5 Things That Won't Help You Get Your Children's Book Published

I met an enthusiastic group of listeners at Word on the Street today as I presented in the Canadian Magazine’s Tent. The topic was: “5 Things That Won’t Help You Get Your Children’s Book Published and 3 That Just Might”. I actually ended up with 7 dos and 7 don’ts. You can find a summary of what I presented below.

 Word-on-the-Street-04  Word-on-the-Street-03  Word-on-the-Street-01


  1. Use gimmicks to draw attention to your manuscript
  2. Send in your own illustrations (unless you are a skilled illustrator)
  3. Rewrite Harry Potter or Twilight
  4. Try to get in the back door
  5. Make a nuisance of yourself
  6. Tell them you’re the next J. K. Rowlings
  7. Talk down to your audience


  1. Create a well-written, original, stand out manuscript
  2. Know your market (read, read, read other current books in your genre)
  3. Know the publisher you are submitting to (visit their website, read their books, find out exactly what they want you to send and how)
  4. Write a compelling query letter
  5. Get an agent if you can (see guide books below)
  6. Join some writing organizations (see list below)
  7. Be persistent but be patient

Helpful Resources for Children’s Book Authors/Illustrators


  1. Canadian Children’s Book Centre – The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is a national, not-for-profit organization, founded in 1976, dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting the reading, writing, illustrating and publishing of Canadian books for young readers. With book collections and extensive resources in five cities across Canada, the CCBC is a treasure-trove for anyone interested in Canadian books for young readers. CCBC programs, publications, and resources help teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents select the very best for young readers. A “Getting Published: Writing for Children Kit” is available through this site for $18.95.
  2. CANSCAIP (The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators & Performers) – The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP) is a group of professionals in the field of children’s culture with members from all parts of Canada. For over twenty years, CANSCAIP has been instrumental in the support and promotion of children’s literature through newsletters, workshops, meetings and other information programs for authors, parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and others. CANSCAIP also has over 500 friends – teachers, librarians, parents and others – who are also interested in aspects of children’s books, illustrations and performances.
  3. The Writers’ Union of Canada – The Writers’ Union of Canada is a not-for-profit organization established in 1973 to support and advocate on behalf of Canada’s book published authors. The Union has more than 1,700 members. Writers join the Union so that they can benefit from the Union’s many services, connect with their peers, and support the Union’s advocacy. The Union’s many services include member web pages, Union-administered readings, a quarterly newsletter, self-help publications, contract advice, grievance assistance, and an opportunity to attend the Union’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
  4. SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators – The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, formed in 1971 by a group of Los Angeles–based writers for children, is the only international organization to offer a variety of services to people who write, illustrate, or share a vital interest in children’s literature. The SCBWI provides a network for writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers, and others involved with literature for young people. There are currently more than 19,000 members worldwide, in over 70 regions, making it the largest children’s writing organization in the world. SCBWI has had a presence in Canada since 1997.
  5. Publisher’s Marketplace – The largest dedicated marketplace for publishing professionals to find critical information and unique databases, find each other, and do business better electronically. A service of Publishers Lunch, the most widely read daily dossier in publishing and known as “publishing’s essential daily read,” Publishers Marketplace is driven by the attention of over 40,000 publishing professionals who read Lunch every day.


  1. Guide to Literary Agents: Where & How to Find the Right Agents to Represent Your Work – Includes over 550 listings for literary agents and writers’ conferences, and exclusive articles that provide insider information about the publishing business, edited by Chuck Sambuchino – Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH
  2. Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market: Where & How to Sell Your Children’s Stories & Illustrations – Includes over 700 listings for book publishers, magazines, agents, art reps; includes exclusive interviews with award-winning authors and publishing professionals, edited by Alice Pope – Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH

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