Write and Create with PJ Library and PJ Our Way

PJ Library chooses 88 titles each year for its North American program, which includes board books, picture books, and easy chapter books aimed at children ages 6 months to eight years. PJ Our Way, the next chapter of PJ Library for older kids, chooses 48 middle-grade books a year aimed at kids ages nine through twelve. That’s a whopping 136 books a year! And that means we need your creative endeavors to keep our program growing.

Here’s your guide to working with PJ Library and PJ Our Way:

  1. What is PJ Library?
    PJ Library, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, is a Jewish family engagement program made possible through partnerships with philanthropists and local Jewish organizations. Each month PJ mails free Jewish children’s books to its participants ages 6 months through 8 years.


  2. I have a manuscript/book. Does PJ Library accept submissions from authors?
    Yes! We accept submissions of Jewish-themed manuscripts and books for children through age 8 from authors, illustrators, agents, and publishers. Most of our submissions come directly from authors.


  3. How do I submit to PJ Library?
    Books and manuscripts should be submitted to PJ Library electronically by emailing  an attached Word document or PDF to submissions@pjlibrary.org. Please note that we do not accept hard copy submissions from authors and agents. Stories submitted via third party websites such as WeTransfer, Hightail, Dropbox, etc., cannot be accepted. If your submission is too large to email as an attachment, we suggest reducing both the size and resolution of the file. For submission instructions, please reference the "Submit Your Manuscript/Book" section on this website. Within several days of submitting your book or manuscript, you will receive an email acknowledging its receipt.


  4. Do I need to include a cover letter with my submission?
    A cover letter isn’t necessary. It’s important to include contact information, and if there’s something that you feel PJ needs to know in order to consider your submission properly, you may add a short note to the body of your email.


  5. Does my manuscript submission need illustrations in order to be considered by PJ?
    No. Manuscript submissions do not need to include illustrations. The majority of manuscript submissions do not include illustrations. Illustrations will be handled by the publisher once a manuscript reaches that point.


  6. I’m an illustrator. Is there work available for me through PJ Library?
    PJ Library welcomes manuscripts from author-illustrators through our regular submission process. At this time, PJ Library does not accept submissions of illustrations only.


  7. Are submissions blind?
    Yes. When Book Selection Committee (BSC) members review a manuscript, they do not know the identity of the author. This is to ensure that each manuscript is judged solely on the quality of its content.


  8. Can I submit my manuscript to publishers at the same time I submit to PJ?
    Yes. PJ Library also accepts submissions of already-published works as well as manuscripts.


  9. What is PJ Publishing?
    PJ Library has its own imprint that specializes in producing books for our programs. PJ Publishing has developed an expertise in board books and special projects. Manuscripts accepted by our Book Selection Committee without an existing publisher are automatically reviewed by PJ Publishing. Manuscripts can’t be submitted solely for PJ Publishing consideration; all manuscripts are submitted in the same way and go through the same selection process.


  10. Do I need an agent in order to work with PJ Library?
    Absolutely not! While we are pleased to work with agents, the great majority of PJ authors don’t have an agent.


  11. How long is the PJ process of considering a submission?
    PJ currently receives 70-75 submissions every month! Giving each manuscript the attention it deserves is time-consuming; the time from submission to the committee’s determination is currently about 12 weeks.


  12. Will I hear from PJ about my submission?
    All submissions receive an email acknowledgement within several days of receipt. Due to the high volume of submissions received, we are able to contact only those authors whose book or manuscript is selected for further discussion. At this time, most reviews take place within 12 weeks of receipt of the manuscript or book. We respectfully ask that authors and agents do not contact PJ Library to check the status of a submission.


  13. What happens once PJ’s Book Selection Committee accepts my manuscript?
    When a submission is accepted, the chair of the Book Selection Committee contacts the author to share the good news and discuss next steps. Generally, this involves deciding which publishers will be offered the project and how that will be accomplished. The author may choose to “shop” the manuscript her/himself; if the author has an agent, the agent may submit to publishers. Often the chair of the BSC makes submissions to publishers on behalf of the author.


  14. Is my manuscript eligible for PJ Library’s Author Incentive Award?
    All manuscripts submitted to PJ Library between after July 22, 2016 are eligible for PJ Library’s Author Incentive Award (AIA) after acceptance by the Book Selection Committee, provided they meet PJ Library’s guidelines. Manuscripts do not need to be submitted specifically for the AIA, since all manuscript submissions to PJ Library will be considered for this award.


  15. How will I be paid for my book in the PJ Library line-up?
    Authors and illustrators are paid directly by the publishing house. PJ Library isn’t involved in author/publisher contract negotiations, the contracts themselves, or payment to authors and illustrators.


  16. How many words does my manuscript need to be?
    Your book needs to be the right number of words for you to tell your story! PJ Library sends out many types of books, including board books, picture books, and early reader chapter books. We do not have a set word length but encourage authors to look to other published books in those formats for guidance.


  17. I can’t decide whether to keep one of the characters in the story I’m writing. Where can I go for help?
    Writing a children’s book is an art, but it’s one often done with the support of others. To help support authors, PJ Library partners with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the international professional organization for writers and illustrators of children’s literature. Their more than 70 regional chapters around the world provide conferences, critique groups, and networking. Check out them out at https://www.scbwi.org/ for more information.


  18. How can I find out topics PJ Library currently needs and if my book idea is of interest?
    One way is to go to the PJ Library website. You’ll find the PJ Library Content Framework, which is an overview of the topics included throughout the program. You’ll also find two lists, one for ages 6 months through 3 years, the other for ages 4 through 8 with regularly-updated book ideas that are of current interest to the committee. These are by no means comprehensive, but meant to be a starting point for potential book topics.


  19. Are there opportunities for authors and illustrators to learn more about PJ Library and keep up-to-date with what’s happening?
    Yes! Sign up for PJ Library's quarterly newsletter for authors and illustrators to learn about exciting professional opportunities (such as Tent, held in collaboration with the Yiddish Book Center, and the upcoming Author Israel Experience). You can also check out PJ’s blog for activities, interviews, and more.


  20. I have a manuscript meant for children older than 8. Can I still submit it to PJ Library?
    Not quite! Our sister program, PJ Our Way (PJOW), accepts manuscript submissions for kids ages 8.5-12. For more information on submissions for PJOW, please visit the following webpage: https://pjourway.org/about/book-submission-information.