Crash Course in Children’s Publishing: Everything You Need to Know

February 9 - April 13, 2022


Multi-Week Online Course

  • 10 weeks of programming (mix of live and recorded)
  • Live Lectures Wednesdays, 8pm – 9pm Eastern (February 9, 23; March 9, 16, 23; April 13)
  • Recorded programming released on weeks when live sessions aren’t held
  • Optional Live Office Hours beginning on Friday, February 11 at 11am
  • Ongoing discussion threads with engaged faculty responses
  • Post-course 1:1 mentorship session included to discuss a work-in-progress and/or publishing related question
  • Closed captions available at all live sessions, and in recordings
  • 50 participants max

Join lead faculty Harold Underdown, and special guests Leah Henderson and Linda Epstein, for a Crash Course in Children’s Publishing. At the end of the course, you will understand how the children’s book publishing industry works, including submitting, publishing, marketing a book for children, teens, or young adults, and beginning ideas about craft and critique.


  • Informal Q & A sessions held at all live programming.
  • Post-course consultation/mentorship session with a publishing mentor to discuss work-in-progress and/or publishing-related questions.
Crash Course in Children's Publishing


This ten-week online course covers all aspects of children’s book publishing, from genres and types of books to working with a publisher (and everything in between). Material will be covered via six live Zoom sessions and pre-recorded content in our online learning platform. You’ll also have access to weekly live office hours with faculty.

You’ll also learn details about the editorial development process, including what to do once you have a finished book. The goal of the course is to demystify children’s publishing and answer ALL of your questions about the process.

You will:

  • Explore genres of books, types of publishers, types of markets; fiction vs. nonfiction, flat fee vs. royalties, schools and libraries, etc.
  • Find out how to get help before you submit from books, conferences, critique groups, beta readers and children.
  • Find out how to get started as a professional and find your community.
  • Use writing exercises to get to know your characters and develop your stories.
  • Understand submissions rules and practices, including which mistakes to avoid.
  • Learn about how publishers sign up manuscripts and how to make sense of contracts.
  • Discover the publishing process: developmental editing, line editing, copyediting and proofreading, design, illustration, production, marketing and distribution.

You can watch course previews here:
Ta-DAA! Acquisition!
Design & Illustration
More Kinds of Picture Books


  • Serious beginners to the field of children’s books who are ready to devote some time to learn and practice. If you’re tired of exhaustive online searches, hard-to-sift-through information, or lack of practical advice when it comes to writing for children, this course offers answers through one, thorough program. You get long-term support over 10 weeks, and can learn at your own pace.
  • Those who have written a story for children but have no idea how to submit it to publishers. This course will give you best practices for revising and submitting your work.
  • You have sold some stories to children’s magazines and would now like to learn more about the book publishing process. We’ll give you a behind-the-scenes look at all that goes on, from submission to publication.
  • Those who have written for audiences outside the children’s book industry and want to learn more about how your past writing experience can transfer into this new field.

What to Expect from the Crash Course: Watch the video

Who Should Attend the Crash Course: Watch the video


This course runs for 10 weeks and is a mix of pre-recorded content and live Zoom sessions. Live sessions are Wednesdays at 8pm Eastern. Dates are noted in the agenda below. There are also weekly live Zoom Office Hours with faculty. These are optional but encouraged.

*Note: Your 1:1 consultation with a carefully selected mentor is scheduled after the final session of the course, at a mutually convenient time to you and your mentor.

Week One
Wednesday, February 9, 8pm – 9pm* Eastern: Crash Course Overview and Introductions (Live)

  • Welcome with introductions
  • Overview of course syllabus, including how to access online materials and engage in the discussion board with fellow writers.
  • *Please note this week may run slightly longer with introductions of fellow writers.

Friday, February 11, 11am – 12pm Eastern: Optional Live Office Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion

Week Two
Pre-Recorded Content: Books, Publishers, Markets, and More

  • Types of books and genres in the children’s book industry
  • Types of publishers and who’s who
  • Today’s children’s book market
  • Additional resources, including book talks from the Highlights Foundation team

Optional Office Hour: Time to come facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion

Week Three
Wednesday, February 23, 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Getting Started with Your Story (Live)

  • Reading current books, and how to do it
  • Building your industry knowledge
  • Getting feedback and revising
  • Additional resources, including review sources, how-to books, and more!

Additional content will also be released.

Optional Office Hour: Time to come facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion

Week Four
Pre-Recorded Content: Getting Started as a Professional

  • Getting started as a writer
  • Finding community, caring for yourself as a creative, and dedicating time to your craft with Leah Henderson
  • Essential conversations in children’s publishing: responsible representation, anti-racism and anti-bias books
  • Additional resources, including “You’re Never Too Old to Write” and more!

Week Five
Wednesday, March 9, 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Digging Into Character with Special Guest Leah Henderson (Live)

  • Knowing your characters: creative exercises
  • Character backstory
  • Little known facts
  • Character voice
  • Character interview
  • Place as character

Optional Office Hour: Time to come facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion

Week Six
Wednesday, March 16, 8pm – 9pm Eastern: How to Craft a Query Letter with Special Guest Linda Epstein(Live)

  • Publishers and editors
  • Agents and what they do
  • Submissions
  • Additional resources including, “Query Writing is All About the Pitch” and more!

Additional content will also be released on research and submission.

Optional Office Hour: Time to come facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion

Week Seven
Wednesday, March 23, 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Getting the Deal (Live)

  • Acquisitions
  • The contract
  • Understanding terms and royalties
  • What to watch out for
  • Additional resources including “Believing After 10 Rejections” and more!

Additional content will also be released.

Optional Office Hour: Time to come facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion

Week Eight
Pre-Recorded Content: What Comes After: The Editing and Publishing Process

  • Developmental editing, line-editing, copyediting, and proofreading.
  • Design and illustration
  • Production
  • Marketing
  • Distribution
  • The “end”
  • Additional resources including a video highlighting self-publishing in today’s market, and more!

Optional Office Hour: Time to come facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion

Week Nine
Pre-Recorded Content: Digging Into the Illustration Process

  • Sketches
  • Approval of sketches
  • Art samples
  • Final art
  • The book design
  • and more with Daria Peoples

Optional Office Hour: Time to come facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion

Week Ten
Wednesday, April 13, 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Where Do We Go From Here? (Live)

  • Questions you still have
  • Details about mentor pairing
  • Evaluating your goals and next steps of action

Post-Course Mentorship Session: You will be asked to complete a survey assessing your publishing goals and needs (you may complete this survey between weeks six and ten.) Your mentor will be able to review your survey 1-2 weeks following the course. You will then work with your mentor to select a time to meet and materials to exchange. You’ll meet for a 1:1 session with your mentor at the chosen time. Mentors will be thoughtfully matched with writers based on survey needs and goals.

A note about workshop agendas and how they change and evolve.


If your schedule does not allow you to attend live sessions, that’s OK! You’ll have access to the recordings. They’re posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through May 31, 2022. Closed captions will be available on all live sessions, and recordings from live sessions. The course also includes writing exercises, community interaction, and goal setting. To maximize your investment in the course, take advantage of these.


Stories help kids develop language, build the power of imagination, understand their world and value their lives as they see themselves reflected within. This course educates and encourages creators as they bring their voices to this important work.

Why do we mention this? Learn about the Highlights Foundation mission.


Who should attend? Watch the video.
Into the Woods podcast talks with Harold Underdown about the online Crash Course
7 Quick Tips for Beginning Writers
How to Start Revising That First Draft
Getting Out of the Slush Pile
Questions to Ask BEFORE You Submit Your Story or Art
Course booklist on


“I was able to confidently complete my draft and query letter. It was the highlight (no pun intended) of my year! Thank you. I am looking forward to working with my mentor, as well.”

“I loved getting deep insight into the children’s book world today and also a better understanding of the business of the publishing world and how to navigate it. It was a comprehensive overview – and the instructors were positive and supportive.”

“I can’t say enough about the instructors. The knowledge they shared was incredible and very non-threatening to one who is just trying to get started. I found encouragement in the midst of the reality of the hard work and time requirements.”

“I am thrilled with this experience. So many of my questions have been answered and I learned a great deal. Harold is wonderful and I enjoyed listening to him. Allison did a great job, too, especially about query letters.”


Harold Underdown

Harold is an executive editor at Kane Press. He is also the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Children’s…
Learn more

Leah Henderson

Leah Henderson is the author of several critically acclaimed books for young readers including Daddy Speaks Love, A Day for…
Learn more

Linda Epstein

Linda Epstein is a senior agent at Emerald City Literary Agency, in the east coast office. She represents novels for…
Learn more