Publishing Children’s Books

Once you’ve done all the footwork and you have completed your children’s book, you most likely are wondering how you will get your manuscript published or how to best find the right publisher.  Even before deciding on a publisher, you must first select whether you will go the traditional publishing route, whether you will self-publish or whether you will use one of the vanity publishers.  Click here to see more on publishing.

Submitting your Children’s Manuscript to a Publisher

Smiling young kid sitting over pile of booksSubmitting your manuscript to a publisher can be nerve wrecking because of all the rejection horror stories; however, it’s helpful to remember that this is just part of the journey to getting published and getting rejected happens to everyone.

One of the major decisions you will have to make is whether you will be using an agent to solicit your manuscript to publishers or if you will be doing this yourself.  Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.  It’s extremely important that you do some research on which publishers accept manuscripts directly from an author and which companies will only accept manuscripts through agents.  This will help narrow down the publishing companies and can help you decide the direction you want to go.  In addition, if you are an illustrator you may also decide you need an artist representative to solicit your work to art directors within the various publishing houses or you may select to do this yourself.  It really is as simple as determining where you want to go within the children’s book industry, doing some research and then moving in the direction that you have set.

When submitting your children’s manuscript to a publisher it’s best that you begin with a query letter.  These letters are used if you are selling a novel, children’s book, non-fiction book or selling an article to a newspaper or a magazine.  Query letters are also sent to agents to solicit representation.  In a nutshell, query letters are sent to see if an agent or an editor has interest in your written work.  Click  here to see more on query letters.

What happens to a manuscript once it gets to a publisher?

If you decide not to use an agent to solicit your manuscript to publishers and would rather handle the query letter process yourself, understand that sending your children’s book manuscript directly to an editor doesn’t always mean that it will get read right away.  Remember that editors are busy people and a manuscript can sit on an editor’s desk for a while before it’s reviewed.  If you know the editor or if you have met the editor at a writer’s conference mention this in your submittal letter as this may help to speed up the process somewhat.  If, however, you don’t know the editor don’t pretend that you do know him or her as your manuscript will surely make it to the slush pile and you potentially would have lost a few more weeks in getting it reviewed.

So what is a slush pile?  A slush pile is simply a stack of manuscripts received by a publisher that need review.  Sometimes an editor will hire freelance editors to come into the office to assist with reviewing these manuscripts.  Depending on the amount of manuscripts for review, it could sometimes take weeks or months before these freelance editors or in-house editors get through the material received.  If you don’t hear from a publisher within a couple of months, it’s probably a good idea to send out a gentle reminder letter to let them know that you haven’t heard from them regarding your manuscript.  Don’t get disheartened as this is a grueling and arduous process for both you and the editors.  Sometimes, there is no real way of avoiding this slush pile for first-time authors.  Reviewing some of the more well-known guides to see which publishers actually review their slush piles and which don’t can be helpful.    Start with the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market or the Children’s Book Council’s member’s list for review of available information.  Another great site to visit and join is the  Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators as this organization has lots of good information for writers of children’s books.

Using an Agent to “Pitch” Children’s Manuscript to a Publisher

If you decide to use an agent to pitch your children’s manuscript to a publisher, be forewarned that this doesn’t necessarily mean success.  Many factors could be involved such as the agent may not be the right person to handle this genre, the agent may have a bad name within the industry, the agent is not well known in the industry and doesn’t have connections or it may be that you and the agent are not compatible.  As you can see, a number of factors can impact the success of getting your manuscript in the right hands.  On the other hand, if you get the right agent it may make the difference to getting your material published as many publishing houses will only accept material from agents.  In addition to agents submitting material to publishers on your behalf, they will negotiate literary contracts as well as handle payments from publishers.  Keep in mind that getting an agent can be just as difficult as getting your manuscript published because you will have to send out query letters to solicit an agent to represent you.  Some agents will only take new clients that have been referred by someone else.  Review the article on agents and see how to best get an agent if this is the direction you choose.

Pitching your Children’s Manuscript to a Publisher without an Agent

If you decide not to use an agent and you want to submit your material directly to publishers, make sure you research to see which publishers will accept your material without an agent.  In addition, make sure that you follow their guidelines for submitting your query letter and manuscript pages.  Review article on  query letters for more detailed information.

Self-Publishing and Vanity Presses

Using a subsidy publisher, which is also known as self-publishing or vanity press publishing is another avenue that writers choose to get their material published.  Review article on publishing to differentiate between a self-publisher and a vanity press.  Be cautious when going this route as there are many companies that indicate they will help market your material and you come to find out it was only a sales ploy.  Going this route usually means that you will be taking all the risks by putting all the upfront money to get your manuscript published as well as doing your own marketing.  Also, be mindful that many of the large bookstores chains do not carry books that are self-published; therefore, this makes it more difficult to market your product to the masses.

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