you Glenys. Your advice is well taken. I need to exercise that same patience I had to, when I decided to enter the entertainment industry. I t was rough, but I made it. I guess I can do the same in this other field. I also wish you the best. Blessings.

    • Hi Johnny,

      Here’s the link to that children’s writer society site: http://www.scbwi.org/

      Also, if you want to send me the file for your book I can send it to my sister-in-law to see if she’d be interested in helping you illustrate it. I don’t know if you’d like her art work, but I know she’d love to help. email me at: mweidenbenner@comcast.net and I could ask her and give her your email address.

      Your book sounds cute. I love cats and kittens. I only know that AMAZON CreateSpace is a great place to self publish books, but I haven’t talked to anyone about self-publishing children’s books with illustrations. I’m sorry. I’m not versed in that area but I’ll be on the look-out for you and send info your way as I see it.

      Keep writing!
      Michelle

    • Just a comment regarding the cost of illustrations some authors have posted:

      I’ve been a professional freelance illustrator/cartoonist for 40+ years, most recently working for 20+ years in the videogame industry. While I have been very lucky, trust me, it is tough to make a living as an artist; I’ve seen too many decent fellow artists struggle due to being undercut by their fellow artists (students, mediocre talent, wannabes, or those just entering the field). Add to this, the low-ball pay offered by publishers and authors who believe because they doodle when on the phone, they know how “easy” art is to create and therefore not worthy of decent recompense.

      Having gravitated towards wanting to create my own children’s books (I have 2 doodle books out and am currently working on a 3rd), I wanted to put this out for fellow authors to keep in mind when obtaining the services of illustrators. These are approaches and beliefs developed over years of working as an illustrator/cartoonist.

      1. You get what you pay for. You offer low pay, you most likely will get low-quality work from (for lack of a better word) “bottom-feeders”, artists who’s work may be sub-par by industry standards. (Of course, this doesn’t include the artist just starting out for whom just getting published is the goal or the student who seeks to add to their portfolio but…)
      2. You get what you pay for. Low pay means if a higher paying art gig comes along, guess whose project gets pushed back? “It’s not professional behavior!” you may posit. My retort would be “You’re not paying professional wages.” Artists do have living expenses and your chances of having your project’s delivery timeline superceded by a better paying gig are a definite possibility.
      3. You get what you pay for. Low pay means you are extended minimal, if any, creative art control. Higher pay results in your being offered more creative oversight. You have some vision of how you want the art? Pay for it. Among myself and my fellow professionals, you don’t get to art direct for low pay. I was paid very highly throughout my gaming industry career and was happy to trade my creative control for a paycheck. This leads to the next item…
      4. It’s a trade off. I have done some low pay work in return for complete creative control. We artists do want to create the best possible work but sometimes we want to create OUR art.

      Anyway, that’s my two cents.

      • Hi John – Thanks for the valuable contribution here! For some reason this didn’t pop up in my COMMENT section until today, so I finally approved it. Sorry it’s so delayed. I love when artists create THEIR stuff–it’s what they’re good at. I appreciate their talents and don’t mind paying for it. I think sometimes authors don’t budget enough for this and it shows.

  4. Rahmah Mokhtar says:

    Hello Michelle. I am from Malaysia and i am new in the children’s writer society. Thank you for sharing great information on proposal writing. They are very informative! Just what i need at this moment. Thanks a lot!

  5. Tuya says:

    Hi, Michelle.
    I am at my beginning stage to writing and publishing children’s books. I really like the idea of my book, however I found it very challenging to promote children’s book in my country, which is Mongolia. The reason is that I am writing in English.
    So, I would be happy to try to attract some international publishers and try to sell somewhere outside of Mongolia. However I understand that for not being native speaker and competing with native speakers /English/ is maybe foolishness…

    Best, Tuya /mrs/

    • Hi Tuya –
      Yes, that must be frustrating–to have a great idea for a children’s book and not be able to market it in your country. I think if you got your book edited by an English-speaking editor it would help bridge any linguistic issues with the book. Do you have an illustrator? That’s the tough part too. If you’re going to self-publish the book it’s doable but takes a lot of work. However, as long as you’re internet-connected you can learn and load your book to Create Space to sell. But first I’d talk to a person at Create Space to see what the international difficulties might be. Here is their website: https://www.createspace.com
      Don’t give up on your dream. Find a way to do it. If you want to approach a publisher in the US have the book edited first.
      Best,
      Michelle

  6. Michelle, thank you for your post. It was very helpful. I learned as much from comments as from the original post. I will definitely look for writes conferences too. I have recently written and illustrated my first children’s book about a giraffe named Gemma (she is a Gem of a giraffe). It is currently in the editing stage. As soon as that process is finished I will be submitting the book for copyright. This is the first book in a series, and was a learning experience, now I know how long it takes for me to draw my own pictures to have enough for a standard children’s picture book. My question for you is: while I am waiting on the copyright certificate, can I still submit proposals to publishers/agents or should I wait for the copyright to be finished before doing that step? I have had mixed advise on that aspect of this process. Thanks for your advice.

    • Hi Charlene-
      Somehow I missed this comment coming in. Sorry about that. Thanks for stopping by, and I’m thrilled the post was helpful. You can submit a query to agents and publishers at any time. You don’t have to wait. You should have a book proposal written for the series too. Proposals are usually 14-15 pages long and include the information about the series, a long pitch, elevator pitch, marketing plan, comparison analysis–it’s basically to “sell” yourself and your book. But if you pitch several agents you need to tell them that your book has been submitted to other agents too. I hope this helped. I’ve pitched many agents at one time with my books. (Back when I wanted one. I haven’t recently though because I’m happy with self-publishing.)

  7. Is it possible to hire someone to write my book proposal? If so, do you have suggestions? Thanks!

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