Self-publishing platforms for Children’s books


Nowadays it is easier than ever for Newbie Children’s book authors to self-publish their newly formulated work on a variety of different exciting platforms! However, there are numerous steps involved in transforming your manuscript from a simplistic PDF form to a profitable book, that is both of merchantable quality and appealing to your target market! The production process can be incredibly daunting for first-time authors, which is why I have provided some general self-publishing advice, alongside reviewing some of the renowned online self-publishing services which are currently available for users worldwide!

It is important to keep in mind some of the Pros and Cons of self-publishing your new book. Self-publishing can be excellent if you have already prepared your manuscript and are eager to get it out on the shelves quickly. Similarly, if you have an agreement with stores in your locality and are confident that your novel will be successfully sold without the assistance of an agent, then self-publishing is the way to go! As a self-published author, you have complete creative control over the content of your novel, and you do not need to conform to the industry standards in this regard. Similarly, you are not at the mercy of the publishing houses. You do not need to issue numerous cover letters / CV’s etc, nor do you need to limit yourself to the industry standards. However, one of the biggest downsides in this process would be the cost of illustrating / editing / Marketing (which has been estimated at a minimum of 5000 Pounds).

Similarly, the amount of time it will take a newbie author to enlist a team of trustworthy professionals to assist them, or to learn how to use some of the software should also be considered. Also enlisting the help of a reputable publisher will often attract further traffic towards your novel, as a brand name may be associated with high quality and put your potential customers at ease.

With all of this in mind, let’s now dive into the world of self-publishing!




Self-Publishing: Top Tips for Newbies



A. Research the Target market

Firstly, congratulations on producing your manuscript! This is already a huge achievement in itself! Often some of the most genuine authors can get carried away in the creative process and may not necessarily think about who their target audience is. If you have not done so already, it is best to give this question some thought. What are your audience’s preferences or dislikes? What niche does your novel fall into? Categorizing your work by age/ Genre can help in this regard, alongside comparing your work to similar works in this niche. As well as this being fundamental for the future profitability margins of the novel, it is also important as it will influence the potential design of your overall product! Similarly, if you have hired an illustrator he/ she will need to know this valuable information as they bring your work to life! General market trends can be used to influence your work but remember to keep the authenticity of your novel intact throughout this process! In this regard, using Beta Readers may be useful as they would mirror the reaction of your future readers, and thus their commentary is very helpful. Having a clever marketing campaign that reveals a little information about the author, can help writers connect to their chosen audience and their parents, etc.


B. Editing of the Manuscript

Writing a novel is a huge undertaking, and people often underappreciate the huge commitment involved in the writing process. One of the hardest parts of the overall production of a novel is often the editing process. When a writer is spending an inordinate amount of time on a piece of work, they may become immune to potential discrepancies/ flaws within the narrative framework. Consequentially when you are at the developmental stage of the writing process, asking yourself the following questions may be helpful.

1. Have you deployed a distinctive age-appropriate narrative voice?

2. Have you formulated memorable, likable characters to whom children can relate?

3. Have you created a simplistic yet exciting storyline suitable for children?

Hiring a professional editor may assist you throughout this process, as for most writers the second pair of eyes is essential when creating a high-quality piece of work. Editors often offer useful insights, and due to the shorter word count present in a children’s book, it may be easier to hire an affordable editor to check your work.


C. Hire an Illustrator or produce your high-quality images

Once you are truly happy with your finished manuscript, hiring an illustrator may be the best course of action to take, if one is not currently an artist. Vibrant, colorful, and eye-catching illustrations will draw attention to your novel, and hopefully, drive up your sales! ‘Never judge a book by its cover’, is a very well-known saying for a reason, as often the cover of the novel has a direct impact on sales/ profitability. For this reason, it is best to source an illustrator who has the best body of work to accommodate your narrative. If you are not hiring an illustrator you will still need to produce High-Resolution images. In this regard, you may require the use of a large format scanner. This process is usually done professionally, and it is best to review different places in advance, to ascertain who has the best service for the best price in your locality.


D. Purchase your ISBN Number and barcode

Once you have produced the novel you must now purchase your ISBN. The International Book Standard Number is the long number that is situated in front of the Bar Code. This is easily done via an online process.


E. Copyright your book

Similarly, when you have purchased the ISBN, the next step should be to copyright your novel. This legal process ensures that nobody can copy/print the book without your permission. You can do this online by completing an online form and a certificate ensuring your peace of mind and creative control over your novel.


F. Distribution Method

It is now important for authors to decide on the format of their work or which distribution channel they should use.


Books or Print?

There are many pros and cons to producing your novel via eBook format or in hard copy format. The Electronic format can make eBooks an attractive option for customers to buy/ carry/ interact with them etc. It also allows authors to have a globalized reach without the necessity of expending additional funds on marketing campaigns. However, it could be said there is something wonderful about holding a physical copy of a novel in your hands. Especially when it comes to gifts, a hard copy can seem like the more tangible option. Similarly, users won’t be distracted by lights or internet pop-ups, etc. Likewise, for educational purposes, people often state that they learn better reading from the print version of a product.

When it comes to hard copy books Indie book authors can either print books on-demand or engage in an offset printing service. Printing on demand can be very time-consuming. It may be better practice in this regard to contact a printing company that will print numerous copies of your book. This process may cost more from the outset but could ultimately be more cost-effective long term.


G. Formatting / The interior design of your book.

As well as hiring an illustrator, it is important to keep the general interior format of your novel in mind as well. An aesthetically pleasing format promulgates the narrative and enables the reader to enjoy the overall experience. This is especially true for children’s books as younger children are learning to read, and thus the format of your novel must be incredibly legible. Some of the general criteria you may wish to consider are margin size, typeface, illustration location, color scheme, etc There are some online books editing applications that can be downloaded to assist with this process. The Reedsy Book Editor is an example of such a service.


Other Self-Publishing Services to Consider

Often all the above factors are incredibly time-consuming. Luckily there is also a whole range of Self-publishing services available to cater to individual needs. I have outlined some of the most reputable renowned services below.


1. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing program


Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing enables authors to release and manage their work on their terms. I have outlined some of the main factors to consider when using the Amazon KDP program.

Ease of Use

Amazon KDP is incredibly easy to use for beginners / those who aren’t very tech-savvy. New users are provided with a plethora of training materials to help them get started. Similarly, Amazon KDP has excellent customer service as users have access to the online help and support center, the FAQ section, and general forums for questions.

Cost of Use / Accessibility

Amazon KDP is a free service for users, which ensures accessibility for writers regardless of their current income level! This may help make some newbies’ dreams become a reality.

Format of works / Quality of work

Writers can decide what format they wish to publish their work on. You can consider whether you wish to publish the digital version, audio version, or printed version of your work!

Profit / Royalties

Amazon KDP allows authors to dictate their profit levels by choosing between the 35 percent Royalty plan and the 70 percent Royalty plan. However, there are pros and cons to selecting each plan. For example, with the 70 percent, Royalty plan authors must bear the burden of the cost of printing and delivery. However, under the 35 percent royalty plan this is free. Similarly, the Amazon KDP payment plan is somewhat lengthy, as it may not release funds for approximately 60 days. This pay gap is quite large for the publishing industry.

Selling/distribution channels

Often authors are forced to sign an exclusivity clause with amazon and rely wholeheartedly on Amazon to manage their work. Similarly, marketing strategies rely on free give always / reviews however Amazon restricted the views to paid only customers.


2. Ingram Spark


Ease of Use

It has been stated that Ingram Spark may be more suitable for more tech-savvy authors or those who have published before. This is due to the Online platform being a little more complex, and amazon KDP already monopolizing the eBook distribution channel. More seasoned writers may wish to use the website as it doesn’t make suggestions on formatting/improvements and only flags major problems during the uploading of your document.

Cost of Use / Accessibility

Ingram Spark charges 49 Dollars to upload your work on their website. There is also a further charge of 25 dollars for revisions.

Format of works / Quality of Works

Ingram Spark offers printing on demand and eBook publishing services to Independent Authors. Similarly, their distribution network sells eBooks to over 40 000 global outlets. Novels can be shipped directly to the author/ customer or delivered to a partner retailer. It has been said to be one of the most reliable POD services producing good quality professional hardbacks, etc. There are also lots of trim sizes/ paper quality options for authors to choose from. Another advantage for users is the overall lower wide distribution costs in comparison to Amazon KDP for example.

Profit / Royalties

As mentioned above Ingram Spark’s worldwide distribution network enhances newbie authors’ commercial opportunities. The Ingram book group makes sure titles are available to large retailers such as Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and Target for overall low distribution costs.


3. Lulu Books


Ease of Use

It has been said that Lulu books have an incredibly user-friendly system. The website takes you straight through each of the steps involved to upload your work and the customer service section is said to be incredibly helpful.

Cost of Use / Accessibility

Setting up on Lulu books is free for authors. Similarly, there are also various user packages available to choose from to meet authors’ individual needs.

Format / Quality of works

Once you have uploaded your file, you can then decide on the cover design, paper quality, etc. Lulu books offer a print-on-demand service, so you are not burdened by the excessive costs of printing. Similarly, it has been stated that Lulu books produce high-quality works with long-lasting covers.

Profit/ Royalties.

With Lulu books, the marketing is done for you, and your book can be distributed to Amazon, Barnes, and Noble, public library databases, Lulu’s marketplace, etc. However, it has been stated that Lulu is more expensive comparatively speaking, especially for titles with many images. (Thus, this may not be the best option available for children’s books!) Lulu also takes a 20 Percent cut of all the royalties generated.


4. Createspace


Ease of Use

Createspace is an excellent website for new authors as it is fast and easy to set up. Authors can quickly set up their Store, and harness full creative control over the shopping experience. However unfortunately prospective purchasers must register with Create space to make a purchase. Similarly, if you publish several books you will need to create an Estore for each published novel which is laborious and time-consuming.

Format / Quality of works

One of the most positive aspects of Create Space is that it helps users to formulate high-quality works. Similarly, if you can’t afford to hire an illustrator, the Cover Creator function helps users to design their novel cover. Users can decide on the size of the book, the color of the pages, text size, and overall format, etc.

Profit / Royalties

One of the main bonuses of using Create Space is that as an author you receive higher Royalties. Many writers report making over 20 percent more profit via the Create Space Estore facility. Similarly, authors can offer discounts to potential customers. However, editing on Create Space is quite costly. Similarly, for customers shipping costs are also high.


5. Blurb


Ease of Use

Blurb is an innovative form of software for book design, known as ‘Book smart’. This enables users to design the layout of their work before uploading it to Blurb’s website. The website itself is incredibly easy to use, and there are tutorials available to assist users throughout this process.

Format / Quality of work

Blurb is catered more towards photographic /artistic production. The online tool only recently tailored their production tools to handle works with large chunks of text. Authors can design the nitty-gritty of their works. You can select what trim size /format you would like, text size, margin size, font type/ size, etc. All these qualities are available for personal customization.

Profit / Royalties

Blurb is a free service enabling authors to produce high-quality texts. However, the lack of distribution facilities available means authors are forced to order their books, register them with online sellers, hold stocks in storage and find independent distributors, etc. All of this is costly and time-consuming. Similarly, there are no globalized distribution/ third party distribution facilities available which are very disadvantageous from a sales and profitability perspective.

Conclusion

Overall, we can see from this there are both pros and cons to self-publishing your children’s book manuscript. It is readily transparent, however, that there are a multiplicity of different facilities available to cater to almost every Indie author’s individualized needs. It is important to make an informed decision based on your target market, the resources you have available (monetary / time), and lastly the end goal you wish to achieve by publishing your work! I wish you the very best of luck in your endeavors!


Author: Jessica Mc Carthy

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