Brooke Van Sickle has accomplished a lot since that interview! She has continued to grow Journey to KidLit, founded a publishing company called BiblioKid Publishing, published a book called Pirates Stuck at “C”: An Alphabet Adventure (and has two more books scheduled to be released this year), and started a podcast. Wow!
If you are a children’s book author or aspiring children’s book author, I recommend checking out Brooke Van Sickle’s website Journey to KidLit. She offers a lot of information about writing and publishing children’s books.
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. Thank you!)
Authors who want to have a book traditionally published must submit their manuscripts to literary agents or publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. Unsolicited manuscripts are manuscripts that have not been requested.
Submitting manuscripts often leads to rejection. But not submitting any manuscripts guarantees no book deal with a traditional publisher.
Many literary agents prefer receiving manuscripts that have not already been sent to multiple publishers. On the other hand, having a publisher interested in a manuscript may help gain the attention of a literary agent. So, what is an author to do? Each author must make his or her own decision.
Keep reading if you are a children’s book author specifically looking for traditional publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. I have listed 37 traditional publishers who are currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts (at the time of this writing) along with the links to their submissions pages.
Even though these publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts, quite a few of them have separate links or instructions for agents to submit manuscripts. I’m guessing these publishers will take agented manuscripts more seriously than unagented manuscripts since the manuscripts have already been vetted by someone in the writing industry before being submitted to them. With that being said, please do not claim you have an agent for your manuscript if you don’t.
Please visit their websites (not just their submissions pages) before submitting to them to make sure they are still accepting unsolicited manuscripts, to see what style of books they publish and if your manuscript would be a good match, and to read their manuscript submission guidelines.
All of these publishing companies are kind enough to allow authors to submit unsolicited submissions. As a result, they may receive literally thousands of manuscripts each year. Please don’t waste their time (or your own time) by submitting manuscripts that do not fit their book lists. Make sure to properly format your manuscript, cover letter, and whatever else you are required to submit. Follow their submission guidelines exactly as stated.
Some of these publishers may respond within a specified time frame. Others will only respond if they are interested in publishing your manuscript. Please don’t continually pester them if you don’t hear back from them. Be patient and professional.
These are all publishing companies I have found on my own, but I have not had personal experience with them. Please do your own research to make sure they are reputable companies before submitting to them. You can do this by checking out books they have published and reading reviews of their companies online.
Traditional publishers will not charge authors any money to publish their books.
Currently seeking books on “physical science, engineering, earth science, science or math manuscripts with a cultural/social studies connection, and manuscripts for Pre-K3 to kindergarten-age children”.
Won’t accept manuscripts in rhyme. Does not want books about pets, new babies, magic, fantasy, biographies, counting, ABCs, poetry, fairy tales, or holidays. Also does not want any book series.
“Currently interested in children books, foreign language learning books, business and financial advice books, parenting advice books, art instruction books, sports, fashion, crafts, and study guides.” Accepts queries by email.
Publishes children’s realistic fiction picture books with less than 1,000 words only. Accepts unsolicited submissions only at certain times of the year by email. (The submission window just closed on February 1st.)
Seeking “manuscripts that reflect themes of diversity, inclusivity, compassion, care for each other, care for the world, social justice, and contemporary issues…appropriate for a general trade market and found in bookstores, libraries, and schools.”
Does not accept biographies, autobiographies, or religious content. Publishes early childhood board books and picture books on social skills and positive behavior. Accepts submissions through Submittable or by mail.
Accepts submissions for middle grade and young adult fiction. Welcomes “applications from authors interested in producing fiction manuscripts on a work-for-hire basis.” This is an imprint of North Star Editions. Accepts submissions by email.
Accepts picture book manuscripts under 1,000 words. Don’t like rhyming text. Seeking “fresh, original, fiction with universal themes that could appeal to children ages 3-8”. Accepts submissions by email.
Publishes fiction and nonfiction picture books, Early Reader fiction, nonfiction chapter books, fiction and nonfiction for middle grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction. Accepts manuscripts by mail.
Publishes young adult fiction and nonfiction with a minimum of 25,000 words, juvenile fiction and nonfiction for ages 8-12 with a maximum of 25,000 words, and juvenile fiction and nonfiction picture books for ages 5-8 with a maximum of 1,100 words (plus author’s note). Genres include holidays, history, biography, African American, regional, and STEM depending on the age range. Accepts manuscripts by email.
Prefers author/illustrators. Seeking children’s books that “represent diverse characters, cultures, identities, and points of view” and “deal with contemporary topics”. Prefers submissions by email, but does allow submissions by mail.
Publishes board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books (fiction and nonfiction). Seeks to publish “books that are entertaining, meaningful and sensitive to the needs of all children.” Accepts submissions by mail.
Publishes nonfiction books for children and adults. Not accepting picture book submissions. Accepting submissions by email.
Whether you decide to submit to literary agents or directly to publishers, you should keep track of all your submissions. If you have your own way of doing this that works for you, great! I’d love to hear about it. If you don’t have any chart of your own, you are welcome to download the chart I use to track all of my submissions.
The chart is pretty self-explanatory. I write the title of the submitted manuscript in the column that says “Manuscript title”, the name of the publisher or the literary agent (along with the name of the agency the literary agent works at) under the “Publisher/ Lit. Agent”, and the date I sent the submission under the “Date Sent” column. Under the “Method” column, I record whether I sent the submission by email, mail, Submittable, or some other online portal. I write the response (along with the date I receive the response) under the “Response” column. Any additional information such as how long it generally takes for them to respond if they do respond and what was submitted (if different than usual) gets written under the “Additional Info.” column.
I keep the chart in an easily accessible folder, so I can update it as needed. Color coding the book titles by putting a specific color dot (with a marker) next to the manuscript title (just to the left of the chart) makes it easier to find specific titles.
This is just what has worked for me up to this point. I’d love to hear what has worked best for you or if you know of any other children’s book publishers currently accepting unsolicted submissions in the comments section below.
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I can’t believe it is already the beginning of March! How are you doing on your goals for this year?
I have so many writing projects and ideas I want to work on that I either haven’t started or haven’t gotten as far as I would like. But I’m going to keep working at them one step at a time! I encourage you to continue reaching for your goals.
A few things I have been working on include a field trip journal I created and published last month, a children’s book entitled Aah! Blown Away, Crash!, writings for Hands On As We Grow (two of them are scheduled to be published this month), some updates and posts for my website, and a nonfiction adult book all about self-publishing basics. I’ve also attended an SCBWI webinar entitled Finding Your Agent Match and listened to some interviews from the Wealthy Author Summit.
Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate in January for the monthly writer meeting I now have the privilege of organizing as an SCBWI Iowa Social Regional Chair (formerly known as a Network Chair). It is absolutely amazing to me how the opportunity for me to be a part of this fantastic group came about, but that’s a story for another day. I have learned so much from the other writers that are part of this group, and I really appreciate their generous feedback and support when they critique my manuscripts.
Our group was finally able to get together again in February, and we discussed the topic of using Pinterest as an author. Between the research I did to prepare for the meeting and the discussion with my group at the meeting, I learned quite a few Pinterest tips for authors.
It occurred to me recently I have been learning a lot on my writing adventure, and I would like to pass on some of that knowledge to others who may be just beginning their own writing adventure. So, I have created a list of Pinterest tips for authors based on my most recent findings. I’m definitely not a pro at this, and I’m obviously still learning!
Use a Business Account
Business accounts have additional features personal accounts do not have. Business accounts allow you to track analytics, see the number of views and clicks on each of your pins, advertise pins, and claim your website for even more benefits. Business accounts are free to set up and use.
It’s recommended to use the same photo on your Pinterest business account that you use for all of your online platforms for branding reasons. Also, make sure to “claim your website” and double-check the ‘search privacy’ setting is marked as ‘no’.
Keep business Pinterest accounts and personal Pinterest accounts separate if you intend to have one of each. Your business account should be professional and engaging.
You can find more information on how to set up a business account here.
Know Your Target Audience
Who is your target audience? This is an important question to answer as you create a Pinterest account. After all, you should be using your account to build a community type-setting for your target audience.
Target audiences for authors may include readers, librarians, teachers, and/or other writers. To get an idea of what your audience may be interested in, you can look at the Pinterest accounts of other authors in your genre.
It is possible to have more than one target audience if you write in a variety of genres. If this is the case for you, then tailor each of your boards to a specific target audience. People can choose to follow all of your boards or individual boards that pertain to them.
Add Relevant Boards
Relevant boards can be determined based on your target audience. A board all about serial killers is probably not a relevant board for you if you write only for children. What would your target audience be interested in? What would they be looking for? How can you add value for them?
Authors can create boards for each of their books, writing tips, writing quotes, or anything else that may go along with their books and writings. No matter what the boards contain, the names of the boards should make sense to the viewer.
Since my meeting, I have added some boards to my Pinterest page. I now have fourteen visible boards targeted towards different audiences. I have a board for each of my books along with various activities and crafts to do with them for teachers and parents. My boards with quotes, children’s books & journals, and fun crafts & activities are intended for parents (although teachers may like some of these, too). I also have boards specifically for writers and authors to view. An additional board contains pins that are all linked directly to my website.
Notice, I said “visible” boards. I also have “secret boards” that are not visible to the public. These ones are for boards I am currently working on that I am not ready to make visible, a board to save pins I would like to share at a later date, and personal boards. So, you can also use secret boards if desired.
Use Board Sections as Needed
Personally, I like having things organized and Pinterest now allows users to create sections within boards for better organization.
Additional board sections may include settings, characters, or other topics mentioned within a book. Some authors may actually find it beneficial to create a character section as their own character profile while writing a book.
I added separate sections for each of my books that focus on different aspects of them. For instance, Jobs of a Preschooler is divided into 16 sections based on each job mentioned in the book. Each of those sections contains crafts and activities parents and teachers can do for that specific job. Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles is divided into 10 sections based on different pickle-related topics. I feel having the different sections makes the book’s activities easier to navigate and use.
Have Consistant Board Covers
Pinterest is a visual platform, so it makes sense to make your boards visually appealing. One way to do that is by making the board covers consistant on your account.
I recently updated all of my Pinterest board covers. Here is what some of them looked like before the update:
The boards specific to my books each have the book cover as the board cover still, but all of the other ones now have the same picture with the board’s title. I chose the same font and font color that is used on my website for all of these board covers. Here is how they now look:
Brilliant Business Moms has a great step-by-step tutorial on how to update board covers here if you are interested.
Create Eye-Catching Pins
Again, Pinterest is a very visual platform, so it makes sense to create eye-catching pins. Look at other Pinterest accounts. What kinds of pins seem to stand out the most to you? Why? What colors are used? What font is easiest to read?
Canva is an amazing tool for creating pins (among many other things). I discovered Canva last year, and I’ve been using it ever since. You can sign up for a free account on Canva here if interested.
Canva has a template for creating pins, which makes creating pins even easier. Vertical pins are more appealing than horizontal or square pins.
Pins you add can be linked to a sales pages, website post, or wherever else you want to send viewers. By offering a pin about a free product with a link to your website, you may be able to get additional email subscribers. Can you offer coloring pages, activity ideas, bookmarks, study guides, book group questions, or anything else to go along with your book? Make sure pins for posts actually go to those posts instead of your home page.
Possible pins could be about your book, website post topics, or book events. Can you create pins of people reading your book in different locations (with their permission)?
It’s also beneficial to include your website address somewhere on the pin itself so others can still find your website even if the link is deleted somehow. Something I need to work on more is keeping the font I use for my website address the same on all of the pins. Consistency helps build a brand.
A single pin can be pinned at different times on different boards. For example, I created a pin for my field trip journal recently, which I pinned to my “Children’s Books & Journals” board and my “From the Website of Brigitte Brulz” board a day apart. Pinterest does allow you to schedule a limited number of created pins in advance for free.
Remember those analytics you get to see with a business account? Well, you can create different pins for the same post or the same product to see what more people click on.
Try to appropriately time your content with holidays or other popular search terms. For example, searches on goals and self-improvement often peak in January. Is there anything you can offer with your book (or website) that matches those themes in that particular month?
An advantage of Pinterest is that pins can be seen over and over again for years as people repin them from other boards. For that reason, it is also important to try to create pins that are “evergreen”. This simply means the topic should be relevant still even a year from now. I created a pin for Valentine’s Day last year that became popular again this year around Valentine’s Day, so it may not be relevant all year round but can still be viewed again at specific times of the year. A pin on a current event may not necessarily be as relevant a year from now.
Don’t make all of the pins about you and your book. You may not gain many followers if you only create self-promotional pins. Think of your audience. How can you help them?
My most popular pin week after week since I uploaded it in August of 2018 actually has nothing to do with my books. It’s from a science experiment I did with my daughters.
Repin Useful Content
You don’t need to do all of the work creating pins for your boards. In fact, you shouldn’t be pinning only your own content. Depending on what source you read, you should repin somewhere between 70%-80% of other people’s content and pin 20%-30% of your own content.
Become a reliable source for your audience by adding content they will be interested in and making sure the links actually connect to the location they should. I know I find it very frustrating when I find a craft on Pinterest I want to try but the link doesn’t actually connect me to the site that shows me how to complete the craft.
Adding the “save” button to your toolbar will allow you to add pins to your Pinterest account as you read the information on various websites. I just figured out how to do this, and it has been helpful for me.
Pin and Repin Strategically
I’ve heard it is critical to actually pin every day. I have been pinning very sporadically, so this is something I need to improve on. I probably won’t pin every day, but I will try to at least pin more frequently. There are scheduling tools people use to schedule pins and repins. Tailwind is one that I have heard of but have never actually used myself. Without a scheduling tool, though, you will have to manually repin pins.
It is recommended to pin strategically throughout the day. Are there certain times of the day your audience is generally looking at Pinterest? Give yourself a reasonable time limit each time you are on Pinterest. The more time you spend on Pinterest, the less time you will have to actually write your book!
You also shouldn’t pin a bunch of pins all at one time because then it may bombard your followers’ home feeds with a bunch of pins from you all at once. I’m guilty of doing this! I have created a secret board recently called “Add Later” to hold pins when I find a bunch of pins at once, so I can repin them at a later date to my visible boards. Hopefully, this will keep me from repinning a bunch all at once.
Don’t Neglect Keywords
For those of you who don’t know, Pinterest is technically not a social media platform. Authors can’t really communicate back and forth with their audience. Instead, Pinterest is considered a search engine. So, keywords are very important. Think of what you would type in on any other search engine to find your Pinterest account or pins. What are your pins about? What appears as suggestions when you type in the search bar on Pinterest?
Make sure to include relevant keywords in your profile, on your boards, and in the descriptions of your pins. Try to make the descriptions of the pins make sense instead of just listing a bunch of random keywords.
Follow Relevant People
I’m not sure how well this works, but I have heard it can be beneficial to “follow” people in your target audience. So, if you are a children’s book author, you may want to follow teachers or librarians. The thought behind this is that they may see you following them and decide to follow you back if you have good content. It’s one possible way to build a following.
I have found it beneficial to follow people who post content similar to what I am interested in posting since their content shows up in my home feed. For example, I have followed preschool teachers, and I can normally easily find a craft to repin on one of my boards from them without having to search. It’s a huge time saver!
As a side note: When I say follow, I am strictly speaking of following on Pinterest. Please don’t be a stalker!
Join Other People
I’ve never had experience with group boards, but I’ve heard they can be advantageous if done properly. A group board is only helpful if it contains content relevant to your target audience and is up-to-date. Most group boards require acceptance before actually joining.
Make Your Website Pinterest Friendly
Add the “Save” button to your website for easy pinning. I actually just did this for my website, and I wish I would have done it sooner! I am guessing it would be a good idea to include a website address on each picture I upload to my website in case they do get “saved”.
I’ve heard you should also add a “Pinterest Follow Button” to your website. I should probably figure out how to do that soon.
Take Advantage of Pinterest Ads
I’ve been told Pinterest ads are crucial for driving traffic if done properly. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about Pinterest ads, so I am not going to expand on them anymore here.
Do you have any additional Pinterest Tips for Authors?