You wrote a children’s book! Yay! Now what? I’ve been there. I self-published my first book, The Kingdom of the Lizards. But for my upcoming books: There Once Was A Cat and Girl in the White Dress, I’m on the search for publishers. For all the other young authors out there, here are tips to make your manuscript (and yourself) stand out from the rest. Let’s get ready to pitch publishers!
1. Immerse Yourself in the Industry.
You want to see first-hand what bookstores are selling and promoting. Scanning Amazon's bestsellers list is fine but going into a Barnes & Noble will give you a much better idea of ongoing trends.
Then read books like the ones you are writing. In your pitch, you should be able to compare your book to other books. When you submit to the publisher, you’ll likely need to have 3-5 similar titles and descriptions of how your book compares.
2. Know Your Where Your Book Fits into Their List.
Know your story. If the agent already has a few unicorn-based picture books on their list, mention how your unicorn picture book will sit well alongside them. If they don’t have any unicorn books, say how your book can add depth to their list.
3. Seek Honest Feedback.
Find yourself a brutally truthful writing group. Hire a freelance editor. Offer to trade critiques with another new writer. Aim for as much feedback and positive criticism as possible. This helps insure the story arcs are tighter, the character development is authentic, and the dialogue is natural.
If you choose to work with a professional editor, they can help with more than fixing your grammar or improve your storytelling, they can also help you understand whether you’re writing for the correct audience. Ones with the proper experience will make sure your book abides by the standards and unspoken rules of the trade and will often guide you through the process of presenting your manuscript.
4. Keep Rewriting and Editing Your Book.
Great books are almost always the result of thorough, well-considered rewrites and edits. Make sure that it’s ready for a publisher to read and focus on editing those sections. Generally, you submit a clear synopsis of your book and a manuscript that includes the first few chapters with your book packet.
5. Submit to Agents Who Handle Kid's Authors.
Just like you have a genre you like to write some publishers like to stick to a type too. Research before you query an agent. Don’t waste your time contacting agents who only handle adult titles or books that are way out of your category.
6. Be Professional.
For the love of books, even though we’re young, BE PROFESSIONAL when pitching publishers and other industry professionals. Be polite in all communications. I recommend using a professional sounding email. But first, get approval to create an account from your parents.
Good luck with getting your book packet in order to pitch a book publisher! Remember: you can always self-publish if needed –either way you get your work out to the world. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more tips for aspiring young authors (and actors too)!