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5 Tips on Writing & Illustrating Children’s Books From Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Here are 5 great takeaways on writing and illustrating children’s books from our Writer's Market Podcast with Debbie Ridpath Ohi. (Plus a link to listen to all the other great tips she has to offer writers and illustrators.)

Are you interested in writing or illustrating a children's book (or both)? If so, then you'll want to listen to this fun, yet in-depth Writer's Market Podcast (which I co-host with the one-and-only Robert Lee Brewer), where we interview successful writer and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Ohi is the illustrator for the Michael Ian Black children's books I'm Bored and Naked, as well as the Judy Blume books and her own Where Are My Books. While she dished out many, many great pieces of advice throughout, here are five takeaways that stuck with me (and if you find these helpful you should definitely listen to the entire interview here or here on iTunes):


5 Tips on Writing and Illustrating Children's Books

1. Be Enthusiastic.

Always be excited about your work when discussing with others, whether that’s with literary agents, editors, publishers or potential readers. The publishing industry can be a grind at time, as you often battle unanswered emails and rejection letters. Don’t let that overshadow why you wrote your book in the first place and keep that positive spirit alive. You never know where it may lead.

2. Put Yourself in a Position to Succeed.

While you can’t control when lightning will hit, you can control your own personal lightning rod all the time (Debbie credits Maureen McGowan for this advice). Also, make sure you’re always prepared that way when lightning does hit, you’re in excellent shape to push your career forward (Debbie credits Kevin Sylvester for this advice).

3. Don’t Assume Where You Are is Where You Are Meant to Be

Be open to what you might be able to accomplish. Be willing to take risks. Debbie left her freelance career behind to follow her real dream of writing and illustrating children’s books.

4. Trust the process.

Let people in the publishing process do their jobs and don’t try to micro-manage others along the way. An illustrator shouldn’t tell the writer how to do their job, he or she should trust the writer to write the script—just as a writer should trust the illustrator to take the script and do a great job illustrating it.

5. Perseverance.

At times it may feel like the only thing that’s happening is rejection, but battle through that. Nearly all writers face rejection—it’s almost like a rite of passage. But it’s the writers who persevere and push forward with their craft that finally find success. Be one of those writers.

If you want more great tips on how to write and illustrate children’s books as well as in-depth explanations of the thoughts above, listen to the full podcast with Debbie Ridpath Ohi here at or click here to listen to and subscribe on iTunes.


Plus, check out these other great interviews on the Writer's Market Podcast:

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
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