I received the following email from someone who is looking for advice on publishing and/or self-publishing and finding an illustrator for a children’s book. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I figured I’d post whatever I have learned that might be helpful, in case it can help any one else out there!
QUESTION: I have a few questions, if you have time to answer. Any info or advice would be really helpful. 1. Can you choose the dimensions and paper stock of the book? 2. How do you submit the work once the text and illustrations are finished? 3. How do you get an ISBN and copyright? 4. How does distribution work? Can u choose where you distribute? 5. How many copies will be distributed? 6. How does profit work? 7. Where do you start? Do you know of good self publishing companies? Are there Jewish ones that I can submit to? Thanks!
DISCLAIMER: this post is really only about publishing children’s books with Jewish publishers. If you are looking to publish a book for the general public, then this post will probably not be helpful, as the process is often more complex.
Submitting Your Book to Jewish Publishers
For people like me who want to focus on their art (writing, illustrating) and not on the nitty-gritty business end of things, or who don’t have the funds to invest, you should submit your book to a publisher who will cover the costs of editing, printing, marketing, and distributing your book, as opposed to self-publishing. You may be paid an advance and/or earn royalties when the book starts selling.
It’s a good idea to do your homework first by reading the submission guidelines of various publishers, looking around their website, or browsing in your local book store to see what type of books are being published by which publishers.
Here is a list of the Jewish Publishers I know of, who publish books for children. If anyone want to add to the list, please leave a comment, and I will update it! If you click on any of these links, you will be taken to their Submissions Guidelines.
The ones with a star after them cater to the Orthodox community. The others have a broader Jewish readership (correct me if I’m wrong!). Some of these publishers accept very few children’s books manuscripts annually. Like I mentioned before, you should figure out which publishers would be the best fit for your book, rather than sending it out randomly.
Most publishers do not appreciate simultaneous submissions. This means send each manuscript to only one publisher at a time, and wait until you get a response before sending it to someone else. This can take a few weeks to a few months. If you don’t get any response after a couple weeks you can follow up just to make sure they received your submission.
Finding an Illustrator for your Children’s Book
Most publishers do not require that you submit illustrations with your book. Many do not even want you to, preferring to chose their own illustrator. Then there are some publishers that do require the author to hire their own illustrator. In this case you can include sample illustrations or a link to the artist’s portfolio. The author then has to pay the illustrator out of pocket, find a sponsor, or make some kind of deal with the artist, such as paying an advance (this means some money upfront- artists have bills to pay too!) and splitting royalties.
However, I have learned that even the publishers who do not request illustrations are open to receiving samples and suggestions. If there is an illustrator you admire or really want to have illustrate your book (ahem!) you should let the publisher know, and they may well agree to it.
Self-Publishing: I don’t have much information on self-publishing, other than the fact that is involves a big investment on the part of the author. The author finances the entire publishing process and works with the distributor. There is always an element of risk since you can’t be sure how well the book will sell. But if it does sell well, you make all the profit as opposed to just earning a small royalty.
Some publishers also offer joint-publishing, where the author and publisher share the costs involved.
Book size, Paper stock, ISBN, Copyrights, Distribution…. If you find a publisher to take on the costs of your book, they will deal with all this stuff. You can discuss everything with them (from my experience they’re all really lovely people and aim to please!) but they’ll probably have the final say. If you are self-publishing then, again, I’m not sure how it would work.
E-books: Not the topic of this post, but a whole new way of publishing that requires a minimum (if any) investment and can be accomplished in a fraction of the time it takes to publish a “real” book. And of course you don’t have to wait for an editor to accept your book!
Anyone out there who wants to share their experiences and advice would be very welcome. Thank you!