A Guide For First-Time Authors To Publish Their First Children’s Book

A Guide For First-Time Authors To Publish Their First Children’s Book

Childrens book publishing

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    So you have finally decided to write your first children’s book. First of all, I would like to congratulate you. Because writing a book is an amazing achievement and something that should not be taken lightly. You had that idea of writing a book. You decided it was worth implementing the idea and converting it into reality.

    Then you did all the hard work. You put yourself in the chair and drafted all those words on a blank document from start to finish and converted it into a manuscript of a children’s book.

    Now, it’s time to show off your writing skills to the world. It’s time to take that bold step!

    A lot of people dream about writing a book. Some people talk about writing a book. But only a few people get successful in writing a book.

    So before we go further, take a moment and pat on your back to appreciate how far you have come. Celebrate the fact that you have converted the idea of writing a book into a draft.

    Now, the next step comes; publishing your first children’s book. The article below lays out a step-by-step guide to publishing your first book.

    5 Step Guide To Publish Your First Children’s Book

    1. Know Your Market (Target Audience)

    When writing your book and selling it, it is critical to understand your target. An editor’s first concern is if the book is the type they can sell. Focusing on the readers of your book will also reveal that you have an awareness of the publishing industry, which is a feature that most editors look for in a partner.

    Different Age Ranges For Children’s Books

    The different age groups of children have different fiction books and the size of books also changes accordingly. Broadly, children’s fiction can be divided into these categories:

    • Picture Books: for kids under 6 years old, under 1,000 words
    • Early Readers: for kids 6+ years old, 2,000 to 5,000 words
    • Chapter Books: for kids 7-9 years old, 5,000 to 10,000 words
    • Middle Grade (MG): for kids 9-12 years old, 30,000 to 50,000 words
    • Young Adult (YA): for kids 12-18 years old, 50,000 to 100,00 words

    Word counts are quite important to modern editors. If you’ve produced a 200,000-word middle-grade fiction book, most editors will hardly pass it, thinking that “Who needs that sort of stress?”. They rarely have time to edit the acquired books thoroughly.

    Research Market

    You want to observe what is being advertised and sold in bookstores first. While browsing Amazon’s Best Sellers is fine, you may learn a lot more about current trends by visiting Barnes & Noble. In contrast to adult books, which are largely sold online, a sizable portion of the children’s market is still dominated by brick-and-mortar stores, which are still preferred by most parents.

    So wear your spy cap and embark on an intelligence-gathering trip to a big bookstore’s children’s section. Go to the shelf where your book category belongs and look for the following queries:

    • Which authors are famous in that category;
    • The trending themes and topics; and
    • The publishers putting out these books.

     

    Find out with which books your book will compete by quickly scanning through all the top books in your niche. Publishing professionals frequently refer to “writing to market,” which critics see as “cynically copying popular novels.” But in reality, it’s about comprehending reader and publisher preferences. To either play to or defy particular cliches, you should know what your audience has previously read.

    2. Improve Your Manuscript

    As we have mentioned earlier, editors rarely have time to thoroughly every book coming at their counter. So you have to keep polishing your manuscript to make it as good as possible before submission.

    Don’t Stop The Editing And Rewriting Process

    Successful books are typically the outcome of painstaking, thoughtful revisions and editing. Roald Dahl described the exhaustive effort that went into creating his works of literature in a letter to his daughter:

    Work on your manuscript until you are unable to imagine any way to make it better. Because picture books and early readers are usually so brief, it’s much more important than usual to write every sentence flawlessly. A children’s book may take less time to create than a full novel, but it doesn’t make it any simpler! In the time you don’t spend writing, you should be considering ways to improve your idea.

    Get Feedback From Readers (Beta Reading)

    It is a good approach to ask your kids or nieces, or your friends’ kids to read your manuscript. Children make some of the best beta readers as they are so brutally honest. Parents are also helpful in providing feedback because they are the ones who will actually buy your book. By observing how they respond, you can determine whether the book is appropriate for the market.

    Children’s Book Writing Communities

    You can ask fellow authors and passionate readers for opinions in a number of great online communities. Start by joining Facebook groups like “Children’s Book Authors” and “Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators”.

    Join the Society of “Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators”. Members get access to a wide range of resources, such as their “Book”, a webpage that has directories of publishers, agents, and reviewers who specialized in the publication of children’s books.

    Moreover, SCBWI has more than 70 regional organizations worldwide that enable you to connect with nearby, like-minded children’s authors. Even if you only use a small portion of everything they have to offer, the $80 annual price is well worth it. The Children’s Literature Association is another body that is worthwhile exploring because it takes a more academic approach to children’s books and can offer you some excellent insights into what works and what doesn’t.

    Getting involved in a writers’ group can really help your budding career. Finding beta readers or requesting a referral to an agency or publisher will be considerably simpler if you’ve established yourself as a helpful and active member.

    Hire A Professional Editor

    In addition to fixing your grammar and improving your storytelling, a professional editor is one who also helps you determine whether you’re writing for the appropriate audience. People with the necessary experience will ensure that your book complies with industry standards and unstated laws of the industry, and they’ll frequently help you through the manuscript submission procedure.

    Hence, it is important to team up with editors who have experience working with the best publishers in the industry. This is why should give serious thought to hiring a professional editor.

    Don’t Do Illustrations Yourself If You Are Not A Pro

    Don’t stress over illustrations unless you’re an experienced illustrator such as Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back) or Raymond Briggs (The Snowman). Neither do it yourself nor ask your spouse, child, or friend to do it for your book should avoid doing it. Don’t even give instructions. Again, unless you are a professional illustrator who can do the job, providing sketches or instructions will only work to your harm. The editor who purchases your book will get to choose the illustrator himself.

    Now that your manuscript has likely received the utmost attention, let’s try to sell it.

    3. Find A Children’s Book Agent

    The easiest strategy to sell to a publisher is to first get a literary agency. These days, publishers that accept unsolicited applications are quite rare.

    Selling your book to a publisher and securing the fairest terms on your behalf are the roles of an agent. They will probably manage your film, TV, and merchandise rights as well if your book has the potential to be the next Percy Jackson or Rainbow Magic.

    Also Read: How to Get a Literary Agent for Your Book? Detailed Guide

    Querying Agents

    Even for picture books, a children’s manuscript query letter is very similar to one for any other sort of literature. It’s a letter that “asks” a representative if they would be interested in representing you. It should be a one-page note that includes an “elevator pitch” that promotes both you and your book. It should simply describe:

    • Your book’s position in the children’s publishing market,
    • What makes it special, and
    • Why you and the agent are a good match.

    You’d like to leave an impact. To indicate that they’re “young at heart,” new writers will occasionally try to stand out by doing something outrageous, like stuffing their query letter envelope with glitter. However, those writers are much more likely to be prosecuted than represented.

    We have much advice for drafting a fantastic query letter, but these two ideas will increase your chances:

    • Only submit to agents who represent authors for children: Too many writers don’t conduct enough research prior to contacting agents. Contacting agents who only represent adult literature or whose novels fall well outside of your genre is a waste of time. Again, this shouldn’t be an issue if you have researched through a network of knowledgeable children’s book agents!
    • Identify where on their list your book fits: Explain how your unicorn picture book will fit in well with the agent’s collection of picture books if it contains other books with unicorn themes. If they don’t have any books about unicorns, explain how your book will give their list greater significance.

    What To Do After Finding An Agent?

    Even if you succeed to attract an agent’s attention and they decide to represent you, things are not easy yet. Ask J.K. Rowling, whose agent had a difficult time getting the first Harry Potter book sold before an editor decided to take a chance on it.

    But what happens if you don’t have an agent?

    What if you’ve written a dozen flawless query letters and are still not receiving the desired response? You may still submit the book yourself, though.

    4. Submit Directly To Publishers

    You must look for publishers who accept “unagented submissions” if you don’t have an agent. Major publishers may accept unsolicited manuscripts, depending on your region. For instance, Penguin Australia encourages authors of children’s books to submit directly, despite claims made by their US and UK offices that they only accept submissions via agencies.

    Start your hunt with a researched list of amazing publishers who are presently taking submissions for children’s books! From picture books to middle grade, from fiction to nonfiction, you’ll undoubtedly discover the ideal match for your own cherished children’s book. But just in case, the following tactics can be useful.

    Look For Niche Imprints Of Big Publishers

    The statement that big presses won’t review unsolicited submissions isn’t entirely accurate. Actually, Penguin has a division called “Dial Books for Young Readers” that accepts direct submissions from authors. Similarly, as of the time of writing, unagented authors are welcome to submit to Clarion Books, a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint. They won’t actually respond to an author unless they’re interested in publishing, which is the minor catch. So be prepared for silent disapproval!

    Small And Medium Publishers

    Submissions without an agent are more likely to be considered by smaller independent publishers. Just need to pick the right ones, and that’s all. You can use the directories in the trade books Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook (UK) to identify the best publishers. Also, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ extensive database is also available to members.

    Visit Picturebook Planet, which offers an excellent list of picture book publishers to which you may submit, for free resources. Moreover, the Published to Death blog has a sizable section in its publisher’s directory for all other children’s genres.

    Many businesses don’t accept submissions throughout the year, but by subscribing to Authors Publish‘s free newsletter, you’ll be informed when publishers begin taking direct submissions.

    Beware Of Vanity Presses!

    Just leave if a publisher demands payment from you to publish your book. Vanity presses are widespread in the publishing industry, preying on the hopes of inexperienced writers.

    How Much Money Do Writers Make From Children’s Books?

    It’s all about the passion for the art, not the money, isn’t it?

    I’m just kidding! Money is important at all times, especially if you want to be a full-time writer.

    For their first book, children’s authors might anticipate receiving an advance of $5,000 to $10,000, with recurring royalties of about 7% for printed books and up to 25% for ebook sales. Royalty payments from picture books are shared between the author and the illustrator, and this split is frequently to the illustrator’s benefit.

    According to statistics, the majority of published authors do not really earn enough from their publications to do so full-time. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you think that publishing books for kids are a quick and easy method to generate a lot of money. However, you can almost certainly have it published if you have a unique story idea, the creativity to make it interesting and fun, and the motivation to see it in the hands of your audience.

    Self-Publish!

    Knowing how traditional publishing works may have aroused your interest in the alternative; self-publishing. Self-publishing a children’s book is a way to maintain creative control over your work and avoid having to wait for the judgments of conventional gatekeepers, which was once seen to be an author’s last resort when they were unable to select a decent publisher.

    It’s a quicker route with a larger chance of publication, but the author must put in a lot more effort.

    Also Read: Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing [Which Should You Opt?]

    5. Always Keep Marketing

    As we stated previously, children’s authors, irrespective of whether they self-publish, are required to carry out a substantial chunk of the marketing job. Around 80%  of the time, selling “kidlit” is similar to selling any other book. You can choose from a variety of excellent book marketing strategies, such as building a mailing list and collaborating with other writers on promotions.

    The marketing strategies specific to children’s books make up the remaining 20%, which will be covered in this section.

    Reviews Are Even More Important

    Reviews are more important to parents when purchasing books for their kids than when they are purchasing books for themselves. They are curious about what other parents believe, how other kids responded to it, and whether the subject matter is suitable for their own children.

    A picture book with no reviews will truly have difficulty selling — and will be tough to place in a library or bookshop — more so than with a self-published thriller or romance novel.

    Go Through Online Resources For Influencers And A Street Team

    Nowadays, millennials make up most of the parents of young children. Hence, they rely on the internet for nearly any suggestions. So Blogs, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook groups are good ideas to get your book recommended. 

    Find “children’s book groups” on Facebook or groups that might be interested in the subject of your book. You can bet there is a Facebook community of parents (or people with kids) who love fire trucks if you’ve created a picture book about them.

    Post images of your book on Twitter or Instagram with the use of related hashtags, such as #unicorns or #firetrucks, or ones that speak to your target markets, such as #mommylifestyle or #picturebooksaremyjam.

    Work With An Influencer

    You’ve probably heard the term “influencer,” which is most frequently used to refer to YouTube or Instagram users who are compensated by brands to promote their products and services. While it’s not a bad idea to contact any of these individuals whose interests match those of your book.

    In order to promote her picture book, “Lil’ Foot the Monster Truck,” Yvonne Jones contacted Bob Chandler, the man behind the character “Bigfoot” and the sport’s founder. He enjoyed the book and offered it a brief review, which helped her gain access to several blogs and associations for monster trucks.

    In a similar vein, if you come across someone who has some influence among those who might buy your book, reach out to them nicely, introduce yourself, and offer to send them a copy of the book.

    School Visits!

    Most schools will appreciate author visits; some schools even budget money specifically for it each year. So why not speak with a librarian or an administrator and see what you can do to help them?

    Of course, there are many other ways to promote your book. However, one of the easiest ways is to hire a professional book marketer.

    Conclusion

    In the article above, you thoroughly learned about publishing your first children’s book. A lot dream of publishing their book but very less achieve this dream with their hard work and sheer determination. The cherry on the pie is if you get successful to produce a successful book on your first try. It is of utmost necessity to get a consultation from someone who knows the ins and outs of this industry like Gnome Book Writing. This way, you can save yourself from the chaos that new writers usually face.

    Hopefully, the article fixed your issues regarding the publication of your children’s book. From identifying your market to keep polishing your manuscript, and from finding a booking agent to publishing and marketing the book, we have covered everything. If you have any queries, regarding your project specifically, feel free to contact us.

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