I know, everyone is writing a book. 📖
I actually have 3 books written that I am trying to figure out how to get published. So… I thought I should share the process, what I’m trying, what I’m learning, what’s not working. I mean, since I have a blog, I might as well use it right? Maybe my experience will help someone else who is thinking about writing a book, too.
So, today I’ll catch you up on one of the books I have completed. In my next post I’ll fill you in on what is happening with one of the others.
All three books are children’s books, picture books, meant to be read aloud to kids ages pre-school to elementary age. Meant to be cherished and adored by kids and grown-ups of all ages. Ha!
This first one is a book I wrote to be read in a second grade math class. It is a cute and humorous (I think anyway) look at the math concept of greater than, less than, and equal to. I wrote it pretty quickly while I was in the middle of teaching this part of the second grade curriculum.
I wrote the story, and then shared it (story only, no illustrations yet) with my coworkers (the other 2nd grade teachers). They all enjoyed the book, validated that the math was correct, all said they would read it to their classes, and encouraged me to figure out the next step.
Next I read the story, still with no pictures, as part of my math lesson to my 2 second grade classes. I had all of their attentions through the entire story, they connected with the character, and they participated in the math.
So far, so good.
Then I shared the story (no illustrations) with my husband, my brothers, my mom, my sister, and my nieces. Here is where I got some good feedback. They questioned things like why my character did and said certain things. They told me that I had a weak ending. These people were not trying to spare my feelings! 😭 It hurt a little bit, but I knew it was only making my story better. They offered suggestions for things that didn’t flow right, or things that were awkward. We worked to get the story right, name my characters, and title the book.
I now felt like I was ready for publishing, but I thought since it is a picture book, I need illustrations. I’m not an artist, but I did have some ideas about what I wanted the pictures to look like, and what the layout of the pages should be. I asked my artist cousin to illustrate my book. I sent her a copy of the book, with notes about what I thought it should all look like. She told me she had never illustrated a book, but had always wanted to. She would charge me $100 per illustration. What?! I had like 22 pictures, including the cover, that I needed. I couldn’t afford that at this point! What if the book didn’t sell? I mean, I expected to ultimately pay her more money than that, but I thought we would be negotiating a percentage of the sales. So as the book makes money, we both get paid. 💰
At the same time that I was talking to my cousin about illustrations, I was researching children’s book publishers to find out how to get someone to make my book. One thing I did learn was that I was supposed to submit my book just as a word document. No page layouts. No illustrations. No notes about what it should look like. The story should speak for itself. They would match me with an illustrator if they chose to publish my book, and the illustrator should be free to imagine the pictures in their own mind. Well. That was hard to accept. Mostly because I already could see the book, and what if someone else didn’t see it my way? But one point of relief was that at least now I didn’t have to pay someone up front for the artwork.
So the research… I was looking inside actual books for the name of a publisher, and then googling the publisher to see how to submit a book. In my researching, I came across Chronicle Books. They are one of the only publishers who accepts unsolicited manuscripts. So Yeehaw! Here is a link to their submission guidelines:
Chronicle Books Submission Guidelines
So some of the big deals… they want a hard copy mailed to them. You don’t get it back. Don’t send illustrations or photographs. Include a cover letter. Don’t expect a response unless they choose your book.
They also linked to a blog post that includes some helpful tips on submitting to Chronicle.
So, You’ve Written a Children’s Book… Now What?
It is an old post, from 2014, but is full of good information and tips. I skimmed the article, and didn’t feel like I needed to do most of the things she suggested, because I thought my book was good enough anyway. Ha! But I did do some of the things she suggested, like mention how my book ties into curriculum, and include some good backmatter (educational content at the back of the book.)
So I formatted my manuscript, printed it out, and mailed it away.
And now it has been more than 6 months. I have not heard back from Chronicle Books, so I’m guessing they don’t want it. In the blog, it says that after 6 months I can submit again, and probably I should do some more revising and editing… and research, because that is the part I didn’t want to do before. They said I should research what kinds of books they have published, so I know what they like. And research what books are out there that are similar to mine. Ok. That stuff makes sense. I’ll do it, and then re-submit.
Also, this week I came across a list of 30 Children’s Book Publishers Eager for Your Book. Sounds perfect, right?
In this list there is a publisher called Arbordale Publishing. “They prefer books that teach science and math in fun, picture-book formats.” What? Here is my perfect match! ❤️ So, I am working right now on revising and editing to fit their requirements, and am planning on submitting to Arbordale hopefully by the end of this week!
Was that information helpful? Or just a mess? Let me know in the comments what else you want to know about my process so far. And also, let me know who else is writing a book! What do you know that I need to know?
I’ll let you know what happens next! Until then, happy writing! ✍️
3 thoughts on “I’m Writing a Book! (Part 1)”
Good job Mrs Kotwitz!! A nice lesson about your journey! You seem to be on the scent and on a good trail to publication. Now you just need patience!
I was hoping that what I’m learning would be helpful to other people who are on this journey, too! And that maybe someone might have some good info to add to what I’m finding as I stumble along.