Wednesday, June 14, 2023

How to Land a 2-Book Deal by Tina Cho

I recently landed a 2-book deal, so I wanted to share my process in the hopes that maybe one of you will also land a deal with a publisher. Below is the cover of my forthcoming picture book from Waterbrook, Penguin Random House's Christian imprint.


   1.Get to know who the editors are.

Since I belong to the writing organization, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers & Book Illustrators), I read their bulletins and newsletters that feature editors. I also follow editors on Twitter. One editor I paid close attention to was Bunmi Ishola of Penguin Random House’s Christian imprint, Waterbrook Multnomah. She was looking to build up their children’s books. I read an interview of her in the SCBWI Insight which gave her wish list around March 2021.


   2.Tailor a manuscript or query that fits the editor’s wish list.

Bunmi said she wanted a baby series for theology, along the lines of the Nerdy Baby series. Back in 2002 when my daughter was born, Baby Einstein was huge. We listened to Baby Mozart over and over with the hopes it would help her brain. Since then, Ruth Spiro developed her Baby Loves Science series and many others created similar series. I always wanted to write a board book, so I ran with this idea. Author Nancy I. Sanders taught me years ago, how to come up with a query of ideas, so I give her full credit.


   3.If you have an agent, check with her/him, to see if they agree with your idea, rather than wasting time on all the research and writing. Since I’d love to see a faith-based science baby series, I came up with Baby Astronomy. I ran the idea past my agent, Adria Goetz. She loved the idea and had even met Bunmi in person! Adria suggested to write this one manuscript first with descriptions for two others for a series.


   4.Write the story tailored to the editor’s wishes in your own unique style.
May 12, 2021 my agent sent the story to Bunmi. June 17th, Bunmi wrote back that she loved it! Wanted a proposal. She also would like to make this a picture book series instead of board books because of the rising cost of paper.


   5.Revise the story according to the editor’s guidance.
I revised the story to be a picture book, rather than a board book, which meant I had to add more pages, which meant more research.


   6.Graciously receive contract.
October 27, seven months after seeing Bunmi’s interview in the SCBWI Insight, I signed the contract for two books.



It’s been great working with Bunmi and the team at Waterbrook. They ask for my insight. I helped choose the illustrator, cover, jacket copy, and more. The wonderful Marta Álvarez Miguéns, who is well-known for her illustrations in Shark Lady, has done a superb job with the illustrations. I just finished the copyedits for book #2, God’s Little Oceanographer which swims to stores in 2025. But first, God’s Little Astronomer blasts into bookstores February 20, 2024.

So there you have it! Go stalk, I mean, follow editors! Find out what they publish, like, and want. May you be blessed with contracts!

Description of God's Little Astronomer:

Blast off to space and discover how every part of the universe--the planets, the stars, asteroids, meteoroids, and more--display God's glory, creativity, and, most important, his love for you and me!

God's Little Astronomer, author and educator Tina Cho invites young readers to blast off to see God’s creation in the heavens. From the sun, moon, stars, constellations, and comets, this out-of-this-world introduction to space will teach budding astronomers new words, facts, and concepts, while also encouraging them to see God throughout the universe, and reinforcing the message that the same God loves them too.

Each page includes fact-filled sidebars plus an accompanying Bible verse, making 
God's Little Astronomer the perfect combination of faith and science for budding scientists.

Available for preorder!

Bio: Tina Cho is the author of Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books 2018), Korean Celebrations (Tuttle 2019), My Breakfast with Jesus: Worshipping God around the World (Harvest House 2020), The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story (Kokila/Penguin Random House 2020), and God’s Little Astronomer (Waterbrook 2024) & God’s Little Oceanographer 2025. Her lyrical middle grade graphic novel, The Other Side of Tomorrow, debuts from Harper Alley in 2024. After living in South Korea for ten years, Tina, her husband, and two kids reside in Iowa where Tina also teaches kindergarten.



  1. Yay, Tina. This is such an instructive post and I am very excited for this God's Little Astronomer series! Another winner by a great author and human!

  2. great post, Tina! Thanks for sharing how you helped make this happen. Teamwork is what making books is all about. (plus, these are cool books!)

  3. Congratulations, Tina! And thank you for sharing your journey.

  4. Great advice, Tina. And congratulations! I look forward to reading these two books!

  5. Congratulations, Tina! Thank you for sharing your journey and tips for finding the right editor for your story.

    1. You're welcome, Charlotte. Hope something was helpful.

  6. This is great, Tina! Congratulations!

  7. Congratulations, Tina. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I hate it when I forget to check my name...I don't want to by anonymous! I'm Mona!!!

    1. Thanks, Mona. Haha, I think I've done that before, too.

  9. Tina, I love your ideas and the purpose surrounding them! Thank you so much for sharing your process and recommendations. I have wanted to write for the Christian market for young children for quite some time and was unsure of the opportunities. Thank you!

  10. Thank you Tina for sharing your journey ! I have shared your, 'Rice From Heaven'

    book with many and know these will more of bring of God's love to kids everywhere
    Reminds me of a Sunday School song I sang as a little one!!