Publishing Children’s and Young Adult Books

All publishing requires the highest quality writing and illustrating but children’s and young adult (YA) writing is one of the most competitive markets of all, with some book publishers receiving more than two thousand unsolicited manuscripts each year. Production costs for illustrated children’s books are high and consequently your work must display a fresh voice, original subject matter, well-crafted characterisations, an interesting plot and, of course, ‘child appeal’ in order to be considered. Recycled story lines, derivative plots and narrative styles will be rejected, so a new children’s writer must work hard to avoid clichés.

The NSW Writers’ Centre offers a variety of courses on writing for children and young adults to help you overcome such difficulties, as well as hosting a Kids and YA Festival every second year. The Australian Society of Authors sells a short paper on Writing for the Children’s Book Market with more information for children’s writers seeking publication.

Educational Books
The children’s book publishing sector includes educational books. Educational publishers produce books for the school market, both in Australia and overseas. They must meet the needs of teachers and curriculum content for each state in Australia, so they have very specific requirements. Educational publishers usually commission books from a pool of authors with the requisite expertise. Before submitting material to an educational publisher, check their website for guidelines. For more information, The Australian Society of Authors sells a short paper on Writing for the Educational Children’s Book Market.

Finding a Publisher
The Australian Society of Authors’ papers on
Writing for the Children’s Book Market and Writing for the Educational Children’s Book Market include lists of children’s general and educational book publishers. Information about these publishers can also be found in the Australian Writers’ Marketplace. Submitting to a children’s book publisher is much the same as submitting to publishers of books for the adult market. See our resource sheet on Getting Published for details.

Illustrations for Picture Books
If you are seeking to write a picture book it is not necessary to have it illustrated before submitting. In fact, unless the illustrations are exceptional, you are better off submitting the text of a picture-book manuscript on its own. If the publisher decides to take on your manuscript, they will organise for an appropriate illustrator to work with you.

If you are a writer/illustrator and your artwork is of a publishable standard, include one or two sample illustrations at most. Do not send original artwork through the post as it may be damaged or lost in transit.

Finding an Illustrator
Some writers and illustrators may wish to work together before approaching a publisher together. If you are looking for an illustrator, try the
Illustrators Australia member directory or the Style File, a directory developed by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Australian Society of Authors (ASA).

When working with an illustrator, remember that you will need to consider how much they are going to be paid and/or their percentage of royalties. The Australian Society of Authors publishes a list of standard rates for illustrators on their website.

NSWWC Books
The ABC Book of Australian Children’s Illustrators by Margaret Hamilton
Writing Hannah: On Writing for Young People by Libby Gleeson

Further Resources

Australian Society of Authors <www.asauthors.org>
Children’s Book Council of Australia <
http://cbca.org.au>
Illustrators Australia <
www.illustratorsaustralia.com>
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators <
www.scbwiaustralia.org>
The Style File <
www.thestylefile.com>

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