Categories of Publishers of Children's Books
Getting your children’s book published takes time and patience, determination and resolve. If you’ve got those qualities and you decide to target traditional publishing houses, you might as well shoot for the stars.
Generally speaking, children’s book publishers fall into two broad categories, namely the larger multinational companies and the smaller independent presses. The larger publishing houses are usually located in major cities such as London or New York, with their children’s division being one arm of a far-reaching network. Smaller presses might be more open to your approaches, but by their very nature they can only take on a limited number of authors at a time. Large companies have the resources to deal with a wide variety of authors, but it can be difficult to get your material into the hands of the right person.
Below you’ll find some of the biggest names in the children’s books publishing business, listed in alphabetical order, with links to their particular submission requirements. Please note that some companies deal with numerous types and genres of books and might have different submission requirements for each category. It's a good idea to email or phone the publishers to make sure that you have their latest submission requirements.
Children’s Book Publishers A-H
The home of Bloomsbury and Walker Books for Young Readers, this company publishes picture books, chapter books, easy readers, middle grade and YA novels, fiction, fantasy and some non-fiction. They used to have a welcoming policy for picture book manuscripts – or queries for longer works – but that no longer seems to be the case. Current submission guidelines can be found by following the link below:
One of the leading publishers of children’s books worldwide, HarperCollins publishes classic titles such as Charlotte’s Web, The Chronicles of Narnia, Goodnight Moon, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Where the Wild Things Are and The Princess Diaries.
They don’t display submission guidelines on their site, but instead direct prospective authors to inkpop.com, an online community that “connects rising stars in teen lit with talent-spotting readers and publishing pros.”
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group encompasses three award-winning imprints publishing such well-known titles as Curious George, Lyle the Crocodile, George and Martha, The Polar Express and Tacky the Penguin. It embraces the HMH franchise line as well as the Graphia and Sandpiper paperbacks.
Unlike some of their rivals, they will accept unsolicited submissions for their Clarion Books, Harcourt Children’s Books, and Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. They’ll only respond if they’re interested in pursuing your work further.
Submitting to Children's Book Publishers
Children’s Book Publishers L-P
Lerner is one of the largest independently owned children’s publishers in the US, with more than 5,000 books in print. Their catalog includes fiction and non-fiction books for pre-school to young adult readers represented across a vast selection of imprints and publishing partners.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers features a core list of picture books and hardcover and paperback fiction and nonfiction for middle grade and young adult readers; LB Kids produces novelty and brand/licensed tie-ins; and Poppy publishes paperback original series for teen girls.
Titles include Zoey Dean's The A List, Lisi Harrison's The Clique, Hergé's The Adventures of Tintin, and Holly Hobbie's Toot & Puddle.
Submission Guidelines: They don’t have any. Their advice instead is as follows:
“If you are interested in having a manuscript considered for publication, we recommend that you first enlist the services of an established literary agent.”
This is a massive company with many divisions, each of which has its own submissions guidelines. For instance, the Henry Holt series submission guidelines can be found by following this link. Series titles also include Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, Feiwel and Friends, First Second Books, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Priddy Books, Roaring Brook Press and Square Fish.
Like many of the bigger publishing houses, Penguin Putnam prefers to consider manuscripts from literary agents. Guidelines are available for certain of their imprints, however, two of which are detailed below.
Find An Agent for Your Children's Book
Children’s Book Publishers R-U
Random House publishes children’s books through a selection of divisions including Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, Dragonfly, and Wendy Lamb Books. Their catalog includes titles like Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, Sesame Street, Disney, and Thomas the Tank Engine, and their list features well-known authors like Judy Blume and Phillip Pullman.
They recommend submitting manuscripts through an “established literary agent.”
Scholastic’s mission is “to encourage the intellectual and personal growth of all children” – a goal it tries to achieve through popular series’ of books across a wide age range, including Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Magic School Bus, Goosebumps, Harry Potter, I SPY and The Hunger Games.
They welcome submissions from educators, so if you’re involved in the teaching profession that could possibly be one way to get your foot in the door.
Simon & Schuster is one of the leading children's book publishers in the world, comprised of the following imprints: Aladdin Paperbacks, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Little Simon, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Simon Pulse and Simon Spotlight. They publish titles such as Alice, The Hardy Boys, and The Spiderwick Chronicles.
They don’t generally consider unsolicited manuscripts but instead point authors in the direction of sites where they can make contact with literary agents.
Usborne is one of the leading specialist children's book publishers in the UK. Their catalog includes books for babies and toddlers right up to young adults. There are board books, activity books, sticker books, coloring books, and books aimed at specific subjects such as English and math.
Like Simon & Schuster, they don't consider unsolicited manuscripts. The only way to get your work to them is through an agent, as stated in the guidelines below.
Do You Need A Literary Agent?
These are some of the top children’s books publishing companies in terms of size and volume at the time of writing. As you can see, most of them are so big that they haven’t got space on their lists for unknown writers. In many cases, they stick with books that have proven successful and continue to make them money, such as tie-ins to TV series, cartoons, and movies. That could mean that the only way to get your foot in the door is by first getting yourself an agent.
That’s all very well, but finding an agent is not exactly a piece of cake. If you’re bent on pursuing one of the larger publishers, however, an agent is the way to go. Check out the second video above for a clever way to discover which agents are most likely to be taking on new clients. You’ll find further information about agents in the Guide to Literary Agents available from bookstores and online. This guide is updated annually so you should consult the latest version to make sure the listings are still accurate.
Finally, consider joining an organization dedicated to helping writers and publishers get together. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators might be a good place to start. They host websites aimed at writers in the US (SCBWI.org) and writers in the UK (SCBWI British Isles) and provide an environment for sharing information between writers, illustrators, publishers, and agents. Check sites often for news of conferences, events, awards, grants and other opportunities for publication.
The publishing companies listed above are those that have specific submission guidelines. There are other children's publishing companies, but many of these have become part of larger publishing houses who have their own particular requirements. The best way to stay abreast of what's going in is to do your own research and check out what's selling in your local bookstores.
JohnMello (author) from England on December 02, 2015:
Thanks gerimcclym. Glad it was useful to you :)
Geri McClymont on December 02, 2015:
Thank you for this very informative article. I have been wanting to write & illustrate children's books for some time. I just ordered the 2016 Guide to Literary Agents. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge.
JohnMello (author) from England on August 19, 2015:
Thanks bigj1969 ))
John Marshall from glasgow on August 18, 2015:
Great hub,full of lots of good information,really enjoyed it.
JohnMello (author) from England on April 20, 2015:
You're welcome Moneylady... and thanks for reading!
Moneylady from Texas on April 19, 2015:
Thank you! Very helpful information.
JohnMello (author) from England on April 09, 2015:
Hi tiffany. No, I don't, but that's because they keep changing their submission procedures and requirements. Always check their websites to see what they're looking for and whether or not they'll accept unsolicited submissions. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Lots of new publishers are springing up every week as well, so it's always a good idea to do some web searching to keep up-to-date.
Thanks for reading!
tiffanyrose2015 on April 09, 2015:
Great information...do you know if these publishing companies are interested in young reader type books as well?
inbarshahar on March 17, 2013:
Great hub. i am also author of children book and i published one children's book:Rona is moving to a new city. Well thanks for this list.
JohnMello (author) from England on January 09, 2013:
Thanks twistoflight. Good luck!
Lindsay Shaffer from Santa Cruz, CA on January 09, 2013:
Thank you for this wonderful article! I want to be an author of children's books and I have found the publishing world to be confusing and overwhelming. The article breaks it down into bite size pieces.
JohnMello (author) from England on October 15, 2012:
You're welcome, LupitaRonquillo. Hope it proves useful...
LupitaRonquillo from Arizona on September 01, 2012:
Thank you, your article is very helpful for novice writers like myself!
JohnMello (author) from England on August 31, 2012:
Cheers, TToombs08... glad you liked it.
Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on August 31, 2012:
GREAT information, JohnMello! Thank you for this. I will be looking into a couple of these. :)
T from Southern, CA on August 31, 2012:
Great hub, thanks.
JohnMello (author) from England on August 24, 2012:
Thank you pstraubie48... really appreciate it!
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 24, 2012:
This is filled with interesting information that is helpful for those of us who may one day aspire to be published. I am familiar with most of them because I used a skadillion childrne's books over the years not just with my child and grandchildren but also with the children I taught. These were publishers that I knew I could trust to provide the type of literature that I was seeking. Scholastic is especially helpful to teachers and homeschool parents as there are a wide range of activities provided in some of their publications.
If I ever consdier publishing a children's book, I will look at this article again prior to doing so. Thank you for all of the tips. I am marking this as a favorite and voting useful, interesting, and up.