Writing children’s books for a living doesn’t require you to go to college and graduate with a formal degree, however, you will need to be able to write well and you’ll need to know a lot about your audience so you’ll know how to write for them. So, although it’s not required that you go to college to be a successful children’s book writer, there are definitely collegiate programs of study that will teach you to be a better writer and will help you develop your craft so you can pursue writing children’s books as a full time career.
First, you should know that while there are an abundance of Master’s degree programs in children’s literature offered at colleges and universities all over the country both online and off, there are very few Bachelor’s degree programs offered in the subject. This means that while you’re studying for your Bachelor’s degree on your way to doing your graduate work in children’s literature, you’ll want to soak up all the knowledge you can about writing by taking as many writing courses as you can. Some of the classes you’ll want to be sure to take are English Rhetoric, Creative Writing, English Literature and Studies in Critical Literature.
And, keep in mind that the actual writing of children’s books is only part of what you’ll be doing if you want to make a living as a full time children’s book author. Remember that you’ll have to sell your books to publishers as well as market them to potential buyers if you intend to make any money. Unfortunately, the market is crowded with authors who want to make a living writing children’s books, so publishers have to be incredibly selective when it comes to choosing the books they’ll publish.
The odds of your book being a success will increase if you learn everything you can about what publishers are looking for and what children are looking for in the books they read. Once you figure that out, you’ll know how to market to both. There are several marketing and advertising classes offered to undergraduates that will help you understand how to market and advertise your book to both publishers and readers.
You’ll also need to understand how the illustration process works as most children’s books are illustrated. Whether you want to illustrate your own books or work with a professional illustrator, knowing about the art of illustrating books will help you be able to give voice to how you want your book to look as it begins to come to life through pictures.
Figuring out how to make words come alive with pictures is very important when it comes to being successful at selling children’s books. Try taking some classes in art and drawing so you can learn everything you can about creating successful illustrations. These basic art and illustration courses will help you understand the illustration process and will help you better relate to the professional illustrator who ends up illustrating your books. When it comes to illustrations, you might also want to take some courses in Graphic Design, Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator and other media software as these programs can be essential to any children's author who wants to take their books’ illustrations into the 21st century. These courses will help you become familiar with more methods of illustration and ways for you to actually design your book’s layout before you ever show it to an illustrator.
Though it’s not necessary to earn a degree to be a successful children’s book author, but there are college courses you can take and degrees you can earn that will help you become a better writer and understand the children’s literature industry better. Any college courses you take or any degrees you earn will give you a push into the world of being a published children’s book author.