No Agent? No Problem!
**Publishers accepting children’s books, updated 8/23/23**
Eager to submit your children’s book but don’t have an agent (yet)? Finding publishers accepting children’s books from unagented writers is no easy task! But not impossible. I know because I’ve been doing it awhile, having authored 16 books so far without an agent. I’m now actively pursuing one, given the tighter and more competitive climate, but am still pitching solo. Many other kidlit authors/illustrators that are staying commando too. Wait, I mean rogue. Agentless? You know what I mean.
As I get ready to submit my next round of picture books, I see more and more publishers that USED to be open to submissions are either closed and now agent only, are at capacity and temporarily closed until further notice, or sadly have shuttered down completely. Some have been bought out by larger houses so their policies have changed, some are simply catching up from the constant influx of subs and are temporarily overwhelmed.
What that means to me is that aaalll those great lists of picture book publishers I’ve bookmarked and found sooo helpful are now outdated. It’s frustrating to have to re-research every link. You feel my pain, I know you do.
Share, share, that’s fair
Since I’ve been living this research for the past six months (years?), I’m sharing with you all the current info on open publishing houses that I have garnered. My hope is you won’t pull out as much hair as I have (and perhaps spew fewer bad words). I’ve spent hours/days/weeks on this list, and I hope you find it as helpful a resource as I do. I refer to it constantly.
You’ll notice many are small presses–but by no means lesser. (It makes sense, right? Larger houses are more well-known so more people submit to them, almost forcing them to go agent only. There are only so many hours in a day to open pitch emails.)
I found over 60–strike that–now over 100!!–open presses, listed below. I tried to include a little detail on each, to avoid you getting excited and clicking the link only to find out they don’t want what you’re having. And okay, sure, maybe the detail is there to remind ME all that stuff so I’m not re-clicking every two days…
I’ve only included mainstream traditional houses, mainly based in the U.S., with the thought they offer the greatest chance of acceptance. But there are several houses in London/UK and Australia.
I found and included some presses that are BRAND NEW, and several that are not found in anyone else’s list.
If they publish specific-ish yet still wider sweeping topics, like “science and math” or “the general Southern region” I kept them, since there are plenty of ways that can go.
I added a section at the bottom for open houses are closed per se but have a specific open window each year. By all means, let me know if you hear of any other new windows, or houses. You guys have been great giving me heads up on changes.
Who’s NOT included?
Niche (open) houses such as those accept only stories about folklore or agriculture, specific religion or culture, for example, aren’t listed since you’ll want/need to do your own targeted research on those.
Any press that felt too small is not included. For example, ones with 1-2 book titles a year or handful of books total, felt too focused on one author/illo, haven’t posted a new release in the past few years, or hasn’t recently updated their website. I figured odds were suuuper low there. Don’t we want the best odds?
I purposely did not include any hybrid publishers as that’s a whole other kettle o’ fish.
It’s kind of an opinion-based fact list
Please know it is not 100% comprehensive, it’s just my personal research. It’s not a slight to any house not listed; it’s simply ROI/math as I know how hard it is to put yourself out there. Again, remember this started as a list for where MY books might fit best so my research wasn’t all-encompassing at the time.
I base the “small, medium, large” assessment on the number of new or upcoming releases they have noted on their website. I could be way wrong; your (and their) interpretation of what makes a small/med/large house may vary. Unless it’s wording from their website, it’s an (ok, my) opinion based on hasty-gathered facts, that I compared to other houses or on what I could asses from their “new releases” section.
I have no connection to these publishers, or their stated/pasted content.
LIST OF OVER **100** CHILDREN’S BOOK PUBLISHERS ACCEPTING UNSOLICITED PB MANUSCRIPTS DIRECTLY FROM AUTHORS (AND ILLUSTRATORS)
Original post June 28, 2022; Current as of Aug 23, 2023 (that is, as current as I could get it), with MANY revisions in the meantime. >>Any entry with >> means an update, addition, or change since the last biggest rev of July 22, 2023.
In alphabetical order:
Albert Whitman: Large press, independently owned since 1919. “Together, we can … promote empathy, inclusion, and personal responsibility. We can help children become global citizens, ones who seek to understand themselves and the world around them.” Known for Boxcar Children series. Follow stated guidelines closely. PB for ages 1-8, up to 1,000 words. Also MG and YA F.
Andrews McMeel Kids: Very large press, 150/year; 1-2 PBs/years but heavier on CB series (Big Nate, Creepy Cafetorium), MG, GN, YA and NF. About 10-20% Work for Hire (lots of licensing titles). Submit a proposal online via their website form.
Annick Press**: Small to medium sized; of 18 new releases in 2022, about 50% PBs. “The picture books that excite us most combine original ideas with strong storytelling and inherent appeal for kids. We prefer child-centered stories that tap into deeper issues and emotions, conveying poignant messages without being didactic.” Prefers PBs under 1,000 words.
Arbordale Publishing: Small indy publisher focused on science and math, accepting subs only from those living in U.S. Must have back matter and Common Core connection. PBs up to 1,000 words (prob not including back matter). See link for specifics on topics they want (including science, engineering math) and don’t want (such as COVID, counting, rhyme, bios, pet books, holiday…and more).
Bala Kids: This imprint of independent Shambhala Publications, distributed through Penguin Random House. It’s for ages 0-8, “dedicated to encouraging the values of wisdom and compassion for children of all ages with books on Buddhism, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and more.” Looks like only a few kidlits a year. Def make sure yours fits in before submitting; I wouldn’t cast a wide net here.
becker&mayer! kids: This Quarto imprint “publishes innovatively designed books and kits” with “humorous, culturally significant, and licensed content.” ALSO there are other Quarto kidlit imprints accepting subs: Francis Lincoln Children’s Books, Happy Yak, Ivy Kids, QED, Wide-Eyed Editions, and words & pictures. They are all based in London so I’ve no idea the odds of acceptance from US. Make sure you know which imprint you are submitting to, based on the kinds of books each one publishes. (Ask yourself where yours fit best, for example. Don’t send a NF to one focused on creative fiction. Find the one that has books similar to yours.)
Blue Dot Kids: Small press (10/year) for ages 0-12. A science and environment house (hence “blue dot”). It’s focused on the “appreciation of nature, conservation, environmental stewardship, science … [as well as] social/emotional learning: empathy, resilience, emotional intelligence, creative problem solving.” NF has to have a curriculum tie in. Board books accepted. No fantasy or YA.
Bulooga Books: Brand new small press for “young readers” [no age specified]. An imprint of brand new Marble Press (listed below)–see their main page for more info and sub guidelines. “The company plans to publish several children’s books in its first year and expand quickly from there.” No Bulooga-specific website exists yet (that I’ve found).
Can you believe we’re already at 20 children’s book publishers, and only in the “B”s?
Caterpillar Books: Newish small press started in 2022, a “clean” MG and YA imprint of Monarch Educational Services (which started in 2021). Fantasy, horror, romance, and more, with a CB series beginning 2023. Does accept PB author/illustrator subs (not one or other, only if you’re both). Suggest messaging via social media since no contact info given.
Charlesbridge: Large publisher, BB to YA, includes F and NF. Early Readers too. “We believe that books for children should offer accurate information, promote a positive worldview, and embrace a child’s innate sense of wonder and fun.” Looks for “new voices, new visions, and new directions.” NF tends to focus on nature, science, math, social studies, bios, history, and the arts. No ABC, coloring, activity or novelty books. Email subs only.
>>Charlesbridge Moves: Brand new CB and MG imprint from Charlesbridge. Previously Move Books, acquired April 2023. Editor Eileen Robinson remains. Website states “adventure, science-fiction, fantasy, historical and realistic fiction, mystery, and humor … especially with boys and reluctant readers.” Also accepting verse and graphic novels. No submission details given yet, but assume will be same as Charlesbridge.
Cherry Lake Publishing: This large house has five large imprints. Their Sleeping Bear Press (called out below) alone had 31 PB releases in 2022, including bios and fiction. Cherry Lake Press itself is curriculum-based/STEM, Cherry Blossom is early readers and likely all in-house, 45th Parallel Press is for hi/low books, Torch Graphics is for graphic novels.
>>Chicago Review Press Childrens**: Imprint of Chicago Review Press (surely you figured that out). Accepting history, science, literature, and art. PB, MG, YA. Many “feature hands-on activities and projects that extend learning for children ages seven and up.” Accepting NONFICTION ONLY, and only certain editors accept kidlit. Carefully read each editor’s bio in their About section.
Chicken Scratch Books is a small middle grade (ONLY) house that has “strong traditional values.” They accept MSs the first week of the month and ask for 5 chapters. The good news? No query letter! lol But I think their online submission asks for quite a bit of detail. It’s only viewable the first week of the month so I’ve haven’t seen it. Look into current content to be sure you are a good fit.
>>Child’s Play is based in ME but editorial is in the UK. A mid/large house with 40 books/year. Mainly focused on under age five. Great place for board books and novelty! They say they are inundated with subs so before sending yours, “it is worth considering whether they will fit in with our programme before sending them.” Added 8/15/23
Chronicle Books, Children’s (scroll down their page for kidlit guidelines): Large publisher looking for unique bent/distinctive flair. “We receive more than 1,000 children’s book submissions every month.” Read sub guidelines carefully; email subs only. I always remember these guys as “fun” — they published a board book titled something like “Baby’s First Sushi” about 20 years ago, way before anyone else did unique stuff like that (again, in my opinion). Including a proposal might be a good idea.
>>Cicada Books is smallish with 10 titles/year. They “love books that surprise us – in any genre – activity, picture books and non-fiction. We aim to publish books that are a little bit anarchic, a little bit out-of-the-ordinary and very, very beautiful.” (scroll towards bottom for sub details). Added 8/15/23
Clavis Publishing: Small to medium, some BBs with sound, some bilingual. [Note: One author with them told me the house only pays her for book sales in Belgium, and she gets 0% for anything sold in & out of U.S., regardless of how well it sells. Two other authors have since told me that is not the case with them. They get royalties from the U.S., and earnestly give the house two thumbs up. I now apologize for the original hasty notation suggesting submitting with caution instead of suggesting a reminder to read all contracts carefully.]
Creston Books: Small press in Berkeley, CA, distributed by Lerner Publishing. “About a third of our authors have debuted with us, earning us a reputation for discovering today’s most impressive new talents.” They offer great guidelines that you can apply to any sub! Include MS in email, no attachments.
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers: Medium press with 12-18/year, BB to YA. “We at EBYR seek to engage young minds with books — books that are honest, wise, and hopeful; books that delight us with their storyline, characters, or good humor; books that inform, inspire, and entertain.” Looking for “stories that celebrate diversity, stories of historical significance, and stories that relate to contemporary social issues.” Send via snail mail only. Also accepts “religious titles.”
>>Everything With Words: A small UK publisher NOT looking for PBs “at the moment” but their guidelines state “children’s and YA” (<–click link for current titles) must be over 40K words. ADDED 6/10/23
Familius: Small, family-run press, imprint of Workman Press. “Our categories include children’s picture books and board books, parenting, relationships, self-help, family fun, education, cooking, and health and wellness for both adults and young adults. Basically, if your book can help us achieve our mission of helping families be happy, we want to talk to you.” Expects full book proposal; specifics given on link.
Farcountry Press*: Small press (25 books/year inc adult) looking for nature and history only. No fiction. Expects book proposal.
Flashlight Press: Very small PB (only) press. They “explore and illuminate the touching and humorous moments of family situations and social interactions through captivating writing and outstanding illustrations.” PBs only, under 1,000 words, deals with (universal) family or social situations.
Flowerpot Press***: Super small but growing publisher with 2 titles 2022. Offices in TN and Canada. “Our titles range from fiction to nonfiction for children from birth to fifth grade. We feature a variety of innovative S.T.E.A.M. titles, colorful early learning titles, whimsical adventure stories, delightful photo-based titles, and so much more.”
Flyaway Books: Small press for “a general trade market and found in bookstores, libraries, and schools.” PB only, based in KY. “We seek manuscripts that reflect themes of diversity, inclusivity, compassion, care for each other, care for the earth, social/emotional growth, and social justice.” Also content “for progressive churches, religious schools, and readers who value faith inside and outside of a church setting.”
Flying Eye Books: Medium-sized imprint of Nobrow Books in London that “will take your children’s eyes on a journey of wonder!” Accepts PBs that are 24 or 32 pages under 1,000 words. Website says it may take a while to respond to you but they will either way.
Free Spirit Publishing: Owned by Teacher Created Materials, a medium size; looks like over 20 PBs coming out 2023. Many written by experts in the field, with several versions bilingual in Spanish. All PBs speak to a specific SEL emotion or need such as fear or grief, bullying, gifted learning, community engagement. “Our line of materials includes early childhood board books and picture books… Our titles inform, engage, and inspire children, teens…” No animals as main characters. Submit online via Submittable, or via snail mail.
Gibbs-Smith: A large house with handful of kid fiction; from what I see it’s mainly (only?) author/illo. In addition to PBs, they take on children’s activity books and board books but send OUTLINE ONLY, not full sub. No MG fiction. “Submit a detailed outline, a writing sample, and an illustration sample (where appropriate) via email.”
Groundwood Books: Looks like mainly a Canadian-focused publisher but also has books from “all around the world.” An imprint of Anansi Press. Currently NOT OPEN TO PBs but open to illustrators and “novel-length” NF MG/YA. Check their lists to be sure it’s a good fit, and note if it’s a simultaneous sub. Note: there is no “s” — it’s Groundwood not Groundswood.
Harbour Publishing: From what I see, of the 20 books this small Canadian publisher puts out a year, just a few are kidlit. Basically all are focused on Pacific Northwest. Need to use online service CanSubmit to send MS.
Holiday House: Independent large house (42 books in Spring 2022 alone). Distributed by Penguin Random House (sister company to Pixel + Ink mentioned below, both owned by Trustbridge Global Media). Kidlit for ages 2 & up. Mostly PB, F but up to YA in NF and F. Saw one recent lift-the-flap with sounds, and several books in (only) Spanish, but website says no mass market, novelty, pop ups, sticker or coloring books.
The Innovation Press: Small press awarded PW’s “2022 fastest growing indy press.” Home of popular Zoey and Sassafras chapter book STEAM series. Only wants preK-5th grade. Also accepts activity books.
Just Us Books: “The nation’s leading independent publisher of children’s books that celebrate the diversity of Black culture, history and experiences.” BBs, PBs CBs MG, poetry, bios, and YA fiction.” Accepting QUERIES only for PB, CB, MG.
Kids Can Press***: Small/medium size, with >10 PBs in 2022. Primarily Canadian authors, but open to authors/illos “from around the world.” Looking for non-rhyming PB, NF for 5-14, fiction for 6-14, and graphic novels. “We like funny, genuine, thoughtful, heartfelt and clever (in any combination!) approaches to all sorts of stories and subjects — fiction and nonfiction — with particular interest in the areas of social-emotional development and mental health, historically underrepresented groups, global citizenship and awareness, and the environment.”
Lantana: Very small UK press focused solely on multicultural themes and underrepresented readers/MCs. Has specific PBs requirements: “Short narratives usually between 100 and 500 words” with 12 double-page spreads. The text should flow well enough to read out loud, but the full meaning of the story should only be revealed in the interplay of text and illustrations.” Also has older books. Must subscribe to their mailing list before submitting. Currently no NF (as of June 2023).
Lawley Publishing: Small press with six PB titles in 2022, printing “clean, uplifting, inspiring children’s literature that enhances natural curiosity, empowers imagination, and ignites the magic of childhood.” PB up to MG (no BBs or YA). Based in AZ, they are another of the few houses left that accept MSs via snail mail only.
Lemon Jelly Press (UK): BRAND NEW small press in UK. Handful of PBs/year. Accepting PBs in June, July and August. Likely only wants UK-based writers as it look like they offer to help set up local events. ADDED 6/10/23.
Levine Querido: Seems like a pretty small press. Has specific requirements for author/ill “to give voice to a uniquely talented, exceptionally diverse group of authors and artists whose books will inspire a true LOVE of reading in young people while offering them a sense of their (and others’) rightful place in the world.” They “focus on publishing the writing and artwork of authors and creators from underrepresented backgrounds.”
NEW Little Lark: Brand new 2023 imprint of Entangled publishing. First PB to launch late 2023. With a “focus on positivity, social change, or bucking norms.” Reflects uplifting, joyful messages “with a focus on empowerment … Through positivity, humor, creativity, and fun… [to] not only entertain and teach but spark a love of reading that will stay with children for years to come.” Send 24-page BBs or 40-page PBs only. No NF. Accept subs (only) via Submittable.
BRAND NEW Li’l Liberty Books: It’s so new, PW hasn’t even announced it yet! Their parent website isn’t updated! Was announced on Twitter and FB so I’m not making it up… Expected in 2023. This new imprint of small publisher End Game Press will focus on “the history, patriotism, and freedoms of this nation.” It looks to serve as “a primer for sparking an interest in the people, events, and stories of interest our children need to know about our nation.” No other info released. I suggest keeping an eye on the main End Game site and/or social media pages.
Marble Press: Brand new, no published books yet. Will be very small press with a few a year, with plans to grow. “Juvenile, literary, and commercial fiction books”–PBs, early-middle-grade, MG & graphic novels. “We are interested in narrative nonfiction and books that challenge traditional forms.” Shies away from rhyme. Editor is the former President/Publisher of Philomel, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Hang on, we’re almost halfway there…
Marimba Books: Small/medium house that is “a multicultural children’s book imprint dedicated to publishing titles that reflect our country’s diversity.” Imprint of “Just Us Books” (see their listing above). Query only.
Marshall Cavendish International: Large house, including fiction, STEM, early readers. “Marshall Cavendish Children’s books enthrall and entertain young readers through the world of adventure, fantasy, mystery and much more. The stories nourish imagination and the illustrations enhance visual literacy, helping children cultivate a lifelong love for reading.” Follow guidelines.
Minerva: brand new kid’s graphic novel only(?) is “an evolution of the mineditionUS” and imprint of Astra Publishin. First release in June 2023. Expect 10-12 books a year including PB up to MG and graphic novels. No word if they officially have same open Kane/Astra sub guidelines, but as of April they don’t say no, lol. Keep checking Kane Press/Astra Publishing for updates on how/where/if you can submit.
Muddy Boots: Imprint of Globe Pequot, the trade division of Rowman & Littlefield. Small to medium house, with 15 books released in 2021 but only 2 so far in 2022. Very they are right for your story.
Page Street Publishing Co: Large publisher (150 total titles/year), “distributed by Macmillan.” PB (“in all genres for ages 4-8 with particular focus on new talent, artist-led narratives, engaging story arcs, and visually driven concepts”) and YA (with a specific “call for marginalized creators”). No BB, CB, early readers, or MGs.
Paige Tate & Co: Looks like a medium sized house with a small number of PBs that are very simple yet elegant. Their vibe is to “exemplify beauty + function, meaning we value content and design equally and believe one shouldn’t be sacrificed for the other.” Very specific requirements for submitting. Expect three month reply window, only if interested.
Pants on Fire: Accepting MIDDLE GRADE AND YA (not picture books). Looking for “strong writers who are excited about marketing their stories and building a following of readers. For novels, the body of the email should include your query and the first three chapters” plus a book proposal. Looks like they are expecting you to prove you can carry a heavy piece of marketing.
Pelican Publishing: Medium sized (30/year), looking for PBs for ages 5-8 (**note older age range!!) in “Holiday, regional history, biography, adventure” as well as for older ages (see their site). Seems very focused on “identifiable regions of the US (especially the South).” PB max word count 1,100 not including back matter. Also MG and YA, NF and F.
Phaidon: Might be large publisher but only a handful of kidlits in 2022. They give “priority” to solicited and agented materials. “Our children’s books enjoy the quality and visual appeal expected of our brand, while also meeting the developmental needs and interests of specific age groups.” Cool cut-out/shaped BBs up to age 14–no YA.
Pixel + Ink: Medium indy house w/ 15 titles in 2022, distributed by Penguin Random House (sister company to Holiday House mentioned above, both owned by Trustbridge Global Media). Sub link goes to Holiday House site but has Pixel + Ink banner. FICTION SERIES ONLY (like, say, Fancy Nancy), across age levels 3-13 in PB, chapter book, middle grade, and graphic novel — again, in series only. NOTE: in early Nov 2022 they had technical issues. If you submitted to their trustbridgemedia account, resubmit to the newer @pixelandinkbooks.com account.
POW!: “POW! Kids Books” is a very small arm of POW!, with 2 books in 2022, but perhaps more in past years as they have quite a list. They publish “books for children that are visually striking, imaginative, funny, modern, and have an offbeat or edgy sensibility.”
Red Deer Press: (Not to be confused with Red Hen Press which only produces grown-up books.) They encourage Canadians but are open to all. This small children’s arm of Red Deer publishes PB to YA in both fiction and NF released three PBs in 2022 (maybe 5-6 kidlit total?). “We produce creative and contemporary books by enlisting a balance of established and emerging authors and illustrators … to the national and international markets.” Snail mail only. (Yes, you have to use your printer. And find stamps. Ugh.)
Reycraft Books: Midsized house (17 books in 2022) looking for PBs, early readers, and chapter books (only–no MG or YA). “Our mission is to create books of interest for ALL children, with a special focus on #OwnVoices books. We publish original and licensed works from authors and illustrators around the globe who have unique stories to tell.” Looks like ~60% fiction and 40% NF.
Now come the “S”s, but there’s only seven in this children’s book list
Science Naturally: Small press with “a handful of books each year.” Most have Spanish versions. “We are looking for books that help support family life through education, positive images and role models, and entertainment.” Snail mail only.
Sky Pony Press: Medium to large size publisher with ~20-30/year. Imprint of Skyhorse Publishing. “We publish picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and YA fiction and nonfiction. We’re open to any genre and style, and we’re always looking for something new and different. We love original concepts, fresh voices, and writing that knocks us off our feet.”
Sleeping Bear Press **SEE ALSO CHERRY LAKE ABOVE ^**: Mid to large imprint with ~30/year. Wide range, from board books, beginning readers, picture books, and “select middle grade titles.” Relatively new “publishing award for new authors who identify as BIPOC and/or LGTBQ+.”
Star Bright Books: Appears to be mid sized, >20/year. Looking for board books, PBs, CBs, in both fiction & NF. “Of particular interest are unique voices of color; interesting and/or original picture book biographies; early math learning and concepts; special needs; social and emotional learning; survival stories.” Publishes bilingual books. Snail mail only (yikes, is this a trend? lol). Emailed links to illustrator portfolios OK. Might take 6+ months for reply.
Starry Forest Books: New(ish) small press since 2020, about 4 BBs/PBs a year that aren’t from one of their 13 existing series, from “Baby’s Classics” to “Gamer Baby.” Looking for strong plot/characters/language, humor, and sentimentality. Publisher originally ran this house in 2016, producing for the kidlit arm of Barnes & Noble. He was also Sr Editor at Sterling, which is now Union Square & Co. Allow 12 weeks for response. Motto is “Make something beautiful.”
>>Soaring Kite Books: Small indie press for diverse protagonists. Has 8-10 titles/year. Current special interest in “Black Joy/Cultural Stories” esp holiday, and father-child/paternal bonding. BBs, young PBs, older PBs, & MG GN. Looks like lots of opportunity here! ADDED 6/10/23
Storey Publishing: NF only. An imprint of Workman (like Familius, above) with kid activity and cookbooks that’s been owned by Hachette Book Group since 2021. They publish “practical information that encourages personal independence in harmony with the environment.” They expect a full book proposal (not just MS) with author experience, marketing plan, comp titles, etc. They aim to reply within eight weeks.
Tilbury House: Small press, 5 PBs in 2022. Primary emphasis on NF educational PBs appealing to ages 2–12, “and their parents.” “We are always interested in picture books that explore cultural diversity and nature and the environment.” Also wants history, bio, and science & engineering picture books. Rarely publishes fiction such as fables, fantasies, talking animals. Also have CBs and graphic NF for early readers (ages 8 – 13), and NF YA (age 12+). Sub via snail mail or their online form.
Turner Publishing Company recently took over the now defunct West Margin Press, which was a medium press with 12 PBs out in 2022. Had heavy emphasis on Alaska and other regions of the USA. “Ramsey & Todd” is listed as their kidlit imprint for both fiction and NF but I don’t see anything else posted yet. Not sure how 2023 kidlit will shake out, but it looks like a large company overall.
Walter Foster Jr: Walter Foster Jr. is a small imprint of Quarto, which is a large house, and publishes “fun and imaginative books” and kits for children, covering a wide range of subjects, including art, transportation, history, craft, gardening, and more. They strive “to bring out that childlike wonderment in all of us and inspire lifelong interests.”
>>Web of Life Children’s Books is small, with 3-5 nature-focused PBs/year. “These scientifically based books navigate the intricate interconnections between animals and their ecosystems, from the Arctic to the tropical rainforest to the coral reef.” Looks like most contain backmatter including glossaries, maps, and calls to action. Added 8/15/23
Welbeck Publishing Group: Based in the UK, this large publisher had over 50 PB in 2022 (including fiction, activity books, narrative & fact NF, and STEAM titles) from their five imprints: Welbeck Editions, Welbeck Children’s, Mortimer, Flame, and Orange Mosquito (← FYI all five links go to same submissions page). They publish “entertaining, challenging, thought-provoking…rich and stunning artwork… preschool picture books … cooking for kids to teens…” Check their website closely. Download their free catalogue for a better idea of who they are before considering subbing. No need to be from UK.
Wisdom Tales: Small, 4 PBs in 2022. Publishes both children’s and teen titles. Wants to share “the wisdom, beauty, and values of traditional cultures and peoples from around the world with young readers and their families.” QUERY FIRST, as their policy in 2023 looks like it’s “For more information on submitting a story or illustrations to Wisdom Tales Press, please send your inquiry to: email@example.com.”
>>What on Earth Publishing is a small UK-based house with 4 titles/year. Colorful, fact-filled books. Motto: “The real world is far more amazing than anything you can make up!” Added 8/15/23
Yeehoo Press: Medium size with 10-15/year, for ages 3-8. Simultaneously printed/published in English and Chinese. Offices in LA, San Diego, and China. Looking for “fictional and non-fiction picture books, both text-only and author-illustrator projects.” See link for more wishlist specifics. Email only with attachment for MS and link for artwork.
There’s got to be a kidlit house starting with a Z, right? someone find me one!
Exceptions and Other Children’s Publishing Houses Worth Watching
SOME PRESSES HAVE LIMITED WINDOWS, where you can only submit during certain times of the year. For the most part I am only including ones whose timeframes are consistent, as it’s too hard to keep track of those that open and close as they catch up on their inbox. (Not an insult–I know it’s daunting to get 1,000 emails a day/week.) While I can’t keep track of everyone, I’m only human, I’m doing my best.
Allen and Unwin: Australia and NZ-focused publisher with “Friday Pitch” opportunities for mostly locals and author-illustrators.
Bear Press UK: Small UK-based press that requires books written in “British English” that is possibly a vanity press? Not sure.
blue manatee press: (yes, all lowercase) is a small press (3 books out in 2023). Not currently accepting PB subs “until 2023” but “is consistently looking for new, diverse illustrator ‘voices’ for our limited yet mission-driven projects.”
>>Bushel and Peck Books: Small press that WAS open to writers but now ONLY Illustrators. Positive-mindset-type books for ages 1-13. Keep checking in case they open back up again. UPDATED 8/23/23
Looking ahead, Cardinal Press will open Jan 2024, for one month only. This small press in Michigan that publishes “a select number of books” a year looks for “realistic fiction PBs” (only) under 1,000 words.
Cottage Door Press: mainstream trade/commercial publisher accepting ILLUSTRATOR portfolios, but no MS pitches. My guess is everything is written in-house.
>>NEW! OPEN AUG 1-8 2023 Emma Press: Small poetry-focused press based in UK accepting authors from everywhere. Open only once every six months. Very specific guidelines, they spell it out with links. New “pay-what-you-can” ticket to submit; I understand what they are doing but don’t feel obligated to pay a cent (or is it pound?).
>>The Little Press: **AS OF AUG 23,2023, MG EDITOR ELIZABETH BLYE IS OPEN FOR MG SUBS “for limited time!”** Small press currently invite only via Twitter pitches such as #PBPitch and #SFPitch, so keep your eyes open. Fiction (only) PBs with word counts up to 600. They also run Blue Bronco Books Jr for early readers and CBs, Bless This Press for Christian PB to YA inc NF, Blue Bronco Books that is MG fiction (ages 10-13, 30-65K words) and early MG (ages 9-12, 16-30K), and new YA fiction imprint Pish. Open for illustrators, but this is a post about PB writing, so I digress… UPDATED 8/23/23
Kane Press/Astra Publishing is looking for new series ONLY “that fit our mission and build on our history” BUT subs can only be sent “by recognized agents and published authors (published children’s books only—articles, books for adults, self-published titles do not qualify).”
Magination Press: In May 2023 this house moved to “Exceptions” section since their website states “APA no longer accepting manuscripts or new book proposals for the children or teen book imprint.” It’s a medium press, about 10 kidlit books a year. Run by the American Psychological Association (APA). Focuses on “mental health and wellness, and psychological topics.” Most written by PhD-level psychologists, counselors, “or other mental health professionals…author should have expertise in the topic area.”
In 2023 Nosy Crow is launching a US arm to their amazing UK line and will have books “exemplifying what Nosy Crow U.K. already does so well—warm, inclusive, diverse, child-focused books—but with a distinctly North American perspective.” Currently neither is accepting unsolicited MS but keep an eye out to see if they make any announcements.
>>Orca Book Publishers has two open submission calls, in Feb and in Aug each year BUT is only open to Canadian residents/citizens. Their nine imprints cover BBs to GNs and MG are pretty specific so read their website and catalogue closely. Added 8/15/23
Owlkids Books (yes, Owlkids is one word, plural): Was open for month of June 2023 so keep eyes open for next window. Mid sized; 15 BB to graphic novels each spring and fall. This Canadian-based house publishes many rages. Picture books (split to ages 3–5, 3–7, 4–8). Non-fiction for older ages in chapter book to middle grade (split to ages 5–8, 7–10, 8–12, 10–14). Early fiction for ages 6–9. And, graphic novels in fiction and nonfiction for all ages. UPDATED JULY 22, 2023
>>Penny Candy Books: Announced July 2023 they are going out of business; there will be no more calls for submission. Great time to buy books from their inventory while they last! UPDATED 8/21/23
McSea Books: Small press focused on New England, accepting ILLUSTRATOR ONLY. UPDATED 6/10/23
Tiny Tree Children’s Books: A wee family-run UK publisher; looks like six PBs in 2022. Temporarily closed per website. PBs, MG, & YA, with “a strong moral undertone, environmentalism, mental health” (but I assume not all three at same time?). They will expect a lot from you as far as marketing. They pride themselves on replying to everyone with at least a little feedback (prob why they are temporarily closed). I haven’t checked to see if they are branching into US markets so it may only be sold in UK.
BRAND NEW upcoming Transit Children’s Editions: Per their website, “Transit Children’s Editions is a new imprint from Transit Books, highlighting bold, imaginative, visually distinctive children’s books from around the world, coming September 2023.” Appears to be small imprint with two PBs in 2023 and one so far in 2024. Note: Transit Books only reviews subs from May 1-June 15; it’s not clear if this new imprint will follow suit; no info listed yet on how/when to sub. UPDATED July 22, 2023
Wren and Bear Books. Brand new, small PB & BB (only) publisher with 4 titles in 2023 that focus on “faith, fun, and fascination.” Should open up later in 2023–but their list of full for at least two years. Likes friendship stories, concept books, holidays except for Christmas. Imprint of End Game Press. Note: website says closed/agent only, but Wren and Bear should be open if you attend a class/webinar/talk the editor gives. Full book proposal is expected in addition to MS, even for board books.
Young Dragons Press: Was GOING TO BE open until Aug 31, 2022, but rec’d a shockingly unexpected 450 submissions on their first day, and is now closed again for PBs! [Can’t help but wonder if this post had anything to do with that, lol]. They hope to open “in 2023” but don’t offer a timeline. “Little Dragons” takes on real-world PB stories & fantasy PBs under 1,000 words, CBs & MG for age 8-11 in 10-12K range, and NF & bios in PB or MG series. YA imprint “Fledgling Dragons” for novels 60-100K words. No sensitive subjects.
If you know of any others, or notice this data is already out of date, please let me know so I can update asap! (Thank you to those that have contacted me with updates, clarifications, and suggestions)
but wait…there’s more!
Before you go…
BUT WAIT! Before you go any further, I have to do my due diligence and make sure I ask about the current state of your manuscript. Of course, before you contact any of these, you need to make sure your picture book is in TIP TOP shape. Never settle for less than the best you can do. NEVER submit a draft, anything “almost ready,” or anything “just to give an idea of what it will be like.” Some posts to help are Top 12 Tips for Writing a PB, Top 12 Exceptions on Writing PBs, What to do once you’ve written your first PB and Is My PB Ready–A checklist — plus a bonus fun video for the very beginner picture book writer.
I hope you’ve found this list, and post, helpful! Drop me a note and let me know if so. Let me know what’s most, or least, helped so I know for future revs.
Happy submitting! I am rooting for you.
*Shoutout to Heather Ayris Burell (and her fab Monster List), **EditrixJD, ***@VitaleBrooke for clueing me in on some of these publishers I would never have heard of, and SCBWI and KIDLIT411 for their helpful, ongoing resources!
>> means the entry has been added or updated since last revision in a large way
Thank you to everyone that has contacted me with updates!
**NEW** Get a FREE “Secrets to Successful Query Letters” download by signing up for mailing list in the form below! [This is a new set up so pls email me if you don’t get it…]