Entering the publishing industry can be daunting! If you're taking the traditional path (MFA), an established plan of action might be waiting for you. If not, there are plenty of resources available to you. In no way can we cover all of them. But, we'd like to point out a few places you can visit:
(Your course depends on where you're at in your journey)
Many publishers and agents receive manuscripts that they should not be receiving yet. Perhaps something's missing or it could have greatly benefited from another read through. Ask yourself - have other people (that aren't family members or close friends) read my manuscript and liked it? Has your manuscript been through a critique group? Has an editor looked it over? Have you read your book out loud (try the Tell Me! app - you can set speed and language)?
If not, try visiting these sites:
Do you have an established platform? Publishers and agents will want this. You might ask - But, what can I build a platform on if I don't have anything published? Good question. Use your creativity. Do you enjoy reading books in the genre you write? (If you haven't read books in this genre, please go back to the previous step, read books in your genre, and revisit your manuscript.) You can post reviews books to reach your readers in advance. You'll build a reputation for taste in that area. Or, maybe you can start a quirky blog about the writing process and how your cats help (or hinder) you. Attend live and online conferences and make contacts. Engage with other writers.
Here's a good example of a picture book blog: https://www.anitraroweschulte.com/
Here's a good example of a picture book podcast:
Here's a good example of writing guidance by authors for authors:
Do you know where to go to find agents and publishers? (Also, another reason to attend live and online conferences / conventions.) An agent should never charge you a reading fee. It should be free to query an agent BUT it is good to adhere to submission guidelines often located on the agency website. Many publishers only accept submissions from agents. Do you know how to put together a query, pitch, synopsis, outline, marketing plan, etc.?
Here's an example of submission guidelines: https://www.metamorphosisliteraryagency.com/submissions
Here's a good query letter resource: https://www.writersdigestshop.com/query-letter
See query letters that have worked: https://subitclub.com/category/query-letters-that-worked-2/
Be sure to discuss writing decisions you make with family, friends, and professionals. What might sound good in your head when you're rushed sounds entirely different when you're saying it out loud to a colleague. Don't rush into things. It can be exciting to finish a manuscript but you don't want to send it out early. It can also be exciting to receive an offer of representation but you want to be sure you and the agent are a fit. You might be over the moon to receive a film option or publishing contract but have the document reviewed by someone else (someone that's not as emotionally attached and is professional and trustworthy). Luckily, there are tons of phenomenal resources available to you!
We wish you the best on your publishing journey!