Hello writers! I was prompted to add this page to my blog because I’m constantly being asked questions like these.
- What’s the procedure for getting a book published?
- How do you find a publisher?
- How do you find an illustrator?
- How do you find an agent? Do you need an agent? Will you introduce me to your agent?
- Will you read my manuscript and tell me what you think?
Guess what? These are all the questions I had years ago when I dreamed of writing for children and having my book on library shelves and in bookstores! So I get it!
I’ve learned so much since I started on this journey many years ago. I hope you’ll find my advice helpful as you realize your dream.
- Join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. When I started on this journey, this was the advice I was given over and over again and so I joined and as long as I’m writing for children, I’ll have a membership. The membership is money well spent. On the website you’ll find many resources. Start here: The Book: Essential Guide to Publishing for Children. Read it and learn.
I began learning about the publishing industry. That helped me determine which path was best for me — the traditional publishing path, the self-publishing path or something in-between. More about this below.
- Write. A LOT! Will all of your manuscripts be published. Probably not. Will all of them be good? Probably not. But “practice manuscripts” are part of being a writer. Check out this post by very successful and prolific author, Kate Messner.
- READ! READ! READ! This is the single most helpful thing I’ve done! Since I write picture books, I’ve read thousands and continue to check out recent releases. It’s super important that you read current picture books because the market changes and you need to be aware of what’s selling. I’m at the library at least once a week.
- Join a critique group. The members of the group should be as serious as you are about writing. Finding a critique group isn’t easy but as you start interacting with the KidLit community (those who write for children and young adults) you’ll find resources that will help you find a group. In the meantime you’ll find manuscript swaps and resources for paid critiques from published authors.
- Take a breath! Slow down! Getting a book published takes a lot of time, a lot of hard work, and mostly, a lot of patience and perseverance. I spent years studying and improving my craft. I quickly learned that this journey cannot be rushed! Think of it as getting a college degree. Yep! A lot of work but TOTALLY worth it!
Speaking of studying … here are two must-read books on craft.
- Writing Picture Books Revised and Expanded Edition: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul
- The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman
More about choosing your publishing path.
Think about your goals to help with your decision.
My goals were clear in my mind and so I knew from the get-go I wanted to go the traditional route.
- to get my books in the hands of as many readers as possible
- to get my books in public and school libraries
- to get my books in bookstores across the country and around the world
- to write and not be responsible for all the other aspects of publishing a book
My last goal was key in making my decision because with traditional publishing I knew I’d have the support of an editor, art director, publicist, etc. at a well-respected publishing house. I didn’t want to take on these tasks.
Statistically, many self-published books don’t sell well because the person publishing their book doesn’t understand what it takes for a book to be successful. But some people self-publish and do a really great job. Their books sell well. There are also some “in-between” ways to publish and I can’t begin to explain all of your choices here. But I can share information from some very smart people to give you a glimpse and lead you to other resources. I’ll include all that on my Resource Page.
Resource page? Yes! If you’ve made it this far and you’re ready to dive in, check out resources I’ve found along my writing journey. Click HERE.