Many people dream of authoring their own book. For those that find the prospect of writing hundreds of pages daunting, they might set their sights on writing a short children’s book. The assumption being that because the book is shorter and the audience have requirements that lend itself to a less complex story line, the writing process will be faster and easier. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is, writing a quality children’s story that appeals to publishers is incredibly difficult and very few are able to achieve this accomplishment.
Difficulties and Considerations
Children’s books generally have very specific requirements. A picture book for example, must tell an entire story in under 1,000 words. The story still must display character development and cover a topic that is rich and engaging. The subject must also be appropriate for a 3-7 yea. When considering publishing a children’s book, the publishers and writers must also consider the overall cost in comparison to the potential profit. Unlike a book intended for adults, children’s books include many pictures. This means that in addition to hiring an editor, an illustrator will also be hired. The printing process is also more expensive if the books are to be printed in color. With all of these factors considered and other cost included (shipping, marketing, etc) the profit margin can be very small for even the most successful writers.
With the considerations and possible constraints in mind, if you believe you have a story that children will love here are the steps to take to get published:
Self publishing can be done by simply writing a manuscript then hiring your own editor (or trusting your own judgement), an illustrator and printing company. You can locate a vanity press that will give you the option to print a set number of copies and/or print as copies are ordered. You will be charged a fee as each book is printed. There are also online self-publishing sites, that offer various levels of assistance. Some connect you with illustrators or provide illustration services themselves. Many will also provide editing services or software. You can even write and release e-books (electronic books) for a fraction of the price of physical copies through companies like Amazon. These books can be viewed on most all reading tablets (such as Kindles) and mobile devices. However E-books generally don’t appeal much to young children and children’s parents.
You can also decide to go through a publisher. Publishers are very difficult to be approved by and have very stringent requirements, but take on a lot of the leg work associated with producing the final product. Most have in-house editors, illustrators and marketing teams. They also have relationships with printing companies and distributors. Most publishers deal directly with literary agents rather than each and every individual with a manuscript. A literary agent will review your idea or manuscript and tell you if it is a story that will appeal to publishers. They will help you draft a letter to the publisher, create a pitch and ensure that your submission adheres to the publisher’s guideline. If you decide not to hire a literary agent, ensure the you understand the submission process of the publisher you are pitching to.
2.) Working with an editor and illustrator.
Once you have a basic manuscript drafted, an editor will work with you to fine tune the story. While working out the details with the editor you will have also met with an illustrator that should be developing basic concepts for the look of characters. Once the initial character look is chosen and the storyline is in place, the illustrator can create a storyboard. After the storyboard is decided upon between the illustrator, author and editor, the pages can begin to be drafted.
The pages will be reviewed by all and once approved color will be added. Color is the final stage before a mock up of the book is produced and sent for review by the publisher. Once the publisher gives the ok the pages can be sent to be printed. This whole process can take some time. The various drafts are sent between author, illustrator and editor throughout each stage with each given input and making changes. The publisher has the final say and ultimately decides if more changes need to be made or if the book will in fact be printed.
Once the book is printed copies are sent to book stores and/or libraries and the author begins the process of promoting the book. Those that are self published will make these connections and arrangements on their own. Those that go through a publisher will likely have these arrangements made on behalf of the author.
Publishing a children’s book can be a rewarding and even profitable experience. It does take an immense amount of talent and patience to get through the process and ultimately have a book made.