Children's books: the hardest market of all

How to write and get published in the children's book market

Children's books are one of the most lucrative markets for a writer. But, because there are thousands of children's books, authors need to make sure that they market their book to the right people - and those people aren't only the children.

Look before you write

Although the children must always be at the center of your writing, it is the adults around them who must be the focus of your marketing. And, as a children's book author, the first adult in your marketing plan must be your illustrator.

How do you find the right illustrator for your book?

Children's drawings

Getting the right illustrator for your book is crucial for success, more so than any other field. If the artwork doesn't appeal to children, your book will be dead in the water, no matter how good your story or your rhymes.

But having the right drawings also makes marketing your book a lot easier.

The children's books are good in print, but they're expensive.. It is a viable option to develop relationships with school librarians and sell books to parents.

Looking good takes money

However, the unavoidable necessity of artwork in this corner of the book market also adds to costs. That makes print-on-demand expensive. A publisher will only take a chance on such an investment if they're reasonably sure they're going to sell enough copies to make a good profit.

Talk to the librarian...quietly, please

If you're self-publishing, how do your sell enough copies to get the investment to pay for itself? One way is to establish relationships with schools and librarians. School events can be good venues to sell copies of your book. You can also prepare flyers or brochures for the children to carry home to their parents. 

Another method is to get to know bloggers who target parents or even grandparents. If the blogger likes your book, they can recommend it to their readers.

We'll show you a broad view of children's books, from the basics to the latest products and market leaders.

The diversity advantage

One advantage of the children's market is that it's very diverse (in the literal sense of that word). In fact, the diversity of products and customers is unequaled in any other corner of publishing.

From the production standpoint,  children's books run the gamut from board books, pop-ups, chapter books, and young adult fiction (called "YA"). Subjects range from biography, horror, fantasy, even historical fiction. 

Finding your book niche 

This means that you have a lot of niche markets under the children's books umbrella. So, once your book is finished, do some research and create a list of publishing companies that publish children's books. 

This list will always include the major publishing houses, like Harper/Collins, Simon & Schuster, and Faber, which all have children's divisions. Once you have your list, check out the children's books they have published - their website will have a catalog and even the smallest company usually has a list of their existing and upcoming publications.

The list will help you prepare your query letter or proposal. What you're looking for are those publishers who have published children's books that are similar to what you have written. You're not only looking at themes, but also the visuals.

Develop a list of publishing companies that publish children's books. The list will help you prepare a letter or query letter.

Drawing on yourself

If you want to do your own illustrations, compare your skills to the books that are on the publisher's list. Can you illustrate in the styles (or styles) that the publisher favors? Nowadays, there are a lot of software packages that can help you create the kind of images you want. 

Make sure to get other people's views, though. You might even want to pay a professional illustrator to give you some expert (and objective) feedback on your work.

Look at the published children's books to assess your skills. Do you have a book in the style of the publisher?
If you illustrate your own book, browse through books published by publishers you intend to approach. Get outside opinion. Hire illustrator to give feedback. Can you capture what needed to move the story? Appeal to children? 

For more information, visit You can also sign up for the weekly newsletter of the publisher's weekly children's book.

You should also keep up with the trends in the children's book market. Bookmark websites like www.4kidtlit. 

You may find it useful to attend industry conferences as you write children's books.. Look at the credentials of the people running the event and see what they've done in the past.

The adults in the room

Go to industry conferences. Book Expo America is the biggest. It's held every year in late May or early June in a major city. The American Library Conference is also a good event for networking. 

For the use of the classroom, it is necessary to have more books on certain topics in the school curriculum.

Who knows kids best?

Above all, keep in contact with the librarians and teachers. They're the ones who know what topics kids are interested in. That will help you decide what to write about. 

You should also keep an eye on the public school curriculum for different grades. Is there a need for more books on a certain topic? If so, there's your next project.

In the end, though, it's the kids who will decide if your book sells or not. Never forget that they are your first and last market.

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