The Secret to Getting Published in the Children’s Market

Photo by See-ming Lee, courtesy of

“Bert and Ernie: Let me tell you a secret!” Photo by See-ming Lee, courtesy of

Wow, that got your attention didn’t it? After all, it’s really what we all want to know as writers for children or otherwise: the elusive secret that some seem to know, while the rest of us wander around blindly in the hopes that someone, anyone will notice our brilliance and hand us a book contract. Well, I’m here to tell you the secret once and for all, so keep reading…



I rediscovered the secret the other day when I was updating my submission spreadsheet. At first it kind of tickled my ear like a whisper. But then, the more I read through my submissions- what I had out, what I had in and what I had in revision- the more the whisper turned into a shout. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? ‘Cause here it is…

The secret to getting published in the children’s market is (drum roll please)…


Did you get that? Well just in case you didn’t, here it is again…

The secret to getting published in the children’s market (or any market for that matter) is…


Yep, that’s it. Sounds simple doesn’t it? And how did I figure this out? Well, as I was perusing my submissions I noticed I had several manuscripts that had been through revision, critique and revision again and hadn’t seen the light of day in almost a year. That means for a year or more a perfectly ready manuscript had gone unsubmitted because I hadn’t been paying attention. And manuscripts that don’t get submitted don’t get published. It’s that simple.

Now don’t get me wrong. That three-word secret has years and years of blood, sweat and tears behind it (OK, maybe not sweat, but you get my point). And I would never EVER tell a fellow writer to submit a manuscript that wasn’t ready. That’s not what I’m talking about here. The manuscripts I’m referring to are the ones that are ready and have been gathering dust because you’re afraid to write that cover letter, address that envelope, or hit “send” on that email you composed.

So I’m here to tell you today my writer friend, that at some point, you must declare your manuscript ready (after careful vetting from writing partners, critique groups, conference critiques or paid critiques), put your precious baby in an envelope (or attachment) and send it on its way. Give it wings to fly. You’ve done everything in your power to make it the best it can be. Now let it go out in the world and find its way. If you never do, you’ll never know.

This business is about a lot of things, but courage is one of the most important. I encourage you reach deep for yours today, take a big breath and let your story fly!

Sensibility- Don’t let the fear of rejection keep you from sending out your very best work.

Sense- Develop a system for tracking your submitted manuscripts and keep them circulating. It’s the only way your work will ever be seen by those that can help you take the next steps on your publishing journey.

How many manuscripts are you currently sending out? What has the submission process been like for you?




5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ann Finkelstein
    Mar 31, 2015 @ 19:15:05

    Thanks for the nudge. The hard part is deciding when the ms is ready.


    • Sensibility and Sense
      Mar 31, 2015 @ 20:03:55

      You’re right Ann! That is the hard part. But I do think that manuscripts can have several stages of being “ready” don’t you? Ready, as in, “I’ve done all I know to do with this ready,” “ready to see what editors think of this,” and my favorite, “I just need to complete this process ready” so I can learn how best to take the next steps. I don’t think any story is ever completely done, even after it’s sitting on bookstore shelves! LOL!


  2. Dawne Webber
    Mar 31, 2015 @ 19:38:07

    I think you’re onto something. I submitted my current novel to seventy agents before signing with one. And there were many times when I thought I should give up.


    • Sensibility and Sense
      Mar 31, 2015 @ 20:05:00

      I hear you Dawn! And in that process, I’m sure you received at least some feedback that helped you either revise or at least feel like you were on the right track. Is that true?


      • Dawne Webber
        Mar 31, 2015 @ 20:24:03

        Before I began submitting, I took a Writers’ Digest course, Preparing Your Submission packet. An agent read the query, synopsis and first two pages. She said it was ready to go, I just needed to sync the synopsis with the query. I was very excited. Until the rejections started coming in.

        I rewrote the query five more times and got a few requests for fulls. Then I submitted to Query Drill, a critique website, and they gave great advice on my query. I rewrote it again and got five or six requests for fulls. That’s the one that got the agent.

        But other than the unhelpful WD class, I never got any helpful feedback from any agent, which I think is unusual.

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