Kids + Teens

So, You’ve Written a Children’s Book…Now What?

As you may know, Chronicle Books is one of the few publishers to still accept unsolicited children’s book manuscripts from authors. We LOVE discovering debut authors and illustrators and cultivating them on our list. And some of our bestselling books have been found in our unsolicited mail bins! In fact, the text for Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, was an unsolicited submission by a previously unpublished writer—and it’s gone on to celebrate 3+ years on the New York Times bestseller list!

We receive about a thousand unsolicited children’s manuscripts every month, like the ones in the mail bins below. Every one of them is read by a children’s editor here, and I’m here to offer you some tips on how to make your manuscript stand out from the pack.

Mail bins of all the unsolicited children's books manuscripts at Chronicle Books

Before you submit your children’s project to Chronicle Books, I’d encourage you to immerse yourself in the industry, hone your craft, and do your research:

Immerse Yourself in the Industry

  1. Read books similar to the ones you are writing. Visit your local bookstore or library and surround yourself with children’s books for an entire afternoon. At least once a month. Make a point of reading up on the ALA award winners every year, so you know what is being recognized as the best in our field. For as Stephen King says in On Writing, “The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.”
  2. Get to know how the industry thinks by reading the bi-weekly Children’s Bookshelf updates from Publisher’s Weekly (ALL of us read them EVERY week, so it’s a great way to know what we’re thinking about at any given time!).

Hone Your Craft

Learn about the craft of writing!  And remember the power of revision before submitting to a publisher.

  1. As you get started in writing for children, you may be interested in joining SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You can attend their conferences to meet editors, agents, and fellow writers and to learn about craft. They can also help you find a critique group where you can workshop projects before you submit to a publisher.
  2. There are many great books on writing and illustrating books for children, but some favorites are: Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz, Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang, and Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl Klein.

Do Your Research

Do your homework!  Before submitting to publishers, research which publishers might be a good fit for your manuscript by visiting their website and immersing yourself in the books they publish.

  1. To find information on the submissions guidelines of children’s publishers and magazines (in addition to information on writing contests), reference the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (updated annually), stocked in most book stores.
  2. If you feel your work is a good fit for our list, please do submit your manuscript! The children’s submissions guidelines for Chronicle Books are listed on our website here.

So let’s say you submit your manuscript to us…what happens when your manuscript arrives at Chronicle Books? The children’s editors get cozy on the couches on our fourth floor once a month to review each submission. The submissions guidelines for the children’s publishing group are different than on the adult side, in part because of the volume of projects we receive. With this in mind, we cannot respond to every submission, as much as we might like to, as we wouldn’t have any time left for making books.

The Chronicle Books team of editors going through all the manuscripts in the slush bin

Here are a few easy tips (other than following our submissions guidelines!) to make sure your submission stands out from the hundreds of other submissions we’re reading:

  1. No “Dear Sirs”: Currently we have only one male editor on the children’s editorial team, and unfortunately he works remotely, so chances are your reader will be female. Relatedly, proofread for obvious typos and mistakes throughout, such as misspelling the name of an editor, the name of the company, or the name of one of our bestsellers.
  2. No Pet Photos: The most common submission we receive is a picture book featuring the author’s real-life pet or child, photographs included. Certainly we’re all encouraged to write what we know, and there are so many wonderful books out there about the lives of animals—Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes is a personal favorite. BUT, in general the illustrator should be free to interpret the protagonist as they see fit, without keeping to the exact freckle pattern in the photograph…and stories about specific pets or children also run the risk of having too small an audience. Writing about a fictional animal or child often frees up the writer to make the story more exciting, more universal. OF COURSE there are exceptions—such as the adorable dog, Boo. But unless your pet is really that cute, leave out the photos.
  3. No Adult Protagonists:  Sick Day for Amos McGee is one of my all-time favorite picture books, so there are obviously exceptions to this rule, but generally kids tend to read about books with protagonists who are just slightly older than they are. And adult protagonists often don’t feel concerned enough with the kid world for the stories to feel relevant. We also get a lot of submissions where the parent is the real protagonist of the story—the plot is about parental concerns, the parent is the one who has substantial character growth, and who performs all the problem-solving at the end. If there is a kid in the manuscript, they need to be the protagonist.
  4. No Need for “Gifts”: Reading submissions is our job! So there’s no need to send candy—especially unwrapped candy—along with your submission. Similarly, special packaging isn’t necessary. Keeping it simple shows you’re professional and likely well-versed in submitting to agents and publishers.
  5. On Mock-Ups: If you are submitting a novelty or gift project (such as an interactive board book), we do encourage you to create a dummy of your project to share how you envision the package functioning. However, if you’re submitting a text-only standard picture book, we don’t need art to visualize manuscript—for example, there’s no need to include Beatrix Potter’s rabbits to show what your rabbit protagonist could look like. We have lots of practice reading a text-only manuscript and then imagining how it would work visually. Just submit the text all on one page (DON’T submit it with one sentence per page). If you’re an illustrator as well as a writer and would like us to consider both art and text simultaneously, I’d encourage you to make it clear you’re willing to have someone else illustrate if that is in fact the case. We’d hate to decline a project just because we assumed you wouldn’t be willing to let someone else illustrate!

That was a lot of things you shouldn’t do, but what makes my heart glad when reading a submission? Here are just a few:

  • If you include great backmatter along with your submission (if relevant)! Award committees and teachers and librarians love nonfiction educational content at the back of books—and so do we.
  • If you reference some kind of research you’ve done for the book in your cover letter, showing you understand how seriously we take authenticity and accuracy.
  • If you mention how your submission ties in with the curriculum for the age group of your intended audience.
  • If you’re submitting a self-published project for our consideration and state in your cover letter that you’re open to revising—and hopefully even excited to dive in to the editorial process.
  • If it’s clear you know and adore Chronicle Books!

I hope this gives you a little checklist to follow as you write, revise, and submit your children’s manuscript. We’re looking forward to reading all of those great projects you’ve been working on!

As one of my mentors told me, getting published is a matter of time, persistence, and luck. And it’s really all about connecting with the right editor who both gets and adores your project. So, if your project isn’t the right fit for us here at Chronicle Books at this particular moment, I don’t want you to be discouraged. Give yourself a short break from it, then dust it off, revise, polish, workshop it at a conference or critique group, do some more research about what different editors and houses are looking for, and try again. And maybe next time will be magic.

Ariel Richardson
Assistant Editor, Children’s

NOTE: As of 1/6/17, Ariel is no longer answering questions in the comments section. Thank you for all your queries—we think that this blog post, combined with all of her previously answered comments, covers all the information you need in your journey to getting published. Best of luck from all of us here at Chronicle Books.

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178 Comments

  • Anjali December 17, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    As an unpublished author, I really value this post. Thanks for sharing your insight, Ariel. Would you recommend waiting the entirety of the six month period prior to submitting another manuscript to Chronicle Books?

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson February 24, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      I’m so glad. It’s up to you!

      Reply

    • ashley lyons February 6, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Hi I have a question!

      I’m currently started with and editor who is proofreading my children’s book. I’m confused on the next step after my book has been edit. I have googled searched and research this before and I wasn’t sure. Once the editing of my children’s book is completed. When do I hire and illustrator ? Do I submit my query letter and manuscript and the illustrative book together? Or do I just submit my query letter and manuscript to the agent ?

      Reply

      • Sugar Princess Wilson February 10, 2017 at 7:22 am

        Hey, Ashley.

        I just thought I’d just try and help you. ^_^ I’m not published yet, but I do know the answer to your question.
        Sometimes, the publisher gives you one of their illustrators to work with your book. ALTHOUGH, if there is a certain illustrator you want, tell the publisher and see what they say. If you have already asked a illustrator to work with you, then that’s fine; send a illustration or two (depends on what the publishers asks you to put in with submissions) along with your story. It all depends on what you want and what the publisher thinks.
        I hope this helps!

        P.S: I’m an illustrator and I know other artists. If you need anyone, I can help you. 🙂

        Reply

  • Juliana Lee December 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Wow! Wonderful information. Thank you so much.

    Reply

  • tinamcho December 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for a sneak peak into what goes on behind the scenes!

    Reply

  • Ana Crespo December 17, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Wonderful post! Thank you, Ariel. It is really nice to have a better understanding of what happens after a manuscript is received. I'm sure every writer wonders. I know I do. The funny thing is I think I see the bin where my manuscript is… Now I have butterflies in my stomach. Fingers crossed!

    Reply

  • Bob McMahon December 17, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    I find it strangely reassuring to see the bins of manuscripts and the actual Chronicle editors sitting reading the submissions. You never get to see that part of the process.
    Thank you for the submission tips, very helpful!

    Reply

  • Laura K. Aiken December 17, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Thank you. Great article and a much better understanding of the company.

    Reply

  • deborahholtwilliams December 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I love this post! Mailing off a story feels like giving away our baby to the gypsies. So nice to peek and see that they are read and discussed!

    Reply

  • Jarm Del Boccio December 17, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Very helpful advice. Thanks so much, Ariel!

    Reply

  • Cecilia Clark December 17, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Thank you Ariel Richardson, I shall go immerse myself in your company website and keep your suggestions firmly in mind.

    Reply

  • Mel Rosenberg December 17, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Thank you for this great article. Of the thousand unsolicited submissions per month, on average how many do you actually publish?

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson February 24, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      I don’t have an actual number for you, just because we don’t track it quite that way. But I can tell you that the New York Times bestseller Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site was unsolicited, as was the first YA novel Chronicle published, Blue Plate Special. And lots on the adult side, too–Zombies Hate Stuff, for example! We love finding and cultivating new talent, and we couldn’t do that without submisisons from people like you.

      Reply

  • Jackie Wellington December 17, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Thanks for the information, Ariel. This information would be great at the WOW Retreat. Perhaps, you can weave it into your presentation. Looking forward to seeing you again in July. I am going to revise my manuscript now. You will see it soon.

    Reply

  • Darshana December 18, 2014 at 6:55 am

    Excellent article Ariel! Hope your team finds some real gems this year. 🙂

    Reply

  • kathalsey December 18, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Ariel, thank you for this insightful post about the entire process. This post is blowing up on my FB writer groups! I love the epicure of you all sitting on the couches together. Yo look cozy and happy! Chronicle is a very special house.

    Reply

  • Janie Reinart December 18, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Ariel, love seeing everyone on the couches! Thank you for the tips. Happy reading!

    Reply

  • nick mackie December 18, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Excellent article – I'm hoping to send you a submission of my new book 'Eggie Boo' in 2015.

    Reply

  • Ariel Bernstein December 18, 2014 at 10:26 am

    So much helpful information in here! Thanks for posting!

    Reply

  • Leeann Zouras December 18, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Thank you for putting real-live people behind the Chronicle name. Happy Holidays!

    Reply

  • ManjuBeth December 19, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Ariel, Thank you for sharing your monthly reading sessions at Chronicle Books. Happy Holidays!

    Reply

  • Patti Richards December 19, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    This article was absolutely wonderful in so many ways and encouraging as well, mainly because of the concise, relevant advice. In my tenure as a Children's Department head in a very busy urban public library, I have tried my hand at writing picture book manuscripts; however, I often feel most at a loss when someone approaches me and asks "Can you help me get started in writing a book for children?" And, I am left with thinking…where do I begin?
    Ariel, I will definitely keep your article as a resource to share with those who have the hope and dream of becoming published, but have no idea where or how to begin the trek.

    Reply

  • Dionna December 21, 2014 at 3:30 am

    Very informative! Could you do a follow-up post on the acquisition process–what happens once an editor falls in love with a manuscript?

    Reply

  • Kathy Marker December 21, 2014 at 6:24 am

    Thank you so much for taking time to inform or remind us of what exactly we should be doing or not doing. I loved the pictures of the bins of mail and the editors doing their job; those plus the explanations make me feel as if I was on a partial tour of your publishing company. It motivates me to try harder to do better with my next story I send to you, so I can be a part of your family. Many of us DO appreciate that you accept unsolicited stories. Keep up the great work!

    Reply

  • Genevieve Petrillo December 21, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Why doesn't every publishing company that accepts unsolicited manuscropts do a post like this? I loved having a look inside Chonicle.

    Reply

  • Pam Vaughan December 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you Ariel! This post offered some great suggestions and reminders. Loved your group read session – hopefully you were all sipping some teavana chai as you read! Happy 2015! *Pam

    Reply

  • ssuehler December 27, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you so much for this post I hope to submit a manuscript to a publishing house soon. I just need to screw up some courage. Any ideas where I can find some? 😉 Wishing you all a happy healthy 2015. (P.S. People really send pictures of their kids or candy?!)

    Reply

  • Antoinette Griffin January 4, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks so much for this great advice. Very encouraging for a first time unpublished author.

    Reply

  • Judith Klausner January 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Loved reading about the unsolisited Manuscript. I have published before. I even went bezekt when, for the joy of writing something about the good people off Armonk, New York,I sent four articles to the" New York Times" and then kind of just forgot about them. I had fun writing my articles period. I received a phone call came early one Sunday morning from a friend who asked me if I read my article in the " New York Times:. I was flabbergasted, there it was, almost a whole page, illustrated and, in my eyes, a miracle. I wrote and send two more articles. They published two more of my " Hey, here's the way we live and act in Armonk, N.Y". All were humorous. Then the biggist surprise came in an envelope containing a thank you and eight hundred dollars!!!! True, amazing story. I remembered it when I received your comments on your taking a chance on reeling in a wonderful story just because somebody out in the writing world wanted to be heard just because…thanks from all of us who want to know if anything that they may have written years ago can stand the test of time and has been chosen to be heard because they want a miracle story to present to your professional editors, Who knows, maybe some very wise, editior will find a find something too to good to pass up.and it will be my new children's book called "What Would You Do."

    Reply

  • Teri Drobnick February 23, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks, Ariel, this information is so helpful. I am a newbie in the field of picture books and am attempting to absorb everything I can. I will be attending the Big Sur Conference in March, so hope to meet you then!
    Teri

    Reply

  • Tara Powers April 12, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks, Ariel, for this helpful post. I am preparing to start the querying/submissions process, and I need all the advice I can get. I do have a question, and it may seem silly, but it is something I’ve been wondering about while reading various submission guidelines. Some sites ask for the first three chapters, while other sites ask for three sample chapters. If the latter, should you send in three non-consecutive chapters that highlight different parts of the story? Or should you always send in the first three?

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson April 13, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Hi Tara,
      Great question. Although either is acceptable, I find the first three chapters most helpful because they’re a great introduction to the world of the novel. If you send later chapters or non-consecutive chapters it’s easier for your reader to feel lost…
      Wishing you the best of luck!

      Reply

      • Tara Powers April 13, 2015 at 3:55 pm

        Thanks so much for your help! Your advice makes a lot of sense. I’m new to the world of writing, and as I research and read I often come up with more questions than answers. I appreciate your insight. Thanks again!

        Reply

  • Sibba Hartunian May 16, 2015 at 7:22 am

    What a wonderful and encouraging post! Thank you for giving us a sneak peak. I had a question about addressing submission envelopes – can you address them to a particular editor in the department whose taste you feel most aligns with yours, or should it just be to the submissions department? Thanks again!

    -Sibba

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson May 18, 2015 at 10:21 am

      I’m so glad it’s helpful!
      People do address submissions to particular editors frequently, and you’re welcome to do so as well, but I’m afraid it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the one to review the submission. If you have an established relationship with the editor or if you met them at a conference, then they’d review directly. But if not, it could be reviewed by any one of us. If we read a submission and think another editor might respond to it we’ll of course share it with them for consideration. But otherwise the editor who reviews does so on behalf of the department as a whole.
      Great question–thanks!
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Tamanie Dove June 16, 2015 at 5:38 am

    I am an unpublished author and just wrote my first manuscript for a children’s book. I found your blog when searching what to do next, and found it very interesting and helpful. My next question is how, and where do I submit my manuscript for your review? Thanks in advance for your help.

    Reply

  • Danielle Orkin June 24, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Hi there

    Thanks for the extra info and tips. I have a question for you.

    Would you take a submission of a book that has been placed on the iStore as an iPad storybook app. The book app has won a Momschoiceaward and Parentschoiceaward in app format.
    It is a storybook based on the imagination, creative development and the art technique of collage (activity book).

    However, the downloads have been insignificant.
    I believe this is because of a lack of marketing budget.

    Please advise.

    Kind Regards
    Danielle
    South Africa

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson June 24, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      Hi Danielle,
      Yes, we’d be happy to see something on submission that has been an app or e-book. I’d recommend just being clear in your cover letter about whether you’re willing to make editorial changes and also whether you’re interested in print or digital publishing (or both) with us here at Chronicle Books.
      Best,
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Lise Saunders June 29, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    I heard on the rumor mill that submissions are best sent in January… Is there any merit to this?

    Reply

  • Ariel Richardson June 30, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    What a fascinating rumor! I can’t think of any reason why that would be.
    Time of year can have an impact on agented submissions, since we do have particularly busy times of year. But for unsolicited submissions we meet at the same time every month, for the same amount of time every month, and so the time of year shouldn’t make a difference. Also keep in mind that submissions sent in January hypothetically may not be reviewed until June (given that we allow six months for review).
    Hope that helps!
    Ariel

    Reply

  • Sibba July 15, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Hi Ariel,

    One more question! I submitted a dummy and sample art to a few publishers (including chronicle) and just found out that some of my work is going to be featured in my favorite magazine, Uppercase! I was just wondering if publishing sample art for a picture book you are trying to get published is a problem for book publishers or not. If it is, I could send the magazine different work. Thank you!

    -Sibba

    Reply

    • Melissa Manlove July 15, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Hi Sibba!
      I’m replying for Ariel, who is on vacation.
      Congratulations! Uppercase is supercool and we love them.
      Here’s the thing to bear in mind, though: if you want your book considered for awards (like the Caldecott, eg), you can’t have published any part of it previously. That can become an issue for a prospective publisher, too, who may be frustrated to find out that you’ve made your book ineligible for award consideration.
      Naturally the decision is still up to you, but if you do publish part of your book ahead of the rest of it, you should disclose that in any cover letters to agents and editors.
      Good luck!

      Reply

      • Sibba July 16, 2015 at 4:25 pm

        Hi! Thank you so much for your response – I’m a big fan of your picture book biographies! In that case I will definitely send them other work instead.

        -Sibba

        Reply

  • Greg July 24, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Ariel,

    Thanks for the article. Question, can I have multiple submissions? I have 4 manuscripts I’m working on right now. Can I submit all as they are ready?

    Really appreciate the insight

    Greg

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson July 27, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      Yep! Go for it. The only thing we discourage is sending the same manuscript over and over again, especially without revision between mailings. As you can imagine, it’s noticeable when we get the same manuscript five times in one week.
      Thanks!
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Marianne McShane August 11, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Hello Ariel,

    Thanks for such an informative and encouraging article. I especially loved the photos – so reassuring to see the manuscripts stored in the bins while waiting to be read at the monthly readings. I’m about to submit a picture book manuscript, revised, tweaked and polished. But I have one question. In your guidelines you said, “No Dear Sirs.” To whom then should I address my cover letter? Is Dear Editor too anonymous? Should I address it to you personally, even though another editor may be the one to pull it out of the bin?

    Thanks for any advice.

    Marianne

    Reply

  • Helene McLaughlin August 17, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Hi Ariel,
    I have my own artwork that goes with a specific type of journal that I have created. I need to present the idea along with my art. Do you suggust I send some page examples? I’m concerned that the publisher can just take my idea , use another illustrator and I’ll have nothing to do with the project.
    Any suggestions?

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson November 24, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      Hi Helene,
      We love journals here at Chronicle!
      Yes, I’d recommend including sample pages. If you’re open to having the concept illustrated by someone else, or alternately if you’re open to illustrating another project with us, I’d recommend saying those things in the cover letter. Otherwise we generally assume that they’re being submitted as a pair.
      We’re conscientious about reviewing submissions here at Chronicle, and I want to assure you that we would never steal an idea. Most often we’re paying someone for the execution of a project, but we do pay people for ideas as well. If we love the idea, but the execution doesn’t feel quite right for Chronicle’s list, we’d pay you for the idea and assuming you agreed, we’d then hire someone else to execute it. And if your project is similar to a project already in development here (since some ideas are just timely and that does happen now and then), we’ll be sure to tell you.
      I hope that helps!
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Erin August 23, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for the great tips, Ariel.

    We’re told what we shouldn’t do, so it’s helpful to see what we should do as well. Plus, it’s encouraging to see that editors actually read our submissions.

    I tweeted your article to my UCSD Children’s Book Writing classmates!

    Erin

    Reply

  • Gabriel Pacheco September 4, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Great advice! Quick question, if I’m writing a cover letter, on the last paragraph, should that be a bio or could I talk about what inspired me to write the manuscript?

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson September 4, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Either! I know here are formulas out there for cover letters, but I really don’t think they need to be formulaic. I’d encourage you to include whatever you think will be most relevant to us as we think about positioning for the book. If you’re an educator and this is a super institutional title, you may want to mention that. If you’ve worked at NASA and you’re writing about space exploration, definitely mention that. If you learned about your subject on a trip and used primary sources for your research, definitely say so. So either / both are great!

      Reply

  • Gabriel Pacheco September 8, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks. If I want to publish a picture book, could I send the cover letter with the manuscript, or send the cover letter, then(if exepted) send the manuscript?

    Reply

  • Ariel Richardson October 12, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Hi Gabriel,
    I’d recommend sending a cover letter and manuscript. Technically you’re welcome to send a query letter instead, but especially with picture books it just makes more sense to send the whole thing!
    Thanks,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • Helena Juhasz October 20, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Hi Ariel,

    Thank you for this very informative post!

    How does Chronicle feel about an illustrator-writer posting work in progress on social media or sample art on one’s personal website before submitting a project? Would that be considered published?

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson October 20, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      My honest answer is I don’t know how award committees view social media. Certainly artists post illustrations in their online portfolios all the time before publication, so my guess is you’d be okay. Here’s what the Caldecott criteria has to say on this topic:
      “The term “original work” may have several meanings. For purposes of these awards, it is defined as follows: “Original work” means that the illustrations were created by this artist and no one else. Further, “original work” means that the illustrations are presented here for the first time and have not been previously published elsewhere in this or any other form. Illustrations reprinted or compiled from other sources are not eligible.”

      Reply

  • Cherie Miller October 24, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    I know a couple people who published through you and the quality of their books is excellent. How would I go about submitting my work?

    Reply

  • Jessica Franklin October 26, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Hello Ariel,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughtful insights! It’s a breath of fresh air to see an editor at a highly reputable publishing company that is helping unknown authors rather than pushing them away.
    I’m wondering if finding an agent to submit my work to you would make a difference? Are submissions from agents viewed in the same time frame as manuscripts sent without an agent?

    Many thanks!

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson October 26, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Jessica!
      As you know, we remain committed to reading and publishing unsolicited submissions, so you don’t need an agent to submit to us here at Chronicle Books! We review unsolicited submissions within six months and generally respond only if interested, whereas with agented submissions we’re ideally reviewing in a shorter length of time and responding personally to every submission. And agented submissions are tailored to one editor, whereas any of the children’s editors here could read an unsolicited submission. But if you want to get to know the editors here or if you want to submit directly to one of us without an agent, I’d recommend attending a conference where one of us is speaking as you’ll get a “free pass” to our inbox as a result!
      I hope that helps. All my best,
      Ariel

      Reply

      • Jessica Franklin October 27, 2015 at 2:25 pm

        Thank you for your helpful response! I did some poking around on the internet and saw that you will be speaking next month at a conference in PA. Unfortunately though, I won’t be able to attend, but would like to plan for the next one! Nevertheless, I’m sending in my submission today!

        Reply

      • Judy Cooper February 29, 2016 at 4:14 pm

        Hi Ariel, I echo all the previous comments about how terrific your article is. I’m also so impressed and pleased to see how you kindly reply to all the questions posed here. How would one go about finding which conferences the Chronicle Kids editors would be attending? I have previously attended the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference held in the New York City area. Any chance that a Chronicle editor might be attending this particular conference?http://www.21cnfc.com/

        Reply

        • Ariel March 1, 2016 at 2:23 pm

          Thanks so much, Judy.
          I don’t believe any of us are attending that conference! I’m afraid there isn’t a single place where you can see where we’re scheduled to speak. Most of the time we’re listed as faculty on a conference website, though.
          Here are a few upcoming appearances: Melissa Manlove will be attending the Andrea Brown Literary Big Sur conference this weekend, and the Wild Wild Midwest conference in April. I’ll be giving a KidLit College webinar at the end of March.
          Have a great time in New York!
          All my best,
          Ariel

          Reply

  • Sarah November 21, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Great info! By far the best publishing house!

    Reply

  • Ariel Richardson November 23, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Aw! Thanks so much, Sarah.

    Reply

  • Matt January 13, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Ariel. Happy New Year! I was wondering if you have any preferences regarding style and format for submissions. I’ve just rewritten the synopsis for my middle-grade story and it’s one full page – single spaced. I know that many publishers have traditionally requested double spacing and a standard font like Times New Roman. What do you guys like to see? Many thanks for such a great article!

    Reply

  • Ariel January 14, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the note! So glad it was helpful.
    For the manuscript we do generally prefer it to be double spaced and an easily legible font like Times New Roman. But I personally wouldn’t mind a single spaced synopsis, since it’s so short. But we don’t have an official policy!
    In the end the formatting matters much less than the content of the manuscript!
    Wishing you the best of luck,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • Lori January 18, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Hi! Thanks for the info! I just wrote a children’s book and would like to see it published but I need some mentoring! Does a manuscript need the pictures or does th publishing company do pictures?

    Reply

    • Ariel January 19, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      Hi Lori,
      If you’re an illustrator you’re welcome to submit your manuscript with your own illustrations. Otherwise, the publisher will find an illustrator they adore (and think you’ll adore too) who can do justice to your beautiful manuscript.
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Gabriel Jensen January 19, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    None of the guides or blogs answer the question of whether to break text-only submissions into separate pages or keep it on one page. So thanks for that.

    Reply

    • Jenna Homen January 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Hi Gabriel! Actually, in tip #5, Ariel says to “just submit the text all on one page (DON’T submit it with one sentence per page).” Hope this helps you.

      -Jenna, Community Manager at Chronicle Books

      Reply

  • Sarah January 30, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    This article, along with the comments and responses, has been invaluable. Thank you so much! Putting my short manuscript in the mail this week 🙂

    Reply

  • Ariel February 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks so much, Garland and Sarah!

    Reply

  • leonard r griffin February 4, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    I’m reaching out one more time. I have Children’s stories that have impressed several Publishing companies. But everybody wants money. I’m retired from accident in 2008 and living on SSI. Which just pays my monthly bills. I have Six stories that have been typed up to read, and over One Hundred more to finish typing. I also have dozens of short version movie scripts, and over 150 love poems. If your company has the ability to take a story have it edited and published, and has no costs to me. Please let me know. I have so many stories to offer. I would be happy to get 10% royalty. Leonard r Griffin 636-734-7441.

    Reply

  • Ariel February 5, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Hi Leonard,
    Thanks for writing. I’m sorry to hear about your accident, and love that you’ve been writing so prolifically. We never charge authors to publish their work, and I’m delighted to invite you to submit to us here at Chronicle Books by following our submission guidelines, which you can find here:
    http://www.chroniclebooks.com/our-company/submissions/childrens
    Or here:
    http://www.chroniclebooks.com/adult-trade
    Wishing you all the best,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • Itunu February 16, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Hello, thanks for the detailed explanation. it is answered a lot of questions I have had concerning unsolicited submissions. I have one more question though. Can I send manuscripts from Nigeria?

    Reply

  • Ariel February 16, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Hi Itunu,
    I’m so glad to hear it. And yes, we welcome international manuscripts! We’ll look forward to reviewing it when it’s ready.
    Ariel

    Reply

  • tina wissner February 17, 2016 at 10:16 am

    If the content of a manuscript is Highly Commercial, how should an author present merchandizing ideas in a query.

    Reply

  • Ariel February 18, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    You’re welcome to include merchandising ideas in your cover letter. But I wouldn’t devote too much space to it–your main goal is for us to fall in love with the project you’re submitting! And additional ideas for sequels, merchandising, etc., can always be developed later.
    All my best,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • kelly March 8, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you for this article. I have read through the comments and read your submission guidelines. I have one question. I have written a book targeting pre-k. You said not to send a manuscript with one line on each page. My manuscript has about 2-6 lines on each page. Should those pages be individual or do you prefer to have it all typed together with breaks for the pages?

    Reply

  • Ariel March 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Hi Kelly,
    So glad it’s been helpful!
    Good question. If you google “how to paginate a picture book” you’ll find lots of great resources, from Tara Lazar to Editorial Anonymous to Underdown. My favorite is Uri Shulevtiz’s book, Writing with Pictures.
    If you want to paginate the manuscript before you submit it, you’re welcome to do so. You’d just add the page numbers in brackets, like this:

    [4-5]
    Text tbd

    [6-7]
    Text tbd

    But it should all be in one continuous word document without excess spacing between lines. There are lots of reasons for this, from allowing us to read the manuscript as one cohesive whole to saving trees.
    Wishing you the best of luck,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • Allison Shillingford March 13, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Hello Ariel,
    My name is Allison Shillingford and I submitted a children’s book titled “10 Little Grapes” on September 23, 2015. I forgot to include a self addressed stamp postcard. Is there a way to find out if my manuscript has been read? Thanks so much.
    Allison Shillingford

    Reply

  • Ariel March 15, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Allison,
    So glad you submitted to us! As you know, we receive about a thousand children’s submissions a month. Given the volume, I’m afraid there’s no easy way to track or confirm your submission. However, you’re always welcome to resubmit it! And as always, we’ll be in touch within six months if we’re interested in pursuing the project.
    Wishing you the best of luck,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • Rodman Lok March 23, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    “The Children’s editors get cozy on the couches on our fourth floor once a month to review each submission.”
    That means five editors to read a thousand submission in one day?
    It’s a very hard work ,I appreciate that~
    Happy Easter~

    Reply

  • Mimi April 10, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Hi Ariel,
    Wow you are so helpful and kind to encourage novice writers like me to send our manuscripts your way, as well as answer all of our many questions! I know you mentioned that we’d hear within 6 months if there is interest, but typically how long does it take for a manuscript to get read by one of you after it’s been received? Also, do you decide right after reading it if it is a yes or a no? Or is there a maybe pile that gets addressed multiple times? Just curious the “life” the manuscript lives once it enters Chronicle’s doors, since I submitted “Boo Boo Builders” early March 2016 and wonder what it has been going through. Thanks!! 🙂

    Reply

    • Ariel April 12, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Mimi,
      What a sweet question! Well, how long it takes for us to look at a manuscript depends on how many manuscripts we’re getting and how behind we are. Sometimes we’re reviewing manuscripts that just came in the month before, and sometimes we’re reviewing manuscripts that came in five months before. Perhaps average is somewhere in the middle?
      We try to make a decision on the spot about a manuscript, spending as much time as we need to in the moment to come to a thoughtful conclusion. But there’s usually at least one, and sometimes several, projects from every session that seem like they have potential, and we take those away to think about further at a later time.
      Hope that helps!
      Ariel

      Reply

      • Mimi April 13, 2016 at 7:57 am

        That helps so much Ariel! Thank you for the insight into your very busy, (but probably fun, and interesting) job. I can just imagine all of the books waiting in those boxes, really hoping they leave a lasting impression when it is their turn to shine :). Hope my book is seen to have potential. Thank you for taking the time to answer all of our questions. Best of luck with all of your decisions!

        Reply

  • Rodman Lok April 12, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Hi Ariel

    If I finished a 30 pages illustrated children book and I want to submit to Chronicle Books, should I send the whole 30 pages story or part of it ? Can you give me any suggestion? Thank you~

    Reply

  • Lei April 14, 2016 at 7:43 am

    This article is really helpful to those authors/writers who are planning to submit their unsolicited children’s manuscript. I agree on what you said about doing a research first on which publishers might be a good fit for the manuscript. It is very essential to know if the publisher might be interested or not. Great help Ariel!

    Reply

  • Terri DeGezelle April 30, 2016 at 4:53 am

    Very well said. Thank you for giving us a peek into your world. I feel my MS would be in good hands of I submit to Chronicle Books.

    Reply

  • Ariel May 2, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    I’m glad! Thanks so much, Lei and Terri!

    Reply

  • Stephanie P. Van Horn June 17, 2016 at 6:49 am

    Thank you for such detailed insight! It is nice to see where a piece of my heart lands!
    Much continued success to all of you.

    Reply

  • Debbie Teague June 25, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Dear Ariel and Team;
    thank you so much for this very informative blog and the brief glimpse into your work days. Chronicle has published many wonderful books. I am a new e-book author but will be submitting a manuscript to your company next week for a printed children’s book (I’m thinking spiral bound so children (and their parents) can flip through to the page they would like. I have some followers on Amazon and am looking forward to working with Chronicle. Thanks again and have a blessed day.

    Reply

  • Michelle Maddox July 15, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Ariel and the Chronicle Team,

    Thank you for this blog! After sending off two unsolicited children’s books to numerous publishers, this is very insightful information! (Especially…Dear Sir..)

    I appreciate you and the time you took to write this for all the aspiring writers out here!

    Reply

  • Greg Romero July 22, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Dear Ariel and Chronicle Staff,

    First let me also thank you for writing this wonderfully helpful article, and for your graciousness in answering all of these follow-up questions.

    I have read through everything, and I am left with one question that I don’t think has been addressed yet: can you share your thoughts on receiving submissions that are going to multiple publishers (i.e. an author sends a manuscript to you as well as several others at the same time)?

    I have read that this kind of multiple submission is sometimes “frowned upon” by editors. Do you mind me asking if that is true?

    Thank you again for all you are doing,

    Greg Romero

    Reply

  • Ariel July 25, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Hi Greg,
    Thanks so much for the kind words!
    Good question. We don’t frown on multiple submissions in the least. We know that it takes us some time to review, and we know you may want to pursue multiple avenues to publication. And I’d say the vast majority of submissions we receive are multiple submissions.
    Two related cautionary notes: sometimes when people submit to multiple publishers they mix up our names–so do keep a close eye on that. We also hope authors will do a little research about our list, and what might be a good fit, rather than doing a blanket mailing to dozens of publishers.
    Hope that helps!
    All my best,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • Greg Romero July 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Ariel, thank you so much for this thoughtful reply. I appreciate all the extra effort you are putting into your work here.

    And I look forward to submitting my writing very soon!

    Have a lovely day!

    Reply

  • Rebecca August 1, 2016 at 2:40 am

    If you do not chose the manuscript do you send it back?

    Reply

  • Ariel August 1, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Hi Rebecca,
    We don’t return submissions, I’m afraid. The volume would be too overwhelming. We’ll respond within 6 months if we’re interested, however. You can read our complete submissions guidelines here!:
    http://www.chroniclebooks.com/our-company/submissions/childrens
    http://www.chroniclebooks.com/adult-trade
    All my best,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • Kimberly Sciortino August 6, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Hi Ariel,
    First of all, great article!
    It was extremely informative… but most of all, I appreciate how you made the process seem “more human”. I loved seeing all of the editors relaxing on the couch while reading all the submissions!
    What I enjoyed most is just how kind you are with all of your responses, along with how thorough each of your replies are. One thing I am constantly telling my students is the importance of putting positive energy out into the world, and how positive energy will come back to you.
    I have been a Special Education Teacher for over 12 years and I incorporate chapter books, picture books, poetry, etc. into my curriculum every single day. My students love when I read and I adore seeing them get so much joy out of it.
    I have just started my journey as a Children’s Book Writer and am trying to learn as much as I possibly can. I was hoping you could answer a couple of questions…
    I have written 2 picture books [that are complete- and more on the way]. One is a picture book dummy and the other is just a written manuscript.
    1. I would submit them separately, correct?
    2. What are the guidelines on picture book dummies as far as format? Can I just color copy the complete book on regular copy paper? Would I just submit the entire book in a regular manila folder?
    Thanks again for such a great article,
    Kim

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson August 8, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Kim,
      What a sweet note–thank you! Sounds like you’re an incredible teacher. Thank YOU for introducing your kids to wonderful children’s literature. And I’m so glad you’ve begun writing yourself as well.
      Good questions. It’s up to you whether you want to submit the two projects in the same envelope or not, actually. And for the dummy, yes, I definitely recommend photocopying since we don’t return materials. It’s up to you whether you want to staple / bind it or submit it flat–either is fine. And then, yes, send it along in a manila folder (you can put a piece of cardboard inside if you don’t want it to bend).
      Wishing you the very best of luck!!
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Kimberly Sciortino August 8, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks for the reply, Ariel!

    I wrote a children’s book as my final project for a Motivation of Students course and the professor actually urged me to submit it to a publisher. Just trying to read as many articles as I can about the whole process. I tweaked, revised, tweaked it some more… and when I thought I was done… revised again!
    But, once I was done… I was asking myself, “Now what?” I have all summer… so, the next book is about diversity. Being in the schools around elementary students made me realize how important it is to start THAT conversation and to encourage children to appreciate those differences around us.

    I will be sending my picture book dummy out tomorrow. It will be a simultaneous submission [which I did note in my query letter since you noted that].

    I am sending both manuscripts to Chronicle Books tomorrow with Attention to your name. I know you said if we send it to a particular editor that it might not be read by the editor you sent it to. Is this because whatever submission an editor picks up from the bin they read or is it that certain editors read books about certain themes/ categories?

    Perhaps one of my manuscripts will be a good fit!
    [p.s. I did not include any candy in the envelope. I laughed out loud when I read that. Does that really happen??? Odd.]

    Have a great week,
    Kim

    Reply

  • Melissa Dyanne Bartlett August 22, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Hi Ariel:

    Great post, thank you for outlining all these steps and information so clearly!

    I actually have a question that relates more to the illustration end of things. I am a professional painter that would like to illustrate children’s books as well. I illustrated a children’s book for a friend, and honestly have no idea what they will do with it (most likely just sharing with friends and family), but I have the rights to all my images and would like to shop them around. Would it be best for me to submit the drawings with the text? Just the drawings? The story I illustrated isn’t too precious (another writer could take it over if they like the idea).

    I considered cleaning up the text so I could submit a whole book, but it is making illustrations what I am most passionate about, so I figure edits and re-writes of the story might be a waste of time. What sort of package would you suggest I send? How best should I get my foot in the door in this sense?

    Many thanks in advance, any bit of advice is appreciated!

    All best,
    Melissa

    Reply

    • Ariel August 24, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Hi Melissa,
      If you and the author wanted to submit the book as a whole to us together, please do so! Otherwise I’d suggest sending art samples in following the portfolio submission guidelines: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/submissions. That way we can keep you in mind as an illustrator for future projects.
      Hope that helps!
      All my best,
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Marc August 31, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Hi Ariel,

    Do you accept manuscripts for children’s books without illustrations? Or do you only accept material that contains both the story and the accompanying artwork?

    Thank you,
    Marc

    Reply

  • Fulla September 7, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Hi Ariel,

    Thanks for all the tips and words of encouragement. Very sweet of you as they’re a much-needed boost for us on this side of the publishing business.

    I have one question for you: Do you accept submissions from outside of the US, in particular, South Africa?

    Have a great day,
    Fulla

    Reply

  • Ariel September 7, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Fulla,
    Yes! We’re always delighted to see international submissions. Please do send it along,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • My September 11, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Hi Ariel!

    I’m torn as to whether I should submit a manuscript or a picture book dummy. I imagine that a manuscript gives the illustrator creative freedom. However, a dummy helps the reader visualize the story. I know you mentioned that editors are well versed in reading text only and illustrations are unnecessary. However, does a good dummy provide an edge over a good manuscript?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this comment =)
    My.

    Reply

    • Ariel September 14, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      Hi My,
      Two questions for you: Do you envision illustrating the project yourself? And does your project have any novelty elements (like flaps, die-cuts, touch-and-feel, etc.)? If the answer is no to both, then there’s no need to send a dummy. If the answer is yes to either, you may want to consider sending a dummy since it will help us envision either the final art or the final format.
      Hope that helps!
      All my best,
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Karen September 13, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Hi Ariel,

    I am extremely new to the world of children’s writing (2 days to be exact!). I have created a tactile interactive book aimed towards pre-school aged children (and when I say created I literally bought material and glued it onto pages in a craft book!). Most publishing sites I have been on have asked for email submissions – how do I achieve this? With submissions rarely being sent back I am hesitant to post my ‘one and only’. Would photos be acceptable?

    Cheers,

    Karen

    Reply

    • Ariel September 14, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      I love that you created a mock-up! That will help you think through all kinds of important things, like page turns, novelty elements, the visuals, etc.
      I’ve seen people photograph each page of the their mock-up and then string the photographs together in one pdfs, so it’s easy to flip through digitally. If you do have novelty elements you could take one photograph with a flap in one position, and another with the flap in a different position, so your reader can envision how it functions.
      Alternately you could create a simplified mock-up to send out–you could photocopy your current mock-up, for example. Or, you could just submit a manuscript with illustration / novelty notes in brackets if you don’t envision illustrating it yourself.
      Hope that helps! Best of luck,
      Ariel

      Reply

      • Karen September 16, 2016 at 5:07 pm

        Ariel,

        Thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply to my post. I love that you posted a blog almost 2yrs ago and are still receiving comments on it 🙂
        Thanks for the advice on forming my submission – who knows, I may send one your way!

        Cheers again,

        Karen

        Reply

  • Ellie October 5, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Thank you for this post. It’s very helpful (and so are all these comments).

    Question: I self-published a children’s book last month and sent one copy to Chronicle Books. I printed 700 copies to sell/donate. Would Chronicle be interested in a book that I’ve already printed? I would like to write more books and would like for this book to “go further”.

    Thank you,
    Ellie

    Reply

    • Ariel October 17, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Ellie,
      We do consider self-published books, so feel free to send it along. However, please be clear in your cover letter about whether you’re open to editorial development.
      Best of luck!
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Ingrid Boydston October 15, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Dear Ariel,
    Thank you for your helpful post! I first read it about 2 years ago and have now checked most of suggestions off my “To do” list. One thing I have not been able to discover; to whom do I address my submission at Chronicle? Simply “Dear Chronicle Editors” I see Victoria Rock is listed as Editor-At-Large and Founding Publisher, Children’s Division. Or should I address my submission to you? Many thanks!
    Ingrid Boydston

    Reply

    • Ariel October 17, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Hi Ingrid,
      You can address it to whomever you like! Victoria and I both read the manuscripts that come through, as do the other editors. You’re welcome to address it to “Chronicle editors” generally as you suggest. I’d just avoid “Dear Sirs”!
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Tish McFadden October 18, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Hi Ariel,

    I am in San Francisco from time to time. I am curious if it is acceptable to hand-deliver a manuscript, if people are welcome to walk into Chronicle Books, or if I could ever make an appointment to talk with a children’s book editor face to face.

    Thanks for the enlightening blog! Your replies are delightful and supportive!

    Tish

    Reply

  • Ariel October 20, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Hi Tish,
    What a nice thought. I’m afraid the volume of submissions is such that we aren’t able to meet with people one-on-one on a regular basis. Oh, how I wish we could meet with everyone as Ursula Nordstrom once did! But, we’d LOVE for you to come and visit one of our beautiful bookstores in San Francisco! It’s a great way to get a sense of what we publish here at Chronicle, and get excited about what’s new. And sometimes people hand deliver manuscripts to the front desk in the bookstore in our lobby–you’re very welcome to do so as well!
    All my best,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • Tish McFadden October 21, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Thank you very much Ariel. I’m delighted to hear about visiting Chronicle bookstores in San Francisco, and also the bookstore in your lobby. How wonderful! I will make a point of it next visit.
    Warmest regards,
    Tish

    Reply

  • Brooke P October 23, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Hi Ariel,

    Really enjoyed reading this, thanks for sharing!
    What happens to the manuscripts that are rejected? Are they shredded and thrown out? Is there any type of rights that writers have?
    Thank you!

    Reply

    • Ariel October 25, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Hi Brooke,
      The manuscripts are recycled. I’m not certain what rights you’re thinking of–if you mean copyright, or intellectual property rights, yes, authors have that from the moment they write something down. The expression of their ideas is protected by law as soon as it is given physicality (whether as words on a page or as bytes in computer memory).
      Best of luck,
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Katrina October 30, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Thank you so much Ariel! I have a question regarding submission. I’ve written a series of children’s picture books about one character. Should I submit all of them at the same time? They are pretty short!

    Reply

    • Ariel October 31, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Hi Katrina,
      You’re welcome to send multiple, but I’d recommend making book #1 the strongest it can be, since most publishers would sign up the first book and see how it performs before investing in a more significant publishing program. Though of course series potential can be a great selling point!
      All my best,
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Jenna November 7, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Hello Ariel,

    It’s been wonderful to read all of these questions and answers from the past two years! Thank you for continuing to answer them!

    I have been working on short rhyming pieces, and I originally planned on using them for a collection of stories. I grew up loving Shel Silverstein, and his collections of poems. I would love to do something along those lines. Should I submit a complete collection, or only a few pieces?

    Also, I wouldn’t be opposed to using a single pieces as the text for a picture book, instead of in the collection. Is this something I should mention in the cover letter?

    Thank you again!

    Reply

    • Ariel November 8, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      Hi Jenna,
      I grew up on Shel Silverstein too! I’d recommend submitting as many polished poems as you can for a collection–of course some will likely be cut or added during the development process, but seeing them together allows the editor to get a sense of what it could shape up to be. But, I’d definitely recommend saying you’re open to shaping one poem in to a picture book manuscript. Generally speaking picture books have stronger sales than poetry collections.
      Wishing you the best of luck with them!
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Sharon Stohler November 9, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Hi Ariel,
    Thank you so much for your instructions in this blog post. They were quite instructive as I worked through the process of submitting my picture book biography.

    As an experienced classroom teacher, I use picture book biographies every week, and have included extension activities, both in my submission and on my developing website.

    I noticed that the Chronicle site has some Common Core suggestions for a couple of biographies. I’m wondering if you would ever have an interest in extension activities or other lesson plans where I might assist in developing Common Core lessons?

    Thank you again for your time.
    Warmly,
    Sharon

    Reply

  • Ariel November 9, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Hi Sharon,
    Yes, we do hire experienced teachers to generate curriculum material from time to time! Sounds like you’d be great at it.
    Best,
    Ariel

    Reply

  • Chad Jackson November 12, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Hi, my name is Chad Jackson and I have written my first children’s book and now I am stuck and don’t know what to do. Do I just print it and send it to Chronicle Books? I need some guidance on how to do this.

    Reply

  • Tish McFadden November 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Ariel,
    I submitted a manuscript to Chronicle in early October. My self-addressed stamped postcard was returned to me in five days, letting me know it was received. In late October I submitted a second manuscript. I haven’t received that return postcard. Would you suggest I resend the second manuscript? I suppose things do get lost in the mail from time to time.
    Thanks for your guidance.
    Tish

    Reply

    • Ariel December 2, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Tish,
      Sometimes we get behind on opening mail, so the fact that you haven’t received your post card yet doesn’t necessarily mean that your manuscript has been lost! You’re welcome to resend it anytime. But I’d recommend waiting the six months to see if you receive it in that time period. If not, definitely resend.
      All my best,
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Ram November 30, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Hi there Ariel!

    I just stumbled upon the “Chronicle Books” website in my search for a well-renowned publisher and I wanted to reach out to you with a quick question: I just finished writing my first 3 children’s books (all belonging to the same series), so would you recommend that I send all 3 to “Chronicle Books” together as a part of the submission process, or would it be more preferable for me to send each one separately?

    Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing back!

    Sincerely,

    Ram

    Reply

    • Ariel December 2, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      Hi Ram,
      You’re welcome to do either! Publishers are most likely to acquire one and see how it performs before acquiring the rest, so I’d recommend investing the most time in the first book–workshopping, revising, getting it critiqued, revising again–and then sending that one in, while saying in your cover letter that it has series potential or that you’ve written additional manuscripts. But either is acceptable.
      Best of luck!
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Charity miller January 5, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    I have a.childrens book that I want publish.

    Reply

  • srividhya venkatesan January 11, 2017 at 3:05 am

    The article is really useful for budding writers. I have a query. If the book has just a couple of words on each page along with illustrations, then how should the manuscript be submitted. Is there any particular format for the same. Thank you in advance!

    Reply

  • Sue Scrase January 17, 2017 at 4:50 am

    Please find attached my work for your consideration – many thanks
    Sue Scrase

    Reply

  • anna wang January 23, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you for this post!

    My idea is the first in a series of maybe 20+ books.
    would it be a stronger submission if i included the manuscripts for 2-3 picture books? or does it not really matter?

    thanks!
    anna

    Reply

  • Nancy Minchella January 29, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Hi Ariel,
    I enjoyed reading your informative and encouraging article and your kind and helpful answers to reader’s questions.
    I loved the picture of the editors reading manuscripts – gives submitting a more personal touch.
    I’m encouraged to send my latest PB manuscript to you tomorrow.
    Thanks so much,

    Nancy

    Reply

  • Steve Keefe January 30, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Ariel,

    Thanks for the post!

    I’ve already submitted my story and am hopeful that it will eventually be a Chronicle title. That being said, I am heading down the path of self-publishing. Given that I’d eventually like to publish with Chronicle, does it matter from a Chronicle perspective whether I use the Self Publishing Platforms ISBN (Createspace in this case) or purchase a Universal ISBN.

    Thanks,
    Steve

    Reply

    • Ariel January 31, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Steve,
      It doesn’t matter to us here at Chronicle which ISBN you publish under, since a Chronicle book would receive it’s own ISBN (ISBNs are for editions rather than titles). However, if you think your project stands a chance of receiving any of the ALA awards, the publisher would be less likely to pick the book up after it’s been self-published since the book is only eligible for the award in the year it’s first published.
      Hope that helps!
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Violet Nye January 31, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Hi Ariel,

    Thank you so much for your post. I’m grateful for your encouragement and support. I’m looking forward to submitting my children’s book manuscript soon and potentially having the opportunity to work with you and your colleagues.

    Warmly,
    Violet

    Reply

  • Marty Lapointe-Malchik February 2, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Thank you, Ariel. I appreciate this informative post and Q & A. It’s great that Chronicle is accepting unsolicited manuscripts. I love the commitment you have to unagented authors.

    You mentioned that illustration notes, novelty descriptions, and pagination are all acceptable to include. For ease of reading the text do you prefer an additional copy without any notation whatsoever?

    Would it be pertinent to include having been published in Highlights/High Five in the cover letter?

    Best,
    Marty

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson February 3, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Marty,
      Thank you–I’m so glad to hear!
      You’re very welcome to mention places you’ve published before, like Highlights, in the cover letter. But, as always, invest the most time and effort in the manuscript itself.
      You’re also welcome to include two versions of your manuscript. But ideally your illustration notes, etc. wouldn’t be so long or obtrusive that they interfere with the reading experience. Keep them short! Another way to go about it would be to include one short paragraph at the start of your manuscript describing your vision for the illustrations (really only relevant if the illustrations contradict the text) or novelty elements. Or, include a blank mock-up of the novelty elements if it’s a novelty book!
      Hope that helps.
      All my best,
      Ariel

      Reply

  • Dave February 5, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Great and extremely beneficial information Ariel , Thank You !
    As a retired Art Instructor and now a Freelance Illustrator , I have both a children’s picture book drafted and I am also interested in producing children’s coloring books . Does your company publish coloring books , and if so what would recommend to me as submission guideline best practices?
    Any advice will be most appreciated and welcome !
    Best regards ,
    Dave

    Reply

  • Marty Lapointe-Malchik February 7, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Thank you for responding to my questions, Ariel!

    Reply

  • Ashley lyons February 13, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Ok thank you much !
    Take Care
    AShley

    Reply

  • Sharon March 3, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Thank you for this informative post. I have a question regarding author/illustrators wanting to do a book together. Is it possible to send in a manuscript with pictures? If so, what format would be best? Thank you

    Reply

  • Heather March 5, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    I return to this post again and again. It feels so ‘human’ compared to most of the very formal ‘submissions’ guidance on other publisher websites.
    I have a question – I always submit to my top publishers first. Should I really wait a full 6 months before moving to round two, or is it safe to assume after 2 or 3 that my manuscript is likely not being pursued? If it genuinely takes 6 months to get to everything, then I’d rather wait it out. But, if there is a limited chance after a few months that mine has been selected, I’d love to move on to round two of submissions.

    Reply

    • Ariel Richardson March 15, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      Thank you for the kind note, Heather!
      Yes, it often does take us the full six months to review manuscripts, since we have a backlog that we’re working through. It’s up to you, though, whether you want to submit to other publishers simultaneously! It’s fine with us if you do.
      Wishing you all the best,
      Ariel

      Reply

      • Heather March 16, 2017 at 10:22 pm

        Thanks Ariel! I’m happy to hear that and will keep my fingers crossed for now. I’d rather wait it out in hopes of working with a publisher that truly appreciates us non-represented, non-published beginners, than rush into something else.

        Reply

  • Heather March 24, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Hi Ariel – I have another question. (sorry!) Is it bad form to submit a second manuscript before I have heard anything on the first/before the 6 months are up?

    Reply

  • Noor H. Dee April 19, 2017 at 2:28 am

    Thank you so much, Ariel. I’am a children’s book editor too and live in Indonesia. This article is helping me so much.

    Noor H. Dee

    Reply

  • allyson smith April 21, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Are you still accepting picture book submissions?

    Reply

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