How do I move forward?

by Elizabeth Spaulding

I have a rough copy of a children's book that I have written. I'm not sure how to begin to get published.

I'd like advice, information or simple "How-To Instructions for Dummies."

I'm also struggling to determine which age group to aim this story book towards; it could easily be a story that would work for different ages.

Comments for How do I move forward?

Click here to add your own comments

Getting started on getting published
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Elizabeth, I'm afraid you don't need a Dummies book, you need an "Idiot's" book!

That sounds awful, and I hate ALL those titles (not necessarily the books, but the titles), but there's one in the children's book arena that's spectacular, despite the title. Please check out my review, on this site, of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books.

If you're serious, you're going to want to consult it again and again, and it comes closer to covering EVERYTHING than any book I know.

Important: get the most recent edition. (3rd, I think.) The industry is changing so quickly that you don't want to save a few bucks by buying something older.

Getting started
by: Jeremy

As the webmaster said, you need to read a bit around your subject so that you understand some of the requirements for the age range that you are writing for.

This boring research is necessary for you to do, as if a manuscript is submitted to publishers without the basic parameters for the industry templates, it will be an automatic turn-down.

You can always choose the self published route, though even then it would be wise to do your reading first - to learn, for example, the number of words per page, so that you produce a good product.

A micro publisher

Click here to add your own comments

Click here to write your own.

To get an agent or not?

by Amy
(WA State)

To get an agent, or not to get an agent, that is the question.

I have this picture book poem/story that I wrote a long time ago, and I think it has a chance of being published. I am getting ready to run it through my critique group. But then what?

Agents cost money. I am broke. I really don't see the picture book making tons of money to help cover an agent's cost. Should I just start querying publishers? Or would that just be shooting myself in the foot?

I was flipping through the Writer's Market (reviewed on this site) and am a bit torn about whether to pursue an agent or not.

Tips? Suggestions? Is an agent not as expensive as I think?

Comments for To get an agent or not?

Click here to add your own comments

Paying for an agent
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Amy, a real agent only costs 10-15% of what he/she makes you, i.e. there should be NOTHING you have to pay up front. Though, yes, I have heard of agents charging reading fees. Sigh.

If an agent is requesting an upfront charge, I recommend Googling! Type the agent's name into Google; see what comes up from places other than his/her site. Also type in the agent's name with the word scam. If the agent's not legitimate, you'll probably find lots of people jawboning about it.

Also, please check my pages on children's book agents in general and getting an agent for your picture book manuscript in particular.

There is certainly a case to be made for approaching publishers on your own. I discuss that on those pages.

A legitimate agent is the best choice
by: Jeremy

I concur with Steve. Any agent who charges up front fees is not an agent, he/she is an opportunist.

You can well afford a legitimate agent, who charges a typical 10-15% commission on results only.

I was a strictly performance/commission-based agent in a similar field for 35 years, so I hope I am able to add some practical and realistic comment.

The agents (the good ones) nearly always choose you, not the other way round. That is where the large number of quasi-agents find the loophole, as after the almost inevitable rejections, a writer might be tempted to accept a fee based deal.

It is worth the effort to try to find a good agent, who will work with you, and not compromise by hiring on with a third-rate agent. Having no agent is better than having a questionable one!

My office used to have a huge amount of submissions each month (up to 1,000), and our acceptance rate was in the single figures. There is a lot of "noise" out there, and it takes persistence to get noticed.

I am not writing this to discourage you in any way but rather to encourage you to only seek the best.

The value of an agent
by: jgiunta

I think the number of children's book publishers relying on agents is increasing. The publishers that you may feel are a good fit for your book may not look at it if you do not have an agent.

For that reason, you may want to get an agent...if you can.

Agents are not bad, but it can be difficult finding one that will represent you. If you are fortunate enough to find one, you still have to market the book idea.

Having an agent is no guarantee of publication. I believe this is why so many authors are trying self-publishing.

Nevertheless, an agent can actually meet with a publisher and have a face to face conversation with her. He can explain the value of the book and how well it would fit into the publisher's canon.

An agent can also help an author improve the story and make it more marketable.

I suggest you google the authors you admire and find out who is representing them. Send them your manuscript. Such agents will be reputable and have a successful track record.

The important thing is that you want an agent you can trust and who believes in your work. There are plenty out there, but it is not easy to find the right one for you.

As was stated earlier, most agents don't charge a reading fee or any upfront costs. If you find one who does, I suggest you keep looking, unless they have a good reputation.

I too struggle with whether or not to get an agent. I see agents as a resource to pursue after one or two books have been published. But, today, it may be necessary to have one. I don't think it will hurt you.

I hope this helps.

Click here to add your own comments

Click here to write your own.

I need help getting my children's book published

I have talked with a couple of publishing companies, but they wanted me to send them money. I want to make money from my book not lose money. Can someone help me please?

Comments for I need help getting my children's book published

Click here to add your own comments

It's harder than you think!
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Time to learn the difference between publishing and self publishing! Those "publishers" who want you to pay them aren't real publishers. (Though many authors do choose to self publish rather than chase a publishing contract.)

A lot of us want to make money off our writing, but making that happen means getting realistic about what it takes! Do you have reason to believe that your children's book is good enough to be published? There's a lot of competition out there.

You'll find a lot of resources on this site. I suggest making use of them!

Money Talks!
by: Julius


Congratulations on your writing! I wish to write my own soon. First thing I recommend - and this comes from an inexperienced writer but an experienced individual: never pay upfront for anything! Especially a service!

Be patient and read through this site, and make sure you have a clear understanding of the hurdles that you will need to overcome. Options are always available in every situation. Make sure you understand yours!

Thanks for posting and good luck!


I really need a publisher
by: Nonna

I do not want to self publish. My product is great and will sell! I just need to get it out to the public. Who can help me? Yes, I've had some rejections but who hasn't....

Is great and will sell
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Hmm, Nonna. In all honesty, I'm wondering how you're so sure.

Those rejections were presumably from publishers who either thought the manuscript wasn't great enough or wouldn't sell. (Or both.) There is also the possibility that a publisher can pick up a book and still NOT manage to sell it.

I've been in the writing business long enough to know there are very few sure things. I'm wondering if you've received much in the way of professional feedback.

Click here to add your own comments

Click here to write your own.

submission format for picture books

by Lesli Lytle
(Layton, Utah)

Since most of the story and humor is told in the pictures, and all I'm submitting are the words, how do I tell a publisher what needs to be included in the artwork for each page?

I've written my manuscript by page, but the first thing I do, in parentheses, is describe the basic elements needed in the art.

The text follows.

Let me know if I'm wrong, please.



Comments for submission format for picture books

Click here to add your own comments

"Keep It Out of the Manuscript"
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Lesli, what I wrote above is the heading for the section on just this subject in Harold Underdown's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, a book I love (while disliking the insulting title).

I don't want to violate the author's copyright by giving you all of his advice, but I'll give you a partial quote:

Many authors...want to include guidance for the illustrator for the manuscript.... Including this attempted guidance in a manuscript is a bad idea.

You'll have to get a hold of the book to hear his explanation, but suffice to say the gentleman is an industry professional.

What I recommend is reading your manuscript to see where a description of the visuals is absolutely necessary, and where it can be inferred.

Where it can be inferred, remove the parenthetical paragraph. Where it can't be inferred, remove the parenthetical paragraph anyway! Then do the most minimal rewrite possible to where the text does infer an appropriate image.

Illustrators are the equal of authors in the picture book business, and they value their autonomy. They see themselves as artists, not order-takers - and rightfully so. Make sure your text says what it needs to say, then when (fingers crossed!) you get published, you're likely to be pleasantly surprised at everything your illustrator brought to the table.

And, in case anyone's interested, here's the dope on working with an illustrator if you self-publish.

Click here to add your own comments

Click here to write your own.

Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.