Over 60 publishers accepting unsolicited picture book manuscripts! [updated 8/8/22]

Where Unagented Writers Can Directly Submit Picture Books

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I’ve authored 16 books without an agent. I’m now actively pursuing one, given the tighter and more competitive climate, but am still pitching solo. It’s not impossible, and I know many kidlit authors/illustrators that are also staying commando. Wait, I mean rogue. Solo? You know what I mean.

But 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 2020 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means to me is that aaalll those great lists of picture book publishers I’ve bookmarked and found sooo helpful are now outdated, and a bit frustrating since I have to re-research every link.

Since I’ve been living this research for the past six months, I’m sharing with you all the current info on open publishing houses that I have garnered, so you’re not pulling out as much hair as I have (and perhaps spewing 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 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. Niche such as those accept only stories about folklore or agriculture, specific religion or culture, for example, I haven’t included, since you’ll want/need to do your own targeted research on those. (If it was specific-ish yet still wider sweeping, like “science and math” or “the general Southern region” I kept it, since there are plenty of ways that can go.) Any press that felt too small, such as 1-2 book titles a year or only have a handful of books total, or felt too focused on one author/illo, or hasn’t posted a new release in the past few years, or hasn’t recently updated their website, I didn’t include, as I figured odds were suuuper low there. I purposely did not include any hybrid publishers as that’s a whole other kettle o’ fish.

I decided to add a section at the bottom for houses that are open have a specific open window each year; keep your eye on social media for those kinds of opps and by all means let me know if you hear of any.

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 and I want to give us the best odds. But on the plus side, I found and included some presses that are BRAND NEW, and several that are not found in anyone else’s list.

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 (my) opinion based on hasty-gathered facts, that I compared to other houses.

I have no connection to these publishers, or their stated/pasted content.

LIST OF OVER 60 CHILDREN’S BOOK PUBLISHERS ACCEPTING UNSOLICITED PB MANUSCRIPTS DIRECT FROM AUTHORS AND ILLUSTRATORS

Original post June 28, 2022; Current as of Aug 8, 2022, with several revisions in the meantime.

In alphabetical order:

Albert Whitman: Large press, independently owned since 1919. “Together, we can create a safe space for kids to learn about themselves and their communities. 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. When we put the right story in the right hands, we can inspire the next generation to make the future brighter for everyone.” Known for Boxcar Children series. Follow their stated guidelines closely.

Andrews McMeel Publishing: Very large press, 150/year. It feels like they are mainly Work for Hire given all their licensing work but I could be wrong. Submit online via their website, or via snail mail.

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. See link for specifics on topics they do and don’t want.

Bala Kids: This imprint of independent Shambhala Publications is 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.

becker&mayer! kids: This Quarto imprint “publishes innovatively designed books and kits for children featuring a range of 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 that are all based in London so I’ve no idea the odds of acceptance from US author/illo.

Blue Dot Kids: Small press (10/year) for ages 0-12. Focused on the “appreciation of nature, conservation, environmental stewardship, science … [as well as] social/emotional learning: empathy, resilience, emotional intelligence, creative problem solving.” 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.”

Bushel and Peck Books: Small press. Positive-mindset-type books for ages 1-13, with one by David Archuleta. Submit via their online questionnaire (I haven’t gotten that far so don’t know what they ask other than name).

Charlesbridge: Large publisher, BB to YA, includes F and NF. “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. To this end, we seek new voices, new visions, and new directions in children’s literature.” NF tends to focus on nature, science, math, social studies, biography, history, and the arts. Email subs only.

Chicago Review Press Childrens**: Imprint of Chicago Review Press (surely you figured that out). Covers “a wide range of subjects including science, history, math, music, literature, and art. Many of our children’s books feature hands-on activities and projects that extend learning for children ages seven and up.” Only certain editors accept kidlit; carefully read each editor’s bio in their About section.

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).

Clavis Publishing: Small to medium, some BBs with sound, some bilingual. Note: An author for them told me they only pay authors for book sales in Belgium, and she gets zero percentage for sales in and out of U.S., regardless of how well it sells. While she has no regrets (“more or less”), you might want to proceed with caution.

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.” 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. We are especially interested at this time in 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.”

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. Snail mail only.

Flash Light Press: Very small PB (only) press. “Flashlight Press books 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***: 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, 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. These would be appropriate for a general trade market and found in bookstores, libraries, and schools. We are also open to manuscripts appropriate for progressive churches, religious schools, and readers who value faith inside and outside of a church setting.” 

Free Spirit Publishing: 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 emotion or need such as fear, grief, breathing. “Our line of materials includes early childhood board books and picture books on social skills and positive behavior… Our titles inform, engage, and inspire children, teens…”

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.

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 4 & up. Mostly PB, F. Saw one recent lift-the-flap with sounds BB, and several books in (only) Spanish.

The Innovation Press: Small press awarded PW’s “2022 fastest growing indy press.” Home of Zoey and Sassafras chapter book STEAM series. 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. Our titles include board books, picture books, chapter books, middle reader titles, poetry, biographies and young adult 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.”

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, including people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, Latinx creators, indigenous artists and writers, creators with disabilities, members of minority religions, and more.”

Magination Press: Medium press, about 10 kidlit books a year. Run by the American Psychological Association, it “publishes books relating to social-emotional learning, mental health and wellness, and psychological topics for children and teens. Most of our books are written by PhD or PsyD-level psychologists, school counselors, or other mental health professionals. Although doctorate-level credentials are not a requirement, the author should have expertise in the topic area.”

Marble Press: Brand new, no published books yet. Will be very small press with a few a year, with plans to grow. “We publish juvenile, literary, and commercial fiction books, picture books, early-middle-grade books, (early readers), middle grade novels and graphic novels. We are interested in narrative nonfiction and books that challenge traditional forms.” Editor is the former President/Publisher of Philomel, an imprint of Penguin Random House. 

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 link for submission policy.)

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.

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.

Pelican Publishing: Medium sized (30/year), focused on “identifiable regions of the US (especially the South).” PB max word count 1,100 not including back matter.

Phaidon: Might be large publisher but only 3 kidlits in 2022 so far. “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 independent house with 15 titles in 2022, distributed by Penguin Random House (sister company to Holiday House mentioned above, both owned by Trustbridge Global Media). FICTION SERIES ONLY (like, say, Hunger Games or Fancy Nancy), across age levels 3-13 in PB, chapter book, middle grade, and graphic novel — again, all in series only.

POW!: Very small 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, the 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?). They encourage Canadians but are open to all. “We produce creative and contemporary books by enlisting a balance of established and emerging authors and illustrators … to the national and international markets, and continually strive to creatively promote and market our books.” Snail mail only.

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.

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: Mid to large house with ~30/year. They print a “wide range of books, including board books, beginning readers, picture books, and select middle grade titles” and offer a “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, picture books, and chapter books, both fiction and nonfiction. We seek works that satisfy our goal of publishing books that are entertaining, meaningful, and sensitive to the needs of all children. 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 of all kinds.” Publishes bilingual books. Snail mail only right now, NO EMAIL SUBS. Might take six+ 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. Motto is “Make something beautiful.”

Taltos Books: Brand new, no info other than they will publish middle-grade and young adult books. Imprint of new Marble Press with what I assume are same sub guidelines.

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, and we are also looking for history, biography, and science and engineering picture books. … We rarely publish fables, fantasies, picture books with talking animals, or other fictions. We will also consider nonfiction chapter books and graphic nonfiction for early readers (ages 8 – 13), and nonfiction for young adult readers (YA, age 12+).” Sub via snail mail or their online form.

Walter Foster Jr: Walter Foster Jr. publishes fun and imaginative books and kits for children, covering a wide range of subjects, including art, transportation, history, craft, gardening, and more.

West Margin Press: Med press with 12 PBs out in 2022. Heavy emphasis on Alaska (“Nonfiction material that reflects life as it is or has been lived in Alaska (Alaska Northwest Books® imprint) and other regions of the USA”) but also other general PBs including STEAM and graphic novels. 

Wisdom Tales: Small, 4 PBs in 2022. “Wisdom Tales publishes both children’s and teen titles and was created for the purpose of sharing the wisdom, beauty, and values of traditional cultures and peoples from around the world with young readers and their families.” QUERY FIRST, via email.

Wren and Bear Books. New, small PB & BB (only) publisher focused on “faith, fun, and fascination.” Likes friendship stories, concept books, holiday books except for Christmas. Will release four titles in 2023. Imprint of End Game Press. Note: website says End Game Press is closed/agent only, but Wren and Bear is open–for certain if you attend a class/webinar/talk the editor gives. Full book proposal is expected in addition to MS, even for board books.

Yeehoo Press: Medium size with 10-15/year. Simultaneously printed/published in English and Chinese, with offices in LA, San Diego, and China. Looking for “fictional and non-fiction picture books, both text-only and author-illustrator projects, aimed at ages 3-8.” See link for more wishlist specifics. Email only with attachment for MS and link for artwork.

***

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

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. But I can’t keep track of everyone, I’m only human!) This is one I know with consistent open times:

FOR JAN, SEPT, OCT 2022 ONLY, Cardinal Press: For three months of the year, this small press in Michigan publishes “a select number of books” a year. “Our focus is on children’s picture books that empower children through meaningful stories for readers, age 4-11.” They are looking for “realistic fiction PBs” under 1,000 words.

Owlkids Books (yes, Owlkids is one word, plural): Usually open, but closed until fall 2022 while they catch up on subs. Mid sized; 15 BB to graphic novels each spring and fall. This Canadian-based house publishes 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.

Penny Candy Books: Small press in OK and NC, with presently no open calls for submissions.” (It *looks like* they are open, but they only accept via a Submittable form on their site, and when you click that, it gives you that NOT messages.) My guess is they open as their calendar and slush pile become more manageable. They focus on “underrepresented, unheard, or forgotten voices.”

Young Dragons Press: Was GOING TO BE open until Aug 31, 2022, but rec’d a shockingly unexpected 450 submissions on Aug 1, their first day, and is now closed again! [Can’t help but wonder if this post had anything to do with that, lol] Anyway, they are a new(ish) Little Dragons small press takes on real-world PB stories and fantasy PBs under 1,000 words, CBs and MG for age 8-11 in 10-12K range, and NF and biographies in PB or MG series. Also has YA imprint Fledgling Dragons for novels 60-100K words but no sensitive subjects. Be on the lookout for their next open window, and lemme know if you hear/see anything.

***

If you know of any others, or notice this data is already out of date, please let me know so I can update asap!

***

Photo by Linda Eller-Shein on Pexels.com

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!

5 thoughts on “Over 60 publishers accepting unsolicited picture book manuscripts! [updated 8/8/22]

  1. Thank you, I am checking out many that aren’t on my list. I also have some books coming out with Clear Fork Publishing but they aren’t open for submissions at the moment. Side note I am an Australian author but have books with Australian, US and UK publishers so definitely send to publishers out of your own country.

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