I have written and illustrated a children's book and am looking for advice about where to go with it now. My thoughts are: approach independent bookstores, contact an illustrator's agent, approach publishing companies - but it is all very vague and I am entering a world that I know nothing about.

What options do I have? I realise I could self publish, but I don't know how I'd go about promoting it, for example.

I looked here but it's not really the same question I'm asking. @Standback's answer is helpful, but I don't know how the nuts and bolts of it really work. In fact I have no clue where to begin. In particular:

My inclination would be to shop around the manuscript now to agents and publishers

is what I'm looking for advice on. How would one go about this process? I'd be very grateful for as much detail as possible, as I'm completely in the dark when it comes to the business side of things.

  • For promotion, you could use social media. For example, Facebook makes ads for your products for a small amount.
    – Bella Swan
    Mar 20, 2019 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


First of all, mazel tov!

Your next step is to publish the book. This means that the book is in a final form and either printed on paper with a cover or in an e-book format. It also means you have an ISBN number and all the other technical bits that go along with publishing.

You can start by sending out queries to agents or publishers. I recommend using the Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market 2019 as a source of information about both agents and publishers. Each will have different requirements for submissions. Many publishers only accept submissions from agents. Some don't accept submissions at all. Others will want books targeted for particular audiences or on certain topics.

Follow all instructions to the letter! The best way to get your query deleted is to ignore their rules.

Also go to conferences, attend conventions, and join your local and national professional writing societies that are relevant to you.

If you can't get an agent, go for the medium to small publishers that accept direct submissions. If the publisher charges you money, run. That's not a publisher, it's a vanity press. You can also start with a small publisher. There are likely some local to you. You don't need to do local, but it's nice.

If none of that works, or if you just prefer this method, go for self-publishing. I recommend finding a company that does the tech setup for you. It shouldn't cost more than $200 and you'll get your ISBN number, formatting for paper and e-books, and the setup for each. Of course they'd charge more for the actual book copies. Make sure you have a contract where you own your work 100% and they don't get any money besides what you give them up front for the service.

If you self-publish, pay for an independent editor and proofreader. Don't do this yourself! This can be two people or the same one, but they are different skills and tasks.

To sell a book, you must first publish it. No bookstore will accept a book that doesn't physically exist. They won't publish it for you either. Many bookstores do accept self-published books (ISBNs are mandatory); the fabulous small chain local to me allows a certain number of self-published books by local authors at a time. There's a waiting list.

If you self-publish, you can sell at Amazon (e-book and paper, though the latter is a bit harder). If you do traditional publishing, your publisher will submit to Amazon. Use paper books to donate to your local library (yep, they'll usually accept them) and for tabling at events. Or just to sell to friends. E-books will have a wider audience.

Marketing is a whole other issue and way out of the scope of this question. But it's important.

Each of these things I've mentioned could be their own question. And probably already is! So check the archives. There are plenty of other things I didn't mention at all. I mean, there are entire books answering this question (again, see Writer's Digest). If you have more questions that aren't duplicates, go ahead and ask.

  • Thank you for your answer - you have given lots of helpful information. I don't think Ill need an editor or proofreader as it's really a picturebook aimed at the under 7s - does that change any of the advice you have given? Also, I'm based in hte UK, so I'm not sure whether Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market 2019 is the best resource for me - do you know of any that might be aimed at the british maket? Also, how would I go about finding an agent? Is it worth the agency fees generally?
    – martin
    Mar 21, 2019 at 10:41
  • I can get it ready myself for print (I am fairly competent with InDesign & Photoshop, so have prepared it ready for printers. What would I look for in a good agent? How would I be able to tell a good agent from one to avoid?
    – martin
    Mar 21, 2019 at 10:42
  • @martin You need a lot more help than one person can give you online. Please stay on Writing.SE and keep reading. There are a lot of Brits here. Yes, do read the book I recommended. It outlines everything you need to know very well. They have lots of other books as well. The US and UK book markets overlap a lot because of our common language (and history).
    – Cyn
    Mar 21, 2019 at 15:26
  • Writer's Digest has a monthly magazine and many many books. They do cover the UK, though, yes, their main focus is the US. Check out their blog too: writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/…
    – Cyn
    Mar 21, 2019 at 15:26
  • 1
    thank you so much for your help - I will read your recommendations and certainly stay on writers se. I'll go to the library too - thanks again - this has been really helpful and has given me lots of great tips for starting points - exactly what I was after :)
    – martin
    Mar 21, 2019 at 18:09

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