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September 1, 2010

Children's Book Publishing, Answering Some Basic Questions

Like all my colleagues in the children's book field,
prospective authors and  illustrators frequently 
contact me. Wanting to know everything from how 
to find an illustrator for their story to critiquing their
manuscript to naming someone at a publishing house 
to whom a manuscript might be sent. 
Not wanting to be unkind or seem ungracious, but
needing  time for my own work, I thought it might 
help to answer some of the most often
asked questions.

1. If you have written a story but have no intention
of illustrating it as well, do not worry. If a publisher
is interested they know where to find Illustrators.
Illustrators provide samples of their work through
agents, websites, blogs, professional "catalogs"
and professional networking. Just follow the 
submission policies of the particular publisher and
send a copy of your story with the appropriate cover
letter. If accepted an Illustrator will be provided. 
This system also protects the illustrator as they and 
the author will each have a contract.

2. All children's book publishers maintain webites
where you can learn about what sort of books they 
publish and how to submit your story and whether 
or not they accept unsolicited manuscripts.

3. Just because someone knows someone who works 
in the field does not mean they have any ability to help 
you "jump the queue". Chances are, they will refer you 
to children's book publishing web sites like The Purple 
Crayon or books like 
Children's Writers and Illustrators Market There is no magic "key" to 
getting a manuscript accepted. Even authors with 
previously published books may have a manuscript 
rejected. That doesn't necessarily mean that it won't 
be accepted elsewhere. 

4. Even in a prosperous year, publishers accept anywhere
from a tiny number of unsolicited manuscripts to none. 
Again, check the particular "house" policies on their websites.

5. Asking a published illustrator or author to review and 
or critique your work is a time consuming task and may 
be an imposition. Some are willing to do this for a fee 
and you should look to see if this service is mentioned 
on their website or blog. Just remember that they cannot 
guarantee acceptance of your work nor can you use
their name without permission as part of your submission.

6. In my experience, books get accepted when the stars and 
planets are in alignment. To be honest, there are instances 
when even accepted books are canceled. Sometimes for 
unknown reasons. It is important that you do your 
"homework" and understand that publishing is after all 
business, driven these days primarily by  marketing 

I hope this has been useful. 
Please, leave a comment if you have an additional question 
or comment regarding this subject. 

However, I am not reviewing individual manuscripts 
or portfolios at this time. 


  1. This is a very generous and highly informative post. I know you will help many who have ambitions to publish a children's book.

  2. Thanks, D.
    What I've written is far from secret.
    Ambition is better served if one has the
    desire to write and illustrate for children, rather than publish a book. (Maybe something I should address
    in another post).

  3. Well put, CC. It always comes down to following your passions, doesn't it?

  4. you have to make a note with this in facebook. Is so so interesting!
    cheers, my dear!