If you are an author writing the next great children’s book, you may be looking at children’s book publishers and contemplating which path you should take to publish your manuscript into a beloved children’s book. One of the biggest questions to ask yourself is will you reach out to one of the many children’s book publishers or instead publish your book yourself?
After all, behind every great children’s book, is an author who not only wrote and perhaps illustrated the book, but also found a way to print, publish, and distribute their book so it could find its way into people’s hearts and homes.
We’ve developed a guide to help you maneuver the world of children’s book publishers and even included a few tools for you to get started in your publishing journey.
How Do Children’s Book Publishers Work?
Children’s book publishers are constantly looking for new talent with new stories to share. However, the world of children’s book publishing is very competitive and they only accept a small percentage of the books authors submit.
There are two main routes to take when trying to attract children’s book publishers to read and ultimately publish your book. You will need to either work with an agent who works on your behalf to submit your work to children’s book publishers, or you will need to submit yourself to publishers that accept work directly from authors even though they did not request the submission, which is called an “unsolicited submission”
- Agent Submissions: Many of the larger corporate publishers limit their submissions by only accepting submissions from literary agents that represent writers. In order to work with one of these children’s book publishers, you will need to find and hire an agent.
- Unsolicited Submissions: Unless you are planning on hiring an agent, your best chance of success will be to submit your manuscripts to smaller, independent children’s book publishers that accept unsolicited submissions. In addition to sending the manuscript according to their specifications, you may also need to send information about yourself, your background, your social media presence, and any other relevant information about your author brand and following.
Just like with any other publishing company, children’s book publishers will ultimately choose manuscripts to publish that line up with their brand and fit their own specific criteria.
At the least, most publishers are looking for books with high-quality illustrations, original story arcs, and memorable characters. They are looking for stories that will sell and resonate with readers. If you need some help with your book, make sure to check out our guide How to Write a Children’s Book: Steps, Structure + Tips.
Current Children’s Book Publishers
There are many children’s book publishers that are actively looking for new authors to publish. Each publisher will have its own personality and process when it comes to working with new authors.
Before choosing which publishers you should submit work to, it is a good idea to first spend time looking at the type of children’s literature that the publisher is known for and what they have recently published to gauge whether your work would fit under the brand.
Children’s Book Publishers that Accept Submissions:
- Immedium – Based in San Francisco, Immedium is looking for “innovative, influential, and insightful” books to publish. They accept unsolicited submissions, just make sure to read their submission guidelines prior to submitting.
- Candlewick Press – Candlewick Press is one of the larger, more well-known independent children’s book publishers. They do accept unsolicited submissions, but only at certain times during the year.
- Holiday House: Holiday House publishes high quality hardcover books for children ages four and older. Read their submission guidelines for more details.
- FlashLight Press: FlashLight Press specializes in literature for children ages 4-8. They specialize in fictional books that deal with family or social situations. Read their submission guidelines before submitting your manuscript.
- Kids Can Press: This Canadian publishing house publishes children’s literature and chapter books for kids ages 7-10.
- Arbordale Publishing: Arbordale Publishing focuses on books about physical science, engineering and earth science. Look through their submissions guidelines for details about the submission process.
- Charlesbridge Press: Charlesbridge Press seeks to publish high quality books for young people to inspire lifelong learners. They are specifically looking for voices and stories from historically underrepresented people groups.
- Sleeping Bear Press: Sleeping Bear Press is committed to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. They welcome submissions from diverse voices.
- Mighty Media Press: Mighty Media Press seeks to deliver books that ignite children’s curiosity, imagination, social awareness, and sense of adventure.
- Kane Miller Press: Kane Miller Press seeks to publish great stories with engaging characters that reflect our diverse world. Make sure to read the submission details before submitting.
Pros and Cons of Working with Children’s Book Publishers
There are plenty of pros and cons to getting published by one of the children’s books publishers. Ultimately it is up to you as the author which direction you want to go.
Pros of Children’s Book Publishers:
- Publishing Team: When you work with a publisher, they will come with a team of people to get your book published. They will direct the process to make sure each step is taken care of and be in charge of the end result of the book.
- Greater distribution: Publishers only make money if your book is successfully sold, so they will work to see your book printed and sold on the shelves of as many bookstores (and online sellers) as they can.
Cons of Children’s Book Publishers:
- Competitive: Unfortunately very few submissions are accepted for publishing. When submitting work to children’s book publishers, it may take months to receive any feedback. However, if your submissions are not accepted, you may not receive your manuscript back or receive a response from the publishing company due to their large volume of submissions.
- Less Creative Freedom: When you are signed by one of the children’s book publishers, you are signing the ultimate control of your book over to the publishing company.
- Cost: While your book might sell more and make more money by publishing through a publishing company, that does not mean you will necessarily see the additional revenue. Instead, your book contract will specify the percentage of royalties you will receive and the rest will all go to the publishing company and agent (if you have one).
- Time: Your book will be published, but it will be when it fits with the publisher’s overall publishing schedule. They may have several books that need to be printed, marketed, and distributed before your time will come.
Benefits to Self-Publishing:
If the costs and lack of creative control that come with publishing companies aren’t a good fit with your publishing goals, self-publishing your book might be the better option.
There are several benefits to self-publishing your children’s book:
- Retain Creative Control: When you self-publish, you retain your vision and control over the publishing process. You can work with who you want and ensure the end result is as you wanted it.
- Keep the Book’s Profits: Without a publishing company or literary agent, everything you make goes back to you. While self-publishers often have more upfront costs to publish a book, all the money you make will go back to you.
- Independent Audience: As an independent self-published author you have more control over how you grow your audience and develop your brand as an author.
- Self-Publishing Community: There are many passionate authors that love the freedom that only comes from self-publishing. Our site self-publishingschool.com is a great place to start for community and resources!
Do you need help getting started self-publishing your children’s book?
Check out our Children’s Book School Webinar through Self-Publishingschool.com!