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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  182 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The comprehensive guide to writing, publishing, and selling for the ever-expanding and always exciting children's market-now in a new and updated second edition.

* Includes new chapters for illustrators, on submissions, portfolios, art directors, and more
* In 2001, children's book publishing was a $1.8 billion market
* Offers practical advice on getting started, plus the
Paperback, Second Edition, 358 pages
Published February 3rd 2004 by Alpha Books (first published February 3rd 2001)
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Aug 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful and easy instruction book, as most of the "Idiot's Guide" series is. I would recommend reading it in concert with at least one other "how to publish" type book, though, as this one can get a little heart-breaking. There's very little encouragement here, which is good because it doesn't try to give you false hopes, but also doesn't feel like it believes you can actually succeed! A good supplement, definitely. ...more
Joy Rancatore
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first started Harold Underdown's book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, I thought it was starting too slowly and was a little too repetitive. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure it was just my eagerness to fill my brain with as much knowledge about the process of writing, publishing and selling a children's book that was discontent.

I now feel like I know enough about releasing my manuscripts into the publishing world to take that terrifying leap. Underdown prepares hi
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u
Actual rating: 2.5 stars. If you're looking to learn the basics of publishing, however, then consider this a three star rating. But if that's the case, then you should think about choosing a book that's been updated within the last 5 years. There's nothing glaringly out of date, but I found certain sections such as self-publishing and e-books lacking. Also, this book should have been called "Writing and Publishing Your Children's Book." Huge chunks are devoted to writing and, to a lesser extent, ...more
Linda Martin
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
It has been a few years since I read this book and since then I moved and gave all my writing books to a friend before I left town. I was trying to lighten my load but of all the books I gave away I miss my writing books most.

I have a lot of respect for the writer of this book and remember it being basic, factual, and helpful. I'd recommend it for anyone who considers embracing the life of a writer for children. Follow your dreams but be realistic. Plan ahead. Stay inspired.
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Some of the material here is a little outdated, but a very quick and helpful high-level overview of what you need to know when starting to think about making books for children - types of books, the role of a publisher, working with illustrators or self-illustrating, etc.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing to see so many odd typos in a book about writing, /editing/, and publishing books, but a hopefully enlightening and helpful read.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well done, Harold.
Maryam Chehrazad
Apr 06, 2022 rated it it was amazing
New authors MUST read this book. This book helped me through out my journey from the beginning to the end. For someone who has no experience in writing, this book explains all the details.
Miko Lee
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
An adequate guide book about the basics of publishing children's book. Very basic. ...more
Kay Mcgriff
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Harold D. Underdown gives a complete peek behind the curtain of the children's publishing industry in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, Third Edition (Penguin 2008). I have picked up much of the information over the years from following the blogs of some of my favorite writers, but I still learned much about the process, especially what happens once the writing and editing is done.

I found some of the most valuable parts of the books to be the references to additional res
Jamie Collins
After just begiing ot read this book, I slipped it into my backpack to take to work (to read on breaks only bossman, honest). Well, it frickin dumped monsoon-style on my bike ride home and everything inside my pack, including this idiots guide was soaked. I am an idiot. The cheap-assed paper they use in the Idiots manuals blows up when it gets wet, so now I had this unconcealable mess of ruination. Admittedly I tried returning the book to the library (yes, it was a library book) all cool, like y ...more
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who is interested in publishing a children’s book can save themselves a lot of trouble by doing their homework; this book is a comprehensive, invaluable place to start. Underdown generously provides some of this information and other advice for free on his website, The Purple Crayon (, for anyone who wants a preview of what this book includes and more. He covers the entire process of writing and illustrating for children, from “Where to Begin”, through submitting and pub ...more
Haley Keller
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book covers just about everything you could want to know about publishing children's books and also provides plenty of other resources if you want to learn more. It's clear that the author really knows what he's talking about as he's knows the industry well. If you're looking for a good book on the publishing side of writing children's books, I would highly recommend this book.
I think the 'idiot' book series are better than the 'dummies' books. Perhaps it's because I feel I'm more an idiot than a dummy. Truly, to me, they are easier to read and understand. I liked this publishing book. It gave good advice but I needed more. ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-craft
This is more of a reference book that you keep referring to again and again. Not necessarily one to sit down and read all at once. That said, it is a must for children's writers to have on their shelves. ...more
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eventhough I am only at the preliminary stages of the process, the book gave a great overview of what is to be expected in trying to get my writing published. It did a great job of getting me really excited about it, but still gave a realistic view of how difficult it may be.
Sue (booknbeachbag)
I'm not sure if, in March 2012, this book has the most up-to-date information regarding submissions, but it provided good solid steps to follow in order to transform a completed draft into a manuscript ready to be submitted - and beyond. ...more
Harold Underdown
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
This is the current edition of my book! Since I can't write a review of my own book, I'll just direct you to this information page about it, with links to chapters of the book, a page of reviews, and other materials:
Elizabeth Haynes
Jan 10, 2016 rated it liked it
The first third of the book was somewhat useful. The rest is outdated.
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
Wendy Bescher Jeffreys Perez
Oct 05, 2008 is currently reading it
Are you surprised?
Robin Martin
Oct 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
THis is a must-read for anyone considering entering this field.
J.R. Wilson
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full of wonderful advice and hints about the world of publishing. This book is for anyone (published or non-published)in the writing industry.
Kim Briggs
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A must-have tool in the writer's toolbox. Deciding when your manuscript is ready to submit just became easier! ...more
D.L. Price
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-writing
For a new author coming into the publishing world, this is a great book to read! I have read it cover to cover; and now use as a reference guide. A must have on your publishing book list!
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was such a helpful resource book, I purchased a copy of
Kirsti Call
Mar 06, 2011 rated it liked it
I've started writing down some of the stories that I tell my kids. This book is very informative and readable. ...more
Cortney Davis
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Such a helpful guide!!! I am going to buy this.
Dec 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Class reading
Jul 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
The information is valuable. I learned none of this during my graduate work in Creative Writing. Of course, this is the only publishing handbook I've read, I've nothing to compare it to. ...more
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I have been a children's book editor for over 20 years. For the first half of that, I worked in-house at Macmillan, Orchard, and Charlesbridge. More recently I have been working independently--working with authors and publishers, speaking at conferences, and giving workshops. I also run The Purple Crayon, an informational website, at, and am a contributing editor to Child ...more

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