It isn’t easy, to become a children’s book author. From deciphering endless submission requirements to learning that your dream children’s book publisher doesn’t accept submissions from authors without an agent, it can be difficult finding the right home for your work.
In this article, I will endeavour to make the process of getting a children’s book published a bit clearer for you, as well as include my top picks for children’s book publishers. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of options out there, and you should be armed with the best possible knowledge out there.
You’ll learn the submission requirements for some of the top children’s book publishers, as well as some examples of children’s books these companies have already published so that you can choose a publisher that aligns with your current book.
Still plotting your next book and unsure if you are writing at a level that’s optimal for children? I encourage you to read our existing post regarding everything you need to know about creating a children’s book, from start to finish!
Now, onto the publishers.
Best Children’s Book Publishers
Before I discuss some of the top children’s book publishers and their most successful children’s books, I should note that not all children’s book publishers accept submissions directly from authors. Some only accept submissions from literary agents, and you should keep this in mind before falling in love with any one publisher.
It is also important to know which category your work falls under. While this may not seem necessary right away, some publishers may only be looking for certain submissions at certain times. And some children’s book publishers may not even accept certain varieties of children’s books.
The most common submission types are as follows:
- Children’s fiction
- Children’s non-fiction
- Children’s picture books/board books
Of course, you can also further divide children’s fiction and nonfiction by age group/demographic (middle grade fiction and nonfiction, YA/young adult books, chapter books etc), and by genre too (fantasy, action/adventure, romance etc) which further complicates the process of researching children’s book publishers.
If you are unsure if your current manuscript meets any of these categories, you may wish to consider our Children’s Manuscript Assessment program. Through this editing service, our team of editors will read your entire manuscript and give you structured editorial feedback that you can use to craft your work into shape. If your editor thinks your work is ready, we’ll also help you find the right agent, for free.
Now, let’s get onto the children’s book publishers. Keep in mind that the following is only a summary list of some of the best children’s book publishers and that many more exist. I do hope that one of these choices suits your publishing needs perfectly!
1. Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA
With offices around the world and prominent publishing houses in both the US and the UK, Bloomsbury Books is a top contender for children’s book publishing. Established in 1986, Bloomsbury has many popular children’s book authors across every age group. Their YA fiction has grown increasingly popular, their authors often topping the New York Times Bestseller list.
Their kid’s division covers all books for any age, from picture books to young adult novels. Bloomsbury is known for publishing high fantasy YA fiction and heartwarming tales that help provide kid-friendly entry points into emotional intelligence topics. Some of their most popular authors and series are Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival and Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer.
The unfortunate news is that, unless you have a YA book ready to go, Bloomsbury only accepts submissions from a literary agent. However, feel free to take a look at their website for any more useful information, including their various adult and children’s book authors.
2. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, known as HMH for short, has gone through a few changes in its recent past. Now known as either Clarion Books or Mariner Books, this company has been a mainstay in children’s publishing since 1832. From board books to graphic novels, HMH publishes just about any children’s book you can think of.
HMH has worked hard to develop programs for more unique voices in publishing, including new authors in their children’s publishing division. Entitled VERSIFY, this fantastic publishing program reflects a need for accessible and powerful prose and poetry—in children’s picture books, novels, and nonfiction. HMH strives to publish work that can celebrate the lives and reflect the possibilities of all children.
For the most part, HMH is an agent-only submission publishing house. However, their VERSIFY program does accept unsolicited submissions during certain parts of the year. Learn more about HMH and its various submission opportunities here.
3. Holiday House
Established in 1935 as a publishing company for young readers, Holiday House is a wonderful organization to submit your children’s book to. Their books are processed and distributed as a division of Penguin Random House, and they publish children’s books from ages 4 and up. From picture books to nonfiction informational handbooks, they are publishing some of the most creative and educational children’s books out there.
Given their commitment to education and teaching children about major childhood themes, their website’s search engine for currently published books is in-depth and informative. From young readers books such as Lunch Box Bully by Hans Wilhelm to riveting and humorous YA fantasy like the Devil series by Donna Hosie, Holiday House no doubt publishes something for every kid in your life.
Holiday House does indeed accept unsolicited submissions, which is great news for those of you without an agent. They don’t have the time to respond to every submission that they receive, but they will of course reach out if your manuscript interests them. You can learn more about their variety of books, list of awards received, and their submission process here.
4. Chicago Review Press
An independent publisher founded in 1973, the Chicago Review Press strictly publishes nonfiction, including an award-winning selection of children’s nonfiction. They are firm in their desire when it comes to children’s picture books: they do not accept them, whether fiction or nonfiction. However, that doesn’t mean you are completely out of luck. If you have a fantastic nonfiction book for children, their submission process is clear and easy to follow on their website!
While nonfiction children’s activity books are their bread and butter, their topics range broadly, from the history of American environmentalism all the way to Salvador Dali. There are a lot of perks to publishing with a small independent publisher, including the fact that they accept unsolicited submissions without an agent. If your book fits the niche that is the Chicago Review Press, they are an award-winning publisher that would be happy to have your nonfiction children’s workbook!
5. Flashlight Press
Looking for another publisher searching for very specific submission guidelines? Check out the specificity needed from Flashlight Press, a children’s book publisher hunting exclusively for books that explore and illuminate the touching and humorous moments of family situations and social interactions through captivating writing and outstanding illustrations. What does this mean, exactly?
Well, if your book targets 4–8 year olds, is under 1000 words, and has a universal theme fitting with many other Flashlight Press titles, you may have found a home for your book! Their titles vary wildly in themes, but all of them have to do with childhood themes and concerns. All of the books tend to tackle these themes with a sense of humor, such as I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, and Carla’s Sandwich by Debbie Herman.
So long as you are familiar with the rest of Flashlight Press’s work and think your book has a similar thematic feel, their submission process is easy. Feel free to submit without an agent too, and check out Flashlight’s website here.
6. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
An American publishing company started in 1924, Simon & Schuster is a powerhouse, capable of publishing 2,000 titles annually under 35 different imprints. Their children’s publishing division is just as lauded and award winning, and they publish just about anything ages 0-12 as well as everything young adult.
There’s no shortage of award-winning selections published by Simon & Schuster, including the ever-popular To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han, and the City Spies series by James Ponti. Simon & Schuster may not be the easiest publishing company to publish with for your first book, especially because they don’t accept submissions without an agent. However, they should definitely be a publishing company to reach for as you grow as a children’s author! Learn more about them here.
7. Chronicle Books
San Francisco-based favorite Chronicle Books has a wonderful eye for the unique and aesthetic storyteller. Their children’s books are beloved and unique, and this small independent publisher receives more than 1,000 submissions a month for their YA department alone! They publish most children’s books ideas, including activity books, art books, board books, picture books, chapter books, young adult, games, and gift and stationery items.
While they accept a wide variety of children’s publishing themes, it is important to note that, since Chronicle receives so many submissions, they are hoping for the most unique and innovative stories out there. No pressure, right? At any rate, check out their submission process and desires here!
8. Ladybird Books
UK-based and another division of the Penguin Group, Ladybird books is perfect if you’ve got a bedtime story to tell. Their lineup of children’s books is primarily geared toward younger audiences, from toddlers to roughly age ten. They have many award winning series published under their name, including many Peppa Pig books.
Their offerings also include a long list of informative nonfiction titles, such as books about the human body and our natural world. While publishing for any division of Penguin may seem complicated at first, they have provided an easy to read guide regarding their submission process. I believe having an agent would be useful if you are hoping to submit to any Penguin Group.
9. Quirk Books
Looking for a smaller publishing agency for your unique and captivating children’s book? Publishing only around 25 books a year, Quirk Books is based in Philadelphia and is searching for the most original, cool, and fun ideas out there. Is your book creative enough for Quirk? It’s one of my favorite publishing companies, having taken the helm on series such as the Miss Peregrine anthology by Ransom Riggs.
Quirk Books has a very informative and helpful submission page, found here. They have clearly outlined books that they are interested in, as well as appropriate emails for your submissions. From popular YA series to nonfiction books for young readers, Quirk publishes just about anything, so long as it’s quirky.
10. August House Publishers
A more traditional publishing company, August House Publishers are seeking children’s book authors committed to folktales, diverse and memorable. They enjoy stories from many diverse backgrounds, as well as stories that work well as oral tales, stories meant to be passed on from generation to generation. They also have a soft spot for scary stories and stories that can be used in a classroom environment.
August House is committed to children’s publishing, and there’s no shortage of awards gifted to them for such a commitment. If you have a picture book made especially for young readers or a story related to folktales, stories from the oral tradition, stories from diverse cultures, scary stories and resource books about using stories or storytelling in the classroom, August House Publishers may be the right choice for you. You can email them and learn more about their submission process here.
More Great Children’s Book Publishers
11. Macmillan Children’s Books
12. Hot Key Books
13. David Fickling Books
14. Balzer And Bray
15. Quarto Kids
16. Usborne Publishing
17. Hachette Children’s Group
18. Little, Brown Books
19. Scholastic, Inc.
20. Lerner Publishing Group
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Is The Biggest Publisher Of Children’s Books?
There are several big children’s book publishers, including: Bloomsbury; Simon & Schuster; Ladybird books; Macmillan Children’s Books; Usborne Publishing; Hachette Children’s Group; Scholastic, Inc.; and Little, Brown Books.
How Do You Submit A Children’s Book To A Publisher?
To submit a children’s book to a publisher, you first need to decide whether you want to find a literary agent first, contact the publisher directly (rare, but not impossible), or self-publish. It’s helpful to do some research beforehand to find out where your book fits in the market (in terms of age range, genre, hook etc). Then, ensure your manuscript is as well-edited and finely tuned as you can make it, and then proceed to query agents, contact publishers, or begin the self-publishing process; whichever is applicable. Make sure that you carefully read the agent’s/publisher’s submission guidelines before sending your work to them.
How Long Does It Take To Publish A Children’s Book?
As with any book, it can take quite a while to publish a children’s book. Between coming up with the initial idea, planning, writing, researching, editing, and contacting literary agents/publishers or self-publishing, it requires a lot of time and effort. How much time varies widely on a case-by-case basis, but, from start to finish, it generally takes around 1-3 years. Of course, this is an approximation, and some books are published in far less time, while others take much longer to be published. Whether you choose to be traditionally published or self-published also makes a big difference.
How Much Do You Make Selling A Children’s Book?
How much authors make from writing a children’s book depends on whether they’ve already published successful books or have an existing audience, whether they have foreign rights, and even things like how recently the book was released can affect sales figures. Writers generally get an advance; the amount of which can vary based on the popularity of the book’s topic, whether they’re a first time author or an experienced one, and many other factors. If the book has illustrations, the author will split the royalties with the illustrator (unless the author is also the illustrator), so they will both get around 3.5-6% of the book’s sale price, rather than 7-10% royalites for the author of a non-illustrated children’s book. If you have an agent, a proportion of your royalties will also go to them.
While I hope you found a few excellent children’s book publishers from this list, do keep in mind that there are many more that are worth your consideration. Whether you have an agent or not, there are always publishers seeking the best new stories out there. Yours could very well be one of them!
What are some of your top publisher picks for your children’s book? Are you still crafting your book? I encourage you to take some time exploring our website for many publishing resources, and perhaps consider joining the world’s leading online writers club! Happy writing!
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