SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board


FAQ list

If you just want to share it with family and friends, there are services that will print your book for you—perfect for sharing it with a small circle. But if you want to seek out a larger audience, it gets a lot more complicated.

Publishing is an industry, just like fashion or insurance or medicine. As with any other career or industry, there’s a lot to learn before you can be a participant, even on a small basis.

The first step is to make sure you know what kind of book you’ve written. Children’s publishing can be broadly divided into a few main age groups: picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult. Each has its own definition and expectations. Each has its own board here on the Blueboard.

The next step is to make sure your book is of publishable quality. Authors and illustrators spend years learning their craft, just like professional musicians spend years taking lessons. They take classes, go to conferences, study craft books, join critique groups or find partners to exchange manuscripts with. This is true even of those who want to self-publish. Writing a publishable book does not happen in a month—or an afternoon. It’s been said the average apprenticeship is 10 years.

Once my book is of publishable quality, what’s next?

For now, the best way to reach the largest possible audience is to try to find a commercial publisher. Commercial publishers—companies like HarperCollins and Scholastic—pay authors and illustrators for the right to publish their books. It’s very, very hard to sell a book to a commercial publisher—they only take what they think is the best of the best and what they think will make money for them. Even wonderful books go unpublished because they simply can’t buy everything. Most of these houses cannot be accessed without a literary agent. Some smaller ones can, but there, quality will vary.

This means that your first step toward traditional publication will probably be to query literary agents. This is an entire journey and skill set in itself, and SCBWI and the Blueboard can help you.

I don't think I want to go that route. What else can I do?

Once upon a time, the above was the only way to go. Now, though, there are more options, including self-publishing, subsidy (also known as vanity) publishing, and hybrid publishing (sometimes called co-publishing). All of these are different, and all will cost you money. You can find a fuller discussion of them on the Blueboard and also in the expanded version of this post, here: