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Where should I send my manuscript?

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Age old question...picking the right slush pile.  I've read several threads and been on the www looking for tips.  I have a 339 word pb ms that celebrates the joy of reading with a little girls as the mc.  I have spent the last 4 months revising the tar out of it (writers workshops, online crits, self examination, etc.) and I think its finally ready.  I've been to libraries and book stores to "research" children's books.  I have reviewed Amazon and used the Children's Writer & Illustrator's Market.  I guess I'm just not tackling it the right all seems so haphazard.   :!  Anyone have any suggestions of particular publishers or another way to pick my slushie for this theme?  (sigh...)
#1 - February 10, 2008, 10:33 AM


Over the last 4 months, it had been picked up, set down, picked up, set down...over and over.  I'm okay with setting it aside again.  I'm taking it to a writer's conference this month for one last look-see.  Its only been sent out once and I won't send it again until I am confident that its truely done.  Meanwhile, I'm trying to find a slush pile to send it to.  (I'm secretly hoping something may happen at the conference!)

Bookstores...been there, done that.  But that was my point with the haphazard process.  Where to even begin???  I pick up some books, peruse, put back, peruse some more.  But with the thousands of books in there, I feel like I'm getting nowhere.  As far as libraries go, I'm finding any library within a reasonable distance does not have very many new books.  (Guess their funding is short.)  So bookstores like B&N are my best bet.  How can one go through the books in some sort of organized fashion, actually FINDING books similar to mine?  There has to be some way rather than just going book by book.  What's the trick?
#2 - February 10, 2008, 11:01 AM

  There has to be some way rather than just going book by book.  What's the trick?
It's time-consuming, but it is the best way to get a feel for the types of books coming from a publisher's house. Look for hardbacks, as the pbs are generally going to be older, and open right to the middle. You'll get an idea of the text and story. If it's similar to what you're looking for, skim through it and jot in on a notepad. If it's not, then pop it right back on the shelf. You can actually go through quite a lot of books in an hour's worth of book browsing.

The next best way is to look at catalogs.  A lot are on-line, but you can also go to booksellers and ask if you can look through their catalogs or if they have the previous season's catalog for you to take.

#3 - February 10, 2008, 11:11 AM

You can also go online to specific publishers websites and see what their newer books are like.  Usually you can get a pretty good feel for the book from reading an excerpt, seeing a sample page, and reading the synopsis.  It will also help you avoid sending your manuscript about, say, a dog who saves someone from a fire, to a publisher who just released a book about a dog saivng someone from a fire!

It is kind of time consuming, but worth it when you know you have perfectly targeted your submissions!  Good Luck!
Emily :)
#4 - February 10, 2008, 11:38 AM

One of our posters had an excellent response to someone asking where to send a picture book manuscript. I'm copying and pasting her response.

The good news is, I think the vast majority of pb publishers would welcome a well-written...picture book ms.  But finding the perfect one is the tough challenging part!     

Verla's boards include tons of information, tips and other authors' personal experience with publishers. 

There are numerous other web sites, monthly publications and newsletters available, most of which offer tips on who's looking for what. 

Visit your local library or book stores, grab a pile of recently-published...pbs similar to yours, and make note of their publishers. 

Also, visiting each potential publisher's web site before subbing is crucial.  You'll find the most up-to-date information there, and you can often browse their catalog online (or request one be sent to you). 

Make a list of all publishers that would be a good fit, and then narrow those down to the four or five that are a great fit and focus on those first. 

As you gain experience with different publishing houses, you'll get a feel for what they're most interested in.

In the end, each of us has to find the perfect home for our mss because we know our stories better than anyone else.  Good luck!


Also from the HarriettheSpy:

Print materials:
Children's Writers and Illustrators Market (Writers Digest) - $30
Children's Newsletter - $15 (13 monthly issues) - articles and market information, sponsors regular writing contests
Any good book on writing of your choice (one/year).  Example, Childrens Writers Word Guide, -or- Teachers Book of Lists:  $10-20
Attend a local even and pay the non-member fee to a struggling local chapter - $5-15

Discussion Boards:
Verla Kay (free) YOU'RE ALREADY THERE!
Highlights Foundation (just getting started)

Free Email Newsletters (often more current than the bulletin):
Children's Bookshelf (weekly):
Children's Writing Upddate
Publisher's Lunch (daily)  Includes weekly synopsis of recent manuscript sales (not all, but some)
Writers Market:

And here is an excellent post giving advice on the next step once you feel you're ready to begin the submission process.

It's a big step to write, re-write, have critiqued, take apart and put back together your writing, and then send your 'baby' out into the wide world of publishing. I called it a 'submission process.' You may think you have the exact publisher only to find out that a book like yours has just been contracted, and the process begins again. It seems like a lot of hard work, but it's all part of the process. Keep writing and re-writing, and submitting. It won't get published sitting in a drawer or in a file on your computer. Don't give up!

#5 - February 10, 2008, 11:47 AM

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Catalogues are great when you can get your hands on them, and many of the larger conferences get scads of catalogues from publishers -- you can often pick up one from a dozen houses or more. Flipping through can give you a pretty quick feel for which houses are into "issues" books, which do more "quiet" books, which lean toward "quirky," etc.

And editor interviews are ALL OVER the web at this point in blogs and etc. Most include some info on the editor's personal taste.
#6 - February 10, 2008, 11:50 AM
The Farwalker Trilogy
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Here's kind of an off-the-wall tip, but it worked for me. Narrow your publisher list using the advice above. Then research the comings and goings of editors in those houses using your favorite, current publishing journals and the Blue Boards. Query an editor who's recently moved to a new house and might be building her list. Her slush pile at the new place might be a bit smaller because all the other writers are using the old market guides and haven't tracked her move. You'll have that competitive advantage and perhaps a quicker response.
#7 - February 10, 2008, 03:44 PM
Jean Reidy
Coming soon: Pup 681, Truman, When the Snow is Deeper Than My Boots Are Tall, Group Hug , Specs and Specs II.
Others at

Donna, you rock.   :hangloose
#8 - February 10, 2008, 05:00 PM
WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN, Flashlight Press, May 2011
GOOD NEWS NELSON, Story Pie Press, Dec 2012

I also do research using  I didn't realize this until I saw it posted on another thread, but you can actually search by publisher, date published, etc.  For the most part, they have a synopsis for each book as well as reviews.   I use the other methods posted as well.   Good luck!  Hugs, Jodi  :love

(Anyone up for making a slushman in the slush pile?) :snowman
#9 - February 10, 2008, 05:17 PM
WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN, Flashlight Press, May 2011
GOOD NEWS NELSON, Story Pie Press, Dec 2012

I just wanted to add a little nugget to the already brilliant advice.  Along with Amazon, I hang around at - what a valuable resource!  It's organized very well and includes links to reviews. 

Best wishes!
#10 - February 11, 2008, 09:26 AM


I also find that editors at SCBWI conferences are open to reading ms. (I've sold quite a few books that way!) Every Tuesday I have a "Meet the Editor (editors speaking at conferences)" post on my blog.

:-) Anastasia
Intensive Picture Book Workshop
#11 - February 11, 2008, 05:53 PM


Guest offered something I hadn't done/seen before.  Thanks.  Looks like I need a few hours to familiarize myself with that website.  :writing3
#12 - February 11, 2008, 06:04 PM

These are great suggestions! :balloongroup
#13 - February 11, 2008, 07:38 PM

To help focus your bookstore visit, first do some research at home.  Use the Advance Search tool on Amazon.  You can narrow it down to books for children 4-8 years old with a subject of Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches-or maybe something more in line with your own pb...however this will give you a list of books/authors to pull off the shelves when you get to the store.

#14 - February 11, 2008, 09:33 PM
Coming: Worth the Effort: Ayden's Story & The Lumpy Duckling

Award winning author. Fiction for kids & Teens


I hope this isn't a silly question.  I read in the above posts to check out other books close to your theme/topic.  Then, target those publishers because your book is similar.  But, if those publishers already have a similar book, why would they want another?  I searched on Amazon and found similar books as my manuscript(not exact, just same topic).  So, I should try submitting to those publishers?  When I do, do I mention the similar books that they have done in the past(title and author)?
#15 - March 05, 2008, 09:36 AM


Hi Paw Prints- :)  I don't think that's a silly question at all.  You're right, you wouldn't want to sub a ms to a house that has already published a book for exactly the same age group, on exactly the same subject, or with the exact same story line.  BUT, you can get a really good feel for the style of book a house is looking for and sub your ms with a similar style.  If you find that one house does a lot of problem solving topics for 4-6 year old kids (sharing, fear of school, fear of dentist, bullying, new baby) your ms about being the new kid in class might fit in nicely to their list.  You sure can refer to one or more books on their list in your cover letter/query, stating that your ms has the same qualities as their book (problem-solving, self help, with a touch of humor, etc.).  However, you should also point out how your story is different.  Show them that you've researched their list and are familiar enough with their interests to KNOW that your ms is perfect for them.  If you've got a story about an alligator with a toothache, you don't want to sub to the house that has already published a book about a dragon with a toothache, or an alligator with a sore throat.  But how about a giraffe with a sore throat? ;) 

Regarding your Amazon search (which, by the way, puts you ahead of the majority of writers, who DON'T bother to do that kind of research), check out those books at a book store or library.  They may deal with similar topics but in a very different way.  Even if a house has already published a similar topic, your fresh approach to it might be just what they'd like on their 2011 list. 

I hope this is helpful to you.  If nothing else, send it out and say a prayer.  The worst that can happen is that they'll say no thanks!   Good luck!!

Susie :D
#16 - March 06, 2008, 08:00 AM


Thanks Susie!
That really clears things up.  I have a few manuscripts that I am ready to send out. (picture books) I am doing research on publishers now. 
Thanks again for your help.  I will keep checking Amazon, book stores, and the library.  If I can't find the "perfect fit" then I will just go for it!

#17 - March 06, 2008, 08:45 AM

I would be lost without Amazon's advanced search feature. I have my list of publishers where I typically submit. Before I send out a round of subs, I still search each individual publisher on my list, click the 4-8 year old option and click "after 2007" so I can find books that will be released late this year or maybe early next year. But I like to see covers and anything to be published in 2009 usually doesn't have artwork posted yet.

I remember someone once wrote about a list from Publishers Weekly (?) of books that were recently purchasd, listing genre, publisher and editor. I'm still looking for a list like that. That would help so much.


:snail - I'm slow, but at least I'm not going backwards.... :D
#18 - May 05, 2008, 09:02 PM


The advice already given you is terrific and should certainly be your road map for finding the publishers who are a good fit for your work. It does require a lot of work, but that comes with the territory.
#19 - July 29, 2008, 02:33 PM


Have you asked your local children's librarian? Our town library keps lists of suggested reading on many different topics (new babies in the family, potty training, pets, death, holidays, etc.) Since libraries love to instill a love of reading, your librarian might have some suggestions of picture books on this very theme. But you also have to be careful that your particular book doesn't compete directly with the ones you find. If you contact those publishers, you have to compare it to what's already out there, but also make sure it's completely unique! (Yeah, no easy task, I know!)
#20 - October 22, 2008, 08:39 PM


When comparing my ms to other books by a certain publisher, how recent is recent enough?  For example, when researching one particular publisher, I found a rhyming PB of theirs that has a very similar feel to mine.  It was published 2 years ago.  Too long? 
#21 - October 28, 2008, 06:39 PM


2 years back is fine. In general, the more recent the better, but that's assuming there are books in print that are worthy for comparison. IMO, you could use a book of any age, as long as it's still relevant, achieved some degree of success (which only stands to reason if it's in print for more than 3-4 years), and the publisher is aware of it (assuming it's not from them).
#22 - October 28, 2008, 08:47 PM


I really like looking at the children's book issues of Publishers Weekly that come out twice a year.  There is a listing of every new book from both larger and smaller publishers with an abbreviated synopsis of each one.  Having all of those lists side by side in one place really can give you a sense of the personalities of the different publishers.  After that, you can go online to get more of an idea of the publishers' backlists.  And then, when you think you have your list narrowed down, you can go to the SCBWI website members area and go to their database -- not a very complete database, but still a useful one! -- of which editor at each publisher is responsible for which titles.  This can help you to target the specific editor to whom you want to mail your ms.
#23 - March 23, 2009, 06:16 PM

I write anthropomorphic stories and live in Ireland (for my sins).  I have to send abroad.  What is the definition of a "really well-written story"?  Or is this  :bangcomputer what I'm doing?
Thanks for your help.

#24 - March 25, 2009, 04:29 AM

Barbara Eveleth

What is the definition of a "really-well written story"?

That is subjective. But go look at the winning picture books and study the various writing techniques and how the words jive with the pictures. And ask yourself how the words and art connect with the reader.

I think the fundamental answer is knowing your age group.

Read lots of your favorites and you will find a direction.
#25 - March 25, 2009, 05:19 AM



      :hangloose I have looked at many other picture books and I think too, it depends on the person that reads your story. There are so many different personalities reading our 'works' :duel -Each having their own definition of "well-written.." I have had teachers critique, reading groups, etc-and each say something different.  :bangcomputer ...A writer is meant to be his or herself with unique writing for each of us right? I think it is the way the story flows together, the way you make the story reflect what you are trying to say in a correct grammatical flow.  :writing3 What do you all think?

#26 - April 19, 2009, 11:27 AM

It sounds like you have a lot of great advice, but I'll just throw this out there.  I was looking at the Charlesbridge catalogue and it looks like your book might fit in with what they look for.  Plus, they welcome new writers.
You'll want to research other houses too, of course....

#27 - May 07, 2009, 05:41 AM
THE BOY PROBLEM, Scholastic 2014
THE BOY PROJECT, Scholastic 2012

twitter: @kamikinard

Kathy Lawrence

Children's Writers and Illustrators Market is a good book to buy. It has tons of infor on everything having to do with writing for children. Some of the things it has in it are publishers who are accepting unsolicited manuscripts, interviews with writers, foreign markets, conferences and workshops, infor about web sites, research and the list goes on. A worth wild investment every year. I buy it every year and every year I am amazed with the new information they put into it. Oh! It comes out at the end of July so you all should be able to find it at your local book store. A worth wild investment. Good luck.
                                                                Kathy :love
#28 - August 20, 2009, 11:20 PM

Thanks Kathy.
I think the CWIM is a bible for many writers and illustrators.  Especially me, since I live on small island like Ireland.  The CWIM is definitely my bible.
#29 - August 21, 2009, 02:48 AM


Follow all the advice that's been given, get your short list - and then go through the websites of the shortlisted publishers/imprints in detail. You're looking for submissions guidelines, anything about the mission of the house/imprint, any interviews with their authors talking about what they learned from the publication process, anything that shows their attitude toward new writers and what they're looking for. It's more time-consuming work, but so is sending out manuscripts that won't get read because they don't match the publisher. We get a ton of submissions from writers who clearly have not read our submissions guidelines (which, by the way, are here: ) and they go nowhere.

That said, books do get published from the slush: there is hope!

Good luck,

Miriam Newman
Web Marketing, Lee & Low Books |
#30 - August 24, 2009, 08:36 AM


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