10 Things I Learned About Writing and Self-Publishing a Children’s Book
1) Write Don’t Think
Is the story in your head ready to burst out?
Just start writing whatever is in your head. Don’t try to edit and write at the same time. Even if you think it sounds crazy keep writing! The goal is to get all of your thoughts on paper.
2) Edit! Edit! Edit!
During this step, you will self-edit your book.
Read each sentence a thousand times as if you have never seen them before.
Add in ideas, search your target audience to know what words to use, and check your spelling and grammar.
Grammarly is a great app to use for self-editing.
3) Hire an Editor
Even when I thought my book was perfectly edited I was shocked to hear that I needed to hire an editor.
It wasn’t until I received a sample edit from an editor that I realized how necessary editors were. My editor made me think about my word choice and placement without changing my story.
I was excited because there was so much information in just the sample.
You can find editors from Facebook or Fiverr.com
4) Know what you want
Even if you are horrible at drawing like me, it is important that you draw out your ideas.
Give the illustrator a visual.
Don’t assume the illustrator will be able to see your vision just by you explaining it to them.
You can even find some of their own drawings to show them the style of drawing you are interested in.
When I found an illustrator she asked me questions like, “what color palette are you using? Do you want a vector or bitmap file? What will be the measurements of your book?”
You can already guess that I WAS LOST! So, off to google, I went. When you get to the step of publishing your book you will see how important those questions were.
5) Hire an illustrator
If you don’t understand anything else, understand this: ILLUSTRATIONS ARE NOT CHEAP!!
A really good illustrator can cost you anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 for a children’s book. On average, you will pay about $250 per page.
Look at it this way, once an illustrator completes a project they won't make any more money from that book. You can earn back what you paid in sales.
Some illustrators and authors have agreements where they may get a percentage of sales but I have no knowledge in that subject.
It is possible to find illustrators at a much cheaper cost by going to Fiverr.com or Upwork.com
6) Where to publish
There are several ways to self-publish your children’s book. The most common way and the way I chose to self-publish was via Ingram Sparks and Kindle Direct Publishing.
KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing company they will allow your book to be available on their platform in the US and Internationally. Some people have gotten their book chosen by Walmart just by the sales they received on KDP.
Ingram Sparks will place your book on several platforms such as Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and International book stores as well.
It is important to read their criteria about what your book’s file sizes should be as well as margins because it will be your biggest headache if you don’t. I had the worst experience trying to get my book files just as they wanted. They will continue to deny publishing your book until it meets the standards.
7) You don’t have to do it alone
Self-publishing can be costly. It is so much more than putting pen to paper.
Authors often just break even rather than making a profit. But there are tools out there to help you.
A popular resource is called Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is a website that will allow you to promote your book with the intention of getting others to donate to your project. In return for their donation, they will receive prizes such as a book, stickers, an e-book, etc.
You set a goal of what you need for your project, you explain what people’s donations are going towards, and you just tell backers your story.
I haven’t done a Kickstarter as of yet but only because I am still in the editing stages of my current book.
8) IBSN numbers
You will need to purchase an IBSN number for each book that you publish. It's like your book’s social security number.
Every time you search that number you will see everywhere your book is being sold.
Myidentifiers.com is the only place that I know that you can purchase IBSN numbers.
One thing that you should know is that if you have the same book but one is a paperback and the other is a hardback each of them is required to have different IBSN numbers.
E-books do not need IBSN numbers.
IBSN numbers can be purchased separately but you save so much money when you purchase a bundle. For example, I purchased 10 for about $300, which is a good deal because they are $125 for 1 ISBN.
9) To Copyright or not to Copyright?
I am still a little foggy on this subject but what I have learned about copyrighting is that once you put your words on paper that is all the copyright you need to say it is yours.
However, if ever there is a lawsuit involving your books you only have 3 months from the time is it published to register your copyrights to the US Copyright Office.
When I asked for advice, most authors advised that it is important to copyright all of your material. You can pay a copyright registration fee on myidentifiers.com. I have no information on if there is a way to register your material for free with the US Copyright Office.
10) The most important step of them all!
Marketing is the most important step because it is what’s going to make all if the money and effort that you put into your book worth it.
In all of the marketing courses I have purchased and the info that successful author shares that all say the same thing. You have to build relationships.
What this means is that it is unnecessary to focus on followers. You must focus on relationships that you build on social media. Follow and interact with your target audience.
Know who your customers are and interact with them on a daily basis. Just like reality shows the more you share the more invested people will be. Share your steps, your accomplishments, and your trials with your book with your followers.
I also learned that your social media should be 80% of your personality and 20% direct marketing. And of course, it is always important to build in-person relationships.
Reach out to schools, participate in vendor events, and get your family and friends involved.