A children’s book publisher is a company or organization that publishes children’s books. These could include books for babies and toddlers all the way up to teen and young adult literature. Depending on the size of the company, a children’s book publisher may specialize in books for a specific age group. Larger corporations are more likely to have the financial resources to publish a wider range of books.
Each children’s book publisher may operate in a unique way. Others will only work with literary agents and will accept unsolicited manuscripts or queries directly from writers. If they decide to publish a book, they may pay the writer or illustrator a flat fee, or they may pay royalties based on the book’s earnings or a percentage of the list price. A children’s book publisher might only publish books in a specific genre, such as young adult fantasy, for example.
A children’s book publisher will usually accept a contributor’s text or illustrations, but not both. This means they will accept a written manuscript from a writer and commission their own illustrator to illustrate it; or they will accept sample illustrations from an artist and commission that artist to illustrate a specific manuscript later. It may be more difficult to find a publisher if a writer is adamant about having his or her own writing and illustrations published together.
If they accept unsolicited queries at all, most children’s book publishers are very specific about their submission requirements. They may only require a query letter, the first few chapters or pages of a manuscript, or the entire manuscript up front. It is critical to follow submission guidelines to the letter, regardless of the request; a children’s book publisher will most likely discard a query or manuscript that does not meet the guidelines, as they may receive dozens or hundreds of queries each week. After publishing a work, a publisher may be more inclined to work with the same author or illustrator again in the future. Some may be asked to sign contracts, while others will have their names published on a case-by-case basis.
A children’s book publisher will most likely have a large team of employees, including editors and proofreaders. Furthermore, bookbinding may be done on site, or the manuscripts may be sent to an outside company for binding and physical publication. Employees at book publishers are typically expected to have a college degree, usually in English or a related field.