I have just finished a picture book aimed at 4 to 10 year olds and am now seeking publication.
I know you have said previously that it is incredibly difficult to find a publisher/ agent for a children's picture book but I wondered if you feel it's better to approach a publisher directly or go via an agent. If you believe the latter is better, could you please recommend some agents to approach? I have an illustrator attached to the project (albeit not a well-known one) so is it best to send the manuscript with or without the accompanying pictures? And finally what can I do to make the manuscript stand out from the rest of the slush pile?
I'm curious about your picture book for 4 to 10 year olds, as that's not an age range any publisher would recognise ... Picture books are typically for children aged one to about five or six. There is a huge difference between the stories a four-year-old likes and those that appeal to ten-year-olds, so I'm not sure how you will have bridged that gap in your own story.
As to the submission question: submit to anyone you can. If publishers are accepting submissions, go for it. If there are agents looking for picture books, submit to them too. Unfortunately I can't recommend any, as it says in my little 'About Me' thingy on the right-hand side.
Send the manuscript with a couple of illustrations but not the whole lot - mainly because it's expensive for you to keep reproducing colour illustrations. Also take care not to send in anything unless it's been requested - that's a waste of your time and money.
To make your manuscript stand out, you only have to do one thing: make sure it's excellent. There are no visual tricks that agents and publishers respond to. We work our way through the pile and what always stands out is talent. The other thing that always stands out is rudeness in a letter, so maybe avoid that ...