Monday, January 24, 2011

“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!..."

Question: “Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book! How can I get my book published?”
Answer: I get this question from people a lot.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be offering a series of info and advice on this topic. Let’s get started!

First, to writers: If you think you may eventually submit your book to a publishing house or agent, do not hire an illustrator just yet. This is often the first thing people really want to do because it’s “your baby” and you want to see your story and vision come to life. It’s really exciting...but, STOP! This is a waste of time and money if you really want to pursue offers from traditional publishers. Most publishers choose and hire the illustrator based on their own design and marketing plans.

Obviously, if you’re an author/illustrator, that’s different. You will need to submit the manuscript as well as sketches, samples of final illustrations and/or a dummy book, depending on what the publisher requires. Whether done electronically, in person or via good quality copies of your work will depend on the publisher’s submission policy.

For both writers and author/illustrators:
• Check submissions policies for the publishers you plan to contact. Most have this info posted on their web pages.
• Peruse the type of books they typically publish and see if the book you are proposing fits their niche. Some publisher web sites list the specific types of books they publish or are currently looking for. If you are a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), their quarterly newsletter is a good source for this type of insider info as well.
• Begin with a query letter. This article from has some helpful query letter and submission hints.
• You may want to hire a literary agent as some publishers do not accept submissions directly from the authors or author/illustrators. For more information, read the articles on Harold Underdown’s web page, Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children's Books: The Purple Crayon or read The Wee Web for a good concise bit of advice from the UK.

I have these two books in my library and recommend them for anyone interested in the children’s book publishing experience:
• The Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold Underdown
• Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books by Uri Shulevitz

So, if you’re still looking at tossing your book into the publishing ring, my next blog entry will explain what type of publishers are out there... stay tuned!