Being an aspiring writer is one thing, but what if you’re trying to break into the children’s book industry? Where are you supposed to get the inside scoop on what it really takes to publish a successful children’s book – aside from all the smoke and mirrors?
Don’t Fall for a Scam
Unfortunately, since the children’s book industry is so popular today, and so many unpublished authors are hoping to break into it, there are more than a few scammers out there trying to take advantage of your unpublished manuscript. If you want to self-publish your children’s book, that is a perfectly valid option. Self publishers are normally not scammers. But make sure you choose a trustworthy self publisher with an affordable price package as a bottom line.
Although I can’t name names, I was given a children’s book “contract” by a publishing company that turned out to be a self publisher in disguise. This contract required me to pay $4000 as a good-faith investment that I would then get back when and if my book was successful. I would encourage you not to put down that much money as a supposed investment for your book. Instead, continue to research and submit queries again and again and again until you find a fair publisher interested in your work. It’ll happen!
Don’t Illustrate – Unless You’re a Professional Illustrator
Unless you happen to be the rare combination of a professional illustrator and author all in one, it’s best not to illustrate your own book. Most publishers will tell you in bold print on their website not to provide your own illustrations. Instead, a publisher will be responsible for illustrating the book for you. As a side note, you may want to make notes in your children’s book manuscript of the illustrations you have in mind, but that’s as much as you should offer.
Try to Get a Literary Agent First of All
Again, the children’s book market is quite competitive. But if you can get a literary agent to represent your work, then you’re in good hands. A literary agent will be able to send your manuscript to larger publishing houses to help you to get a bigger break that you may not have been able to otherwise. BUT! Remember that you should only submit your manuscript to literary agents interested in children’s books, and those agents are often few and far between.
Consider Small Publishers
Last but not least, consider submitting to small publishers to help break ground with your children’s book. This will give you the opportunity to get your feet wet in the children’s book industry, establish a relationship with a dependable publisher, and even have more input in the publishing process.
Bethany Ramos is a freelance writer who has a contract to publish her children’s book Lions Can’t Eat Spaghetti with 4RV Publishing. She also co-owns her own e-commerce website, The Coffee Bump.