Almost five years ago now, I made some MAJOR publishing mistakes. 🙈 Unfortunately, there are no redos in life, only lessons. So learn from my mistakes and avoid these five things when you submit your story!
1. Know the market you’re selling to.
When I started out, I had an idea to create real, fairytales for teenagers. I tried to sell the idea as a picture book, and although adult picture books exist, sending a picture book manuscript to a publisher that is not a traditional picture book was a BAD idea.
It’s your job as a writer to know the market BEFORE you submit your story. (If you don’t know how the different age categories breakdown, read this article to help you.)
2. Don’t send rough sketches. Nor pose as an illustrator.
I’m an artist. I can draw, particularly people, pretty well and I’ve taken numerous art classes both in high school and college. However, I’m not a children’s illustrator. And even if I was, my sketches should NEVER be rough.
You do NOT have to illustrate your own picture books. The publisher will find the illustrator for you! So stick to what you know best, and write the most amazing picture book you have for kids.
3. Use correct formatting.
Because I had these illustrations, I made sure to write out my story on the dummy as I saw them fitting. Which I sent along with my notes to the publisher. Big no-no.
Even though most submissions are emailed now, you still need to know the proper format for your manuscript. Read this article to know how before you submit your story, so you’re prepared if you have to attach a document or send it in the mail.
4. Someone MUST review your manuscript.
I don’t even think I had my mom read my story before I sent it out! 🙈 Even a biased opinion is better than no opinion. You should ALWAYS have someone with a working knowledge of children’s literature read your manuscript before you start submitting.
5. Have patience when you submit your story.
Even if I had done everything above 100% correctly, I still made one major mistake that will keep you from ever getting published. I gave up after sending it out to only a couple of houses.
Sometimes it can take many rejections and months of waiting before you get your yes. If you have a strong story, then you must keep persisting and believe in your ability to sell it.
Getting a book published can be a long and winding journey, but it’s completely worth it once you see your book on a bookshelf. If you want to make sure you avoid these mistakes, get the free Manuscript Checklist! It will make sure the story you’re submitting is something worth reading.
And check out these other articles to help you with your submissions:
- How to Know when Your Story’s Ready to Submit
- Tips for when You need to Rewrite Your Manuscript
- How to Format Your Story
- The Different Age Levels for Children’s Books