I read a lot of non-fiction
books. And I do mean a lot.
Those on similar subjects are
often basically the same, which means I glean virtually no new
This book is not one of those.
From the moment I started
reading it was obvious this book was different, that the author
had a thorough understanding of the children’s book industry.
And of course, she does have. Jill McDougall has had over a
hundred books published since 2001, and recently signed a new
contract with international publisher, Walker Books.
Living in South Australia,
Jill McDougall teaches creative writing, and I can fully
understand why. As you read your way through the book her
passion and knowledge are blatantly obvious.
Jill imparts so many of her
secrets that nothing is left to chance.
She explains the various types
of books (easy readers, picture books, chapter books etc) and
explains the difference between educational and trade books, and
why you should target both.
This book goes right into
brass tacks and guides you through the process of researching
existing books before you start writing your own.
As with all good books for
writers, there’s a section on finding ideas. In addition to the
actual finding of ideas – and keeping them – this section also
teaches you a unique way of outlining your story.
This section alone is worth
purchasing the book.
Jill takes you step-by-step
into how she builds on a very simplistic idea and turns it into
a basic outline for her books.
I sat down with my
seven-year-old grandson and used this method, and at the end of
the process, with very little prompting from me, he’d outlined a
story for a ‘dragon’ book. I was amazed at how easy it was to
do. (The intention is that together we will write this Chapter
Book in the near future.) There is absolutely no reason you
couldn’t use Jill’s method (or formula as she calls it) to
outline fiction aimed at any age group.
This book is so chocka-block
full of Insider Secrets, that you’ll be amazed. In
addition to answering questions related to the topic, Jill has
provided almost twenty pages of direct links to publishers’
guidelines. She has tirelessly tracked down children’s
publishers around the globe who accept unsolicited submissions.
This resource will save the writer hours of work especially
since Jill’s links take you directly to the publishers’
submission page – something that is often hard to find.
When recommending books,
people will often tell you it’s a gem. In my opinion,
Jill McDougall’s Become a Children’s Writer is more of a