Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

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Anything Writing #2 So You Want to be a Writer

So You Want to be a Writer
(Reposted and revised from my website, February 2010)

Many hopeful children’s book writers believe that after they finish the text of their story, they need to find an illustrator. That is a myth and probably the biggest misconception of beginning writers.

Female student writing at deskBelow I offer insight that I found along the way. I hope that these suggestions will be helpful to new writers for children. And … yes, I was one of those beginner writers (many years ago) who thought I had to find an illustrator.

You do NOT need to find an illustrator.

Once you have completed the book in its most finished form, you may begin the search for a publisher or an agent. This is a daunting experience because publishers and agents receive hundreds, sometimes thousands of manuscripts daily, depending on the company and their size and popularity. Unfortunately they only publish a very few of those. The larger, more popular companies, may publish about thirty titles a year; while the smaller companies may publish between two and three titles. This is where your hardest work begins.

Here are several suggestions below:

You need to do your research to find out which company would be the best fit for your story. To do that, you should go to the library or bookstore to find other books that are similar to yours. Then target those companies. Since you can only send your manuscript to one company at a time, and they usually take between three to six months to respond, if they respond at all, be sure to make good choices.

Since the business of publishing a children’s book has so many facets, you really need to do your homework. One of the best resources is the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market – the current version. Sometimes you can find this in the library, but I recommend purchasing your own copy so you can mark it up.

There are two comprehensive books on the market to help you find the perfect agent. Guide to Literary Agents  by Chuck Sambuchino and Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents: Who They Are, What They Want, How to Win Them Over. Chuck also has a great blog online with the latest on agents’ wishes. Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog. Unfortunately, finding an agent can be just as daunting as finding a publisher, so you have to decide which route to take. An agent usually requires between 10% to 15% of your book earnings. A good agent is worth every penny.

This is probably the best suggestion of all. Go to writer’s conferences and join the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. (SCBWI)  You can join for about $70.00 a year and they provide an immense amount of information. There are also local chapters. For example: scbwi – Arizona or New Jersey SCBWI, I think all of the states have a chapter. There are even international chapters in Australia East/New ZealandIndonesiaMongolia, and Japan to name a few.

Joining a local children’s book writer’s group can also be helpful to get feedback on your writing.

You can check out my website for a list of very helpful books about how to publish your children’s book. My Writing Life This is actually the page you are on. Just scroll down.

Probably the best advice I can give to you is – if you believe in your book and this a dream you really want to happen, then be PERSISTENT and be PATIENT. It is just about the hardest field to break into. It can be done. Many have done it.

I hope that this information will help you.

Wishing you the best of luck.


(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)


If you have some time, check out my Surviving Traumatic Brain Injury blog.

June 14, 2014 - Posted by | Anything Writing | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I believe it is common now to do multiple submissions, unless expressly prohibited by a particular publisher–mainly because the long response times are unrealistic. If done, and you get an acceptance, you are professionally required to advise (and thank for their time) others you’ve sent it to.

    Comment by Carl Selinger | June 16, 2014 | Reply

    • Hi Carl,

      Thank you for your input. (That was a repost from several years ago.) No doubt, publishers have come to their senses and stopped the unrealistic practice of single submissions. I was referring to children’s publishers and after researching them again today, I see that many have indeed, altered their submission guidlelines. Thank goodness. Here is a good link, Manuscript Submissions Questions and Answers, with quick answers to a variety of common questions.

      All best,

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski

      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | June 16, 2014 | Reply

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