The Crash Course in Children’s Book Publishing (Fall)

Online | Picture Books, Early Readers and Chapter Books, Novels, Nonfiction, Poetry, Business of Publishing
10 weeks. Everything you need to know about children's publishing.

October 4, 2023 - December 6, 2023




Multi-Week Online Course

Join lead faculty Harold Underdown and special guests 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.

  • 10 weeks of programming (with a blend of live and pre-recorded sessions)
  • Live Lectures Wednesdays, 8pm – 9pm Eastern (October 4, 18, November 1, 8, 29, and December 6)
  • Recorded programming released on weeks when live sessions aren’t held
  • Optional Live “Drop-In” Hours beginning on Friday, October 6, 2023
  • 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

Why This Workshop?

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 “drop-in” hours with Harold Underdown.

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.
Harold Underdown Video Interview preview

Want to Know More About the Course and if it's Right for You?

Find an interview with lead faculty Editor Harold Underdown about what to expect and who should attend, plus:

  • Sample topic videos
  • Feedback from past participants
  • Upcoming sessions
  • And More!

Feedback Expected

  • 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.

It’s a Great Fit For…

  • 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 in 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.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

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 “drop-in” hours with Harold Underdown on Fridays at 11am Eastern; 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.


One week prior to your course, you will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow writers, and engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards).

Week 1

Wednesday, October 4, 2023 at 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, October 6, 2023 at 11am- 12pm Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 2

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

Friday, October 13, 2023 at 11am- 12pm Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 3

Wednesday, October 18, 2023 at 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.

Friday, October 20, 2023 at 11am- 12pm Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 4

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 
  • 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!

Friday, October 27, 2023 at 11am- 12pm Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 5

Wednesday, November 1, 2023 at 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

Friday, November 3, 2023 at 11am- 12pm Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 6

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 at 8pm – 9pm Eastern: Researching Agents, Editors, Publishers & the Submission Process (Live)

  • Publishers and editors
  • Agents and what they do
  • Submissions
  • Additional resources on crafting a query letter

Additional content will also be released.

Friday, November 10, 2023 at 11am- 12pm Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 7

Pre-Recorded Content: Getting the Deal

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

Friday, November 17, 2023 at 11am- 12pm Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 8

Pre-Recorded Content: Digging Into the Illustration Process

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

*There is no “Drop-in” Hour scheduled for this week.

Week 9

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 8pm – 9pm Eastern: What Comes After: The Editing and Publishing Process (LIVE)

  • 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!

Friday, December 1, 2023 at 11am- 12pm Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown with special guest Linda Epstein

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 10

Wednesday, December 6, 2023 at 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.


Commitment Required for the Best Experience

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 January 31, 2024. 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.

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

How It Impacts Kids

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.

Testimonials from Our Community

“The experience was terrific. I learned a great deal. When I enrolled, I had been concerned about being able to get the full “workshop feeling” since the course was offered online rather than in person. My concerns were for naught. I felt that we made a good community even though we were not in the same room together! The presentations were thoughtful and thought-provoking. I appreciated the mix of craft and the nuts and bolts of publishing that instructors (special shout out to the fabulous Alison Green Myers and Harold Underdown!!!!), and guests shared with us. Discussions were substantive and fruitful. We did some powerful writing exercises together. The critiques of the writing samples we submitted were productive, direct, and kind. It is an art to give honest feedback without taking the air out of a writer! It was done so very well. I even met some nice people, remotely of course, but we set up a writing group that carried on long after the workshop was done. I recommend this workshop with enthusiasm!”

“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.”

Meet the Faculty

Special Guests


October 4, 2023 - December 6, 2023




When you register for this course, you’ll receive information via email to confirm.

For mini courses (one or two nights only), you’ll receive webinar links immediately to use on the evening of the course.

For longer courses, you’ll receive an invitation to your virtual classroom as the workshop approaches.

Learn more about the technology that we use for our online workshops.

Our Mission in Action

Share Your Story, Inspire a Child
Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
Partners & Sponsors

The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.