Publishing Child Book? Top Ten Tips for Writing Book Pitches That Get Your Manuscript Read

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Publishing child book? No matter how well-written your child story is, if you want to get published, you need to grab and hold the attention of publishers.

#1 Grab their attention in 10 seconds or less

10 seconds. That’s how much time many editors say they spend per submission when they’re screening.

The first sentence of your pitch is the first thing that an editor will read, and if it doesn’t grab their attention, it will be the last thing the editor reads. Make sure to stimulate their curiosity (without being “cute” or “evasive”) so that they want to read the rest of your pitch and then your manuscript. Remember that your letter may be vying with a huge stack of other such letters in the harried editor’s “slush” pile. Don’t be boring!

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#2 What’s in a name?

Make the extra effort to find the name of the person to whom you should address your correspondence. Don’t just use the names listed in resource books. Actually call up the publishing house to make sure that you have the right name (and check the spelling, too). Writing to a real person makes your chances of success much higher and follow-up easier, too.

#3 Be appropriate

Research has shown that your submission can get into the top 5% simply by being appropriate. Being appropriate means you’re appropriate in genre, subject, style, etc. Having a good feel for the types of books the company publishes also helps you write a better pitch.

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It all comes down to researching the various publishing companies. You can use the resources listed at the back of this report, do an informal survey at your local bookstore, library, or on Amazon.com, or ask your librarian if you can access the publisher’s catalogs that are often kept in the back office of libraries.

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#4 A pretty face

Presentation makes the life of the harried editor a little bit easier and more pleasant. Leave a lot of white space, use an easy-on-the-eyes font and make sure that no words are misspelled. Paragraphs should generally be no longer than 5-6 lines max.

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#5 Submission format

Make sure to follow the publisher’s submission format guidelines to the letter. These can generally be found on their website and in some of the reference books listed at the end of this report. You can also usually obtain catalogs and author or illustrator guidelines by sending a written request with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the publisher.

#6 Make replying easy

Always include a self-addressed stamped postcard with boxes to be checked off by the editor (e.g. with a query letter, one box would be: “YES, please send me your manuscript”). You want to lower any obstacles to the editor responding to your inquiry.

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#7 Don’t take “NO” for an answer

More and more publishing houses are hanging out the “no unsolicited manuscripts sign”. But contrary to what many authors think, this doesn’t mean that the door is closed to your submission. You can still submit a query letter to ask the editor whether he or she is interested in seeing your project. If the answer is “yes”, you can now send your manuscript marked “requested material”, and the chances of it being opened and read go up dramatically.

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#8 Follow-up

Follow-up 3-4 months after sending your initial inquiry, unless the publisher’s guidelines say that you shouldn’t expect to hear from them for a longer period of time.

#9 Track and Test

In the direct marketing world, sales letters are continually tested and their response rate/success rate is tracked. The letter with the best results becomes the “control”. You can do much the same. Try different variations in your pitch and see what kind of results they give.

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#10 “P.S.”?

This tip is from the direct marketing world. You won’t find it in any books about publishing children’s books.

After the headline or lead, the “P.S.” or “post-script” is the most read part of any sales letter. So, make sure to include a P.S. What do you say in a P.S.? You can restate why your book should be published or introduce an additional reason, provide more credibility or communicate urgency (to motivate the editor to take immediate action).

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Conclusion

Follow these tips and consult the resource books listed below, and you’ll be well on your way to getting your child book published.

Resource Books

2005 Children’s Writers & Illustrator’s Market, by Alice Pope (Editor), Rebecca Chrysler (Editor), ISBN: 1582972737

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books, Second Edition (Paperback) by Harold D. Underdown, ISBN: 1592571433

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Writer’s & Illustrator’s Guide to Chil
dren’s Book Publishers and Agents (Paperback), by Ellen R. Shapiro, ISBN: 0761525157

? 2005 Paul Arinaga. All Rights Reserved.

Paul Arinaga is founder of the Child Stories Bank (http://www.child-stories-bank.com). The Child Stories Bank provides FREE original children’s stories as well as resources to help writers create and get their stories published, and a directory of child storybook illustrators.

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