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Anyone had luck getting a picture book published?

(24 Posts)
Jeggle Tue 31-May-11 22:56:27


I'm currently trying to get a picture book published and am looking forward to learning from anyone who has been successful or attempted such a thing in the past. You can read what I'm up to and why here titled 'Old jeans and crumpled opportunity':

I'm reading a lot about self-publishing, but am wondering if the door is really closed for traditional publishing these days? (It seems like you need an agent to have any hope. I thought they were just for footballers and MI5!)

Appreciate any insight going.

MumblingRagDoll Wed 01-Jun-11 01:15:54

I was hoping to see an example of the illustrations....or part of the story when I copied your link.

Have you done any of the illustrations? Is it finished?

I'm a writer....published and broadcast...I'm not an expert on children's fiction but I do know that you don't need an agent. Just the right publisher.

Have you contacted any yet?

It's a good idea to scour picture books which you think are similar in some way to the work you have done...and contact the publisher directly to offer them your work.
Check that they are happy to receive work on spec though...some hate it.

Jeggle Wed 01-Jun-11 09:09:10

Thanks for the feedback MRD, I will be putting some illustrations and excerpts up on-line over the coming week or two. The intention of the blog is to document the development of the book and the success (or otherwise) I have getting it published. The text is complete, the illustrations in development and attempts to get it published just starting.

I did use some of my daughter's picture books for reference when looking for publishing houses. Macmillan and HarperCollins both state on their web sites that they do not take unsolicited manuscripts and work with literary agents for publishing. I am off to the local library to check out Writers Market to see if there are smaller publishing houses that still accept direct submissions. Failing that I will turn my attention to self-publishing.

MumblingRagDoll Wed 01-Jun-11 09:14:23

Have you thought about getting a copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook? It has every agent and publisher listed, in addition to submission details. The library should have a copy of this years.

Jeggle Wed 01-Jun-11 09:40:29

Thanks. That title has led me to their website: [] which surprisingly hadn't cropped up in my searches before. It looks like it has useful information on it (although I think the hardcopy of the book is still required to get the listing of publishers).

Interestingly it says under children's picture books: "As the text is likely to be reread, it should possess a satisfying rhythm (but beware of rhymes). "

Mine is a rhyming story, the site doesn't elaborate why you should be wary of rhyme, I guess it could be a translation thing, but then that never hurt Dr Seuss or titles like The Gruffalo.

Once again, thanks.

MumblingRagDoll Wed 01-Jun-11 10:19:14

Well I think rhymes can be very hard to pull off succesfully....they can easily veer into sounding like they've been written by an amateur...what appear to be very simple rhymes in the Gruffalo and others, are actually quite sophisticated with regards to structure.

It is similar to how a cartoonist can create a great likeness with only a few strokes of a pen...they can't do that without first having mastered fine art and life drawing in a realistic manner.

Jeggle Wed 01-Jun-11 11:35:33

Yes, agreed, the rhyme needs to flow, surprise and weave a story from beginning to end. I'm hopeful that what I have written checks all of those boxes. I was wondering from a publishing perspective if companies are more reluctant to accept good rhyme because then it narrows the market for that book, the same rhyme is unlikely to be translated in to French for instance.

It's interesting dialogue, I appreciate your feedback, can I ask what you genre you write and if writing is a full-time profession for you?

wordfactory Thu 02-Jun-11 08:49:56

My advice would be to get an agent.

Publishers are really nervous at the moment and primarily only taking agented work (some of the smaller indies are an exception to this).

Get The Writer's Hnadbook and go through which agents are right for your sort of work then put together a sub package. If you need help with that just start another thread here.

Jeggle Thu 02-Jun-11 09:19:03

@wordfactory Thanks for the advice, between the Writers and Artist Yearbook and the Writers Handbook it looks like I have some research that will keep me busy this week.

MumblingRagDoll Thu 02-Jun-11 09:38:23

Yes Jeggle...I write full time, mostly radio comedy and drama, some theatre, short stories for women's magazines, edtorial for trade magazine and internet articles.

The articles and editorial help me to live and the other stuff is what I love. I couldn't make a living from writing for radio (not untill I write a hit!) the pay is quite poor...but I have managed to get into the happy position of writing for a living.

The only trouble is, the boring and well paid things are starting to take up a LOT of my time.

MumblingRagDoll Thu 02-Jun-11 09:40:57

I do believe a good translator can translate rhyme....obviously some original meaning is changed....but I particularly remember a Welsh version of the opera....Bernstein's Mass translated from English to Welsh and which managed to retain the rhymes and the Welsh and English are very far apart in terms of sounds it can be done.

Jeggle Fri 03-Jun-11 08:34:09

MRD, you certainly sound busy and having a diverse audience for your writing must help to keep the work rolling in and the bills paid. It sounds like I would probably have come across your work at some point, which is exciting in a 'I'm getting feedback from a mystery writer' kind of way! I take your point on the translation, but I think you'd need to have a monster hit on your hands before a publishing company would look to re-imagine the rhyme in another language when a story written in standard prose can probably just be run through some software package. Thanks for spending the time to comment on my post, good luck in writing that radio hit!

belledechocchipcookie Fri 03-Jun-11 17:44:48

I write childrens fiction, I currently have one picture book with a publishing house (they like the plot, I just have to rewrite it so it's almost there) and am finishing a 9+ novel at the moment (don't ask, seemed like a good idea at the time).

There's a childrens writers & artists yearbook which is yellow, the one aimed primarily at adults is red. The publisher's don't like writers submitting illustrations with the text unless they have done both as they like to chose their own. You could, however, send out a dummy (text with sketches) so that they have an indicator of what it would look like complete as this often helps, do state that they are only sketches though. A picture book has to fill 32 pages at least, including covers as they print pages in multiples of 8, each publisher has their own max word count; Little Tiger Press is 750 I think, others around 800.

Most of the larger houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts but watch out for the competitions, Penguin had a digital sumbmission competition not too long ago for example. It's very difficult to get an agent, most have their books full and rarely take on new clients, especially new writers as they are seen as a financial risk (they invest a lot of time helping them improve their work which has no guarantee of being sold.) It's worth a shot though, you have nothing to lose by submitting.

Best of luck. smile

Jeggle Sun 05-Jun-11 21:54:40

Thanks belle, that is excellent feedback! I ordered the children's edition from amazon unfortunately the local library only had the adults version (although I did get some useful pointers from looking through that). I hope to do a blog post about the size of kids books at soon, your information led me to look into it a little. Thanks!

belledechocchipcookie Sun 05-Jun-11 21:59:44

You're welcome. I did buy a very good book, I'll post a link once I've found it. smile I had to get mine from amazon, they are not always stocked in the shops.

belledechocchipcookie Sun 05-Jun-11 22:05:37 this one. It's very useful, goes into how to structure them (there's a specific way, it's not enough to have a good plot)

jabberwocky Sun 05-Jun-11 22:11:43

Have you considered self-publishing on something like Create Space as a start? There is also a growing audience for ibooks. The dcs have some really nice illustrated books on the ipod.

Merrylegs Sun 05-Jun-11 22:16:46

Hi Jeggle.

Yes, in answer to your OP.

My advice?

Stop the yakking and the blogging and just write the damn thing.

And if you are not an illustrator, don't even think about sending a/w.


belledechocchipcookie Sun 05-Jun-11 22:18:42

I (may) have a publisher. I would consider self-publishing but I value the knowledge and the expertise that the publisher has.

Jeggle Mon 06-Jun-11 08:37:51

Belle, thanks for the link, it looks like that could be a useful book. I see my Amazon spend this month going up! Good luck with your publisher and let me know when the book is out, it's great to hear a success story.

Jeggle Mon 06-Jun-11 08:41:23

Jabberwocky, yes I am considering self-publishing. I've looked into LuLu and LightningSource, if I don't have any luck with a publisher I will go down this route. I would like to release an ebook version, I believe LightningSource and Smashwords allow you to do this. What did you mean by DCS ?

Jeggle Mon 06-Jun-11 08:45:23

Merrylegs, the story is written, I'm just starting to look into how to take the next step. I'm not an illustrator, but I have some sketches from an illustrator (concept artwork) which I will submit along with the story.

belledechocchipcookie Mon 06-Jun-11 12:11:22

I'd recommend an app for a picture book as to self publish a printed version is expensive, there will be very little return for your investment once you've published/promoted it etc. The overheads for an app/ebook are far less as printing takes up most of the cost.

I did find the book very helpful, I only paid about £6 for it (second hand on Amazon). It's worthwhile looking at other published picture books. It's a very competitive thing to break into, even more competitive then the other genres as the 'old masters' seem to permanently take up shelf space. I know of writers who have had hundreds of knock backs. It's very disheartening but it's more of a test of perserverence then anything else.

jabberwocky Tue 07-Jun-11 00:31:47

Oh, dcs = dear children. My boys have a few ibooks downloaded that have really nice illustrations.

Lulu, ime, was really difficult to work with. Create Space much easier.

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