June 6, 2020: Trying to Find a Children’s Picture Book Publisher

Phil Slattery portrait

Phil Slattery
March, 2015

As you may already know, I have written the manuscript for a children’s picture book entitled Bobby the Brave Brown Pelican. This morning I have been trying to find a publisher for it. This is considerably harder than finding a short story publisher. I did submit my work to a few publishers a few weeks ago, but I have had to date only negative or no responses. In short, I am having little success in finding just a possible publisher for my manuscript.

Nonetheless, I shall press on.

The two submissions engines I have for short stories, Duotrope and The Submissions Grinder, list very few publishers for children’s books. Consequently, I must resort to doing an internet search. Fortunately, there are few articles which list children’s book publishers. This morning, I have been working my way through a list of thirty publishers that can be found on johnfox.com. After I finish this list, I have another of 75, but this will no doubt include many on the first list.

I have had to develop an Excel spreadsheet to track my submissions. In this spreadsheet I am including the publishers I considered but decided not to submit to for one reason or another. This is to ensure that at a later date, I don’t go forget that I decided not to submit them and don’t go through the effort of researching them again.

Some accept manuscripts by mail, whereas I prefer to submit electronically. This does not mean I won’t submit to them, just that I won’t submit to them right away. I an trying to submit to as many as I can as soon as I can and submitting by mail slows this process considerably. Luckily, it seems only a few won’t accept simultaneous submissions, or at least they don’t state so on their website. Given that, I am submitting to as many as possible and will probably accept the first decent proposal that pops up.

Another stumbling block I am encountering is that, as with many publishers, many do not accept unsolicited manuscripts either throughout the year or during a good portion of the year.

Of course, there is the obvious matter that my subject matter is not to the taste of all publishers. Some have narrow requirements.  For example, Arbordale Publishing accepts only manuscripts that are math or science related. Kids Can Press accepts manuscripts only from Canadian authors.

One big stumbling block is that it seems most children’s book publishers won’t send a message or letter declining a work. They state that if the author doesn’t hear from them in a certain amount of time, he/she should consider the work not accepted. Unfortunately, this time period is usually in terms of months. Three to four months is not unusual. So far I have found one that says 6-9 months.

Some publishers don’t go into detail about what they would like to see and basically say to just to submit the manuscript while others go into excruciating and exacting detail.

Another big stumbling block for my particular work is that most publishers want a picture book to be under a 1,000 words. My manuscript is 1,388 words and it is as concise as I want to or can make it and still get my message across.

I know that these obstacles are common to just about all genres, but, at least compared to the short story market with which I am most familiar, they seem more numerous and frequent with children’s books. Children’s book publishers also seem less organized. There doesn’t seem to be a standard or preferred way of submitting manuscripts whereas publishers of short fiction seem more consistent in detailing what they accepts. Of course, that is only a subjective observation.

I feel like I am taking pot shots in the dark.

Anyway, I will keep plugging on even if I have to go through hundreds of publishers. This is not unusual for novelists or short story writers and, as I am learning, it is apparently not unusual for children’s book authors either.

Stay woke.