How to Publish a Childrens Book in 6 Simple Steps

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In the early 1990s, Julia Donaldson was approached by a publisher who wanted to adapt one of her songs for the BBC. With the release of A Squash and a Squeeze, Donaldson published her first children’s book at the age of 45, igniting a career that resulted in modern classics like The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, and Stick Man.

Donaldson had the edge over most first-time authors, in that she had a background in kids’ TV. But how does a regular person — one with no connections to the arts — become a published author? In this post, we’ll show you how to publish a children’s book and get it into the hands (and hearts) of young readers everywhere.

First-time authors: How do you get your children’s book published?

1. Know the market

Knowing your audience is essential when you’re writing your book and crucialWhen you are attempting to sell your book, the primary concern for an editor is whether it is something they can market. Furthermore, showing that you comprehend the publishing industry by pinpointing your book’s desired readership will likely impress editors, who often look for someone they can work with.

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What are the age ranges for children’s books?

Generally, kids’ literature can be broken down into four groups:

  • Picture Books: under 6 years old, under 1,000 words
  • Early Readers: 6+ years old, 2,000 to 5,000 words
  • Chapter Books: 7-9 years old, 5,000 to 10,000 words
  • Middle Grade (MG): 9-12 years old, 30,000 to 50,000 words
  • Young Adult (YA): 12-18 years old, 50,000 to 100,00 words

Editors today pay close attention to the length of a work. Owing to the fact that they do not have ample time to edit the books that they acquire, if a middle-grade book is 200,000 words in length, most editors will decide against taking it on as it can be quite stressful.

If you want to learn more about writing for each category in children’s publishing, sign up for this free online course

Free course: Writing Children’s Books 101

Are you sure the book you wrote is suitable for the intended audience? Discover the answer through this free online course. Start learning now!

If you are wanting to get a better understanding of what is currently trending in the book market, visiting a physical bookstore is the way to go. Barnes & Noble is a great example of this, as it provides an opportunity to see what is being sold and promoted in person. While online retailers have taken over a large portion of the children’s book market, many parents still prefer to purchase books in a traditional physical store.


  • Which authors are popular in your category;
  • What topics and themes seem to be trending; and
  • Which publishers are putting out these books.

You can easily scan through all the major titles in your category and find out which ones your book will compete with. In publishing, we often talk about “writing to market,” which naysayers interpret as “cynically imitating successful books.” But really, it’s about understanding the tastes of readers and publishers. You want to know what your audience has read before

Tip: Sign up to the Children’s Bookshelf newsletterStaying up to date with the market is essential, which is why I read Publisher’s Weekly to stay informed of any new developments, such as new titles.

2. Refine your manuscript

As we’ve mentioned, editors rarely have time to edit, so your manuscript needs to be as good as possible before

Keep rewriting and editing your book

Great books are almost always the result of meticulous, well-considered rewrites and edits. In a letter he wrote to his daughter, Roald Dahl revealed the all-consuming work

“But I’ve got now to think of a really decent second half [for Matilda]. The present one will all be scrapped. Three months work gone out the window, but that’s the way it is. I must have rewritten Charlie [and the Chocolate Factory]

> Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Illustration by Quentin Blake

Work on your manuscript until you can’t possibly think of a way to improve it. Picture books and early readers are so short that it’s even more crucial than usual to perfect every single sentence. It may take less time to write a children’s book than it does to write a full novelWriting a paper can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be a challenge. Taking the time to consider your ideas and how to improve them can be just as important as the writing process itself.

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Which famous children’s author do you write like?

Discover which renowned literary figure best matches your writing style in just 30 seconds!

Get feedback from readers

Many authors get their children (or nieces, or their friends’ children) to read their manuscripts. Kids are brutally honest, so they make for some of the best beta readersParents are great for obtaining feedback about a book. They are the ones who will actually purchase the book, and their reactions can be utilized to determine if the book is suitable for the intended audience.

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Children’s writing communities

There are many excellent online communities where you can ask for feedback from fellow authors and enthusiastic readers. Facebook groups like Children’s Book Authors and Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators

Put serious consideration into joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and IllustratorsMembers are granted access to a wealth of resources such as their exclusive “Book”, a page filled with directories of publishers, agents, and reviewers that specifically cater to children’s publishing.

SCBWI also has over 70 regional chapters around the world, allowing you to network with local, like-minded children’s authors. The annual fee is $80, but it’s well worth it — even if you only using a fraction of what they offer. Another group worth looking at is the Children’s Literature AssociationChildren’s literature can be studied from an academic perspective, providing valuable insight into what topics and stories are successful and which are not. By doing so, one can gain a better understanding of what makes a compelling children’s book.

Joining a writers’ community can make all the difference in your burgeoning career. Once you’ve established yourself as an active and givingAs a member, you will have an easier time locating beta readers or requesting a referral to an agent or publisher.

Work with a professional editor

An experienced editor can not only revise your writing and fix any grammatical errors, but they can also help ensure that your book is crafted for the correct audience. They possess the knowledge of industry expectations and regulations and can provide advice on how to submit your manuscript. In addition to improving your story, an expert editor can assist in making sure that your book meets the requirements of the publishing industry.

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What kind of editing does your book need?

Many freelance editors on Reedsy have worked for the world’s largest publishers, so they know precisely what acquiring editors are looking for. Their help can prove invaluable, so you should definitely consider getting a pro editor for your children’s book. You can learn more in this article about working with professional fiction editors.

Tip: Editing costs are often based on word count. Picture booksEarly readers’ manuscripts tend to be quite brief, making the cost of a professional edit surprisingly low.

Collaborate with an expert children’s book editor to enhance the quality of your book.

Skip on illustrations if you’re querying agents

Unless you’re already a professional illustrator like Raymond Briggs (The Snowman) or Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back), don’t worry about illustrations. Don’t do it yourself, and don’t get your spouse, child, or college roommate to do it. Don’t even provide guidelines. The editor who buys your book will want to choose the illustrator — again, unless you are a pro illustrator who can do the jobSubmitting rough drafts or outlines will only have a negative effect on you.

If you are considering self-publishing a children’s book and wondering what the cost of hiring an illustrator might be, we suggest you take this brief 10-second quiz. The results will provide you with an accurate estimate based on actual data.

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What will it cost you to hire a children’s book illustrator?

If you’re looking for an illustrator who suits your style, we suggest taking this brief quiz! It will provide you with a personalized recommendation.

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Which children’s book illustrator is the best fit for your book?

Assuming that you have done your utmost to refine your manuscript, now it is time to put it up for sale!

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3. Find a children’s book agent

The most straightforward way of selling to a publisher is to first secure a literary agent. According to Anna BowlesIt is not often that publishers will accept works that have not been submitted through an agent.

The great news for you is that we’ve already put together a list of 200+ veteran children’s book agentsIf you are looking for a place to begin submitting or asking questions, the list of options provided is an excellent starting point.

Now for a little more info on agents: a literary agent’s job is to sell your book to a publisher and negotiate the best deal on your behalf. If there’s the potential for your book to become the next Rainbow Magic or Percy JacksonIt is probable that a film production company will take care of the film, television, and merchandising rights for a project.

> The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, Disney Books / 20th Century Fox

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Querying agents

A query letter for a children’s manuscript, even a picture bookCreating a query letter for a literary fiction book is similar to writing a query letter for any other type of fiction. In one page, the query should summarize the book’s “elevator pitch,” which is an attention-grabbing summary that gives the agent a good understanding of the story and its main characters. The query should also give information about the author and the reason why they think the book is a good fit for the agent’s list. Lastly, the letter should include information about the book’s length, genre, and marketability.

  • Where your book stands in the children’s publishing market;
  • What makes your book unique; and
  • Why you and the agent are perfectly suited to each other.
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Making an impression can be difficult for new writers. While someone might think that filling an envelope with glitter to show they are “young at heart” will make them stand out, it is far more likely to land them in trouble than help them get representation.

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Are you ready for a literary agent?

We have plenty of tips for writing a great query letter,

  1. Only submit to agents who handle kid’s authors. Too many authors don’t do their research before they query an agent. Don’t waste your time contacting agents who only handle adult titles or books that are way out of your category. Again, if you go through our directory of experienced children’s book agents, this shouldn’t be a problem!
  2. Know where your book fits into their list. If the agent already has a few unicorn-based picture books on their list, mention how your unicorn picture book will sit nicely alongside them. If they don’t have any unicorn books, say how your book can add depth to their list.

What happens after you get an agent?

If you do manage to catch an agent’s eye and they agree to represent you, you’re not on easy street just yet. Just ask J.K. Rowling, whose agent struggled to sell the first Harry Potter


What if you’ve sent out a dozen perfectAre you sending out query letters but not seeing the results you hoped for? Don’t worry, you still have the ability to submit your book independently.

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4. Submit directly to publishers

Without an agent, you need to search for publishers who accept “unagented submissions.” Depending on your territory, major publishers might accept unsolicited manuscripts. For example, Penguin Australia encourages children’s authors to submit directly while their US and UK offices

Kick off your search with our list of 35 amazing children’s book publishersAre you looking for a home for your children’s book? Look no further! We are now accepting submissions, from fiction to nonfiction, picture books to middle grade. If you don’t find the perfect fit, these strategies can help you out.

Look for niche imprints of big publishers

It isn’t strictly true that the major presses won’t look at unsolicited manuscripts. Penguin actually has an imprint called Dial Books for Young ReadersAuthors can submit their work directly to Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. However, they will not respond unless they are interested in publishing the work. Therefore, it is possible to experience a silent rejection.

Small and medium publishers

Smaller independent publishers are more likely to show interest in unagented submissions. It’s just a matter of finding the right ones. The industry tomes Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and Writers’ & Artists’ YearbookThe UK offers two directories that can help you locate the correct publishers. Additionally, members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators have access to an extensive database.

For free resources, check out Picturebook Planet, which has a great list of picture book publishers you can submit to. For all other kid’s categories, the Published to Death blogThis publisher has a substantial portion of its directory listed (check halfway down).

Many companies won’t take submissions all year round, but if you sign up for the free newsletter from Authors PublishYou will be notified when publishers begin to accept direct submissions.

Beware of vanity presses!

If a publisher wants you to pay to publish your book, just run away. The publishing landscape is infested with vanity presses,

> Image: Penguin Random House

The financial rewards of a job are not the only motivation; it’s more about the passion for the work itself.

It’s only a joke! Finances are always important, particularly if you are aiming to make a living writing.

Authors of children’s literature can anticipate an advance payment ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 for their first book, with royalties that typically amount to around 7% for printed books and up to 25% for ebook sales. Royalties for picture books are split between the writer and the illustrator, usually with a greater proportion going to the illustrator.

How much can a children’s author expect to make from a book?

Statistically, most published authors don’t make enough from their books to write full-timeIf you view children’s publishing as a pathway to immense wealth, you may be let down. However, if you have an inspiring notion for a narrative, the imagination to render it distinct and enjoyable, and the determination to see it in the hands of your readers, you can very likely get it published.

Read More :   Picture Book Manuscript Format

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If you are interested in the different option of publishing, indie publishing might be the right choice for you. Rather than relying on acceptance from a traditional publisher, you can choose to self-publish a children’s book, allowing you to keep control of your work and not have to wait on any decisions from external sources.

It’s a faster path and with higher publishing certainty, though it requires a lot more work for the author. If you want to know more, the next post in this series will show you how to self-publish a children’s book.

5. Always be marketing

>great book marketing ideasBuilding a successful author platform involves many steps, such as creating a mailing list and collaborating with other authors on promotional activities.

In this portion, we will concentrate on the remaining 20%: the promotional strategies that are specific to children’s literature.

Reviews are even more important

When selecting books for their children, parents often heavily consider reviews from other parents, seeking to understand how other kids have responded to the book and if the content is suitable for their own family. This is more of a focus than when they are purchasing books for their own personal use.

Even more so than with a self-published thriller or romance novel, a picture book with no reviews will really struggle to sell — and will be impossible to place in a library or bookstore. To learn how to get reviews for your book, check out this post.

Look to online communities for influencers and a street team

Nowadays, parents of young children are often millennials, who turn to the internet for advice on almost anything. This is a sweeping assumption, however. Social media platforms such as blogs, Instagram, Facebook Groups, Twitter and Reddit are frequently used to search for information.

Explore Facebook to discover groups focused on children’s books or those that may be relevant to the topic of your book. For instance, if you have written a picture book about fire trucks, you can bet that there is a Facebook group of people (or those with children) who have an affinity for fire trucks.

Share pictures of your book on Instagram or Twitter using relevant hashtags — ones that either deal with your book’s topic (#unicorns #firetrucks) or tap directly into your audience (#mommylifestyle #picturebooksaremyjam)

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Work with an influencer

It is likely that you have heard of the word “influencer” being used to refer to YouTube or Instagram personalities who receive payment from companies to advertise their products. Despite this, it is important to consider that influencers come in many different forms and reaching out to those whose preferences match your book is a great idea.

Yvonne Jones wrote a picture book about a monster truck (Lil’ Foot the Monster Truck) and to promote it, she reached out to Bob Chandler, creator of BigfootBob was a big fan of the book and gave it positive feedback. This put her in the good books of various monster truck associations and blogs, giving her the opportunity to break into the sport of monster trucks.

If you can identify an individual who has some authority or influence over potential buyers of your book, consider reaching out and introducing yourself. Politely offer to send them a copy of your book.

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School visits!

Many schools are open to inviting authors to their premises; some even devote part of their yearly budget to such events. Connecting with a school administrator or librarian to find out what you can provide is a great way to start. Furthermore, if the school visit is without a fee, then Jones suggests taking the opportunity to sell some of your books.

Send a second message to the school after your initial email and make a phone call to remind them that you are offering free visits to their school in exchange for their help in distributing leaflets about the book and offering signed copies for sale.

Of course, there are plenty of other marketing avenues to pursue — many of which you can learn about on Reedsy’s free course on children’s book marketing.

Ready to continue your journey into the world of children’s publishing? Check out our next post in this series: How to Self-Publish a Children’s Book.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the easiest way to publish a children’s picture book?

The easiest way to publish a children’s picture book is to use a self-publishing platform like Amazon’s CreateSpace. This platform allows authors to upload their book and have it printed and available for purchase on Amazon’s website.

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Where can I find help to design and format my children’s picture book?

There are several online resources available to help authors design and format their children’s picture book. Sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99Designs offer freelance services for authors who need help with formatting and design. Additionally, many self-publishing platforms have in-house design teams available to help authors get their book ready for publication.

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What kind of illustrations should I use in my children’s picture book?

It depends on the type of book you are creating. For a traditional children’s picture book, you should focus on finding illustrations that are colorful and eye-catching. If you are creating an educational book, the illustrations should be relevant to the subject matter and provide helpful visuals to the reader. The illustrations should also be age appropriate for the targeted audience.

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What are the costs associated with publishing a children’s picture book?

The cost of publishing a children’s picture book will vary depending on the platform you use and the services you need. Typically, you will need to pay for the cost of printing the book, design services, and any other services you may need. Additionally, you may have to pay a fee to the platform you use in order to have your book listed on their site.

What are the benefits of publishing a children’s picture book?

The benefits of publishing a children’s picture book include getting your work out there for others to enjoy, potentially making a profit off of your book, and having the satisfaction of seeing your work in print. Additionally, publishing a children’s picture book can also be great for your portfolio and help you get noticed by other publishers.

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