Last month, my post tackled five tips for finding an editor, agent, or publisher who would be a good fit for your manuscript—and I promised to come back this month with advice to help you figure out whether it might be worth sending your manuscript to Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

Assuming that you’ve done your homework—polished your manuscript until it’s the best it can be, researched publishers and agents until you have a good idea of where your story might fit—here are five signs that your manuscript might be able to find a home at Eerdmans.

 1. Your story offers the reader something to take away

We love a manuscript that makes us laugh as much as the next publisher. But we’re also looking for stories that have substance. We love stories that inform as well as entertain—stories that inspire readers or leave them with a sense of wonder and curiosity. And we get particularly excited about stories that highlight interesting corners of history, tackle contemporary social issues, or have a religious focus.

2. Your story avoids being didactic

When a writer is trying for meaning and substance, of course, it’s very easy to stray into the realm of didacticism. But the best stories—even those with something for readers to learn—shouldn’t come with a neat ending or moral. Check out my post here about ways that you can avoid making your story didactic.

3. Your story is brave and honest

One of the best antidotes to didacticism is honesty. At Eerdmans, we love stories that are not afraid to take on complex emotions and hard questions. We love books like Anna’s Heaven or The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have that are willing to acknowledge that life rarely has easy answers and neat resolutions—and that are willing to rest in the discomfort of things not completely resolved.

4. Your story is fresh and original

We’re looking for stories that haven’t been told before—or stories that have never been told the way that you’ve told them. We’re proud of our books like Jonah’s Whale (who’s ever thought to tell the whale’s side of the story before?) or The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (who would have thought that the Reconstruction Era and a little-known congressman would make such a great picture book?).

5. You’re interested in working with a smaller, independent publisher

If you’ve researched different publishers, you’re probably aware that bigger publishers and smaller publishers each come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers is an independent publisher. We only publish 14 to 16 books a year. And while we may not have the resources you would find in larger New York house, we are very invested in each of the books that we publish and strive to give them a very personalized level of care and attention.


Of course, there are many publishers who are probably also looking for manuscripts with some or maybe all of these qualities I’ve described. But if you think that your manuscript fits these criteria, Eerdmans just might be the perfect home for it. You can find out more about how to submit projects to use by reading our submission guidelines.

Kathleen Merz* * *

Kathleen Merz is managing editor for Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. Read her From the Editor’s Desk column—packed with editorial insight and behind-the-scenes info on Eerdmans books—one Thursday a month here on Eerdlings.