agents · covering letter · Submissions · synopsis · unsolicited manuscripts · writing resources

How to submit a children’s book

If you’ve just finished writing a children’s book and are ready to get it out into the big wide world, this post is for you.  I’m a serial submitter, and these are my steps to getting your manuscript seen.

  1. Finish the book.
  2. Edit, re-edit, re-draft, polish and shine to a glittering finish.
  3. Prepare the submission package: covering email, synopsis and first three chapters.  All should be typed, page numbered and double spaced.
    Covering email: a short introduction to the book and yourself.  Half a page will be fine.
    Synopsis: a one page (max) summary of your plot, present tense, third person.
    Chapters: have you got a killer first page/first paragraph/first line?  Can those three chapters impress on their own?  If not, carry on polishing!
  4. Research your publishers.  Check out my list.  Make a shortlist of publishers producing books like yours and note down the requirements of each.  Most are now email only.  Some may want the submissions package as one document or embedded in the email.  It’s crucial to get it right.
  5. Email your submission, follow the instructions on your publisher’s submissions page to the letter.  If you are submitting to other publishers at the same time, let them know.
  6. Start work on your next book, if you haven’t already.  You may be waiting many months for a response.
  7. If you get a rejection, take note of any feedback but don’t expect any.  Look on the rejection as an opportunity – it’s another rung on the ladder of success!
  8. Stay positive and keep working on your next book.  Good luck.

As an alternative to approaching publishers directly, you can submit to a literary agent who, if they take you on, will manage the submissions side for you and are able to deal with publishers who won’t take on unagented authors.  The process of submitting to agents is similar to the above, and there is a list of UK agents here.


18 thoughts on “How to submit a children’s book

  1. Lou your a star – you done all the hard work for us. Apart from writing the book that is. Thanks again for all your helpful tips and advice.

  2. Good straightforward advice. The only thing I would add is that I think most publishers and agents these days expect people to be submitting to more than one publisher/agency at once, so you may want to send out a few submissions at a time – but only if you’re sure your package (oo-eer) is in the best shape it can be!

    1. Good point although some publishers are particular about only submitting to them, while others actively encourage simultaneous submissions and are happy to have a more open relationship with your package (oo-err – we really should stop this now!).

  3. This is great blog and a massive help to all us novices! I’ve currently got a young children’s book which I’m hoping to send out soon but I’m wondering about the layout? I have double spaced etc but do I need to send on the size paper that I’m hoping it will be printed in, thus only having certain parts of the story per page, or am I okay to send as typed and therefore only a few pages of A4? I hope this question makes sense!
    Thank you from a very novice writer!

    1. Hi Michelle. Send on A4, as typed. You can indicate breaks by leaving spaces or typing ‘page 1’, ‘first spread’ etc. Exciting times – good luck! I have two picture books ‘out there’ at the moment so I’m keeping my fingers crossed too!

  4. Hello Michelle can you please help me, I’m disabled & this is my dream I’ve nearly finished my ms this is my very first time out there & I haven’t a clue as to what I’m doing first can you advise me I want it so bad but really scared can you advise how to start

  5. Good evening Lou!

    Sorry to disturb you but the matter is that I happened to come across your steps to getting one’s manuscript seen and I’d like to make something more precise if you don’t mind. Item 5 says “post or email your submission. It’s great if one can email it as it’s rather convenient. But I wonder whether those steps also refer to poetry? For children I mean.

    Yours respectfully,

  6. Hi Lou,
    I know that you are not an ‘agony aunt’ for writers, but I have been reading just about everything on your website about children’s books for months now, plus every other website I can possibly find, and I cannot find an answer to my dilemma! I’ve recently finished writing a children’s book, and sent it off to three agents and a publisher (using your extremely helpful lists!). One of the agents got back to me immediately, asking for the full manuscript, but with exclusive reading. I agreed – I don’t know what I am doing at all – but now the publisher has also asked for the full manuscript. I contacted the agent and said politely that I’ve got this other interest and please could they let me know by a certain date, and they replied saying that they would try – but no joy yet and the date has passed! Any advice, from you or readers of this excellent website, would be much appreciated.

    1. Goodness, Lisa, that is a very exciting dilemma to have! Unfortunately this can be the problem if you send out simultaneous submissions: it doesn’t happen very often but you can end up in an awkward position. The problem you have is that they asked for exclusivity, as otherwise I would say let the publisher have the complete manuscript and wait to see if they want it before deciding how to proceed. Have you tried contacting the agency (perhaps even by phone) and asking them if you let the publisher see the complete manuscript, would that compromise any offer they might give you? (The person who answers the phone should be able to help you; you don’t need to ask to speak to the agent in person.) Be completely open and honest with all parties. You could also say that you would, of course, let them know if the publisher did make an offer before you made your decision. I know you have already contacted them, but the difference this time is that you are asking them how you should proceed rather than rushing their decision. Hope that helps a bit. I’m excited for you!

      1. Thank you for responding, and so quickly! I’ll be honest – I never even imagined that any agent or publisher would want to take things further, because of everything I have read about this business and how utterly difficult it is to get anywhere! I also don’t know whether interest from an agent or from a publisher is ‘better’, or which avenue would be the more promising one to pursue. Your advice makes sense, though, and even though I am not particularly confident on the phone, I might have to bite the bullet on this one!
        I’m worried that I’m going to lose both opportunities. I know there are more agents and publishers out there, but these actually seem to like my work!
        My last problem (as if this isn’t already enough to keep me awake at night) is that I’ve further improved my manuscript since sending it to the agent – seriously improved it, so they don’t even have the best one! Aaaargh! I’m excited too, but more scared stiff at losing an opportunity. Do all writers go through this? I am completely new, and completely lost!
        Thank you so much for your advice.

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