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How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author

If you choose traditional publishing, it’s essential to understand how publishers discover picture book authors.

Publishers employ various methods to discover talented authors who can craft the perfect combination of narrative and imagery for picture books. These books demand a unique style of writing that marries a captivating plot with visually appealing illustrations. To find new picture book authors, publishers use the following strategies:

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author

Literary Agents:

Literary agents are an essential resource for publishers seeking new authors in various genres, including picture books. They facilitate the connection between writers and publishing houses, making their role integral to the industry. Finding an agent specializing in this area is crucial in children’s literature. They possess established relationships with publishers and a comprehensive understanding of the market’s needs and trends.

Searching for agents who specialize in representing children’s literature, especially picture books, is essential. Fortunately, there are several resources available that can help you in your search. One option is to use literary agent directories, websites, and databases. Some helpful websites include QueryTracker, Manuscript Wish List (MSWL), Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR), Publishers Marketplace, and Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents. Utilizing these resources increases your chances of finding a literary agent who fits your book.

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author

Unsolicited Manuscripts:

Publishers may offer a chance for authors to submit unsolicited manuscripts. For picture books, the submission usually comprises only the manuscript text. However, authors can include a portfolio or examples of illustrations from an illustrator along with the text.

To find publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts for picture books, we suggest visiting the individual publisher’s website. For up-to-date information, you can also use resources such as Writer’s Market, Manuscript Wish List, or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author

Art Showcases:

Publishers attend art and illustration showcases to discover new talented picture book authors and illustrators. They look for artists whose style matches their stories, seeking to keep up with the latest trends in the industry. By frequently attending these showcases, which include book fairs and exhibitions, publishers can identify gifted artists who can bring their stories to life.

Besides discovering new talents, publishers establish enduring partnerships with illustrators by attending these events. These include the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, SCBWI Conferences, New York Comic Con, and the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition. Other noteworthy events are the Emerging Artists Showcase, BookExpo, and the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Society of Illustrators Los Angeles (SILA) Illustration West Exhibition and Illustration and Design Conferences are popular among industry professionals. Finally, there are a variety of online platforms available for illustrators to showcase their work, including Behance, Instagram, and others.

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author

Contest Sponsors

Publishers sponsor or take picture book writing and illustration to meet their needs. These competitions allow authors and illustrators to showcase their creativity and talent and gain industry experts’ attention. This increases their chances of succeeding in the publishing industry.

Publishers sponsor various contests that are popular among aspiring authors and illustrators. For instance, the Tomie dePaola Illustration Contest, Lee & Low New Voices Award, and Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are well-known competitions. Similarly, Penguin Random House’s The Night of Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books, Highlights Magazine Fiction Contest, and Little Brown Books for Young Reader Emerging Artist Award attract many participants. Additionally, HarperCollins Children’s Books Greenhouse Funny Prize, Creative Writing Institute’s Writing Contest for Kids, and Writing with Pictures Contest by The Children’s Book Academy are other options for those hoping to showcase their skills in writing or illustrating. Finally, the Kidlit411 Banner Contest is yet another contest that may interest aspiring authors and illustrators.

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author


Publishers commonly pair new writers with seasoned artists or vice versa in collaborative endeavors. This practice allows for merging original and distinctive perspectives with adept creative abilities, resulting in an active and riveting outcome. Ultimately, this strategy has the potential to mesmerize a broader readership.

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author

Social Media Presence

Picture book authors and illustrators use online platforms and social media to showcase their work. They often maintain profiles on websites and portfolio sites and a powerful presence on social media. Publishers have taken notice of this trend and may actively search for talented author-illustrators on these platforms, particularly those with a significant following.

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author

Book Events

Events held in educational establishments, libraries, or bookshops, such as workshops, school visits, and talks by authors and illustrators, provide publishers an excellent opportunity to uncover new talent. By interacting with aspiring authors and observing their work during these events, publishers can scout for potential picture book authors. Aspiring authors should use these occasions to showcase their skills and connect with publishers actively seeking new talent. Therefore, participating in such events is crucial for authors to increase their chances of being discovered by publishers.

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author

Past Relationship

After an author or illustrator has succeeded with their first published picture book, they can establish a strong relationship with their publisher. This connection can lead to future book deals, as a successful partnership in publishing can serve as a basis for continued collaboration.

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author


Publishers benefit from recommendations from various trusted sources, such as authors, illustrators, agents, editors, and other professionals in the industry. Word-of-mouth recommendations are still a potent tool for discovering talented creators.

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author

Active Sourcing

Publishers of picture books have recognized the significance of diversity and inclusivity in children’s literature. So, they are proactively searching for authors and illustrators from diverse backgrounds who can offer new perspectives to their book collections. They root this approach in an appreciation for diverse voices and a determination to enhance representation and inclusivity in children’s literature.

How Do Publishers Find Their Next Successful Picture Book Author

Self-publishing Success

Publishers may occasionally monitor self-published writers who have achieved success. A publisher may approach an author proposal for traditional publishing; if their self-published picture book gains significant traction, achieves remarkable sales figures, and earns favorable feedback.

To succeed as a picture book writer, you must hone your storytelling skills and deeply understand the format and target audience. Collaborating effectively with illustrators is essential if you’re not responsible for the illustrations. Building a solid social media presence and participating in relevant events can increase your visibility and catch the eye of publishers in the picture book market. By following these guidelines and incorporating the 12 Important Elements That Will Make Your Picture Book Memorable, you can increase your chances of success as a picture book author.


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