Hooboy! There are so many ways these days to publish a children's book.
Let’s start with the traditional route which, yes, is harder to crack. But you’ll have a heckuva better shot if you are taking it seriously. What does that mean? It means you need to learn the business and take time to hone your craft. You really ought to read and study a ton of books in your genre. You need to learn from groups and memberships that can help you, get critiques, and know your way around a story. Getting in without an agent is harder these days, and if you only have one manuscript done, there probably won’t be much interest. This is their business and they want to know you’re interested in a career, not just dabbling with a single idea.
But there are ways to catch they eye of a traditional publisher. What is a traditional publisher? My books have been traditionally published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) (my first publisher was Harcourt before they merged). HarperCollins is another example, and S&S. A traditional publisher can be small or large, but one thing they all have in common is that they do not charge you to publish you.
Research Publishing Houses
If you pursue the traditional route, the first thing you need to do is to decide which publishing houses are worth pursuing. One thing you need to know is to whom you’re submitting. Every editor doesn’t work with every kind of children’s book. Some only edit young adult (YA) books, and others focus on picture books. Some edit a variety. So you don’t want to submit a picture book to a YA editor. It will make it obvious you haven’t done your due diligence. There are a number of different children's publishing houses, and you can choose which one to submit to by checking their website.
Once you have narrowed down the publishing companies, look on their site to find out whether they’re accepting unsolicited manuscripts. All this means is you do need to understand the business in order to get a children's book published.
Should I Self-Publish a Children’s Book?
On the other hand, if you would like more ownership and control over the publishing process, you may consider self-publishing. Don’t assume that self-publishing your children’s book will save you money, however. In fact, it will cost you more because if you do it right, you will hire a professional editor, copyeditor, and proof-reader and professional illustrator. Not doing it right means that you should expect bad reviews, and bad reviews kill sales.
If you plan to self-publish a children's book, you will need to decide how you want to publish it. Are you going to publish your book yourself or to try to get published by a hybrid publisher? If you go the POD, or Print On Demand route, say, via Amazon’s POD platform, called KDP or Kindle Direct Publishing, you need to do your research on how to do it. I advise studying Dave Chesson’s site. Dave’s known as the Kindlepreneur, and he knows his stuff. Do your due diligence and your research on all your options, then decide which one makes more sense for you.
Publishing a children's book yourself is definitely one way to go, but as I said above, you need to commit to publishing it right. Again, that means finding an editor, a copyeditor, and a proofreader. If you’re publishing a picture book, you’ll need to hire an illustrator or become partners with one. With the right knowledge, printing company (whether Amazon or elsewhere) and, most importantly, the right support team, you can publish a children's book on your own. That being said, you should be aware that self-publishing a children’s book involves more than just throwing together a manuscript and trying to find an audience for it.
If you’re interested in the first step to learning whether your story is working, or even if you just want to have a community of support, take a look at my membership, The Writers’ Block.