There is SO MUCH information out there on the ever-expanding interweb, that it can feel a little overwhelming at times. I hope this list proves helpful to my fellow writers! I want everyone to be able to benefit from the same incredible resources that I’ve found over the years.
I write for all ages but am currently focused on Picture Books and Middle Grade, so much of the list is focused on KidLit. There are a few general writing resources as well, though. And, of course, many of these sites fit into multiple categories, so I’ve organized them by how I use them.
THIS LIST IS IN PROGRESS – so be sure to bookmark it and return often 🙂
Organizations to Join
SCBWI: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators recently celebrated 50 years. It describes itself as the “preeminent membership organization for children’s book creators.” I’ve found it an incredibly helpful way to connect with other writers. They have regional conferences, webinars, local meetings, contests, and more. Every year they publish The Book, which lists agents and publishers alongside helpful articles. It’s well worth the yearly price of membership.
12 x 12: The 12 x 12 Challenge is a community of writers who challenge themselves to produce one picture book manuscript each month. There is a prolific forum and a Facebook group where you can interact with other writers. You can ask for and offer critiques in the forum, as well as get information about writing and the business of being a writer. There are monthly webinars and book chats, plus articles about writers and their journeys published every month. These are some of the best webinars on writing I’ve seen and this community has been invaluable in helping me learn the craft and develop my own manuscripts.
Blogs to Follow
KidLit 411: Kidlit 411 was one of the first things suggested to me when I started to tell people that I was a writer, and following them is some of the very best advice I’ve ever received. The blog has a TON of information, and so does their Facebook page. Following them has been so helpful. Every month they post a collection of articles about writing, as well as contests, awards, webinars, classes, and more. You can subscribe to their emails on their website, follow them on Twitter, or join their Facebook group.
Official SCBWI Blog: This is the official blog of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, mentioned above. So much incredible information in one place, along with publishing news.
NF Fest: Per their website, NonFiction Fest (NF Fest) is “a month-long crash course in writing nonfiction for children” organized by the “Nonfiction Ninjas.” I don’t personally write a lot of nonfiction (I lean more towards Informational Fiction) but I’ve found this site to have such a plethora of helpful information. They have so many articles written by amazing writers all about the craft of writing. Even if you don’t do the challenge, I still strongly suggest you explore the archive and read through the posts. You can also join their Facebook group.
Florida Writer’s Association Blog: I live in Florida, so the Florida Writer’s Association is on my radar, but be sure to look for a local group for where ever you live. Their blog has a lot of articles about writing, and sometimes about writing for children. Be sure to check out the menu on the right to find all their posts by subject.
Picture Book Builders: This blog is written by a group of amazing picture book writers and illustrators. There’s a lot of talk of inspiration about how they developed their incredible books. There are also giveaways.
Books to Read
I don’t personally believe you can read just one book and be done with learning all you need to know. I’m going to list books that I’ve found helpful here, and I urge you to explore even more on your own. I will continue to add to this list as time goes on.
[Some of these links are affiliate posts. If you click on them and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you in advance! And please remember, most of these books are also available at your local independent bookstore and your local library!]
SCBWI’s Essential Guide to Publishing for Children: This is “The Book” that I mentioned about when I talked about SCBWI. You must be a member to download it. It is PACKED with useful information.
Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul: I learned so much from this book and highly suggest it to anyone interested in learning about the craft of writing, especially for children. It discusses everything from coming up with ideas to character development to plotting, and more. There are tips, exercises, and quizzes.
Kidlit Social from the Children’s Book Insider: This is an astoundingly incredibly source of information for kidlit writers. I started watching these a couple of years ago, and while they are no longer filming new webinars, you can watch all the replays. It’s kind of like a giant pile (well, 85 to be exact) of mini classes that are all FREE.
Good Story Company with Mary Kole: Mary Kole is a freelance editor and does, of course, offer editing services, but she also has a really helpful YouTube channel. There are all kinds of videos, from plotting to character description for everything from picture books to novels, and even how to query.
Lyrical Language Lab with Renee M. LaTulippe: Renee is an expert on rhyme, so if you’re looking to write in rhyme you should know about her course. If you’re not ready to take her class, you can start by watching this collection of videos she has on YouTube.
How to Find an Agent
These websites are just a start. Don’t forget to check out the agent’s agency website, their own websites if they have one, and to follow them on Twitter. My suggestion is to follow as many agents as you can on Twitter; it helps you to see what’s going on in the kidlit world.
Manuscript Wishlist: This is my favorite place to start searching for literary agents. They have a nice search function to help you narrow down your list.
#MSWL: This site is helpful because it shows you what agents have been posting on Twitter with the #MSWL (manuscript wishlist) hashtag in one place. You can also narrow down the categories.
Query Tracker: This is one of the best places to find information about literary agents. You can sign up for a free account, do detailed searches, get a lot of info about the agents, and keep track of your queries.