SCBWI Guide – “The Book” – Download Free PDF or Purchase Hardcover – How To Format a Book Manuscript & How to Write A Query Letter

The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children

Some of What the SCBWI Guide Covers

How to Format Your Manuscript

“» All manuscripts must be typed on 8½ ” x 11” white paper in black ink.
» Use 12-point Arial or Times New Roman.
» Double-space all manuscripts.
» Pages should be numbered consecutively.
» The default margin settings that appear in a new Microsoft Word document are acceptable.
If you are setting margins manually, use a 1-inch or 1.25-inch margin on each side of the page.ZX» Do not submit electronically (i.e., email) unless the editor or agent specifically requests you do so.” page 8.

How to Prepare the First Page of Your Picture Book Manuscript

What Is A Query Letter?

“A query letter has one purpose and one purpose only: to cause the editor or agent to want to read your manuscript or book proposal.” page 11

Writing Is A Business.  Marketing Is Essential for Writers. Writing Query Letters Is Part of Marketing.

A Query Letter Should Have a Hook – A Summary – A Short Biography – A Closing 

A Query Letter Should Be No Longer than 1 Page

How to Write A Query Letter for a Picture Book Manuscript

  1. Remember that this is a business letter. Don’t try to be too chummy.
  2. The first line of your query letter should be a hook.
  3. If you have met the letter’s recipient before, you can mention it briefly.


“…summarize what your manuscript is about in three or four sentences. For novels, this does not mean the plot points of your novel. It means an overview that includes the setting, characters, conflict, and how the novel is different from other similar novels. For nonfiction, it means an overview of how the material will be handled, the availability of photos, access to experts, and facts or statistics that indicate how many potential readers may be interested in such a book. As in every section of the query letter, the summary details must be explained in an interesting, exciting way.” page 11


“In the hook and summary sections of a query letter, the writer’s goal is to convince the editor or agent to read the offered manuscript. In the biographical information section, the goal is to convince the successfully write the manuscript described. In this brief section, the writer must highlight the areas of their life that make them an expert on the topic.” pages 11 – 12

“The biographical section is also where publishing credits are listed— best-known ones first.” page 12