C.I. Guide to Publishing Children's Books Home Page

Reviews and Endorsements of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books

New section:

I post personal comments I've received from people about the help they have received from the guide. I'm happy to hear yours--please contact me with it.

I have taught a class called Writing Picture Books for Children at UCLA Extension for over a decade, and I require every one of my students to read this book for my class. 
It not only presents a broad overview of the field, but also gives specific examples. The book is packed with terrific boxed extras like "Vocabulary Lists", which explain terms from the children's publishing industry; "Class Rules", which detail warnings and cautions; "Can You Keep a Secret?", which include tips and resources to help a children's writer or illustrator present him or herself as a pro; and my favorite, "Playground Stories", which are anecdotes from and profiles of children's authors and publishers which give an eye-opening inside view of the children's publishing world. 
This book should be on the shelf of everyone in the field of children's publishing. No, not on the shelf--on the desk, and open.
--April Halprin Wayland

Although John and I have 25 years in the business of writing and illustrating picture books, and recognition including a Parents’ Choice Foundation Picture Book Recommendation, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, a Booklist Editors’ Choice, many starred reviews, inclusion on state reading lists, and a title in The New York Times Parent’s Guide to the Best Books for Children, 3rd edition, placing a new book is always a challenge.
You have helped us tremendously with your Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children’s Books and your online resources. Our new book Too Many Frogs (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children) will be out later this year, and we are on to new endeavors with your help. Please know that we appreciate – and use -- everything you've written.
--Ann Hassett

Earlier endorsements of the 3rd edition:

“Having worked as both editor and author, Harold Underdown is a knowledgeable and sympathetic guide to the often bewildering world of writing and publishing books for young people. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books is encouraging without pandering, realistic but not pessimistic, thorough and generous. I wish this book had been around when I first started out!”
--Linda Sue Park, Newbery Medalist

“What a thorough and useful book! A guided tour of children’s book and magazine publishing that never skips a step. For seasoned writers and illustrators it is valuable. For beginners, it is essential. I learned plenty!”
--Gail Carson Levine, Newbery Honor winner

“My life would have been much easier if The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books had been available when I was getting started! It covers the whole territory--though I particularly like the sections on revision and ‘the publishing maze.’ Consider it your cheat-sheet to the world of children’s publishing.”
--Cynthia Leitich Smith, fiction author and owner of Cynsations

“If you want to see your work published, this is the one book you absolutely must have. Why? Because Harold tells the truth about publishing for kids and teens; the good news, the hard news, and the information that will give your story a fighting chance. This book unveils all the secrets. I personally recommend it to hundreds of writers every year.”
--Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, Fever 1793, and Twisted

"I LOVE Harold's book and can't be without it. It's good for both beginning writers and published authors. It's good for everyone!"
--Verla Kay, picture book author and owner of the famed Blue Boards

“With each new edition, this amazing resource gets better and better. Just when you think Harold has said all that can be said to help writers understand the complex world of children’s publishing, he offers something new. An eye-opening tool for new writers, and a vital support to any writing career, this book always perches near the top of my reference pile so I can snatch it quickly to find the answers I need. If you truly want to understand this business, this book’s for you.”
--Jan Fields, author and owner of Kid Magazine Writers

Amazon page for The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books

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Of the Third Edition:

As this revised edition states, “Children’s publishing is a big business, with many kinds of publishers, many kinds of books, and right ways and wrong ways to do even such a simple thing as write a cover letter.” Children’s book editor Underdown covers all the bases of breaking into the industry, from tips on maximizing the creative process to manuscript-submission pointers to ideas for promoting a published book. Background on the history and current state of children’s publishing includes information on new trends and new imprints launched up to 2007. Featured throughout are real-life anecdotes from published authors and illustrators and recommended Web resources. Back matter includes a glossary, bibliography, sample cover letters, and an index. Whether a “complete idiot” or an experienced writer or illustrator, children’s-publishing hopefuls will find this a comprehensive, balanced resource. — Laura Tillotson, Booklist, September 1, 2008

"Underdown covers an astonishing array of information from a tutorial on the differences between various genres to advice on promoting an already published book. The bulk of the text, however, is geared to those brand new to the children’s book industry, and I wish I’d had this book when I was first starting out. Much of the advice Underdown offers new writers can be found elsewhere, but what he does differently is explain precisely how to go about following that advice." --Jenny Meyerhoff, The Prairie Wind, Winter 2009. (The Prairie Wind is the journal of SCBWI-Illinois) Full review: "For Writers Starting Out, Think ‘Idiots’"

"Owning Harold Underdown’s advice-rich book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books, is the smartest step you’ll take toward becoming – and staying – published. This third edition, balanced with information for writers as well as illustrators, offers a comprehensive and practical look of the process of creating and publishing children’s books." --Alexis O'Neill, Kite Tales, January 2009. (Kite Tales is the journal of the SCBWI Tri-Regions chapter) For the full review, see the January 2009 Kite Tales, page 8.

"Underdown knows the skinny on publishing children’s books. This third-edition guide offers expert advice to children’s writers at all levels of their development. Although previously published writers will be familiar with much of the basic information covered within the guide, beginning and experienced writers alike will benefit from the comprehensive reference materials."
--Bonita Pate Davis, BorderLines #68, Winter 2008. (BorderLines is the quarterly journal of SCBWI MidSouth)
For the full review, see pp. 9-10 in the Winter 2008 BorderLines.

Earlier Reviews:

These are of the first edition; once a publication reviews a book, the subsequent editions usually don't get "repeat" reviews.

From the July-August 2001 SCBWI Bulletin:

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books.
by Harold Underdown and Lynne Rominger
Paperback, Alpha Books, $16.95
Reviewed by Amy Timberlake

    This is what happens when you pick up this book: You flip through it. Not a writing book, you think, but more a survey of the children's publishing world. Topic headings span from "I Don't Know What to Say!" to "Oh Boy! A Contract!" and continue on to "My Book is Published! Now What?". You're incredulous -- all in one place? You find the back page with the bios of the authors. You know Harold Underdown -- a children's book editor and the creator of your favorite children's book web site, "The Purple Crayon." You see that Lynne Rominger has written several "Idiot's Guides." Yes, the book has that "Idiot's Guide" telltale, clearly written, accessibility. Then you start to read. You become engrossed. Rominger and Underdown interview editors. They explain how a book is made. They give word counts. They navigate school visits, winning prizes, bookstore signings, and promotions. Your heartbeat begins to trot. Your fist begins to clench involuntarily. Then you notice a series of sidebars called, "Can You Keep a Secret?" No, you think, they wouldn't tell hard-won industry secrets! But oh yes, they do! Suddenly, you're indignant. Where was this when I was [fill-in-the-blank] ? Why didn't anyone tell me that [fill-in-theblank]? That's when you decide that Mr. Underdown and Ms. Rominger have been wasting precious years because clearly their life calling was to write this book. You needed it! You pause. You reflect. You decide, maybe you're being a tad self-centered.
    This book is a good thing. Though Rominger and Underdown focus on writers, illustrators will also find helpful information. It's all those scraps of information that many of us have cobbled together bound into one neat, easy-to-read package. It's a leg-up for anybody beginning in the industry, and for those that have been around a little longer, it's a refresher course with surprises along the way.

A review from the Amazon.com website, by Karen Romano Young, published author:

I'm very glad to be able to direct anyone who's interested in learning more about what it takes to succeed in children's publishing to this fine book. Harold Underdown knows children's publishing inside-out, and it shows. This book is wonderfully objective, in that it fairly presents all sides (editorial, writing, illustrating, marketing...) And it's terrifically subjective, as Harold uses many situations experienced by people all over the field to illustrate his points. I've been writing for children for 20 years, and I still found much that I didn't know, and got clarification of things I sort of thought I understood. If I'd had this book when I was starting out, my 'apprenticeship' in the field might have been considerably shorter and more efficient. I'm very glad to be able to direct anyone who's interested in learning more about what it takes to succeed in children's publishing to this fine book.

Click to read this and other reviews at Amazon or to buy The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books

A review from the Barnes&Noble.com website, by Ann Tobias, editor and agent:

Outstanding advice to would-be children's book writers, offering a throughly knowledgeable, comprehensive overview of the field of children's book publishing (I should know--I am a children's book editor). The guidance the authors offer on writing for kids is both creative and practical.

Writers Write Internet Journal

There was an online review in the Writers Write Internet Journal. Scroll down--it's about halfway down the linked-to page.

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