Submission Guidelines

Our mission is to get children excited about science and math through fun-to-read picture book stories. We are primarily looking for fiction manuscripts with non-fiction facts woven into the story, although we will also consider some non-fiction stories. 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. We do accept simultaneous submissions.

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

  1. Fun to read – mostly fiction with non-fiction facts woven into the story. We are NOT looking for pure "text-book" non-fiction
  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
  • 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.

We prefer prose, but will consider manuscripts in rhyme (see below). We do not accept books of poetry. There IS a difference.

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 your manuscript is accepted or a contract offered to an illustrator, 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

Illustrators

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

Author/Illustrators

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.

Thoughts on rhythm and rhyme

As you’ve probably figured out by now, many publishers do not accept manuscripts written in rhyme. While rhyme makes for a great read aloud, it is also the most difficult type of “story” to write. While we do accept rhyme manuscripts, the translations become difficult. We much prefer a good story written in prose or a rhythmic read, not necessarily in rhyme. If you submit a story in rhyme, please ensure that it meets the following basic criteria for rhyme:

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.

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: