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submit a children's book to a publisher

How to Submit a Children’s Book to a Publisher

Submitting a children’s book to a publisher can seem intimidating. As an experienced children’s book printing provider, I regularly receive questions from aspiring writers unsure of how to get their work in front of the right editors and publishers.

The good news is that with the right guidance on crafting an enticing submission package, conducting thorough research, following guidelines, and targeting the appropriate publishers, any author can set their manuscript up for success.

submit a children's book to a publisher

How to Submit a Children’s Book to a Publisher

Know Your Market

Before submitting your children’s book to publishers, the first step is getting a deep understanding of the current market landscape. As you conduct your research, some key questions to answer include:

  • What are the latest trends in your genre and age category? Unicorn stories have saturated the picture book market while middle grade mystery series are heating up.
  • What is missing from bookshelves right now? Keep an eye out for gaps where your story might fit.
  • Who are the big players in children’s book publishing? Get familiar with major publishers and imprints acquiring books like yours so you know where to submit.

Staying on top of the children’s book market will allow you to strategically position your work for publishers and increase your chances of standing out from the slush pile.

Choose Your Publishing Path

Before submitting your manuscript anywhere, you must decide whether you want to pursue traditional publishing or self-publishing.

Traditional Publishing

In traditional publishing, you work with a publisher who handles editing, printing, distribution, and marketing. The tradeoff is less creative control and lower royalties.

The benefit of traditional publishing is having an experienced team to help guide your book. Most traditional publishers require working with a literary agent to submit your manuscript.

Top children’s literary agents and traditional publishers include:

  • Andrea Brown Literary Agency
  • HarperCollins Children’s Books
  • Penguin Random House


With self-publishing, you maintain full creative control and earn higher royalties, but you take on all publishing responsibilities and costs yourself. That means hiring your own editors, designers, illustrators and figuring out printing, distribution and marketing completely on your own.

Some top self-publishing platforms for children’s books include:

  • Kindle Direct Publishing
  • IngramSpark
  • Blurb

Evaluate your goals, budget, and capabilities to decide if self-publishing or traditional publishing is the better fit before you begin submitting your children’s book anywhere.

Craft Your Submission Package

Whether you choose to submit to literary agents or directly to publishers, you will need to prepare a polished submission package. This includes:

A Query Letter

Your query letter is a one-page “pitch” for your manuscript. It should:

  • Hook with an interesting establishing concept or character
  • Describe the storyline and central conflict
  • Identify the target age range and any comp titles
  • Convey what makes your book special
  • Include any relevant credentials or expertise you have

Manuscript Sample

How much of your actual manuscript you need to submit will depend on the publisher’s guidelines. However, some typical guidelines include:

  • Picture books – Full manuscript
  • Middle grade/Young adult – First three chapters

Follow each publisher’s exact specifications here. Submission packages that don’t adhere to guidelines often head straight for the rejection pile.

Synopsis (Fiction)

For fiction, include a 1-2 page synopsis briefly summarizing the full storyline, including how the book begins, key plot points, and how it is resolved in the end.

Author Bio

Your bio should be 1-2 paragraphs highlighting any relevant expertise, credentials, writing background, and other information that proves why you’re qualified to write this children’s book.

Research Publishers and Agents Thoroughly

Another mistake authors often make is failing to research exactly which agents and publishers they are submitting to. Never submit “blindly” to any agent or company without first checking:

  • Their website to read current submission guidelines
  • Their Twitter presence & online engagement
  • The types of books on their list to see if yours is a fit

Make sure children’s books in your age category, genre and style are something they currently acquire and represent.

Targeting agents and publishers accepting submissions in spaces similar to your work will save everyone’s time and energy.

Follow Submission Guidelines

Publishers and literary agents receive thousands of unsolicited submissions every year. To stand out:

Always read through guidelines thoroughly before submitting anything. Common requirements may include:

  • A specific subject line format
  • Submitting only to a general email inbox
  • Sending your full name and title in the body of the email
  • Attaching .doc or .pdf formats only

Some publishers also have limited submission windows so submissions outside those months go straight into the reject pile.

Guidelines exist to help publishers efficiently sort through submissions and find ones worth a closer look. Following directions shows you understand how the industry works and are taking this process seriously.

Stand out by showing this basic professionalism. It can be the difference between a rejected manuscript and starting a career!

Choose Publishers Strategically

With a polished submission package ready, it’s time to start sending it out. Instead of blasting your manuscript everywhere, be strategic in choosing a select list of agents and publishers to submit to.

Match Genres

Double check that publishers on your list accept children’s books in your genre before submitting. There’s no use sending a nonfiction biography to a publisher focused solely on fantasy novels.

Research Imprints

Many major publishers have special imprints open to submissions from unagented authors. For example, Kokila is Penguin Random House’s imprint seeking underrepresented voices.

Attend Conferences

Look into major publishing conferences like Bologna Children’s Book Fair where you can network directly with publishers and possibly get your foot in the door.

Start Local

Consider submitting first to independent or regional presses in your area. Local connections can help get your book noticed faster when you’re just starting out.

Revise and Resubmit

Understand that receiving a rejection letter from agents and publishers is par for the course. Don’t let it discourage you!

Carefully review any feedback provided by editors and publishers who reject your manuscript to strengthen it before sending it back out again. Persistence and continually improving your work is key to getting traditionally published.

You may have to query dozens or even hundreds of times before landing a publishing deal. But when it finally happens, all that hard work will pay off!

Self-Publish As An Alternative

If after extensive querying and submissions you still have no bites from publishers, self-publishing is a great way to bring your book to readers.

While you take on more responsibility and upfront costs, going the self-publishing route allows you to get your book onto shelves faster while retaining full creative control.

Many bestselling children’s book authors actually started out self-publishing before getting picked up by major publishers down the line. So don’t rule out starting here then transitioning to traditional publishing once you have some sales numbers behind you!

No matter what path you choose though, the most important thing is sharing your book with the young readers who will love it.

Stay persistent through submissions and revisions, choose the right publishers, follow all guidelines, and continue improving your manuscript until you find the perfect home for your children’s book!

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