Getting published, where do I start? (kind of long)

Hi everybody, this is my first thread, I suppose I should introduce myself, well, I’ve been lurking here since 1999 and after 4 years in the wilderness, I’ve decided to come out and ask a few questions, supply a few answers, throw in a few snide remarks, and perhaps be enlightened further by all of the people here, so far, so good, and I haven’t even been pitted yet! Woohoo!.

Now to my question, I like writing, I like writing a lot. One day, admittedly, whilst stumbling home drunk, I came up with a fantastic hook for a children’s book. I thought to myself, well, I might as well run with this idea, I’m in a poorly paid job, and if I can get this book out there, I may be able to supplement my income, as well as perhaps attain world-wide notoriety, or at least, fame amongst my circle of friends.
(I should probably get to the question now!)

So I have written the book, it needs a bit of fixing, and perhaps some shortening. My target audience is the 4-8 Year old range, boys and girls. I have limited artistic ability, though I have been working on the computer to come up with some illustrations. I think they suck, some others might disagree. I’m getting to the question! I swear!. My questions are as follows:

  1. Do I get a draft copy of the book and just send it to as many publishers as I can?

  2. If I’m not supposed to send it off to as many publishers as I can, what should I do?

  3. Are there publishers who specialise in childrens picture books?

  4. Do I make a final copy of the book, complete with my own illustrations, or do I just send a basic draft? Or do I send say the first few pages (complete with illustrations) and a synopsis of the rest of the story?

  5. If a publisher says something along the lines of “The book is alright, but your illustrations suck” is it up to me to find an illustrator?, Will the publisher help me find one? If not, where would be a good resource for finding illustrators? Perhaps a writer’s guild or something?

If you have experience in Publishing, or better still, if you’re a publisher, I’d love to hear your answers, thoughts, or other musings on the above, plus any tips you might have, assume that I know NOTHING. Also, if you have no experience at all with publishing, but you have some thoughts on the above, I’d still love to hear from you!.
Armed with some knowledge, I may just get this book off the ground!.

Thanking you all in advance!

You need a lot of specialized information, too specialized for me to offer. The children’s book field is a thing unto itself and advice from writers who don’t do children’s books won’t be of much help.

Fortunately for you, there is a professional organization with a large web site that offers much useful information.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Check them out first before you do anything else.

I don’t know children’s books that well, but the general guidelines are the same:

Send the manuscript to one publisher at a time. The only exception is if they specifically say they accept simultaneous submissions. If they do not say this, don’t try it.

Make sure the submission is the best you can do with it. They aren’t going to want unfinished work.

Go get a copy of Fiction Writers Market (your library should have one) and study it. See what publishers are looking for and what sort of format they want it in.

AFAIK, you do not have to do the art yourself, and if you’re not a trained artist, it’s better you don’t. If they like the book, the publisher will usually look for an artist to handle the art.

As an new writer, it would be very unlikely for you to sell both illos and text to a publisher. In general publishers like to choose the illustrator to match with the text rather than use one chosen by the author. You do not have to find an illustrator and in fact should not. Do not tell the editor the age range the book is pitched at either – it would be very unusual for a book to appeal to the wide age range you’re thinking of in any case.

Children’s picture books are very hard to sell, especially as an unknown writer.

Are you aware of the layout requirements for a picture book? They’re fairly stringent and the book must conform to a certain page count.

Exapno put you onto an excellent site and I’m sure a lot of your questions will be answered there. Oh and don’t send a draft copy! Send as clean and clear copy as you can. It needs to look perfect because otherwise it’s gonna come back very quickly.

Go to a bookshop and look at who is publishing books like your one. This will either mean they are buying more of that type or it will mean they have enough of that type and won’t buy any more. Market research is a good thing – find a children’s writing email list and lurk and see who says who is buying what.

Good luck. Expect it to be a long slow process.

Thank you all so much!, only three replies and already I’m swimming in the info I was looking for!. Thanks again!

Primaflora wrote

If you know, could you post what typical expectations are? Thanks.

This site might be of some help.

Well, I wasn’t aware that there were stringent controls on page numbers etc. But with 12 pages and maybe as many short paragraphs of text, I would think I’d be alright, then again, I may not be.