Children’s Book Publishing
When writing a children’s book it is wise to look at children nowadays, and assess the differences in your childhood in comparison. After all, every generation of child has grown up learning slightly different things. Our generation of children are born into a world of X-Box and computer games. 70’s children were interested in toy prams, skates and bikes. Technology has expanded so greatly that there is even a stark difference to what I grew up with and what my neice is interested in. I used to be obsessed with Barbie – she is 20 years younger than me and is obsessed with ‘Dance Central’.
It is also handy to consider that before your book can reach a child, it has to go through the hands of several adults (publishers/agents/parents). And of course as you are most likely an adult, you will be drawing things from your childhood that you wish to share. So to consider this, you should ask yourself the following questions:
Is the culture I grew up in very different to that of the children I know now?
If it is, will my story still be able to relate to this generation of children?
It is becoming increasingly difficult to get books published – children’s or not. Publishers are looking for books that they can sell. You must as a writer ask yourself if your book will appeal to a wide audience and if it will sell. Granted, writers are not necessarily sales people but if you want your work to be published you need to know how you will sell your work and who will buy it.
Publishers are also looking for books that are of good quality and writers who are polished, so make sure your book presentation is of the best quality and free of punctuation/spelling mistakes.
Think of what age group you are marketing your book at. Make this clear when you submit your work (you can include this in your preliminary letter). Use your local library to read lots of popular children’s books to see how they are animated/ formatted. Take the time to research and look at what has made the book successful and compare this to your own work. Search for books that are targeting a similar audience to yours, and take a note of the publisher/agent who represents this author. You should then consider contacting them to find out if they would accept your submission.
Let me start by letting you as a writer know exactly what happens when you send your submission to a publisher.
- It enters into a slush pile, and a ‘reader’ or ‘assistant editor’ will then read your manuscript – eventually. Their job is to find the next best thing, so it is within their interest to give your manuscript the attention it deserves.
- If the lowly ‘reader’ feels that your story is the next big thing, they will then pass it onto the editor. The editor will then decide if they like it and if so, how they will sell it.
- The editor will then take your submission to the publisher. If the publisher agrees that your book has ‘the right stuff’, it is highly likely they will want you to polish your work if necessary and they will want to read more. This does not guarantee you will get a contract, but if you do receive a request of this type you should feel highly flattered – not many writers get to this stage.
- Once the editor is happy with your re-write and feels confident that your work is polished, they then take it to the publishing committee. The editor will then need to sell your work to the marketing and sales directors, the division presidents and the publishers. They need to be convinced that your work will sell and that the quality of your work is superb.
- If you are successful, a contract will be put in place.
In reality, over 99% of manuscripts get turned away at stage 1, and you will receive a rejection letter. The publisher will not go into detail as to why they have rejected your work, simply because they do not have enough time to give each submission that personal touch of advice. However, on occasion you may receive a small note on how to improve your work, which should be encouraging. Do not bother to call the publisher to ask why your work has been rejected because you will not get an answer. The ‘readers’ just receive too many submissions to remember one that they rejected and why. Take your rejection letter and slog on with the next.
Why was your work rejected?
- Perhaps review the grammar/punctuation of your work to ensure this is not one reason you were rejected.
- Take a writing class to improve your skills. This will also open your eyes to any possible weaknesses you may have overlooked in your work.
- Join a writing website and actively speak with other writers about your work – it may be handy to get impartial advice on your work from other people in the same situation as yourself.
- Re-read your manuscript and think carefully about your plot – is your work exciting and does it have a meaning and goal?
- Read other children’s books that are on the market, how does yours compare?
Written by Naomi Chance
Filed under: Book Publisher Interviews