Self publishing, is basically not going through the traditional publishing companies
There are publishing companies that will help you (for a fee), self publish your book
If you choose to go this route, shop around – get lots of quotes!! Read the rest of this post to see what steps are involved, and that way you’ll know exactly what they are doing for you and you can make up your mind about whether their services are saving you time, or whether you would rather not outsource and do it all from go to whoa.
Whichever path you choose to go down… if you’re self publishing, start saving money now!
Think about whether you want hard copy books or if you can cope with eBooks
If you do choose eBooks, it is certainly easier and cheaper to get a far reaching audience. They can be reasonably easy to set up, with little set up costs. Many electronic options also have print on demand options too. Per unit, it will be more expensive than printing in bulk, but it is definitely the cheaper option if you want to satisfy the urge to hold your creation in your hands.
To be honest, I haven’t looked into this option too much, so I don’t have advice about how well picture books turn out in eBook format or what kind of options there are for print on demand.
Of course, as with anything, you can go directly to places like Amazon Createspace and do it all yourself – or you can outsource and go through a company who may be able to value add with things like readying the book for all different types of eBook formats, and some of the other steps mentioned below.
Think about what you want to do after it’s published – AKA your marketing and distribution strategy
Getting a bookshop, or indeed any shop to sell your book for you is wonderful and super exciting But remember… they no doubt have thousands and thousands of other titles for your book to compete with. How will your book stand out? Is there something special about your book that would make it perfect for a unique market place?
i.e. my first book about a wombat who digs a tunnel into Parliament House sells incredibly well at the Parliament House gift shop. Everywhere else it sells ok, but compared to APH, I’d say average or below average. Don’t get me wrong. It’s the most incredible feeling to see your books for sale in a bookshop (one of my favourite types of shops), it’s just hard to compete with Mem Fox, Dr Seuss, etc etc.
I’ve found most bookshops prefer to take self published books on consignment. This means that you get nothing from them unless they actually sell the book. If the books you’ve given them on consignment get lost, stolen or damaged you don’t get a cent and of course if they are lost or stolen, you don’t even get the books back! It’s a bit of a risk and it’s really hard and a lot of work to keep track of consignments, but until and unless the shop know they are going to be able to sell your books, you probably need to take that risk.
Distribution is the other consideration. There are distribution companies who can help you out for a fee, but I’m not sure how many of them in Australia deal with self published children’s books. Again, this isn’t an area I’ve looked that closely into because with my books – I knew from the start that although my books make a lovely gift for anyone visiting Canberra, the market was very local. The best places for my books are places like visitor centres and the actual tourist attractions the books are set in. In fact, this is one of the reasons I had to self publish – I think the market for my books is too small for most publishing companies.
Steps for self publishing a hardcopy [children’s] book [in Australia]
1. Get printing quotes
- would you like hard cover/soft cover
- paper size and thickness
- whether your book needs to be full colour or b&w
- how many pages it will have (depending on the type of binding, you may want, you may need to have pages in multiples of 4)
- whether the printers will or can send you a proof
- ask the printer if there would be a particular size print that would be more cost effective
- ask the printer what format they will need the book in (usually PDF with bleeds)
- do the printers have designers or people who can help you if you don’t have a way to send them your book in the format they need?
2. Purchase an ISBN and barcode
When you do get the barcode you’ll need to add the RRP to it. Once you’ve put that on, it can’t be changed. If you want to change it, you need to buy or use another one of your barcodes (if you’ve purchased them in a bulk package). So think hard about what you want to sell it for before you lock it in (this is why it’s also helpful to have the printing quote so you’ll know what your costs are).
3. Apply for Catalogue in Print (CiP) from the National Library of Australia
4. Time to get your books printed!
5. Legal Deposit
6. Sell, sell, sell!
I’m beyond hopeless at social media. Partly because I’m not terribly interested in it, but do set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, Instagram and whatever else is being used by young and old and try to occasionally post things so that people know it’s not a dead account (mental note: maybe try to follow your own advice Angela!!)
Anyway, I hope this post is helpful for you! It’s the path I have followed – I might be wrong on some things, but so far I’ve done ok. 🙂
When/if I get time I might try and do a post about what I’ve learned about illustrations for picture books… and possibly something about book launches too!