Many children’s writers ask what they should do when they have a story written and “ready to go”.
Below is a typical question along these lines, and my brief response.
Mary* writes – “I’m a stay-at-home mom, and have been contemplating giving in to a secret passion of mine…writing children’s stories… Unfortunately, I really don’t know where or how to start. I have several stories finished, but I’m not sure what to do with them.”
1. Is your story really finished?
Has it been stringently edited? Have you left it for a while, and come back to it with fresh eyes? Can it be tightened even further?
Are there words, phrases, characters or scenes which are not absolutely essential to the story?
Does the story match the age group and target readership? Is it well paced? Will the story engage the reader?
2. Which Publisher?
Have you researched markets? One of the major mistakes new writers make is sending manuscripts to publishers who do not publish that type of story.
Check writers’ markets books and publishers’ websites for up to date information. Don’t make assumptions. Publishers who usually publish e.g. picture books, may not need any more at the moment.
4. Study and follow the publisher’s writers’ guidelines to the letter
These vary from publisher to publisher, so don’t take a “one size fits all” approach.
Do they accept unsolicited manuscripts? Do they only accept manuscripts through an agent? Do they accept email submissions?
Do they allow multiple submissions? (More than one submission to the same publisher). Do they accept simultaneous submissions? (Sending the same submission to more than one publisher simultaneously).
What layout, font and word length do they require? Who should you address the submission to?
5. Write a killer cover letter with your submission
If sending a query letter only, make sure this is a killer letter too. It needs to hook them right from the outset. Send the manuscript flat or folded in half. Include a stamped, self addressed envelope (SSAE).
The Bottom Line
For a publisher, publishing your book is a very expensive commercial decision. They need to make a healthy profit. Before you send it anywhere, be sure it is something a company would be prepared to invest thousands and thousands of dollars in.
I wish you all much success and many best sellers. Keep us posted on your publishing steps, trials and successes.