Nancy's Books

Monday, December 18, 2017

How to Get Published, Condensed Version

At almost every book signing, someone tells me s/he is writing a children’s book and asks how to get it published. The question seems simple, but the answer is extremely complicated, much too complicated to answer in a short discussion. I usually refer the writer to Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market because it is a comprehensive book with how-to information and contains a listing of publishers with submission guidelines. I still use this book as a source, but one of several sources. 

As with many occupations, writing involves a period of practice and growth, so give yourself time to hone those skills and learn the craft. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to read lots of books in the genre in which you write. If you are primarily interested in picture books, go to your local library and choose those that have been written in the past five years. Read a minimum of 100. Yes, you read that number correctly. I’ve read thousands. In the last six weeks, I’ve read over 100, some more than once to analyze the structures or word choices.  

Attend writing workshops and conferences to learn the basic mechanics of writing.  

So now you’ve read, read, read and attended workshops. It’s time to practice. Write. Write. Write. Reading, workshops, and writing serve as the three best ways to an apprenticeship, a learning period. 

If you don’t have the means to attend conferences and workshops, check out free online courses. They pop up all the time. Writing newsletters offer excellent guidance. Books on the writing process are probably at your local library or bookstore. Read them. Study them. 

Join a local writers’ group, if possible. Every member benefits from the collective knowledge. After all, you’ll keep learning long after your first book is published. An apprenticeship is a lifelong adventure for a writer.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Stone Soup welcomes submissions by children aged 13 and younger. Now we are a digital magazine, we no longer have a limit on the length of a story. However, we find that we tend to gravitate toward shorter stories. While we may publish one 10-page story in an issue of Stone Soup, most of the stories we publish are shorter, between 1,000 and 2,000 words (4 to 8 pages).

There is no minimum length—we have published stories that are less than a page!

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

CICADA is a YA lit/comics magazine fascinated with the lyric and strange and committed to work that speaks to teens’ truths. We publish poetry, realistic and genre fic, essay, and comics by adults and teens. (We are also inordinately fond of Viking jokes.) Our readers are smart and curious; submissions are invited but not required to engage young adult themes. CICADA does not distribute theme lists for upcoming issues.

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at

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