how to publish a children's book

The Ultimate Guide on How to Publish a Children’s Book: Tips & Tricks for Aspiring Authors

If you’re seeking clarity on how to publish a children’s book, this comprehensive guide illuminates the pathway from a raw manuscript to a published work that delights young minds. We’ll walk you through the essentials of perfecting your story, collaborating with illustrators, choosing a publishing route, and tactics for marketing your finished book. Embark on your publishing adventure with confidence, knowing what to expect at every step.

Key Takeaways

  • Creating relatable children’s stories begins with unique ideas, often inspired by personal experiences, and requires writing that resonates with kids’ developmental stages and interests.

  • Professional illustrations play a crucial role in children’s books by enhancing understanding and supporting the text, and finding the right illustrator is key to producing engaging visuals that match the story’s essence.

  • Understanding publishing options, including traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing, can determine the success of your book, as can crafting a standout query letter and marketing through building an author platform and leveraging social media.

Crafting Your Children’s Story

Children's book author writing a story

Crafting a childrens book is like sculpting a precious gem. It requires care, patience, and a deep understanding of the vibrant world of young readers. Whether it’s a whimsical fairy tale or an inspiring journey of a brave young protagonist, every children’s book begins with a compelling story that resonates with its audience.

We’ll explore the fundamental elements of creating an exceptional children’s tale next.

Discovering Your Unique Idea

Every great children’s story begins with a unique idea. It’s like a seed that, with time, nurturing, and a bit of magic, transforms into a captivating tale. But where do these ideas come from? Often, the most memorable stories are inspired by personal experiences and interests. Reflecting on your own childhood can unlock a treasure chest of story ideas that resonate with young readers.

Beginning to pen your thoughts is another effective method to unearth your distinctive concept. It’s like setting off on a journey without a map, exploring your creative landscape freely, and letting your story evolve organically. Embrace the creative chaos and write without worrying about perfection. This approach often leads to the development of a distinct story framework and helps overcome writer’s block.

Writing for Your Audience

Writing for children is an art that requires a delicate balance of creativity and understanding of your young audience. An effective children’s story must focus on a single, relatable theme that captures their experiences or interests. Whether it’s the thrill of the first day at school or the adventure of a space journey, the theme should connect with the children’s world and their developmental stage.

Characters play a pivotal role in forging this connection with young readers. Characters that are the same age as the intended reader allow children to better identify with the story. They see themselves in the characters, share their joys and sorrows, and embark on an exciting journey with them.

The choice of words and the plot’s configuration are also key to captivating the young minds. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Younger readers benefit from simpler, shorter sentences with familiar vocabulary.

  • Older readers can handle more complex language and longer story arcs.

  • The story should be paced and structured with the attention span and reading stamina of the target age group in mind.

Most importantly, your narrative should provide a deeply engaging reading journey. The ‘show don’t tell’ technique is crucial in children’s books to allow young readers to utilize their vivid imaginations. Reading aloud can significantly enhance this experience, with the emotions and cadence in the reader’s voice amplifying the engagement level and overall storytelling experience.

The Revision Process

Creating your narrative merely initiates the voyage. The real enchantment lies in the editing stage, where your tale morphs into a refined masterpiece. This stage involves:

  • Refining the manuscript for clarity, grammar, and consistency

  • Ensuring the story includes a relatable main character

  • Having a clear beginning, middle, and end

  • Creating tension

  • Giving the protagonist an active role

By following these steps, you can turn your story into a polished and engaging piece of writing.

During revision, pay close attention to the following:

  • The tone of the story. Is it appropriate for the intended age range?

  • The language. Is it vivid without excessive description that could detract from the story?

  • The balance between text and action within the pages.

  • The maintenance of reader interest.

  • The fulfillment of an emotional journey with character development by the end.

Testing the manuscript with the intended audience is a valuable step for refining the story, addressing any issues, and ensuring it resonates with young readers.

Partnering with Illustrators

Collaboration between author and illustrator

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this couldn’t be truer for children’s books. While the story forms the soul of the book, illustrations breathe life into it, serving as visual roadmaps that enhance the reading experience. They not only make the reading experience engaging and enjoyable but also contribute to foundational literacy skills including:

  • understanding

  • fluency

  • vocabulary

  • phonological awareness

Appropriate illustrations can elevate a decent book to an exceptional one. This is why collaborating with a seasoned illustrator is an integral component in publishing a children’s book. Next, we’ll uncover the secrets to selecting the ideal illustrator and team up to produce enticing visuals that enhance your narrative.

Choosing the Right Illustrator

Choosing the right illustrator for your children’s book is like finding the perfect partner for a dance. You need someone who can match your rhythm, understand your vision, and bring it to life in their unique style. But how do you find this ideal partner?

Start by exploring various children’s books illustration styles such as:

  • cartoon

  • realistic

  • abstract

  • collage

Create a visual mood board to communicate your vision effectively to potential illustrators. Review their portfolios and client reviews to gauge their style consistency, versatility, and past work quality. Remember, the illustrator should be able to capture the essence of your story and resonate with your target audience.

Working Together on Visuals

Having located the suitable illustrator, your subsequent move is to foster a productive partnership. Clear communication is the bedrock of this partnership. Provide detailed briefs including character and scene descriptions, and cover design wishes, while also embracing their creative input.

Respect the illustrator’s preferred workflow and be willing to assertively request changes while valuing their professional suggestions. The aim is to utilize illustrations to:

  • Provide contextual cues and assist in the understanding of the narrative

  • Emphasize unwritten details, emotional themes, and cultural representation

  • Ensure they support the text and contribute to character development.

Navigating the Publishing Landscape

crossroads, confusion, dilemma

Venturing into the publishing world can resemble navigating through a foreign metropolis. There are different routes you can take, each leading to a unique destination. In the world of children’s book publishing, these routes are traditional publishing, hybrid publishing, and self-publishing. Each has its own benefits and challenges, and understanding them can help you choose the path that best suits your journey.

Understanding Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing is like the well-trodden path in the city. It’s the route most authors aspire to take, but it’s also the most challenging to navigate. The publishing process involves finding a literary agent, who then pitches your manuscript to traditional publishing houses. If a publisher decides to take on your book, they cover the costs of production, distribution, and marketing.

However, the traditional publishing route is not without its drawbacks. It’s a highly competitive field with a success rate of less than 1%, and most publishing houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. The process can also be lengthy, taking anywhere from 18 to 24 months to bring the book to market. Despite these challenges, a successful traditional publishing deal offers the advantage of professional support, market reach, and the prestige of being a traditionally published author.

Exploring Hybrid Publishing

If the traditional route feels too crowded and competitive, traditional or indie publishing can be an appealing alternative. It’s like the less-traveled path in the city that still leads to a desirable destination. Hybrid publishers are smaller, independent companies that offer a middle ground between traditional and self-publishing.

Unlike traditional publishers, hybrid publishers are more receptive to new authors, including self published authors, and often prioritize untouched authors or those from specific author demographics. They offer authors a higher level of creative control and higher royalty rates. However, it’s essential to research and ensure they are reputable and a good fit for your book.

Self-Publishing Success

Self-publishing is like forging your own path in the city. It provides the most freedom and control over your book, from writing and editing to design and marketing. Through platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, you can self publish your book exactly as you envision it and reach a global audience.

However, self-publishing also comes with its own set of challenges. It requires upfront investment in services like editing and illustration, and marketing the book falls entirely on your shoulders. Despite these challenges, self-publishing offers the highest royalty rates but often is accompanied by lower earnings as self-published books are blocked from retail and library channels of distribution.

Preparing Your Submission Package

Once you’ve crafted your story and chosen your publishing path, it’s time to prepare your submission package. This is the package that you will present to literary agents or publishers, and it’s your chance to make a strong first impression.

Next, we’ll examine the essential elements of an attractive submission package.

Crafting an Engaging Query Letter

Creating a captivating query letter can be likened to whipping up an appetizing starter for a feast. It’s your chance to whet the appetite of the literary agent or publisher and make them eager to read your manuscript. Your query letter should introduce you and your book in a compelling manner, capturing the essence of your story.

Start the letter with a strong hook that immediately grabs the reader’s attention, followed by your manuscript’s title, genre, word count, and target age range. Provide a brief but captivating synopsis that introduces the central characters, lays out the conflict, and elicits emotional investment. Finally, personalize the query by mentioning why you’ve chosen this particular agent or publisher, and end with a professional thank-you.

Polishing Your Manuscript

Refining your manuscript can be compared to adding the final embellishments to a work of art. It’s the final step before presenting your work to the world, and it’s crucial to ensure your manuscript is as polished and professional as possible. This involves checking for grammar and spelling errors, ensuring consistent formatting, and making sure the story flows smoothly.

The cover page of your manuscript should include your name, contact information, and the word count, with the title featured in all caps and centered on the page. Each new chapter should start on a new page, and the entire manuscript should be double-spaced with a clear, readable font. Professional formatting services can aid in ensuring your manuscript is correctly formatted and ready for submission.

Marketing Your Published Book

Author engaging with young readers at an event

Publishing your book is a significant achievement, but it’s only the first step in your journey. The next step is marketing your book, which involves reaching out to potential readers, creating a buzz around your book, and driving sales. It’s a challenging but rewarding process that can significantly boost your book’s success.

Next, we’ll discuss strategies for successfully promoting your published book.

Building an Author Platform

Establishing an author platform can be compared to setting the groundwork for a structure. It’s the base upon which your marketing efforts will stand, and it’s crucial for reaching out to your audience. Your platform includes your social media profiles, website, and email list, and it’s where you will connect with readers, share updates about your book, and promote your work.

Networking with other authors and industry professionals can also be a key part of building your platform. By forming mutual relationships, you can expand your reach, gain valuable insights, and receive support in your publishing journey. Offering incentives such as free materials for email signups can also aid in building your audience and maintaining their engagement.

Engaging with Young Readers

Interacting with young readers can be likened to unlocking a portal to a realm of creativity and exploration. It involves creating experiences that captivate children, ignite their curiosity, and make reading an enjoyable activity. This can be achieved through in-person and online events, where you can interact with young readers, read excerpts from your book, and answer their questions.

Offering free materials such as coloring and activity pages can also be a great way to engage young readers. Not only do these materials provide entertainment for children, but they also provide a way for you to capture the email addresses of adults downloading these materials for children. This can help you grow your email list and reach out to potential readers.

Leveraging Social Media

Utilizing social media can be compared to spreading a broad net to ensnare a swarm of fish. It’s a powerful tool that can help you reach a wider audience, introduce your book to new readers, and create a buzz around your work. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be instrumental in promoting your book and connecting with your audience.

Creating engaging content that appeals to your target audience is key. This might include behind-the-scenes glimpses of your writing process, sneak peeks of your book, and personal stories that connect with your readers. Timing your posts to coincide with relevant events, holidays, or trending topics can also boost engagement and relevance.

Paid social media advertising can be a cost-effective way to promote your book to a specific demographic. By targeting your ads to parents, educators, and librarians who influence book purchases, you can increase your book’s visibility and reach potential readers. Encouraging user-generated content, such as reviews or photos of children reading your book, can also create authentic promotion and increase trust among potential buyers.

Special Opportunities with Made for Kids

Navigating the publishing landscape can be a daunting task, especially for new authors. But worry not, for you’re not alone in this journey. Books published under the prestigious Made for Kids imprint is here to guide you every step of the way in creating your very own kids book.

Complimentary Editorial Review

Budding authors can avail a free editorial critique from experts in children’s literature. This unbiased critique can provide valuable insights into your manuscript, helping you refine your story and enhance its overall quality. It’s like having a seasoned guide on your journey, pointing out the areas that need improvement and helping you create a compelling children’s book.

Launching a Bestseller Campaign

Initiating a bestseller campaign can be likened to hosting a lavish celebration to mark your book’s debut. It’s an opportunity to create a buzz around your book, attract potential readers, and drive early sales. Made for Kids uses a specialized Amazon optimization suite of marketing services to enhance your book’s visibility and appeal on the platform.

A successful bestseller campaign involves:

  • Leveraging your established audience

  • Offering incentives and bonuses

  • Setting up a preorder campaign to build anticipation and secure early sales

  • Climbing bestseller lists and gaining further exposure upon release

Ready to Publish?

So, are you ready to take the plunge and step into the enchanting world of children’s book publishing? It’s a journey filled with creativity, discovery, and the rewarding experience of seeing your story come to life. If you’re ready to explore this journey, Made for Kids is here to guide you every step of the way.

Contact us today for a complimentary edit of your manuscript and learn more about how to successfully publish children’s books, as well as the journey of accomplished children’s book authors.


Publishing a children’s book is a rewarding journey that allows you to make a lasting impact on young readers’ lives. From crafting a captivating story and partnering with illustrators to navigating the publishing landscape and marketing your book, every step is a unique adventure. With guidance and support, you can navigate these steps with confidence and bring your vision to life. So, are you ready to embark on this exciting journey? The world of children’s literature awaits! Get in touch with us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to publish children’s book?

To publish a children’s book, start by understanding your target audience and refining your manuscript. Then, consider finding an agent or submitting your manuscript to publishers. Remember to also purchase an ISBN number and barcode, and copyright your book.

Is it hard to publish a children’s book?

Yes, it can be quite hard to traditionally publish a children’s book. Research shows that less than 1% of aspiring authors secure a traditional publishing deal, but don’t give up on your dream.

How can I find a unique idea for my children’s book?

Think about your own childhood experiences, interests, and fears to find inspiration for a unique children’s story. You can draw from these personal experiences to create a story that resonates with young readers.

How do I choose the right illustrator for my book?

To choose the right illustrator for your book, explore different illustration styles, create a visual mood board, and review the illustrator’s portfolios and client reviews to assess their style consistency and past work quality. Then, make your decision based on these factors. Working with Made for Kids, we will pick several illustrators to work with from our database of 10,000+ designers.

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