How to earn money with writing fairy tales for kids?

by Tolovaj

Can you earn a living with fairy tales writing? I know I can and I am sharing several tips with you, so you can do the same!

When I decided to become a full-time writer, I have had already a lot of works published. But all of them were for an adult audience. While I tried to continue and expand writing in the same areas, it was soon clear I should not neglect the kids market.

It is bigger, with higher demand (and competition) and more possibilities of earning. Several editors suggested me exactly that. First thought about writing fairy tales for kids are for most people books, especially picture books, but there are numerous other possibilities just waiting to be explored.

(all presented images are copyrighted by Tolovaj Publishing Slovenia)

This article lists 10 ways to earn money with your own fairy tales:


1. Books

It's an obvious yet not the easiest way to earn money with writing fairy tales. Publishers need to invest relatively a lot of money and energy in a book for unpredictable return. Unknown authors are especially risky. The audience doesn't know them, libraries are reserved at orders of a new name, the investment in promotion is unpredictable.

Books are not the easiest way to start a career as a professional writer, no matter if you address kids or grown-ups. But fortunately, in the market of fairy tales, you have other options as well. Some of them are surprisingly profitable.

Example of a book with several shorter stories (part of the series)

Books are best for one longer or several shorter stories
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2. Picture Books

It's another obvious possibility of earning money with your fairy tale. With an accomplished illustrator publisher's risk is significantly lower, but a majority of fresh authors doesn't have a clue about specifics of this genre.

They write too long dialogues, don't change enough scenes, can't level descriptions with action etc. Yet, if they are willing to adapt the story a bit, this can be a great opportunity for building a name and have some great time along the way.

Picture books are best for one condensed story with a lot of different scenes
3. Children's Magazines

This is much easier than the first two options. Why? There is much greater demand for stories among magazines. They have to publish an edition every month and they need fresh material all the time. The editors are not so demanding than editors of books because the expense for your story is significantly lower. The story can be written in freer form than at picture books, because there is typically only one illustration accompanying your part.

You can still earn good money if you regularly publish fairy tales in magazines. If you are good, your name will become popular and editors of books or picture books will look at your offers much more favorably.

But! It's still not easy to publish a fairy tale in a magazine. Some of them have still very high standards, almost impossible to reach for beginners. And some of them are pretty closed companies with a selected circle of writers and illustrators where a new name can enter only one in a couple of years. So - you need to try and try and - try again.


4. Radio

A fairy tale is made for being told, but most of the new authors too often forget this simple fact. Not every radio station needs fairy tales but our nation station, for instance, broadcast a fairy tale every single day for more than 60 years! You can imagine it's a lot of fairy tales. Not everyone if a premier, because in so many decades their archive grew already pretty big. I managed to publish several hundred (!) fairy tales in national radio and by the way, wrote several dozens radio plays as well.

What's the difference?

A simply told fairy tale is written and read by an actor.

A radio play, on the other hand, is a dramatized text with dialogues, ambiences etc., what is much harder to make, yet it can be done. I love creating both.

5. Radio Cassettes, CDs, Napster, Audiobooks, ...

A told fairy tale recorded on whatever media will never replace a parent's voice but it is practical enough for many situations (think about long rides in a car or kid's waiting in his room while you finish some works in your kitchen). I tried to convince several editors to publish my stories on audio media as well, but the best things happened when I decided to invest some time and money in recording under my guidance. We created several dozens of CDs and had pretty good fun at the same time.


6. Theater

If you are more of a visual than audio type, a dramatized fairy tale for a stage can be your next best bet. You have two major in this area too: with real actors or with marionettes. Each one of them has its pros and cons and most of the fairy tales can be adapted for both. If you are willing to learn and work on your own texts, of course.

7. Television

It's a major media with a huge demand for all kinds of texts, including fairy tales for children of all ages. If you find your way into production circles with a winning combination of good scenarios and healthy connections among producers and directors, you can write for a television as well. Here are two major options: shooting fairy tales with real people or making animated versions. Again, there's a learning curve, but a lot of possible rewards. Definitely worth considering!

8. Public Performances

Some authors prefer reading their own fairy tales in front of live audience. Schools, libraries, and literary festivals are only a few of possibilities to present your original fairy tales, make some money and meet a lot of new interesting people at the same time. This kind of earning can be pretty time consuming but if you are in demand, you can get relatively good money.

All these possibilities can make you money even before going international!
Rascals From 3 A: Humorous short stories for kids
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9. Internet

The web is new media and perhaps the most democratic of all.

You can become a YouTube star or have a successful blog with your fairy tales - written, recorded, played or whatever you prefer.

If you can find a few sponsors on your own or run advertisements by a third party, there's also a lot of money for entrepreneurial authors.

But it's a hard work for beginners and probably not the best road to take if you want to earn fast.

10. Passive income

Copyright law is not the same in all countries yet, in general, every reprint, replay or another kind of reproduction demands payment of the author. It's not a full payment like at premieres, but it adds up if you have a lot of already published works, a lot of books in libraries etc. Several agencies are taking care of your earning (for a fee of course), so you can still focus on creating new works, but money from your old fairy tales can still come to your account. Every author in European Union, for instance, gets a few cents for every borrowed book written, illustrated or translated by him. The most popular authors get several thousand Euros every year just for that. Again, it's not money you can count on from the beginning, but definitely an important part of an income for serious authors of fairy tales.

What are you waiting for?

Go and write your own fairy tale!

Updated: 07/21/2018, Tolovaj
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Tolovaj on 05/24/2023

Yes, DerdriuMarriner, modern versions explore classic fairy tales with new twists, different perspectives, etc. Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, and Jane Yolen are typical authorities in this field.

DerdriuMarriner on 05/19/2023

It intrigues me about 21st-century writers of fairy tales, which I generally judge as a literary journey back in time hundreds of years.

Is writing a modern-day fairy tale making up one's own story in fairy-tale fashion or is it also writing expanded versions, prequels and sequels to the extant fairy-tale lore?

For example, would a modern-day fairy tale possibility be writing La Belle et la Bête from the beast's perspective? Would it perhaps involve our learning what he did, whom he met -- ;-D -- all those ghastly pre-Beauty years?

Tolovaj on 05/19/2023

I'll have this in mind, DerdriuMarriner. Thanks for stopping by.

DerdriuMarriner on 05/16/2023

Thank you!

If you ever can make the time out of your busy schedule to write about those fairy tales that do have main characters spend time in the world of the dead, that is something that really interests me.

(Kadare indicated very clearly, and obviously erroneously, regarding the Albania-China interaction in the 20th century and The Concert, that only Albania and China invoke that "dead time" in their respective fairy-tale legacies.)

And yet it's only the Egyptian Hieroglyphic-, Greek-, and Latin-language legacies of the ancient Troy culture that I most immediately think of time in the world of the dead!

Tolovaj on 05/16/2023

Hi, DerdriuMarriner. My country celebrates April, 2nd (Andersen's birthday) with several happenings, mostly related to schools, but it's focus mostly on the promotion of reading, not fairy tales. I am not familiar with the fairy tale you mentioned but there are many where the main character(s) spend an important amount of time in the world of the dead.

DerdriuMarriner on 05/15/2023

It astounds me how many fairy tales are extant in so many countries at so many times.

Does the fairy tale a day arrangement in your country assemble a story and an analysis or provenance?

Is The Boy Who Carried a Letter to the Kingdom of the Dead among that repertoire? Ismail Kadare mentions it in connection with his novel The Concert about how revolutionary China chose close diplomatic, political and socioeconomic interactions with only one European country, Albania. He noted that only Albania and China share the same plot and title in the fairy tale about The Boy Who Carried a Letter to the Kingdom of the Dead! No other country in the world preserve that fairy tale or anything like it.

Tolovaj on 10/30/2018

Thanks, katiem2. All the best to you too!

katiem2 on 10/29/2018

Very interesting, congratulations on your success.

Tolovaj on 10/29/2018

Hi, katiem2, glad to see you again. I started my writing career as a journalist and had my first novel completed (and published at the biggest publishing house in country) at early twenties. But these works were not for kids. Soon after I became a full time writer, so I needed as many streams of income as possible. I learned on the go.

Right now I have enough work in my country to make decent living and not enough energy to expand in America (which, frankly, is by far the most interesting market for a writer). Having a good literary agent or some kind of connection with a major publishing houses would be awesome, but at the moment this is beyond my reach.

katiem2 on 10/29/2018

P.S. I would love to hear more from you about the art work and how it came to pass.

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