If you read my last post, you know by now that I’ve written and self-published a children’s picture book. I’ve been overwhelmed with all of the support I’ve received. I get a new picture daily of another little one holding my book, and boy does it make my heart swell. One thing I did notice in speaking with people is that they were curious about the process. It’s a hard process to quickly outline in a brief conversation so I decided to post about it and share the wealth! The process took me about a year, and most of that year was spent researching. This brings us to –
- Do your research. Self – publishing was the right direction for me. I am an unknown with no platform or experience. I thought if I published a few titles on my own and they did OK, I might try to shop my third or fourth book out to be traditionally published. However, before you decide to self-publish research both avenues to decide what is right for you. Once you have made your decision, choosing a self-publishing method is very important. I went with CreateSpace because it was affiliated with Amazon. There are other companies like CreateSpace like Ingram Spark. CreateSpace was free so I went with them, but if you research you’ll find that some authors go with both. Check out Skillshare, there are a few classes that offer tips and tricks for self-publishing.
- Set realistic expectations. The world of publishing is vast. Even authors who have been published traditionally struggle the same way self-published authors do. Traditional publishing gets you the help with marketing and promotion, with self-publishing, you do this on your own (on top of editing, illustrating, formatting and submitting the file). Either way, a VERY small percentage of authors become huge successes and make tons of money. It’s still worth a shot, and it’s an awesome goal to work towards, just try not to set your expectations too high. That way you won’t feel defeated if it doesn’t work out. I am going to keep creating and publishing no matter what my sales are. It’s something I enjoy doing.
- You do not need to be an illustrator to publish a children’s picture book. This is the same for both traditional and self-publishing. In fact, some publisher’s do not want you to send in drawings with your submissions. I taught myself Adobe Illustrator years ago, and I have some artistic talent. However, there were some aspects of my book that were just far beyond my capabilities. I wanted a polished and professional product so I used a combination of Fiverr, and custom clip art purchased from Etsy to help fill in the gaps. I will say this, I do not recommend buying clip art of main characters unless it’s a custom job. It would be disappointing to see the main character of YOUR book series out there being used for other purposes. I commissioned “Sam and his fam” from Fiverr. I greatly disliked what I was sent so I gave them a complete makeover and made them my own. There are thousands of illustrators out there looking for work. It will cost you money, but if you do your research, take your time to choose the right artist, and CLEARLY convey your vision, it will be well worth it. If you do decide to purchase clipart like I did, you must ask permission from the artist to use the work for commercial use first.
- Do not publish unless you are completely happy with the book. I am in many Children’s author groups. On more than one occasion, I have seen other authors post unprofessional looking or hastily thrown together books and ask the group why they aren’t selling. Well first, (see #2) and secondly, when asked, one or two of them admitted that they got excited and published hastily before they were completely happy. If you are not excited by your book, then why should your customers? Have close friends and family review and honestly critique your work. Keep tweaking and polishing until you are happy.
- Create a marketing plan. Sales from your friend’s and families will only take you so far. Have a quick summary of your book memorized and at the tip of your tongue ready to spew on demand. Contact your local library to see if you can host a reading, contact local shops to see if they will carry your book on consignment or otherwise. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS and be prepared to discuss them when you visit a shop. As a side note: many major bookstores and libraries are hesitant to take a self-published book. This is why you need to put out the best and most professional looking product possible. If you publish through CreateSpace, many of the larger bookstores will not order from you because CreateSpace is currently not set up to take returns. Create a blog, make coloring pages available, anything you can think of to get your name and book out there into the hands of those precious little smiling faces. I created an author blog, but I cross promoted with my already established blog to gain followers. My book is about jam, so when it comes time for strawberry picking season, you know that I will be contacting organizers and setting up a reading/signing. Make your plan and stick to it. Evolve and learn along the way.
That’s it for now. It should be enough to get some of you started on your own journey. I just published a week ago so I know that I have way more to learn, and I, of course will be sharing. One last note, many people I have spoken to have said to me “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” My last piece of advice is JUST.DO.IT. If I can do it, you can too.
Til Next time!