16 Children's Book Publishers Now Accepting Submissions!
Timing is everything. Many children’s book publishers start and stop accepting submissions without much warning. This is likely based on their ability to keep up with the number of submissions already coming in.
Finding a publisher who publishes the kind of stories you’re looking to sell and catching them during their window of acceptance can be a mixture of research, persistence and chance.
Truth is: With thousands of manuscripts falling into the inboxes of major publishers each week - it’s not just about if you’re able to submit to publishers but also which publishers you choose to submit to and how.
To help you identify a publisher that’s fitting for the story you’re looking to sell and submit to them in a way that gives your picture book script a winning chance - we’ll do a checklist of five quick things.
1. Look for Books - By That Publisher - Similar to Yours.
Perusing a publisher’s online catalog for similar stories to the one you’re seeking to sell helps you get a better understanding of what type of stories that publisher has spent money on in the past…and if your’s is in alignment. This is critical because, when approaching the publisher, you can note which titles of theirs made you feel their publishing house might be a fit for your story.
It helps tremendously to show you’ve done a little research and are approaching that specific publisher for specific reasons.
Bonus: If you want to give yourself an even better chance…read the publisher’s “About Us” section to see what they list as their missions and values. If applicable, you can then mention how your story is not only in harmony with their previously published titles, but also what they believe and/or are looking to achieve as a publishing house.
2. Read THEIR Submission Guidelines.
The vast majority of publishers and agencies will want to see three things: your bio, synopsis and full manuscript (if a picture book) or first 3 chapters (if a novel-length submission).
Side Note: We will talk more in-depth about these three (often very misunderstood) items in an upcoming post.
Yet, sometimes, publishers request things that other publishers do not - or want materials submitted in a certain way. When we don’t take the time to read what the publisher at hand wants from us and how - it can speak to a lack of attention to detail.
Most publishers take the time to make the submission guidelines on their website concise and straightforward. These requests are often in place to make the process of reviewing your script or artwork smoother. Therefore, it’s in out best interest to honor the work we’ve done by submitting material the way that publisher wants to see it.
Ultimate Consequence: Some publishers will blindly reject submissions which do not adhere to their guidelines!
3. Quality Over Quantity
Most people don’t appreciate the feeling of being spammed…publishers are no different.
Note: If you choose to submit to, say, 150 publishers, you can still have quality within your quantity by considering the topics we discuss here. The most important thing, whether you’re submitting to 5 or 50 publishers, is to guarantee each feels individually addressed.
Most publishers understand artists are submitting to multiple houses. They expect it. But, they still want to know they’re on your list for a reason and you cared enough to submit thoughtful, considered material.
4. Finished Scripts vs. Ideas.
One of the most popular questions in publishing is: Do I need to have my script finished before I approach a publisher?
Many children’s book publishers will not accept story ideas in lieu of a complete and polished manuscript. If you’re a proven author/illustrator, a public figure or someone with a massive base pitching a book in alignment with your built-in audience publishers may take special consideration based on the backend sales potential. However, expect that most (if not all) houses will want to see your finished picture book script.
Why: Story ideas are the seeds. Finished stories are the trees. Narratives which are highly engaging, value-added and perfect for the intended audience require creativity and craftsmanship. Thus, much of an excellent finished product is in the execution.
What a publisher is purchasing is a complete and highly-polished product. So, they need artists to show they can build out their awesome ideas.
5. Submit Polished Materials.
Access is easy. Most of the publishers below can be approached via their website where you can submit your materials using a simple, online form.
What matters most in today’s literary climate is standing out.
Any one script submitted to a major publisher is competing with a waterfall of stories from around the world. Where we need to place our emphasis is not simply submitting but having a submission, which for multiple reasons, stands out amongst the stampeding herd. To give our scripts the best chance, we should ensure we have a professionally-edited bio, synopsis and script.
The biggest misconception is that professional edits are simply to make sure we don’t misspell or use the wrong variant of a word. But, script edits specifically, should give our story a thorough scrubbing for: plot, character development, pacing, word selection, dialogue, theme consistency, nuance, genre/market readiness, etc.
Carelessness is not the hill we want our script to die on. If at all possible, I highly recommend getting your story and submission materials professionally edited before submitting to a major house.
Equipped with these tips you’ll be ready to apply to any (or all) of the children’s book publishers below now accepting submissions.
Something Cool: You DO NOT need a literary agent to submit to any of these publishers!
17 Children’s Book Publishers Accepting Manuscripts!
Looking For: “Books that will explore the beauty, hurdles, and hopefulness of life. And engage, entertain, and empower young people to imagine and create a better world.”
Looking For: Children's books that celebrate multicultural voices and stories - including projects in fiction and nonfiction books for children ages 0-8 years old, as well as activity and educational kits.
Looking For: Books that focus primarily on the culture, history and contemporary experiences of African Americans. Just Us Books is the nation's premier independent publisher of Black-interest books for young people.
Looking For: Innovative, influential, and insightful books. IMMEDIUM values fresh ideas, dynamic perspectives, and can-do creativity. Their general format is a 32-page picture for ages 4-8 or 6-10.
Looking For: Fiction and Non-fiction books that enrich children’s lives through stories which blend entertaining text with educational content.
Looking For: books that introduce the world to South Asia and South Asian diaspora around the world – the people, places, and cultures of India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. YALI BOOKS is looking for stories that authentically represent the diversity of the region and its people.
Looking For: books which introduce readers of all faiths and backgrounds to a wide variety of Muslim children and families as well as offer Muslim kids an opportunity to see themselves reflected positively in published works.
Looking For: Books which authentically and realistically portray themes, characters, and customs unique to U.S. Hispanic culture.
Looking For: Great stories with engaging characters, especially the kinds that reflect our diverse world. KANE MILLER also appreciates American subjects.
Special Note from KANE MILLER: When writing about the experiences of a particular community, we will express a preference for stories written from a firsthand experience. At this time, KANE MILLER is not considering holiday stories (in any age range) or self-published works.
Looking For: Books which target 4–8 year olds, are under 1000 words, have a universal theme and deal with family or social situations.
Looking For: projects that have a unique bent—be it in subject matter, writing style, or illustrative technique—and that will lend our list a distinctive flair. CHRONICLE BOOKS is interested in fiction and nonfiction books for children of all ages, as well as board books, decks, activity kits, and other unusual or novelty formats.
Looking For: Something unique that has not been done before plus an interesting story that captures a moment with a timeless feel. RIPPLE GROVE PRESS is looking for picture driven stories for children ages 2-8.
Looking For: Books which get children excited about science and math through fun-to-read picture book stories. ARBORDALE is looking for fiction or narrative non-fiction stories with science or math woven into the story - and prefer fiction over nonfiction. In every manuscript ARBORDALE is look for a "cuddle factor" that will make parents and children want to read it together.
Each book needs to include a 2-6 page, non-fiction “For Creative Minds” section to reinforce the educational component of the book. Said section will have activities, crafts, or fun facts to be shared by the parent, teacher, or other adult. Authors will be asked to provide separate facts that will be incorporated into this section.
Looking For: Fiction and nonfiction picture book manuscripts for children ages 1 to 8 which are up to 1000 words. ALBERT WHITMAN is looking for books which treat their readers in a caring and respectful manner, helping them to grow intellectually and emotionally.
Looking For: Quality educational resources for teachers and students. Authors who are master educators, dedicated to the success of all learners. PORTAGE & MAIN books are practical, yet based on solid theory and research and help teachers make real change in their classrooms and in the lives of their students.
PORTAGE & MAIN publishes books that focus on collaborative, inclusive, project-based, inquiry-based best practices, books that are curriculum-based, and books that include Indigenous perspectives and knowledge.
Looking For: Manuscripts which are honest, wise, and hopeful. But, EERDMANS also publishes stories that simply delight with their storyline, characters, or good humor. Stories that celebrate diversity, stories of historical significance, and stories that relate to contemporary social issues are also of special interest at this time.
Special Note: EERDMANS currently publishes 12 to 18 books a year.
Bonus Publisher Coming Soon: Opening their submission window from Sept. 1st - Dec. 1st!
Looking For: stories that reflect the richness of our world, inspire, entertain readers, and add nuance/depth to the way children and young adults see the world and their place in it.
Important Message to My Creative Friends: This list is to help you be aware of which publishers are currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts.
This is not an endorsement of or a recommendation to sign with any particular publishing houses, if offered. That is solely your choice and up to you to do your homework BEFORE signing any representation and/or publishing contract.
My goal is to help you focus your energy by simplifying the process and demystifying what you can do to have a better chance at getting/keeping your work out there!
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