How to Publish a Picture Book: 3 Options for New Writers 

Want to publish a picture book but have no idea where to start? In this blog, you’ll discover the three publishing options for new writers, how to choose which one is best for your book, and how to start making progress on it today

How to Publish a Picture Book

  • Decide which publishing option to pursue
  • Approach traditional publishers
  • Assemble your self-publishing team
  • Work with a hybrid publisher

Decide Which Publishing Option to Pursue

The first step to publish a picture book is to decide which publishing path best fits your needs. Here’s a breakdown of the three most popular publishing options for picture books:

Traditional Publishing

To traditionally publish a picture book, the author must write the manuscript, edit it on their own, then send it to traditional publishing houses for acceptance.

Most traditional publishers will either buy the rights for the story in one lump sum, offer a small royalty on each book sale, or a combination of both.

Traditional publishing presents no cost to the author but can be difficult to find and is usually a lengthy process.

(You can find the pros and cons of traditional publishing here.)

If you think this is the best option for your book, you can jump right to the traditional publishing section of this blog.


Self-publishing is essentially the opposite of traditional publishing. Instead of handing your manuscript off to a publishing house, you’ll handle everything on your own.

It’s up to you to write the manuscript, hire an editor, find an illustrator, work with a book designer, and go to print. It’s also up to you to front the bills.

This is a great option for anyone who wants to publish a picture book that is truly and uniquely theirs.

(You can find the pros and cons of self-publishing here.)

If you think this is the best option for your book, you can jump right to the self-publishing section of this blog.

Hybrid Publishing

Consider hybrid publishing the happy medium. For an upfront fee, a hybrid publisher will provide help and services as you publish your book. 

Unlike self-publishing, all the responsibilities won’t be on your shoulders, but you’ll still get lots of creative freedom. It’s also much easier to land a contract with a hybrid publisher than a traditional publisher.

Hybrid publishing is a great option for first-time authors looking to publish a picture book.

(You can find the pros and cons of hybrid publishing here.)

If you think this is the best option for your book, you can jump right to the hybrid publishing section of this blog.

Interested in Writing a Children's Book?

How to Traditionally Publish a Picture Book

If you’ve decided to traditionally publish a picture book, here are your next steps:

Research Traditional Publishers

Just because a traditional publishing house publishes picture books, it doesn’t mean they’re the best place to submit. Most times, publishers have a niche.

For example, my friend Maria Dismondy is the Founder & CEO of Cardinal Rule Press, an amazing traditional publishing company. Their niche is realistic and representative children’s books.

So, if you have a fantasy-style picture book to publish, you likely wouldn’t submit to this company since it doesn’t fit their niche.

Take some time to do your research and ensure you publish a picture book with a company that suits your story.

Partner with a Literary Agent

Many traditional publishers only accept submissions from literary agents representing authors. To boost your chances of getting accepted, consider working with an agent.

If you’d rather not partner with a literary agent, you can look for publishing companies who open submissions to unrepresented authors.

Note, however, that the window of opportunity here is limited and will vary depending on the publisher.

I did not partner with a literary agent to publish my traditionally-published children’s books: The Big, Bad Bully and I CAN Believe in Myself.

Submit Your Story

Once you’ve researched and decided whether to team up with an agent, you can start submitting your manuscript.

Be sure to check out the publisher’s guidelines and adhere to them to be considered. Traditional publishers receive thousands of submissions each year—if your story doesn’t meet their requirements, you won’t hear back.

Remember to keep at it! It may take a while, but if your story has been written and edited with care, you CAN find a publisher to accept and publish your picture book.

How to Self Publish a Picture Book

If you’ve decided to self publish a picture book, here are your next steps:

Assemble Your Team

Since you’re heading up this project solo, it’s up to you to assemble the team that will publish a picture book that’s top-quality.

You’ll need to hire…

✅ Professional editor

✅ Talented illustrator (Tip: Discover how to find an illustrator here.)

✅ Experienced book designer

Print Your Book

Then, you’ll need to choose a printing option. You can either outsource to a printing company or set your book up for a print-on-demand service.

(You can learn more about printing a picture book here.)

Launch & Market

Lastly, it’ll be up to you to launch your book, generate buzz, and market your book. Most first-timers don’t realize this when they publish a picture book, but marketing is everything!

If you want to recoup the cost of self-publishing, you need to market lots. But know that you CAN do it.

How to Hybrid Publish a Picture Book

If you’ve decided to hybrid publish a picture book, here are your next steps:

Find a Hybrid Publisher

Research different hybrid publishing companies and pick the one that works best for you. Since hybrid publishing is a newer form of publishing, there is a LOT of variability here.

I recommend seeking a company that lets you keep the rights to your book and gives you all the profits from sales.

That’s what we do here at ML Publishing. We don’t take any rights or any royalties from sales. The book is 100% yours!

(Discover 3 questions to ask your hybrid publisher before signing the contract here.)

Work Alongside Your Hybrid Publisher

Since every hybrid publisher operates differently, it’s difficult to generalize here. However, I can speak to how we do things here at ML Publishing.

When an author joins our hybrid publishing program, Publishing Mastermind, we set them up with a mastermind group, a designated author coach, and the complete detailed roadmap to write, publish, and launch a quality children’s book.

We guide our authors through the entire process, step by step, so they can avoid the headache of wondering what to do next.

We also provide services such as editing, book design, and print-on-demand set up so the author doesn’t need to worry about it.

(You can learn more about what it’s like to work with my company here.)

Interested in Writing a Children's Book?

Celebrate Your Success!

Once you’ve chosen your publishing path and have published a picture book, it’s time to celebrate!

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