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Ask the Editors

By The editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS

Dear Authors and Illustrators:

First, we would like to thank everyone for participating. We received many interesting questions, and it was wonderful to see so much interest in children’s literature among new authors and illustrators.

Most people wanted to know about the submission process. Here are some samples that represented many of the questions we received:

"What should our first step be in introducing [our] work to the publisher?"
- Ethel Landers of Arroyo Granda, California

"How do I narrow down the field of publishers that may want my manuscript?"
- Kari Satterfield of Riddle, Oregon

"How important is it to get a literary agent, as opposed to just sending my children’s story to a publishing house open to accepting unsolicited submissions?"
- Yoldanda Brown of Kailua, Hawaii

"I have been under the impression that it is better to submit your work without illustrations and allow the publisher to pair you with an artist of their choice. Can you please clarify this for me?"
- Valerie, of Cincinnati, Ohio

"What should our first step be in introducing [our] work to the publisher?" and "How do I narrow down the field of publishers that may want my manuscript?"
The first step to getting published – besides writing a story – is RESEARCH. Find out whether or not your story is right for a publisher (or whether or not a publisher is right for your story). If a publisher only publishes picture books, don’t send them a novel. You will be saving the publisher time and aggravation, and you will be saving yourself time, effort, the cost of postage, and a rejection letter. Go to your local bookstore or library and look for books that you love and that are similar to yours in some way. Then find out who published those books. Look at a publisher’s Web site before you send out that manuscript. Find out what they publish. Does your story meet their needs? Does it fit in with the other books on the publisher’s list? If so, what else does the publisher require with submissions? Usually, a publishing house will detail how they prefer to receive submissions in their editorial guidelines – whether or not unsolicited manuscripts are accepted, where to send your submission, whether or not to include an self-address stamped envelope (SASE), and so on. If you can’t find this information on a publisher’s Web site, mail them a request for guidelines along with a SASE for return of the guidelines to you.

Here are some additional resources you should use as you research different publishing houses.

CHILDREN'S WRITER’S AND ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET
This invaluable resource includes addresses, contact names, and current needs of most U.S. children's book publishers. It is available in bookstores and libraries.

CHILDREN'S BOOK COUNCIL
This is a nonprofit organization that offers an up-to-date listing of its member publishers and contact names. You can find this listing on the their Web site, or contact the Children's Book Council at 12 West 37th Street, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10018, (212) 966-1990.

"How important is it to get a literary agent, as opposed to just sending my children’s story to a publishing house open to accepting unsolicited submissions?"
For some publishers, yes. For others, no. At LEE & LOW, you don’t. We accept unsolicited submissions and read every story we receive. In fact, many of our books have been written by previously unpublished authors. We appreciate the opportunity to hear fresh and original voices, and we take pride in giving new authors a chance. A publisher’s Web site or guidelines will tell you whether or not they accept only agented submissions.

"I have been under the impression that it is better to submit your work without illustrations and allow the publisher to pair you with an artist of their choice. Can you please clarify this for me?"
In most cases, it is best to let your manuscript speak for itself. If it is well written and compelling, it will stand out. But if you feel your illustrations are an integral part of the concept of your story, and you are an accomplished illustrator, then include copies (not originals) of your illustrations – it won’t hurt. But if you are not a talented artist, save yourself the work. Most submissions that we receive do not include illustrations.

We hope we answered most of your questions. If you’d like more information, please browse through our extensive collection of articles we have posted here in our Editorial Section. We are sure you’ll find them helpful and interesting.

We wish you success in your publishing career.

The editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS

Contact Us

Telephone: (212) 779-4400 x 28

Email: customer.support[at]leeandlow[dot]com

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