Selling a Picture Book By Ronica Stromberg

Picture books rank among the hardest manuscripts to sell, and they can cost $100,000 or more to produce – an expense dwarfing that of the average paperback. Still, I wanted to sell mine.

I had already sold a mystery to a small press and stories to magazines and anthologies. Through these efforts, I learned that many publishers refuse to consider unagented submissions. I also learned that few agents represent children’s writers because children’s writing generally pays poorly.

I sent my picture book to open publishers and soon received a slew of form rejections. None gave me any inkling what might be wrong with my manuscript. The book, a sweet bedtime story about a guardian angel watching over an accident-prone boy, had garnered praise from my critique group.

I attended a writing conference and learned from one speaker that publishers are inundated with angel stories and bedtime stories. Another speaker warned about the difficulty of marketing books that cross genres. I wondered if the angel in my book might be making the story “too religious” for mainstream publishers but “not Christian enough” for Christian publishers. Muslims, Jews, and even some people claiming no faith also believe in angels.

I submitted the book to the Christian market and collected more rejections. After the last publisher on my list rejected it, my husband asked, “What will you do now?”

“The only thing I can do,” I replied. “Send it overseas!”

I submitted my book to two publishers in England. A few months later, Lion-Hudson contracted for the book.

Both a Christian and international publisher, Lion-Hudson likes to acknowledge faith in its books but needs to sell in non-Christian countries. The acquisitions editor informed me my story suited their purposes perfectly.

My picture book, The Time-for-Bed Angel, appeared in bookstores throughout the world in 2008.

Ronica Stromberg’s picture book, The Time-for-bed Angel, is available online and in both religious and nonreligious bookstores throughout the United States and the world. She is also the author of The Glass Inheritance, a mystery for 10- to 14-year-olds; three teen novels under contract; and stories in 16 anthologies.