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Where to start to get your book published?

For many people, their love of books and reading can be traced back to the stories they read as a child. Whether it was the adventures of ‘Just William’, the mysteries of the ‘Famous Five’ or recent additions such as the work of David Walliams, there is something special in the relationship between children and stories they feel have been crafted for them.

The term “children’s book” is more diverse than you would think. Like adults, children are into a wide variety of things such as fantasy, mystery, action thriller and comic style books all available for children.

What to think about

In order to get a children’s book published, ideally, you want to be sure that before you take it to a publisher, that it works within this niche. The first place to start is if you know or have children of your own – this is a great way to test whether it works in terms of their level of enjoyment.

There are more factors to consider when writing a children’s book. The first is to consider what ages you are writing for, as this will affect the kind of language you use and the style of narrative. If it’s for toddlers just learning to read then it needs to be very simple, with a larger proportion of visual content, whereas for older readers the plot can be more complex with less visual content.

With the much younger generation, the rhythm of a book can make a difference. Ideally, you don’t want too many words and a rhyme can help make it feel engaging. With older readers, it can be harder but it is possible to find ways to make it talk to them without having it feel like you are trying too hard to “get” them. As with any other story, you can think about what you were into when you were young and what made you like those particular stories. It also helps to do a little research into current media for children such as animation, video game, films and so forth as that will help create a language for it.

This also affects the kind of characters you choose – do some of research on the kind of things kids of that age are interested in as that will make it easier to determine what you can work with. Ideally, you also want something that can tie in with personal experiences as children also tend to know if a story feels like it’s been too obviously crafted with them in mind (as personified in the “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme).

It is also important to remember that children’s books are not “easier” than any other form of narrative. For example for smaller children crafting rhymes with a rhythm that fits and makes sense can often be more challenging than you think.
Another factor is younger readers often favour complete stories as opposed to cliff hangers or ambiguous endings. Even with a series, children tend to want each part to feel complete.

Producing An Illustrated Story

You may also want to consider whether to add illustrations or work with an illustrator – the latter may be an additional cost but can often be something that draws the attention of a potential publisher. A good children’s book publisher will, of course, be able to assist with the illustrations. This is especially useful for smaller children’s books as it is recommended you limit the amount of words. With older children and young adult works it does depend on the genre (such as world maps for fantasy stories).

At ShieldCrest we offer an illustration service, using our own team of experienced illustrators. For younger children, it is recommended that the story stick to around 150 to 1000 words, with the illustrations highlighting the main point of the story.

If you are writing a young adult novel then this is different as they are more likely to engage with reading providing the concept is strong enough and sufficient interest created by the writing. For example, you may only want an illustration such as a map to indicate the key locations in a fantasy novel or possibly pictures at the start of each chapter to highlight key events.

Crafting A Framework

At the heart of it, crafting a children’s story is the same process as crafting a story for adults. You still need characters that they can engage with, a plot that entertains and for them to be left satisfied by the end.

ShieldCrest can not only publish your work but we also offer proofreading, editing and other services to help get your children’s book out there. We want to see you succeed and we have the tools to help you do it. For more information please contact us today and we will be happy to discuss our book publishing packages in more detail.
Aside from that, the process is similar to pitching to any other publisher- check their submission process, follow it, ask for feedback if rejected and build on it as necessary, repeat until published.

Therefore it is worth doing your homework and researching the publisher you want to submit to as this will give you an idea of whether or not your work fits in with what they currently have (there are websites and books that can provide links for this).

Be prepared for rejection because you can learn from this and avoid making the same mistake again. It isn’t necessarily a no – if they are willing to offer feedback then you should see how you can adjust your work. Trust your instincts – if it seems like they aren’t forthcoming with feedback consider looking elsewhere

Choosing a Publishing Pathway

Today there are many different routes to publishing children’s books. There are pros and cons to each of the routes, and it is worthwhile spending time considering which is the best path for you and your story. Think about why you want your book to be published. Do you want to share a story with children that you know? Do you want to begin a new career as an author? Whatever your motivation, it is important to consider this when you are looking at the different routes that you could take toward becoming a published author.

Traditional Publishers

Mainstream publishing houses such as Penguin, are considered the traditional form of publishing. To pitch your book to a mainstream publishing house you will need an agent. Mainstream publishing houses rarely accept unsolicited manuscripts. Finding an agent can be difficult. However, if you do manage to secure an agent, and consequently a publishing deal through a mainstream publishing house, your book is more likely to receive expert marketing and promotion from their internal teams.

Publish Independently

Independent publishing houses have smaller marketing budgets, however, you will still receive the support and expertise of their team to get your children’s book published. Some smaller publishing houses will accept unsolicited manuscripts, but it is important to check beforehand. Independent publishers can be more inclined to take a gamble or a longshot, so if your children’s book is a bit quirky or different, you might have more success with an independent publisher.


A popular option for publishing children’s books is to self-publish. This gives you control over your children’s book but will leave the onus of marketing and promoting your book yourself. If you are confident in your ability to sell, then this could be a good route for you. Though here at ShieldCrest we do offer a range of marketing services for post-publishing support if you do not feel confident handling your own marketing. Or if you simply want to share your children’s book with friends and family, then this is the ideal option.

Preparing Your Manuscript for Submission

Whichever route you decide to take for publishing your children’s book, make sure you prepare your manuscript. Edit, edit, and edit again. Ask for feedback from friends and family, parents, and children. Children will give you the best feedback, as they are usually honest! If you are struggling to edit your own work, ShieldCrest can provide editorial services to help you. Make sure your children’s book is the very best it can be when you submit it.

Writing a Book Proposal

Your proposal should be short and sweet and make the publisher want to read your book. This is where you are making your pitch. What makes your book stand out? Which age range is your children’s book for? Why should they work with you? You have a very short time to grab their attention, make sure you do!

Submitting Your Manuscript And Proposal

Check the submission guidelines for each publishing house, many of these vary, and you don’t want your book to be rejected because you have not followed their guidelines. They are often very specific about the format layout of your manuscript, so make sure that you adhere to their requirements. If there is anything that you don’t understand about the submission process then it is best to call the publisher and ask, rather than guess.

Find a Children’s Book Agent

Not all agents deal with children’s books, often agents have areas of interest, and work with specific publishers in certain areas. Do your research and make sure you find agents who specifically deal with children’s books. You need to approach agents with the same eye-catching proposal that you would if be approaching a publisher directly. Agents also receive many submissions from authors, and yours need to stand out. Many agents will also have submission guidelines, so spend some time researching their submission process.

Marketing and Promoting Your Books

If you have published a children’s book, the hard work isn’t over! Promoting and marketing your children’s book is vitally important to ensure that you optimise your chance of sales and success. If you are working with a mainstream publisher they will have a marketing campaign for your book, and you will need to work with them. If you are self-publishing and want to market your own children’s books, then you will need to create a marketing plan, which could consist of social media, local independent bookstores, local newspapers, or magazines. Think about other ideas that could work for you, perhaps visiting your local schools and doing a book reading for the children. Maybe there was something that happened that inspired your children’s book idea? Could this be a newsworthy story?

Legal Considerations When Publishing Your Book

Ask advice from your publishing house about legal considerations. You should always have a contract that should explain both initial payments and royalty fees. If you are unsure about the contract, always consult a lawyer. Never sign a contract if you don’t fully understand the contents. If you are taken on by an agent, you should also receive a contract, as the agent will take a percentage of any publishing deal that you may receive. Some books are turned into films, or sold overseas, and if this is included in your contract ensure that the deal that you are receiving is valid and fair. Don’t be so delighted to have sold your book, that you don’t check the legalities of any contract that you enter into.

Next Step

Here at ShieldCrest, we work with many authors to publish their children’s books. We know all there is to know about publishing children’s books, and we are here to share our knowledge with you. If you want more advice on how to self-publish a children’s book we are here to help. Our experienced team enjoys nothing more than helping your story reach more children. We believe that books are vitally important, especially for children. Whether your story has dragons, demons, or dancers, we think that stories should be told and shared. We will work with you throughout the whole publishing process from your initial discussion to holding your published children’s book in your hand. We are here to give your story a voice. If you have an idea, get writing, and if you have a finished manuscript then submit it today using our submissions form. Our team is ready and waiting to read your story.

You may be interested in reading: Tips for Self Publishing Children’s Books

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