Nancy's Books

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Importance of Audience/Contest/Call for Submissions

The subjects of many of my blogs are based on questions people have asked me. I’ve heard this question several times: How many words should my children’s book contain?

The answer has many variables, but the most important one is audience.

“Children” is a broad concept. In terms of writing a book, authors need to narrow the concept. We want to communicate clearly so the readers will enjoy and understand the information we write. Different writing is appropriate for different age groups. Recognizing the differences help us write to a specific audience.

Before we write the first word, we need to determine the age group of the reader so the child will understand the comprehension and vocabulary levels. The audience becomes the stimulus, or purpose, for writing. Develop a character with which the child can identify. Most kids like to read about characters their same age or slightly older. Boys like to read about male main characters and girls will usually read books with either male or female characters.

Toddlers are concrete learners. They accept information in books at face value. They learn about the world around them by exploring. Concept books with the themes of counting, colors, and objects are appropriate. Bedtime stories and books about family and animals are favorites, as well. They enjoy picture and novelty books (board books, flap books, and pop-up books). Most of these books have few words. Many contain less than 100 and some are wordless.

Next week, I’ll continue to discuss the importance of audience and how audience defines writing for older age groups.

Contest for adults:
Write up to 500 words on a subject of your choice. What’s getting your goat? Making you think? Making you angry or excited? Put your spin on an important subject or something trivial – anything from Jordan the place to Jordan the model. A news item; a person; something of interest to others; a travel piece. Anything that takes your fancy. It can be in the form of a report, an essay, a comedic piece, a train of thought, an argument – anything that hangs together as a whole piece of work. The usual rules apply, so please read them (ignore the ones about payment rules, obviously).

For this competition there are two extra rules: 1) Give your piece its own title (which must NOT be ‘Spring Break’!) and 2) include the title of your piece in the ‘subject’ line of any email entries.

The only other proviso is that your work must not be defamatory or libellous in any way. Anything that could be considered as such will be disqualified. Otherwise, Happy Writing!

Deadline: April 30, 2011
Details at

Call for submissions for student writers:
Hanging Loose magazine welcomes high school submissions. As with other writers, we reply within three months, and high school authors whose work we publish receive the same small fee and two copies of the issue in which their work appears. We feel a special responsibility to those young writers who look to us not only for possible publication but sometimes also for editorial advice,
which we are always happy to give when asked.
Details at

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