Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 17, 2019

It Takes A Village For Picture Book Writers (and Course Creators)

It Takes A Village For Picture Book Writers (and Course Creators)
by Mira Resiberg

When we look at a children’s book, most of us have no idea how much work has gone into it and how many hands have touched it before it gets good enough to land in your or some lucky child’s hands. With picture books, it begins as a seed in the author’s mind that may have been planted many years before. Then it develops into a rough draft to be refined and polished like a beautiful pearl before being submitted to an editor or agent.

Researching Publishers

Next steps require researching and finding publishers that your story might be a good fit for. SCBWI’s The Book lists publishing houses and editors with contact information. We also provide a wonderful list for un-agented submissions in our Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books course plus a list of agents. If you have an agent, finding a publisher is part of their job.

Getting an Agent

Agents have access to a wider range of publishers than an un-agented person does and should know which publishers and editors will be a better fit for your book. They take 15-20% for writers for a lot of unseen work that can be really challenging and time-consuming. However, getting the right agent is sometimes just as hard as finding the right publisher and you really need to do your research to find a good match as you will be connected with them for as long as your contract and for the life of your book.


Once you have an editor interested in your story, depending on the publisher, the editor may have to fight for your story at an acquisition’s meeting that can include all the other editors, and marketing people who look at where your story fits in their publishing house and if it conflicts with any other recently published or well selling classics on their list. They also need to decide whether it’s financially viable to publish your book in terms of projected sales, or if it might win awards. If it passes acquisitions it’s contract time.

Contracts, Illustrators, and More Revisions

The contract then needs to be negotiated, the right illustrator needs to be found, and further revisions need to be done as the editor works with you to make your story perfect.  Often, the illustrator and art director will uncover logic floors or problems, which might not have been noticed during prior edits or have suggestions to make the story even better. Occasionally, a manuscript will land with an editor, where it needs no revisions. But this is very rare.

Your Village

So here are all the people, whose hands and minds help bring your book into the world. You the author, your critique group if you have one, your teachers if you’ve had any, your agent if you have one, your editor, your illustrator, art director, designer if separate from the art director, marketing department, contracts person (if it’s not the editor depending on the house), printer, sales representatives, bookstores, libraries, bloggers, book reviewer’s, teachers, parents and children. Apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone. But as you can see, it really does take a village or a series of communities.


Dr. Mira Reisberg is an Editor and Art Director at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s book imprint Spork and the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. She is excited be co-teaching a course on the Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books with Sterling editor Rachael Stein In a former life, not too long ago, Mira was a literary agent and a children’s literature professor. She has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on kid lit. Find her at the Children’s Book Academy at or on Twitter @ChildrensBookAc

 Don’t miss out on this free Picture Book Palooza. Starts on Monday.

Talk soon,



  1. I just signed up for the palooza event. Thanks Mira and Kathy for the awesome opportunity.


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