Publishing Tips & Resources –

FREE SHIPPING on all U.S. orders over $35!

Tips and Resources on Becoming a Children's Book Author and/or Illustrator

I'm frequently asked about how to get into the children's book business. Here are some resources, tips, and organizations that can help you along on your path to publication. I will be continually updating this page with more resources as I gather them. 

How I Became an Illustrator:

How my You Are My Cupcake came to be:

My Process:

Pre-Recorded Webinar of Me Talking About Creating Books for the Youngest of Readers (requires a fee to access):

It's VERY important to familiarize yourself with what’s already out there in the marketplace which you can find out by spending time at the bookstore or children’s section of the library and just reading a lot in the genre you are interested in pursuing. Pay close attention to which publishing houses publish what, length of books, word count, and themes. Look at how the illustrations and the text work with each other. Study the rhythm, the page turns, the characters, and emotions.

WRITERS, do not have your manuscripts illustrated (unless you are illustrating it yourself). Editors at publishing companies prefer to match illustrators with manuscripts that they acquire. Sending your manuscript with illustrations can hurt your chances of being published. It won’t help, and it’s a waste of your and your illustrator’s time, which can be particularly awkward if the illustrator is someone you know. Most publishing companies these days do not accept unsolicited manuscripts so your next step after completing a manuscript (ideally a few manuscripts) is to look for a literary agent. Agents can help you polish a manuscript before sending it out, they can offer career advice, negotiate contracts to get you the best offer possible, and just help you navigate the complex world of publishing. Publishing houses also usually give agent submissions priority.

ILLUSTRATORS, work on creating a portfolio of work that look like they belong in children’s books so there should be some sequential images, animal characters, children characters etc. Tailor your portfolio for children’s books. You do not need to necessarily have your own stories to get published as an illustrator. Publishing companies often receive manuscripts that need to be matched with an illustrator. Many well-known author/illustrators started out only illustrating books before they published their own story. If you both write and illustrate, create a book dummy (scroll to the bottom of this page for web resources on creating a book dummy) entirely of sketches with 2-3 finished art pieces which you can show to editors or agents. Some ways to get your work out there is participating in portfolio showcases offered at SCBWI conferences where portfolios are put on display and judged by a panel of top professionals, sending out postcards regularly to editors and art directors, and maintaining active social media accounts where you regularly post your work. Finding a literary agent to help you is also another option and if you do get an offer to illustrate a book, I would recommend that you go into it with an agent.


Consider joining the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators organization. Look up your regional chapter and find out what events are coming up. You will learn a lot about publishing, meet guest editors, agents, and art directors and learn more about the craft of writing/illustrating. Some conferences even offer one-on-one manuscript and portfolio critiques with a guest editor, agent or art director for an additional fee. I've attended many SCBWI conferences and workshops since 2010 and not only have I learned so much about the industry but I have made many great friends along the way. I have never been part of a critique group but I have many author friends who felt like being part of a critique group was an integral part of their path to publication. SCBWI can also help you find a critique group in your area. 

Rutgers University Council On Children's Literature
An annual conference called the One-On-One Plus Conference where attendees are paired with experienced authors, illustrators, editors, art directors or agents. There is an application process to attend and acceptance is based on the strength and quality of the applicant's work. 

Kweli Color of Children's Literature Conference 
A hybrid conference held both in-person in New York City and virtually that offers an excellent opportunity for Indigenous and POC writers and illustrators to learn, get inspired, and network with others in the industry. 


Highlights Foundation 
A retreat center located in Milanville, Pennsylvania offering craft and community through workshops, courses, and peer retreats (both online and in-person) covering a wide range of topics for both aspiring and published authors and illustrators. Workshops are led by editors, authors, art directors, publishers, agents, academics, and others who are there to help you realize your creative goals. Also, the food is AMAZING. :)

The Writing Barn
A writing center founded by author Bethany Hegedus in Austin, Texas, offering a variety of in-person and virtual workshops, events, and retreats facilitated by local and visiting authors.

A retreat center founded and run by author-illustrator Sophie Blackall and playwright Ed Schmidt in the West Catskills of New York state offering workshop retreats, peer retreats, and self-catered residencies.


Storyteller Academy
Founded by author-illustrator Arree Chung. Online courses and coaching programs that help aspiring authors and illustrators learn the art of storytelling and get published.

Make Art That Sells
Five-week online course about illustrating children's books created by agent Lilla Rogers. You’ll create a complete pitch presentation ready to send to publishers and art directors, including a front cover and more.


Founded by author Tara Lazar and is a free month-long online story brainstorming event for picture book writers. The Storystorm challenge is to create 30 story ideas in 30 days. Daily posts by authors, illustrators, editors and other publishing professionals will help inspire you. Tara's website also offers a lot of tips, interviews, and resources related to writing picture books.

Founded by author Julie Hedlund where you can join 1000+ authors and illustrators in a 24×7, 365-day online writing community where you’ll get the support, motivation, accountability, and education to write your picture books.


The Book: Essential Guide to Publishing for Children
SCBWI publishes a comprehensive guide for members that contains information about writing and illustrating for the children’s book market. Includes the latest market reports, articles on social media, discussions on independent publishing options, and up-to-the-minute directories of everything from agent and book reviewer directories to current list of bloggers, reviewers, grants, and awards.

The Children's Writers & illustrator's Market 
A comprehensive publishing guide for anyone who wants to write or illustrate for kids and young adults. Inside you'll find more than 500 listings for children's book markets (US, Canadian and international publishers; literary agents; magazines; conferences; and contests) including contact names, how to properly submit your work, and what categories each market accepts. Also includes interviews with authors and illustrators and informative articles.


SCBWI Discussion Boards 
A message board for writers and illustrators of children's literature, published and pre-published, as well as editors, agents, librarians, and others who are interested in sharing information about books and stories for children of all ages, from toddlers to teens. 

The Purple Crayon
Created by children's book editor Harold Underdown, this website provides lots of general information for those new to children's book writing, illustrating, marketing, and publishing. 

Picture Book Creation
Author/Illustrator Debbie Ohi provides an in-depth guide, free templates, and resources on creating picture books. Her website in general is also full of information and resources.

Josh Funk's Guide to Writing Picture Books
Author Josh Funk offers tips and resources for writing picture books.

Created by author Elaine Kiely Kearns and author-illustrator Sylvia Liu, this website provides articles, resources, author/illustrator spotlights, and manuscript/portfolio swap opportunities.

Kidlit Social (no longer active but episodes are archived here)
Presented by Children's Book Insider. Video interviews with kidlit's top authors, editors, agents, and publishing professionals.

The Children's Book Podcast (no longer active but episodes are archived here)
A weekly podcast, created and hosted by elementary school librarian and author Matthew Winner, featuring interviews with authors, illustrators, and everyone involved in taking a book from drawing board to bookshelf.

Book Friends Forever Podcast
Weekly podcast created and hosted by two of children's publishing's top professionals, editor-in-chief at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Alvina Ling, and author-illustrator Grace Lin.

Kidlit Happy Hour
Weekly podcast created and hosted by children's book authors Joanna Ho and Caroline Kusin Pritchard where they take a deep dive into discussions about all things storytelling - the craft, the industry, and the creative life - with fellow kidlit authors, publishing professionals, and folks outside the publishing world.


I don't provide manuscript critiques, however, the following are published authors and freelance editors, who I know personally or have come recommended to me, who do:

Jen Bonnell:
Alli Brydon:
Marcie Colleen:
Emma Dryden:
Catherine Frank:
Harold Underdown:


I have never self-published a book so I don't have any personal insight to offer in that regard but there is a lot out there written about this topic including this article written by Harold Underdown: SCBWI has also, in recent years, been offering more resources and information about self-publishing.