Getting Kids Published with Erik of This Kid Reviews Books

Getting Kids Published with Erik of This Kid Reviews Books

I am so thrilled to be co-posting with Erik of This Kid Reviews Books today at the request of Erika of Urth Mama:

Do you have any interest in doing a blog post (or series) about career pathways for children/young adults to become children’s book authors?

I ask because my 8 year old daughter (aka Paprika) has wanted to be a children’s picture book author and illustrator since birth (practically).  She has read every children’s book – knows all the Caldecott and Newberry winners – and in general, is just obsessed with Children’s Literature.  She has taken a few classes on Craftsy about Children’s Book Authoring – and beyond that, I don’t really know how to guide her.  She is just set on this (and has been for years) – and overall, it’s her mission in life.

The first person I thought of to help Erika is Erik because:

Nancy Yi Fan is another published kid author. She wrote the series Swordbird which was accepted for publication by HarperCollins when she was 11-years-old.

My advice on how to get published as a kid is: write, write, write! Take art classes as well if you are so inclined. Being able to write and illustrate is a powerful combination. Do writing challenges like Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 picture book challenge which also gives away critiques by children’s book agents. Start a blog as both a writing experience and to build your audience. As a published author, you will be expected to market your book and social media will be your friend! Finally, be persistent. The road to being published is paved with miles of rejection letters.Without further ado, here’s Erik! …—————–

When I grow up I Want to be an Author

Hi everyone! My name is Erik, and I write a blog called This Kid Reviews Books. As you may have realized from the blog name, I review books. 🙂 I am a 13 year old Middle School student. Today, I have the pleasure of co-posting an article about kids becoming published authors with Mia Wenjen of the fabulous blog, Pragmatic Mom. I’ve been blogging about books for four years now and I have learned a TON about the publishing world because of my blog. For kids wanting to become traditionally published authors, just like for adults, it is very difficult to “break into the business.” It may even be harder for kids, because we are competing against adults. Adults who have been writing for years. Not only that, I’ve found it’s hard to get a publisher or agent to take you seriously. Having said that, there are kids who are traditionally published authors or who have literary agents who represent them, so there is hope! Plus being a part of the writing community when you are young really helps you gain skills and learn what you need to be doing.

How Kids Can Get Published by Erik of This Kid Reviews Books

For me, I self-published a children’s book called The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, when I was 11. This was after trying to get an agent or a publisher to look at my story. I couldn’t even get a response after sending out 15 query letters. Finally one came back and it started “Dear Author.” That was me! I didn’t really care that it was a rejection letter (well maybe a little). I was an author.

Erik The Adventure of Tomato and Pea

I do have a poem and a couple of short stories published in anthologies from small presses. These came about through contacts I made in the writing groups I belong to or through my blog. For kids wanting to be writers, or that have a story to tell, joining writing groups, entering contests, having a critique partner or joining in events such as NaNoWriMo YWP (National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program) or Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 or Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo gives you great experience writing and you get to meet professional writers who, in my experience, are super happy to help kids out. Asking a writer to be a mentor for you will help. My writing mentor, author Michelle Isenhoff, has helped me tremendously in my writing. I met Mrs. Isenhoff through my blog.

It would be cool if the world worked like it did in Andrew Clements’ The School Story (which was a marvelous book, by the way) where a school-aged kid masquerades as ZeeZee Reisman, literary agent of the Sherry Clutch Literary Agency for another school-aged kid author for a fair chance in the writing world, but it doesn’t. Joining writing groups or entering contests only helps you improve your writing skills and helps you write more professionally. It may sound funny, but when kids write, to be taken seriously, you can’t sound like a kid. I have to say that as a reviewer, if I get a book with mistakes or poor grammar or stories with huge holes in the plot, I don’t want to review it. Even in letters to agents or publishers, you have to be professional. I think that was one of the mistakes I made when I sent out query letters for my book – I sounded more book fanboy than a serious author. Still it was a good experience and I learned a lot.

Speaking of being professional, that is what landed me a monthly newspaper column. I write a column called “This Kid Reviews Books” (what else) for the Upper Bucks Free Press. I got the column assignment at a book signing event. The content editor of the newspaper heard me interviewing the author at the event. After I was done interviewing the author, the editor pulled me aside and told me how professionally I handled the interview. She was stunned to learn I was only ten at the time. I’ve been writing for the paper ever since.

I have a feature on my blog called “Creative Kid Thursday.” I interview kid authors, illustrators, bloggers and business owners on Creative Kid Thursdays. The majority of kids are self-published or published through a small press but it is so awesome to see so many kids doing great things. The kids who are writing are doing it because they love it. Some day they want to be a traditionally published author (hey, I do too).

Some practical things you can do if you are a kid and want to become a writer are:

1) Start a blog. Post things you write to it. You may get comments back or connect with people who can help you in your writing.

2) Enter writing contests. They help you focus your writing or get experience writing about things you usually wouldn’t think of. Plus there’s a chance you may win.

3) Get a writing mentor. Someone who will help you really grow as a writer.

4) Join a critique group. Find a group that is willing to have a kid or maybe make one with fellow kids. Just make sure the people in the group offer constructive criticism and aren’t the kind of people who just like to pick things apart.

5) Join writing events such as NaNoWriMo YWP or professional societies, if they let kids in. I tried to join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), but they won’t let anyone under 18 join (they were very nice and sent me some great resource materials though).

6) Attend writing classes offered in the writing community. I really enjoyed Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Making Picture Book Magic.” I never thought about writing picture books before. It was a challenge and the class made me a better writer.

7) Write, write, write!

8) Contact me and I’ll feature you on my blog. 😉

9) The best advice I’ve ever heard for aspiring writers came from Newbery Award-winning author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate DiCamillio, “Read as much as you can.”

Happy Writings!


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Getting Kids Published with Erik of This Kid Reviews Books

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Great post, Erik! Even though you can’t be a member of the SCBWI as a kid, you can still attend events and get your manuscript or portfolio critiqued. I’ve seen many pre-teens and teens at the NJ SCBWI annual conference.

  2. Great post, Erik & Mia. Tweeted!
    Write, write, write and read, read, read …. really is the best advice! 🙂
    Cool Mom recently posted…Katrina looks DAPPER in her ballroom gown. Word of the Week with Guest Taurean J. Watkins (3/30/2015): #KidLitWowMy Profile

  3. Erik is such an inspiration! I know he inspires kids, but he also inspires me as an adult. He is the BEST!
    Penny Parker Klostermann recently posted…A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt-Guests Kirsti Call and Daughter, NaomiMy Profile

  4. Erik, you are so inspiring! How wonderful you can give such great tips on getting published at such a young age. I hope to see many more books from you in the future! We must read if we want to write indeed. They go hand in hand.

  5. Wow Erik I’m impressed. I have a 7 year old daughter who likes to draw and says she wants to be an artist when she grows up. She writes as well. She’s written two story books, more for fun. I’ve treated her enthusiasm for drawing and writing as a passing phase she might be going through. Who knows she may want to be a doctor tomorrow. That’s why I’ve been reluctant to put her into an art class because I want her to have fun with it and when she gets older if she decides to really pursue this, then enroll her in classes. But it’s great to see there are young kids who are published writers. Keep up the good work.
    Jackie059 recently posted…Women in History We Love!My Profile

    • Hi Jackie,
      I have a feeling that getting published as a kid is even harder than an adult but it’s wonderful that kids aspire to do that and actually succeed! I have a feeling more will self publish in the future as kids which will be exciting! They will probably not find the ebook technology daunting like we adults do.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Teaching Kids About Money TWITTER PARTYMy Profile

  6. Thank you Ms. Wenjen! I appreciate you having me on your blog! Have a great weekend! 😀
    Erik – TKRB recently posted…Perfect Picture Book Friday! Polar Bear’s Underwear by tupera tuperaMy Profile

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you Mia and Erik!!!!!!!!! I am jumping out of my skin with excitement this morning. My daughter, Annika, is going to be so happy when she reads this post. I cannot thank you both enough… This is so inspiring!!!! The best! 🙂 Ah, thank you!!!!!
    erika recently posted…2 Months Old!My Profile

  8. Dee

    Erik, where where you 40 years ago! 🙂 I could have used such inspiration. My son is currently got a play/movie he is writing. Not sure where it will take him but happy to share your influence with him. (He is also 13.)

  9. My aspiring writer has the reading part down! I think her challenge will be to finish one of the many stories she has started!
    MaryAnne recently posted…Stuffies Kids Can SewMy Profile

  10. Such an inspiring post for kids interested in writing! Enjoyed reading about Erika and Erik. Such good advice!
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…Never Say a Mean Word AgainMy Profile

  11. Congrats, Erik! Really impressive to read about your success. I wish you the very best and also when you say that you compete agaisnt adults writers, it is true and false. Adults have had more time to improve their skills and more time to read more books, of course. But children and young adults are living in the present and have a real exposure to other kids, so if they pick to write a contemporary story, they have a valuable edge. In any case I loved reading about your experience. Good luck!
    Thank you, Mia, for this cool and inspiring post.
    evelyne holingue recently posted…To Send to Pasture or a Month of French Idioms From A to ZMy Profile

  12. Hi Mia! I saw your post on Friendship Friday. I’ve heard good things about Erik via the Stanley and Katrina blog and Writer’s Side Up blog. Great post! I shared it on Google+ and I’ve now added you on Instagram from the Social Media boost. I only just started with Instagram myself. Take care!
    Christina Morley recently posted…Happy Moms and #Weekend #LinkyMy Profile

  13. Renee MDBR

    That is such great advice from Erik! And, he would know! I think as parents we should do as much as we can to support children regardless of the path they choose. There are some excellent writing camps and lessons that children can take to help hone their skills as an author as well. Much of the hard work comes from the editing – children often have an endless fount filled with creativity and ideas. Thanks for hosting Erik and for linking in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Great post Erik!! 🙂
    Renee MDBR recently posted…Happy One Year Blogoversary to Kid Literature! #BIG GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  14. I would love to publish a book someday. I feel so behind compared to the child examples. Oh well, I’ll keep writing on and reading on. I still plan on having a 9-5 career. Blessings to you.
    Meredith recently posted…Dear Step FamiliesMy Profile

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