Resources for Writers

Are you an aspiring picture book author and don’t know where to start? Or maybe you have started, but are feeling overwhelmed by all there is to learn about craft and the industry? Well, believe me, I’ve been there and I SEE YOU!

The hard truth: getting a book traditionally published is not as easy as some people think. I’ve been writing picture books and poetry for children in earnest since 2016, and it took submitting dozens of manuscripts to both agents and editors for FOUR YEARS (collecting HUNDREDS of rejections along the way) before I sold my first book in 2020. It was another TWO YEARS before that book (Brainstorm!) finally hit bookshelves in 2022. Believe it or not, this is relatively speedy. I have MANY author friends for whom getting their first book deal took much longer.

I tell you this not to scare you, but to set realistic expectations. The road to publication is paved with patience and persistence, and you will absolutely hit many potholes along the way.  But if you’re willing to do the work, you WILL reach your destination. As I once heard author Lesleá Newman say: “100% of published authors were once unpublished.” That’s FACTS!

My best advice? Read TONS of picture books, listen to podcasts, attend webinars/workshops/classes, and find a great critique group. Below are some resources to get you started on your journey.

One quick thing, if you are saying to yourself: “But I don’t really want to be a full-time author, I just want to publish this ONE book,” then self-publishing is probably the way to go. The majority of traditional publishers will only accept submissions from agents, and in order to find an agent to represent you, you typically need to have at least 3-5 polished saleable manuscripts. I don’t know much about self-publishing, but here is a great article by Jane Friedman that can help you determine which path to publication is right for you: The Key Book Publishing Paths: 2023-2024.

Books To Read

Classes/Workshops to Take & Conferences To Attend

Organizations To Join

  • The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) (Paid)
  • 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge  (Paid) – I’ve been a member of 12×12 for 7 years. This is a FANTASTIC community of picture book authors that offers a wonderful forum and very active FB page that is closed to agents and editors and thus is a safe space for asking questions about the industry. Plus, a great forum where you can post your work for feedback, monthly webinars, and much more. Opens to new members in Jan and Feb only.
  • Inked Voices, offers critique groups, webinars, and other programming (Paid)
  • KidLit 411A great monthly newsletter and Facebook Group (FREE)

Blogs/Newsletters to Subscribe To

Podcasts to Listen To

(available wherever you listen to podcasts)

Articles/Blog Posts to Read

Other Websites to Consult

  • The Author’s Guild offers tons of FREE resources and webinars, including a Model Trade Book Contract, which is very helpful for knowing what is normal or not normal in publishing contracts. There is also a membership tier which comes with legal help with contracts which can be helpful if you don’t yet have an agent.
  • Manuscript Wishlist: Here you can research agents who may have a particular interest in the types of books you are writing.
  • The Director of Literary Agents: This is a pretty extensive directory. However, make sure to check out the agency website and individual agents to be sure they represent what you write before querying.
  • Edelweiss: This site includes all the publishers’ catalogs. You can create an account for free. Many listings include several interior spreads and sometimes even the entire ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). Great for studying new or upcoming books as mentor texts or comparison titles to your works-in-progress.

Rebecca’s Newsletter Archive

Every month in my newsletter I offer advice and tips I’ve learned along the way in my writing journey. Like what you see here? Then, please…