Jan 232016

If you are interested in writing and/or illustrating children’s books for publication, you will need to study various aspects of the industry prior to seeking publication. You must learn what makes a manuscript publishable, how to find the right publisher for your book and how to submit your manuscript to the selected publisher(s).

You will not be able to write a story, print it, then send it to the first publisher you find and expect to be published. There are many beginners out there who think this is how to get published. You will be well ahead in the game if you do a bit of reading first.

You should be able to put together your own “course” about writing for children by selecting books from the different areas of the craft. If learn by reading these books, you won’t have to spend several hundred books for a writer’s workshop!

First, I would recommend acquiring a book (possibly two books) about the process of writing and illustrating for children.  Some of the best books available are listed on this Reference List of Books about Writing for Children:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books, 3rd Edition

Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books

How to Write a Children’s Picture Book: And get it published

How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books and Get Them Published

You Can Write Children’s Books
The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children (Write for Kids Library)

How to Write a Children’s Book and Get It Published

How to Write for Children and Get Published

How to Publish Your Children’s Book: A Complete Guide to Making the Right Publisher Say Yes (Square One Writer’s Guide)

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It . . . Successfully

The ABCs of Writing for Children: 114 Children’s Authors and Illustrators Talk About the Art, the Business, the Craft & the Life of Writing Children’s Literature

These books have the overview information you will need to learn about writing for different age groups, word counts, editing, and seeking publication. For more detailed information, you will want to select books in the specific area of interest. You can find a wide variety of books about writing and illustrating for children in our Bookroom.

After you have read one or more of the basic books, you will have a good idea of what makes a publishable book and how to market your story.  BUT, you may not be ready to get published yet.  There is one thing I highly recommend to improve the publishability of your manuscript.  Join a critique group.  Since you are already online, the best way for you to do this is probably through an email critique group.

Once your manuscript is the best you can make it, your marketing campaign can begin.  This is a highly challenging part of the profession.  You will need to acquire a copy of Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market 2016: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published (CWIM).  This is the essential market guide for finding publishers who are interested in your manuscripts.

The CWIM contains contact information, descriptions of needs, and payment information for hundreds of publishers.  It also includes essays on the craft of writing.  This book is required for you if you want to sell manuscripts in today’s marketplace.

Publishers offer a variety of genres (A genre is a specific type literature that is based on subject area, fiction or non-fiction, or age group).  You must research to find a publisher that handles books of the same genre as yours.  If you have written an easy reader, you MUST find a publisher that publishes easy readers or your manuscript will be doomed for rejection.  The same applies if you write picture books, non-fiction, christian literature, chapter books or if you illustrate for children’s books.

I get numerous emails asking, “Who should I submit my manuscript to?”  My answer is, “I cannot possibly answer that question as I am not an agent nor a publisher.  I have no idea what your story is about and it is research you must do for yourself.”  With that said, I can assist you by pointing you to the many publishers listed on this website.  When their submission guidelines can be found, I have provided a direct link to those guidelines.  In either case you will want to look for stories or books that are similar to, but not the same as, yours.

I truly hope that you have found this information helpful.  Happy Reading AND Happy Writing!

Best of Luck,
Sandy Cook

Join The CBI Clubhouse Children’s Writing Community!

 Posted by at 3:37 am

  2 Responses to “The Art of Writing for Children”

  1. My name is Tony Gapper and I live in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, Ireland. I have recently finished a children’s manuscript, entitled: Percy Panda. My target audience is 7-10 year olds, with a word count of circa 11,000.
    I just completed an M.A. (Writing) at NUI, Galway in August 2015, having already published 50 poems and flash fiction.
    I am currently looking at both traditional and self-publishing routes. My friends and family are very impressed with the book; and although my wife and I have edited it many times over, as yet, it has not been professionally edited and marketed in readiness for publication.
    I am on Facebook, Twitter and have my own website – although it has not got a domain name or web host yet.
    Maybe I could email you a taster of my writing.
    Any information/advice gladly welcomed.

    Much appreciated
    Tony Gapper

    • It sounds like you’ve got a great start, Tony. A publisher will professionally edit your book if you decide to go with a traditional publisher. If you self publish, then paying to have your book professionally edited would be wise! I contracted with an editor on eLance and know that Fiverr has editors-for-hire. Good luck with your book! 😀

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