So, you’ve finished your pride and joy, your first ever children’s story. Now, how do you turn it into a physical book? Maybe it’s a very personal story that you want to print for your family and friends, but wouldn’t it be great to get one of the big publishers interested? Unfortunately, this can be a very long and complicated process, so for most people the easier route is self-publishing. The downside of course is that most if not all of the costs will be down to yourself.
You may decide that a simple eBook is enough for you, which is usually the cheapest option, but for picture books you definitely need to think about hard copies. There are plenty of online sites that will print one or two copies of a book for you and to a really good standard, but for something that looks more like what you see in the shops then you’ll need help from the professionals.
Granny Jean was thoroughly pleased with her experience using Matador Publishing for Jack’s Midnight Adventure and went on to produce another book with them.
There are lots of self-publishing companies who are willing to take your story and transform it into the finished product. They will design the layout of the text and the title etc for the front and back cover, as well as adding important things like barcodes and ISBN codes. They will then start the marketing and promotion process, including a helpful dose of social media networking. However, a lot of this will be down to yourself, you only get out what you can put in! They will also help you decide how best to publish your book, whether it’s via Print On Demand or through traditional bookshop distribution.
In the meantime, you need to start thinking about hiring an illustrator to help bring your story to life visually. This is a must for books for young children, and maybe for those aimed at older children too, even if it’s just for the cover. For young adults you may find that photography and/or graphics will best suit your story.
Fliss Goldsmith was a woman on a mission when she produced the first in a series of Erin and Roderick Discover books, starting a website and working wonders with her new-found marketing skills!
Your publisher may offer to suggest an illustrator for you, but you need to make sure you are happy with their style and the quality of their work generally. They may cost a bit less but there’s nothing worse than having inferior images in your beautifully written book.
The most fulfilling but time-consuming way to self-publish your book is to go the do-it-yourself route (even the illustrations if you’re up to it!). Apart from having to find an illustrator, you will need to hire a graphic designer and possibly a friendly printing company too, though Print On Demand is still an option too. Freelance graphic designers are not as costly as you might think and are often a lot more creative than the average self-publishing company.
You will most likely need to set up a website (this is a good idea anyway and can be free and easy to do) as it will help with the promotion and marketing of your book. It can often be cheaper as you can shop around, but there’s obviously a lot of work involved on your part. The upside of course is that you have complete control over your baby, and all profits will be yours!
The award-winning Mysteries in Time subscription box is a perfect example of do-it-yourself self-publishing. Sam Metcalf sourced her own designer, illustrator and printing company and backed it up with an enormous amount of promotional work.