Publishing children's books is big business. Many children's books, such as "Charlotte's Web" and the classic "Black Beauty," continue to sell long after the books were first released. Publishing a children's book takes more than a good story. To be a successful author, you must research your audience, as well as learn how to format and submit a book, and fulfill a publisher's requirements.
Read and Learn
Read children's books, including classics. Read the books that schools and libraries purchase. Read the books written for the age of children you wish to reach. Reading helps you know whether your story rehashes a book already published or fills a void in the marketplace. Learn the age-related categories, starting with picture books, chapter books and books for elementary children, tweens and young adults. The age of the child you are writing for will dictate plot and word choice.
Write and Format
Once you have your story on paper, you can rewrite and rework it until it conveys what you wish to share. After you've have revised and refined your book, format it in proper style for submission. Different publishers have their own formatting peculiarities, yet it is important to prepare your story in proper basic style. Market guides such as the "Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market" and books on writing such as "How To Write and Illustrate Children's Books and Get Them Published" as well as online sources provide directions for basic formatting style.
Critiques and Attitude
Seek feedback and critiques not just from those you know will love your work, but also from those who offer real insight and suggestions. An unwillingness to rewrite decreases your chances of publishing your children's book. Join a local and/or online writers' group, preferably one with authors familiar with children's publishing.
Study Market Guides
Market books such as "Writer's Market" and magazines such as "The Writer's Digest" list publishers and basic requirements. Look for them at your library or subscribe to "Writer's Market" online. Mine these resources for possible markets for your children's book. Study these guidelines to figure out where to send your manuscript and how to format your manuscript for a particular publisher. While your story needs to fit the publisher's criteria, from the guidelines offered, look for the best "fit" for your book.
Attend conferences that focus on writing for children, marketing and children's publishers. Check your local writer's groups and universities for applicable conferences. Join the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and attend their conferences. Conferences are good places to network with other authors, talk to agents and meet with editors. Put together a one-page proposal with your heading, book title and name, a short teaser about the book with your goals for the book and a biographical paragraph of why you are qualified to write this book.
Submissions and Patience
Choose a publisher. You may even have a green light from an editor you met at a conference. Put together exactly what the editor tells you to send --- no more and no less. Send it by the method the editor prefers. This may be via regular mail, email or with a special submission page on the publisher's website.
Wait for a reply. Do not approach the editor with a call or email until at least two months have passed, and then only to ask about the status of your work. If rejected, fine-tune your story and try another children's book publisher.