Updated on January 27, 2023

Publishing a children's book can be a thrilling and rewarding experience for aspiring authors. While picture books and early readers are shorter than adult volumes, the market is just as — if not more — competitive.

Children's books are publications written specifically for children and young adults. As the reader grows older, the topic matter and difficulty of these stories alter. Children's literature is divided into numerous genres: fantasy, biography, nonfiction, poetry, and science fiction. These books can help young readers see things from multiple perspectives, expand their vocabulary, and enhance their comprehension skills.

The manner of publishing a children's book is quite similar to the process of publishing most other books. You'll go through a procedure identical to publishing novels for middle-grade readers, young adults, and adults. However, there are aspects to consider when deciding how to publish a children's book, such as illustrators and formatting.

Becoming a children's book author can be difficult. Many things must be considered, including your target age group and audience. While there are numerous avenues for publishing children's literature, it is essential first to grasp some of the distinct types of children's books:

1. Picture book: A picture book for children that combines verbal and visual storylines. Board books are a fantastic example of this, with sequential drawings vital to each page's story. This book style usually caters to toddlers and young children, but there are other versions for older children and adults.

2. Chapter book: Chapter books are longer storybooks for intermediate readers aged 7 to 10. These books might be fiction or nonfiction and emphasize words over images; nonetheless, illustrations are frequently included. The stories are written in short chapters to appeal to children's short attention spans, yet lengthier, more complicated chapter books may appeal to teens and young adults.

3. Middle-grade fiction: Books published for readers aged 8 to 12 are classified as middle-grade fiction.

4. Young adult novels: Young adult novels are literature intended for readers between 12 and 18.

The terms mentioned above are age-based classifications that can be used for science fiction, mystery, coming-of-age, and other forms of fiction.

Create a book that children will enjoy reading.

Knowing your audience is vital while writing your book and necessary when marketing it. A publisher needs to know if it's the type of book they can sell, and the first question they'll ask is, "What age group is it for?". The response cannot be overly comprehensive. Your work may have widespread appeal, but editors are frequently disappointed when they learn that your intended audience is "children of all ages." You'll be in a better position to edit your manuscript following industry norms if you identify your book's unique readership.

Keep the word count limit for your category.

Word count is significant to modern editors. They rarely have time to edit the books they buy completely, so if you've produced a 200,000-word middle-grade masterwork, most editors will think, "Who needs that kind of stress?" and pass it up.

Children's fiction is broadly classified into four categories:

  • • 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
Engage the services of a children's book editor.

Many authors have their manuscripts read aloud to children. Kids are brutally honest, making them excellent beta readers. Parents are also great sources of feedback because they are the people who will buy your book, so their opinions can help you assess whether it is marketable.

Think about hiring a professional editor.

A competent editor can help you determine whether you're writing for the proper audience and improve your storytelling and grammar. Those with the necessary experience will ensure that your book adheres to industry standards and unstated regulations and will frequently facilitate you through the submission process.

Publishing Channels

There are other publishing options, but the best depends on the writer and their aims. What you should know about traditional and self-publishing channels is as follows:

• Conventional publishing: If you pursue book publishing services, you must find a literary agent who will sell your work to a large publishing business. A larger publishing house and an agency can result in a high-quality book and an advance against revenues on your work before publication. The publishing business that purchases the book also absorbs all upfront production costs and financial risk. Many children's book publishers only accept novels from literary agents, while others only take submissions at specific times of the year.

• Self-publishing: This option gives authors complete editorial control over their book and the publishing process. Because stores prefer to work with well-known distributors, getting your book into a big box shop as an "indie" publisher might be difficult. Self-publishing might be financially hazardous if your book isn't getting the marketing it requires to flourish.

• Hybrid publishing: This strategy handles publication differently than traditional publishers but uses the same principles. Vanity presses, which allow authors to publish their books using a pay-to-play revenue model, may be included in hybrid publishers. While obtaining the backing of a smaller traditional publisher, the author effectively retains complete creative control over their work. The authors are not paid in advance, but they do have the assistance of the publishing team.

How Do Literary Agents Function?

A literary agent represents an author by acting as a liaison between the author and the publisher in the sale and distribution of their work. Although there are several ways to get a literary agent, first-time authors may have difficulty finding one. As a first-time author, you should conduct research, peruse agent lists, and send out query letters to determine whether your work is what literary agents are looking for.

Keep in mind that literary agencies typically charge a fee of 10-20% of sales that they assist in negotiating for the writer they represent. A literary agent may have ties to big publishing houses and can submit manuscripts to publishers who would not otherwise accept unsolicited manuscripts. Literary agents can defend your interests and assist you in negotiating a contract.

Whatever avenue you choose for publication, it is critical to plan for marketing. Although there are exceptions, such as having a large following or brand, publishing houses will not generally handle all of your marketing. Discuss marketing with your literary agency; they may be able to assist you in developing a marketing and sales strategy for your book.

How to Get Your Manuscript Ready for Submission

Writing is an art, and publishing a book is difficult. Here's a step-by-step guide to getting your manuscript ready for submission:

• Finished manuscript: One of the most vital steps is to write. Make sure that your material is a well-written children's story. Your work should begin with an action, progress through a rising action/plot, and end with a conclusion. The report should include a distinctive setting, main character(s), and possibly a message the child can grasp.

• Edit: Edit, rewrite, and edit your manuscript with the help of trustworthy friends and colleagues, or get professional book editing services. This is also a good time to double-check that your story is coherent and that there are no typos or serious grammatical issues.

• Choose a publication path: Now that you have the manuscript for your first book, it's time to choose a publishing route. This will be determined by your own objectives and the type of assistance you seek.

• prepare your manuscript: If you are self-publishing or utilizing hybrid publishing, you may need to prepare your manuscript following the submission rules of computer software. This includes considering page count, word count, book cover illustrations, and other factors. Traditional publishers will have their own rules for manuscript layout, so read everything before submitting your work.

• Illustrate your work: You can either do it yourself or hire a professional book illustrator.

• Send out queries: A query, also known as a cover letter, includes a synopsis and your target audience. A well-written query letter can help you land an agent and move closer to a book deal. Network and set a reasonable timetable for developing genuine professional ties.

• Finish your book: Even if you've got an agent, your manuscript may need to be revised. Your agent can help you sell your novel to publications.

Boost word-of-mouth via reviews:

All publications, whether traditionally or self-published, require reviews, and children's books are no exception. The trick is to get reviews from the proper individuals.

When purchasing books for their children, parents depend on reviews more than when purchasing books for themselves. They want to know what other parents thought, how other children liked it, and if the subject is acceptable for their own children.

Even more than a self-published thriller or romance novel, a picture book with no reviews would struggle to sell and will be impossible to place in a library or bookstore.

Hire a book marketer.

As previously stated, whether self-publishing or traditional publishing, children's authors are expected to undertake a large amount of marketing. Selling "Kidlit" is 80% the same as selling any other book. There are hundreds of excellent book marketing strategies available to you. Hire a book marketer to boost your book sales. This section will concentrate on the remaining 80% of the marketing tactics specific to children's books.

Go to the websites where your reader's parents spend their time online.

There are numerous possibilities, including blogs, Instagram, Facebook Groups, Twitter, and Reddit. The majority of parents with young children nowadays are millennials. As a result, people will turn to the internet for almost any type of advice (another obviously broad generalization).

Find children's book groups or groups that are interested in the topic of your book on Facebook. You can bet there's a Facebook community of individuals (or people with kids) who love fire trucks if you've created a picture book about them.

Share images of your book on Instagram or Twitter with pertinent hashtags related to the theme of your book.

Go to the websites where your reader's parents spend their time online.

Blogs, Instagram, Facebook Groups, Twitter, and Reddit are all options. Nowadays, the majority of parents with young children are millennials. As a result, they will rely on the internet for nearly any form of advice (another, admittedly, broad generalization).

Find children's book groups or groups that are interested in the topic of your book on Facebook. You can bet there's a Facebook community of individuals (or people with kids) who love fire trucks if you've created a picture book about them.

Share images of your book on Instagram or Twitter with pertinent hashtags related to the theme of your book.

Make the most of school visits.

Most schools love author visits; in fact, numerous schools budget for them on a yearly basis. So, why not contact administration or a librarian and see what you can do to help them? Jones also suggests selling some copies if you're giving the school visit away for free.

"Follow up your initial email with a phone call informing them that you will be visiting local schools for free in exchange for the school sending home slips offering the chance to buy signed copies of the book."

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