1) Decide whether to hire an agent. In exchange for a commission on your earnings (usually 15%), an agent can critique your work, submit it to certain publishers who wouldn’t consider it otherwise, and negotiate your contract. It’s very difficult, however, to find a good agent who’ll work with you if you haven’t been published yet, and there are plenty of bad agents and scammers in the game (see Warnings below). If you decide to get an agent, however, check:
2) Thoroughly review The Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market, which lists children’s book publishers, what types of books they publish, and what they’re looking for.
Find children’s books that are similar to yours in content and audience and make note of the companies that published those books.
3) Get each publisher’s writer’s guidelines. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope asking for their writer’s guidelines, which will tell you whether they’re accepting unsolicited manuscripts and if they are, how they want you to send it to them.
4) Submit your manuscript according to each publisher’s guidelines. Follow the formatting requirements exactly as described.
Unless you are a professional illustrator, do not send illustrations. Publishers choose their own.
Be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope and a cover letter (or a query letter, if that’s what they specified).
5) If you get rejected, be persistent. Write more manuscripts and send them out. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If you get offered a contract, consider contacting an agent just to help you negotiate the contract (on an hourly basis). You can also join the Authors Guild or PEN and ask for help from their lawyers, or ask a published friend.
Please check out my first children’s book, RhinoWrangler