A Step by Step Process to Publishing a Children’s Book
Beatrix Potter, author of Peter Rabbit, once said “There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”
For new-to-the-scene authors and writers, we have one piece of advice: writing and publishing a children’s book is not a simple task. The final product must be short, easily relatable, and still convey the story or ideas you want to communicate.
Don’t forget to follow Izzard Ink’s 10 Steps for success in publishing, which provides fundamental steps that are just as relevant for children’s books as for other writing.
Concept of Publishing a Children’s Book
As with every great story, start with a good idea and a realistic goal. Figure out what story you’re going to tell. Genres for children’s books include picture books, traditional literature such as folktales and myths, historical fiction, fantasy fiction, realistic fiction, biography, and non-fiction books.
The level of imagination you put in, and the clarity of messages that you want to convey, must be communicated through rich illustrations and images. A dilemma often faced by authors just starting out is whether to opt for a picture book or a novel.
First, choose your target audience. A book with lots of pictures and illustrations is suitable for children below 5 years of age. Find your comfort zone, then you can visualize your story’s flow and characters accordingly.
In either case, choose settings, characters, and ideas that make your work unique.
Create an outline to get a basic sense of your plot, or how you want to present information. Cover your broad plot points, as well as smaller events or special scenes you want to include. Consider your main characters and setting.
Art and Illustrations
Consider what kind of art you want for your book. Again, this will depend in part on the age of your target audience. Pictures are important in children’s books. In fact, “picture books” for younger children are mostly composed of pictures and in some cases, only pictures.
If the illustrations are not interesting and engaging, your publishing objectives will be hard to fulfill.
When planning to self-publish your children’s book, it is essential to find a qualified illustrator who understands your needs and is experienced with children’s books.
Such an illustrator should have the expertise to shape your thoughts, creativity, and ideas. Work through this process and don’t get ahead of yourself by choosing the art before laying your book’s foundation.
Early on in the planning stage is a great point in the process to find an established children’s book editor. When you do have a solid draft of your book, consider some key points to look out for when editing a children’s book.
As an author, you may question whether a short, simple children’s book really needs an editing process, but indeed, your book should be edited and proofread to make sure it is the best it can be.
Managing the distribution process of your published books is another big hurdle for authors. This is the phase where the book gets from the printer to the reader.
You have to choose whether you are going to reach the target audience through bookstores, word-of-mouth, or an author’s sales page. If you have a readership and well-established online presence, you can choose to publish and distribute through your website.
For a more relaxed budget you can distribute your books through large and renowned retailers.
Children’s books are the only type of books where you don’t actually market your book directly to your target audience. The target audience, in reality, is the adults who make choices about what their kids read.
This is a challenge when it comes to publishing children’s books. You have to write, design, and publish books which children want to read, yet the books should also appeal to their parents and relatives who would want to buy them.
Thus, writers must use a multifaceted approach to attract both audiences.
Big publishers can miss big opportunities.
It isn’t easy to get a children’s book published. Publishing a children’s book is surprisingly competitive. Only 3 out of 15,000 books submitted to major publishers are ever chosen to be published. The statistics are overwhelming.
However, the publishers don’t always get it right. J.K. Rowling’s first book of the Harry Potter series was rejected twelve times before it was picked up.
Beatrix Potter and her story of Peter Rabbit was rejected so many times that she decided to self-publish 250 copies. It has now gone on to sell over 45 million.
Judy Blume, who now boasts about 30 published books to her credit and over 82 million books sold, received rejection after rejection for the first two years of her writing career.
Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, was told to “stick to teaching,” and a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle was rejected 26 times before it was finally published.
What’s the common theme among these authors? They were all rejected, but they all knew they had good ideas that they wanted to share. The major publishing houses don’t always know what’s best or what will sell, but these authors believed in what they created and never gave up. And it paid off in a big way.
Publishing a children’s book by oneself is a time-consuming process. It takes time, and plenty of it! Processes like finding the right art, editing your manuscript, designing the interior and exterior layout, proofreading and final publishing take mammoth chunks of time.
With all these processes involved, children’s books do not come cheap.
You have to invest $10,000 to $15,000 to have engaging illustrations by industry experts, to have your books printed in color (which definitely costs more than black and white), plus publishing charges (based on number of books you print), and the costs to market your books to the relevant audience.
Partnering with a leading publishing vendor like Izzard Ink, which offers immense experience in the publishing industry, maximizes your potential for returns on investment over time.
Make sure that you cut the costs, but never the important corners.
This is what Izzard Ink is about – authors who love their stories and want to share them. It’s an exciting process, from start to shelf.