August 25, 2023

How to Get Your Children's Book Ready for Publication

There's nothing quite like the excitement of having your children's book read by riveted young readers around the world. At EK Books, we're a passionate, award-winning team committed to bringing amazing children's books to life, and we receive thousands of submissions each year by hopeful authors. To help your book truly stand out and get the attention from publishers that it deserves, we've compiled this handy guide. Follow these four key steps, and you'll be well on your way!

Know The Publisher

First things first, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the publisher's submission guidelines. Every publisher is different, so ensure you know our specific process.

For us at EK Books, we prefer receiving your manuscript in MS Word format unless otherwise specified. To streamline the process, please limit the attachments in your submission—ideally, your manuscript and a cover letter will do.

Are you an author and illustrator? Keep your roles separate in the submission. Do not include illustrations with your manuscript. Instead, send your sample illustrations in a single PDF file separately. However, do let us know about your illustrative talents in your cover letter.

Check Formatting and Professionalism

Lovingly produced, our books win awards and recognition worldwide.

Now let's talk about the look of your manuscript. An error-free, professionally formatted manuscript can significantly boost your chances of being noticed.

Ensure your work is free from grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors. Adopt a standard format—preferably Ariel or Times New Roman 12-point font, with double-spacing and default margin settings.

Pay attention to your book's length. The industry standard for children's picture books is 32 pages, but 16, 24, or 40-page books are also acceptable. Remember to include page numbers and leave the first 2-3 pages blank for publisher's information.

A well-plotted text is crucial. Determine whether your story will start on the right (recto) or left (verso) page and ensure that all subsequent spreads work from both a continuity and illustrations perspective.

Include a Cover Letter

Your cover letter is like a golden ticket—it offers a quick snapshot of you and your work. Keep it to a single page and include a brief summary of your book (no more than 3-4 sentences).

Define your target audience—is your book for a specific reading age, gender, special groups, or educators? State the key message or intended learning outcome of your book and the rationale behind it.

Give a short introduction about yourself and share any relevant forums you're part of. To add an extra punch, cite examples of similar books in the market and explain how your work is different and original.

Avoid these mistakes:

Last but certainly not least, here are some common mistakes to steer clear of.

  • For standard 32-page books, ensure your story has a minimum length of 500 words. Maintain a steady pace and ensure text is evenly distributed across the pages. Watch your line length and introduce line breaks where appropriate.
  • Ensure your language is suitable for your target age group. Stick to a consistent style—be it prose, rhyme, or a combination of the two.
  • Avoid excessive use of emotive words such as "smile," "tears," "sad," "happy," "unfortunately," and the like. Also, steer clear of abstractions and complex metaphors.
  • Lastly, if you're both an author and an illustrator, don't try to write a story to fit an existing set of illustrations. This approach rarely yields a compelling narrative.

With preparation, attention to detail, and a bit of creativity, your children's book can shine amidst the competition. Remember, we're as excited as you are about bringing new, exciting tales to children's literature. We wish you the best of luck on your publishing journey!

For more advice on how to get your manuscript ready for submission, check out our free guide Manuscript Minefields

Free Guide: Write a Pitch For Your Book That Publishers Will Love >>
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