So you have a fresh, crisp manuscript in hand, all ready for a launch. So, what next?
Self-publication is of course an option, which every child’s writer can and should explore. But if you do want to explore the option of taking the traditional route, then your next step would be to contact a publisher.
Checking on the Publishers
Check the children’s books in your local libraries and bookshops for names of publishers. Be sure to check the book in your age and genre category. If you write picture books for young readers, skip publishers who predominantly deal with teen fiction. Keep in mind that you stand a better chance with smaller and local publishers, rather than a big name in another continent.
Spend time doing some background checks on the publishers you have shortlisted. Check on the work that the publishers have brought out in the past few years. That will give you some insight into the kind of response you are likely to get from them vis-à-vis your manuscript. Do a thorough check on the websites, where the publishers specify their guidelines on submission of manuscript by writers. Follow the instructions given to keep your submission hassle-free, that way your interaction with the publishing house starts on a positive note.
The entire manuscript with a Cover Letter
If you are asked to send the entire manuscript, the cover letter should be as brief as possible. Let your writing do all the selling.
The letter should cover the following information:
- The title of the book
- The word count
- The age group of the reader
- The genre
- The synopsis (not more than 4 sentences)
The Query Letter only
The query letter should have a detailed description of the manuscript(less than a page). It gives the editor a taste of your writing and she can then decide whether to read the entire manuscript. A synopsis is an advertisement for your book, so spend time on it and keep the tone of the synopsis similar to that of your book.
And don’t forget to include the same details as a cover letter: book title, word count, age group of the reader, genre.
The Query letter with sample Chapters
For older age group books, with chapters and more complex plots, you may need to send sample chapters with the query letter. The synopsis also needs to be more than the bare bones of the story. An outline of the plot, sub-plots and the major characters needs to be sketched out in some detail. Two or three chapters can be sent along as a sample. The chapters can be from the beginning of the book or it can be the most well-written ones of your work.
The synopsis and the sample chapters are the first impression the publisher has of your work. Make sure they do justice to the rest of your work.
- Use paper clips to hold the pages together. Do not staple or bind them.
- Do not mail through services that require a signature.
- Send an adequately large SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) to publishers who return manuscripts.
- Follow the guidelines given by the publishers. Do not add anything in the envelope other than the specified requirement.
- Be professional and hassle-free with your submission. Again, remember that this is your first interaction with the publisher.
Once the manuscript is off, get down to the next one. Be prolific with your writing, that way you won’t be putting all your eggs in one basket.
Good Luck and Happy Writing.