How much do you know about the children’s book industry?

Posted by Wrightspeak  /   December 08, 2013  /   Posted in The Industry, The Latest  /   1,557 Comments
Photo by Megfish Photography.

Photo by Megfish Photography.

Within the plethora of genres, subgenres and cross-genres lies a realm often riddled with misconceptions:the area of children’s novels. In part one of our two-part series, we will take a close look at what it takes to break into the industry and successfully promote one’s work.

According to author and illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba, the children’s book industry is no cakewalk. A far different process than it was 10 years ago, today’s writers constrained by a tight word count limit. Additionally, getting published is another hurdle to overcome.


“The slot machines in Vegas offer better statistics,” Dulemba writes. She notes the average time it takes to get published in the genre is 10 years. Seasoned Andrea Brown literary agent and children’s publishing expert Jennifer Laughran echoes this reality check by saying that the competitive nature of the industry and need for literary agents.

“These days, trade publishing is ever-more competitive and none of the major publishers accept unsolicited (i.e., un-agented) submissions,” says Laughran. “If you are very lucky, very persistent and very well-connected, you may not need an agent. But most authors don’t fall into that category.”

How can interested authors expedite the process? Dulemba gives some great advice: Following the proper hard manuscript and digital manuscript format is a must. Also key: Knowing how to market your book to the appropriate target audience and publisher that works with your audience. There are several age groups and it’s important to know which type of book (i.g., Board, Picture, Early Reader, Middle Grade, or Young Adult) best suits the writing project. According to Laughran, new children’s authors tend to make few common mistakes, suchpoor design and presentation.


Self-publishers can take the step-by-step approach taken by author David K. Israel. After revising his picture book to fit the average 1,000 word count, he reached out to a local university to find an illustrator who could effectively capture his vision. After he completed the manuscript and book cover, Israel researched several printing vendors to print his book.

When it comes to marketing, expert Emma Watson Hamilton suggests making creative promotional materials such as bookmarks and posters, and looking for unique cross-promotional opportunities that coincide with the subject matter of the book. Speaking and publicity are two of the most effective and inexpensive ways to promote, according to prolific writer and entrepreneur John Kremer.

He says that authors should never be afraid to actively and passionately speak about their book. Reaching out to local libraries, which often highlights this genre with activities and events can also be a great strategy and many schools invite authors to present their books. This can be an excellent opportunity to build a connection with the parents as well as the children.

Already have a polished manuscript ready to go? Check out these 71 ways to market your book for further helpful options.

This article was written by Ja’Neil Jackson, a Wrightspeak Intern