How Long Does it Take for a Picture Book to be Published? By Pippa Goodhart


This is one of those questions that picture book makers often get asked, and its one where the annoying answer tends to be, ‘It depends.’


Back in 1981 when I worked in Heffers Children’s Bookshop in Cambridge I was lucky enough to go on a tour of the Ladybird Book factory in Loughborough. It was an exciting place! Full of noisy machines printing, folding, chopping pages, sticking on covers, then books shooting out onto conveyor belts at speed. But Ladybird didn’t just manufacture the physical books in that building. Upstairs were offices where creators wrote and drew and designed. And they proudly showed their Ladybird book of the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. Their wedding was on the 29th of July. The Ladybird book was created, manufactured, and distributed into shops to be published on August 3rd. Not a picture book in the sense of a big format twelve-spread kind of picture book, but a book with more pictures than text, created and printed and published in just five days. 


Of my own picture books, the one that took the longest from the point of interesting a publisher to arriving in shops was Chapatti Moon. Looking back I see that the editor who published it first showed interest in May 2012, and publication finally happened in September 2017! So that one took more than five years, and that’s not counting the writing of it! But it’s a book I love, with wonderful illustrations by Lizzie Finlay, and it has remained in print and is still selling well, so proved worth the wait. 



But now I’m going to tell about a new picture book of mine which has taken a much more typical couple of years from publisher interest to being a book for sale in shops, but with very untypical timing of both ends of that process.

I actually made a note of the exact timings of the start of this publication journey because I knew I’d look back and not quite believe it. At 9.30 am on the 2nd of October 2018 I sent All Sorts to my agent. She read it and sent it to Flying Eye. At 9.45am (really!) she got a response from Sam Arthur saying, ‘I like the new text’. An offer was made by Flying Eye within days, and contracts signed the following month. Emily Rand set to work on illustrations, and publication was set for May 2020. And then we all know what happened. Covid19, lockdown, bookshops shut, and many many book publications delayed. But as things eased in September, All Sorts was published, and I’m delighted with it –

The delayed publication actually meant that the little 'elephant' the book was dedicated to had time to be born before the book was. Here he is at two weeks old, being read his book! -



So how long does it take for a picture book to get published? It all depends … 


Downloadable worksheets worksheets for All Sorts

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