Ten ways to offend a children's author
Children's authors are an easy-going bunch, but there are a few comments that are guaranteed to cause us offence.
- When are you going to write a proper book?
Children's books are proper books.
- I want to be an author so I'm going to start with a children's book because that will be easier.
Books for young children are shorter than ones for adults, but that doesn't mean they are easier to write. Children are an extremely critical audience, and writing short can be harder than writing long.
- I'm already a successful footballer/actor/singer so now I'm going to write a children's book.
Writing is a skill, just like playing football, acting and singing, so you have to learn how to do it. It's no more likely that you can write a publishable book without any practice than it is that I could star in a West End musical or be picked to play for Manchester United. This explains why many celebrity children's books are really written by someone else. (I know because I've been asked to do it.)
- When introducing you to someone else:
She writes books, but she's not a proper author. She only writes little bits of things for kiddies.
I don't think I need to explain this one.
- You must be as rich as J K Rowling.
JK Rowling is an exception because the Harry Potter books sold in huge numbers and were made into movies. The vast majority of children's books don't sell anywhere near as many copies and the vast majority of children's authors don't earn anywhere near as much.
- On being given a copy of your book:
Oh good. It's a children's book so I don't have to read it.
You don't have to read it at all. But it would be good if you didn't give the impression that you would have done if we'd writter a proper book. (See point 1)..
- In a surprised voice, when being shown a copy of your new book:
Oh. It looks just like a real book.
Of course it does. That's what it is.
- Aren't you lucky to have had a book published?
Being published isn't like winning the lottery. It takes time and effort to learn the writer's craft and even more to actually write the words.
- Why do you want to write children's books? Have you got arrested development?
It does help to still be in touch with your inner child, but that's not a psychological defect.
- What's your real job?
Writing is a real job, even though many authors have to do something else to earn enough to live on. (see point 5)
With many thanks to my fellow children's authors who have helped me compile this list. I hope you like the result.