• Decide what type of book you want to write and what age group you're going to be writing it for. Currently, publishing companies are looking for easy readers for kids age 6 to 8 who are just learning to read on their own, chapter books (short novels broken into chapters) for ages 7 to 10, spooky stories for ages 8 and up, and nonfiction for all ages. Extra points if you can put a multicultural spin on it.

  • Toy with the idea of writing a short story for a magazine first, like Highlights for Children or Cricket. It's good practice and it'll make you look more professional when you approach a publisher.

  • Go to libraries and bookstores and read. Read the classics you loved when you were a kid, but also pay close attention to books that are being published now. Try to find stories that are targeted to the same age group and fit the same genre as the one you're working on. Figure out what they have in common, and how you can use that to tailor your work to today's market.

  • Editors look for originality, so steer clear of clichs and stereotypes. This applies to both characters and plot.

  • Open a window to the corporate mindset. Come up with a story that will sell well at any time of the year, isn't redundant, will appeal to a broad audience, and won't become quickly "dated."

  • Join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). You'll find tons of great contacts.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW write a children's book?