Submission Guidelines

We are not accepting any submissions about COVID or the pandemic.

Due to our language translations, we are no longer accepting manuscripts in rhyme or rhythm.

We do accept simultaneous submissions. We do not accept submissions that have been previously published in any format, including self-publishing.

We are a small, independent publishing firm and need authors and illustrators to participate in marketing their book. For that reason, we cannot accept submissions from anyone who lives outside of the United States.

Our mission is to get children excited about science and math through fun-to-read picture book stories. We are looking for fiction or narrative nonfiction stories with science or math woven into the story. We prefer fiction over nonfiction. In every manuscript we look for a "cuddle factor" that will make parents and children want to read it together.

Each of our books includes a 2-6 page, non-fiction “For Creative Minds” section to reinforce the educational component of the book itself. This section will have activities, crafts, or fun facts to be shared by the parent, teacher, or other adult. Authors will be asked to provide separate facts that will be incorporated into this section.

Manuscripts must be less than 1000 words and must meet ALL of the following four criteria:

  1. Fun to read – mostly fiction with nonfiction facts woven into the story. We are NOT looking for pure "text-book" nonfiction
  2. National or regional in scope
  3. Must relate to science and math subjects taught at the elementary school level. Any manuscripts with a social studies connection (culture, history, geography) must also contain a math or science component.
  4. Must be marketable through a niche market such as zoo, aquarium, or museum gift shop

We are NOT looking for manuscripts about:

  • pets
  • new babies
  • magic or fantasy
  • biographies
  • counting books
  • ABC books
  • poetry books or rhyme
  • fairy tales
  • series of any kind
  • young adult books or novels
  • holiday-related books (including ones with holiday names in the title)

We ARE looking for manuscripts about:

We accept manuscripts written in Spanish by bilingual authors (English and Spanish). Please send your manuscript in Spanish and English, and all accompanying materials only in English.

Because we rely on authors and illustrators to actively promote and market their books, we currently only accept submissions from authors and illustrators living in the US and Canada.

We do not consider manuscripts that have been previously published in any way, shape, or form including e-books or self-published.

We don't like manuscripts with a lot of dialogue that may be difficult to illustrate.

Our standard format is 13 illustrated spreads of story, followed by 4 pages (2 spreads) of For Creative Minds. While not required, you may include suggested locations for spread-breaks in your manuscript text.

If a contract offered, we offer small advances against royalties.

We try to acknowledge receipt of the manuscript within two months but we can get backed up. If you have not heard anything after three months, please re-send as it may have not gotten through. If the manuscript has been rejected, please do not resubmit it unless we specifically suggested a revision. Please do not ask editors to critique your work or to recommend another editor or publishing house to whom you should submit.

Manuscript Submission Process


We are generally looking for realistic-style (not cartoon) illustrations for children.


We do accept submissions from illustrators who have written manuscripts. Please submit the manuscript as indicated above and attach two JPEG sketches (one in color if available). We do not accept snail mail dummies and they will be discarded without being opened. If we are interested in seeing the dummy after reviewing the email, we will contact you with further instructions.

Understanding the submission process – a heart to heart from Editor Donna German

First, let me say that I have been on the author side of submissions and I vividly recall the 27 rejections that I received prior to my first “yes!” I know that you have written a manuscript that is near and dear to your heart. I also know that you can “see” it in published form and that there is a frustration with the whole submission process – not only to Arbordale but to other publishers as well. Hopefully this will help you to understand what editors/publishers need/look for in submissions.

Please understand that the submission process is overwhelming for editors too. Reading submissions and selecting the list is just one of the many jobs that an editor does. I try to read all submissions within a few weeks and I either reject or tend to hold those which have some possibilities. As the year progresses, I try to keep the number down and will periodically cull the list.

When submitting a manuscript, you should think of it as though you are applying for a job—because you are! Put your best foot forward and present yourself in a professional manner. Know the company to which you are submitting and target your cover letter/email to the specific company. Your cover letter/email makes or breaks whether the submission even gets opened. If your cover letter/email is full of typos and grammatical mistakes, your submission likely will be rejected without being opened. If the best first line an author can come up with is “My name is…,” that submission will likely not even get opened.

Speaking of being professional, please use a professional email address and don’t send an email from your spouse or a family account. If you aren’t professional during the submission process, how can the publishing company expect you to represent them well in marketing of a book?

If you have not worked with a critique group to hone your manuscript and your cover letter/email, I strongly recommend you do so. You can find an online group or a group near you through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

I understand your frustration at receiving a rejection. However, please do not ask me to explain why it was rejected or to provide you with ideas on other publishers who may be interested. That's what your critique group is for.

This is a very bizarre business and if you are still waiting for your first break, I recommend that you start reading books about how to market your book. That might help you in understanding what it is that editors/publishers are looking for when they select manuscripts. Don't forget that this is a business – not just your love and art of writing. The authors who survive (and thrive) in this business are the ones that truly understand the business end and commit to doing what it takes.

Every publisher looks for different things. Our four criteria are directly tied to our marketing and each manuscript must fit ALL FOUR categories! If the manuscript doesn't stand up to what we need to market, we would be wasting our time and money by publishing it. And, yes, we have turned down some really cute manuscripts because they didn’t hit all four criteria. It is simply not enough to tell us that you'll do signings or readings. Here's the "in" on how the criteria tie to our marketing needs: