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The Confused Writer’s Guide to the Publishing Process

Congratulations! You have an offer to publish your book. But what’s the publishing process look like now?

At every conference I’ve ever attended, there’s always a breakout session from an editor to explain the publishing process at their house. To save you the few hundred dollars by attending the conference, I have an easy breakdown for you.

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The Confused Writer’s Guide to the Publishing Process:

1. The Offer

This one probably sounds obvious, but it’s where the publishing process starts. An editor will offer to buy your manuscript after reading it (Possibly after asking for some edits to be made, first).

If the manuscript was sent to them by an agent, your agent will negotiate the terms of your contract and try to get you the best deal. If you DON’T have an agent, I would recommend sending out an “Offered Publication” email to your agent wishlist.

You will want someone there to make sure you get the best deal and who understands the industry terms. Read this article about how to find an agent, if you’re not sure where to start.

Writer On-Submission Toolkit | Guide to Children's Book Publishing

2. The Meeting

This one may or may not happen in your publishing process–especially if you’re publishing with one of the big publishing houses. But it’s still a step that needs to be addressed.

After the contract has been signed, it’s smart to ask to meet with your editor about your book. If they accept your request, you can meet them in person–plus others on their team–and you’ll be able to talk about their vision for your book.

This is the best chance you’ll have to insert your opinion–respectfully, of course. However, don’t be upset if you aren’t able to have a meeting. It doesn’t always happen.

3. The Editing Process

Even if your editor asked for some changes before they offered to buy your manuscript, there will still be some more edits to your manuscript before it’s ready for publication.

There shouldn’t be any major edits since your agent will most likely have had you do those already, but it’s possible to have rewrites and overall polishing before your editor will be ready to move forward. Be prepared to meet all your deadlines, so you don’t delay the publishing process!

4. The Scheduling Process

This is a publisher’s internal step in the process, but you will know the goal for your release date. Which is normally 1-2 years from the time of the offer–depending on the size of your house and acquisitions waiting before you.

The publisher’s goal is to set a release date that will provide optimal sales. IE: a Christmas book will try to come out in October/November or a book about school may come out in July/August.

Free Children's Book Publishers Guide

5. The Numbers

Also, an internal part of the publishing process. This step is when the publisher determines how many books they need to sell in order to meet its goal. This budget controls the importance of your book at the imprint–especially at the big houses!

The author won’t know this number, but you can gauge an idea based on the initial meeting. The number of book sales varies depending on your publisher and the amount of your advance, but Publisher’s Weekly has said an average book sells 3,000 copies and anything under 1,500 is considered a commercial disaster. 😳

6. The Production Process

This is the fun part of the publishing process! The production process decides on the cover design and interior layout of your book. For picture books, and other novels with illustrations, the illustrator will be decided soon after the contract has been signed, so they have time to complete the pictures.

The cover design is VERY important because readers judge a book by its cover. I’m guilty of it! 🙋‍♀️

All of my previously-published author friends are always pumped to see their book covers. It makes the book feel so real! Plus–this is a good step in the publishing process to start driving excitement for your upcoming book release.

7. The Marketing

We already know that marketing is determined when you sign your contract, but this is when that will start to go into effect. Marketing is broken into advertising, promotion, & publicity for your book.

The promotion process is anything created to draw attention to your new book. Like bookmarks, a book trailer, etc. If your publisher doesn’t have a big budget reserved for marketing, ask for some images that you can use to make your own promotional pieces!

**Note: Read this if you want to learn how to easily market your book before and during your launch!**

8. The Pre-Sales

Even smaller publishing houses will start to collect pre-sales at retailers, like Barnes & Noble. But depending on the size of your publisher, your book may not be in as many brick & mortar stores or will have limited numbers for sale.

To help your publisher with this step, you could start collecting an email list of people interested in your book. Start by telling people you know about your upcoming book, then use promotional pieces/social media to tease people you don’t know, about your book.

Be sure to engage with your list before your book comes out, so you have a group of excited people that are ready to support you and tell others about your new book. 😆

For a mailing list, use Mailerlite. They give you up to 1,000 subscribers for free. Plus, it’s super easy to use and I ABSOLUTELY love them.

Writer On-Submission Toolkit | Guide to Children's Book Publishing

9. The Book Release

FINALLY! After months of waiting, your book is officially available to be sold. It’s in bookstores and online on Amazon. Time to celebrate your book’s birthday! 🎉

It’s also time to start pushing sales, by emailing your list (Through Mailerlite, of course), hosting a book launch, and posting EVERYWHERE on social media. You can sell your book–after all, it’s a product. Just a super special one.

To learn more about how to market your book for success, be sure to check out this article all about easily marketing your book!


It’s a long and lengthy publishing process to release a book, but knowing all of these steps will prepare you for what’s next. Make sure to celebrate your wins and practice gratitude throughout each step, so you don’t start feeling overwhelmed.

This is the moment that all authors look forward to. Be sure to enjoy it!

Free Children's Book Publishers Guide

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