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  • Writer's pictureTullipStudio Team


Self-publishing in children's books is the process of independently producing, distributing, and marketing a children's book without the involvement of a traditional publishing company. It allows authors and illustrators to retain creative control and a larger share of the royalties from their work, but it also requires them to take on many responsibilities typically handled by a publishing house.

Here are the key steps and aspects of self-publishing in children's books:

1. Creating the Book: This involves writing the story, illustrating it (if you're also an illustrator), or working with an illustrator. The book should be professionally edited and designed to meet industry standards for quality.

2. Production: Self-published authors must handle the production of physical and digital copies of the book. This includes formatting the book for print or e-book publication, securing ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers), and creating cover designs.

3. Distribution: Self-published authors can make their books available through online retailers, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores. Print-on-demand services, like CreateSpace and Ingram Spark, can be used to produce physical copies as they are ordered, reducing upfront costs and the need for inventory.

4. Marketing and Promotion:  Authors are responsible for promoting their books, including building a website or social media presence, organizing book launch events, and seeking reviews and media coverage. Marketing is a critical aspect of self-publishing, as it helps you reach your target audience.

5. Pricing and Royalties: Self-published authors have control over pricing their books and typically receive a higher percentage of royalties compared to traditional publishing. However, they are also responsible for covering production and marketing expenses.

6. Copyright and Legal Matters: Authors must handle copyright registration, contracts (if working with illustrators or collaborators), and other legal matters on their own or with the help of legal professionals.

7. Quality Control: Self-published authors must ensure the quality of their children’s books, from editing to printing, to compete with traditionally published works.

8. Financial Investment: While self-publishing can be more cost-effective than it used to be, there are still expenses involved, including editing, cover design, marketing, and distribution costs. Authors should be prepared for these financial commitments.

Self-publishing in children's books can be a rewarding way for authors to see their work in print and reach their intended audience. However, it requires dedication, a commitment to quality, and a willingness to learn about the publishing and marketing process or seek professional assistance when needed.

Traditional publishing in children's books refers to the traditional and established method of getting a children's book published through a traditional publishing house.

Here are the key elements of traditional publishing in the context of children's books:

1. Acquisition: The process typically begins with an author or illustrator submitting a manuscript or children's books proposal to a literary agent or directly to a publishing house. The publisher's editorial team reviews the submission for its potential to be published.

2. Editorial Process: If a manuscript is accepted, it goes through various stages of editing, which can include developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading. The publisher may also provide feedback on the children's books content, structure, and suitability for the target audience.

3. Illustration: For children's picture books and some middle-grade and young adult novels, illustrations play a significant role. The publisher may hire an illustrator or work with the author/illustrator to ensure the visual elements align with the story.

4. Design and Layout: The children's books design and layout, including the cover and interior pages, are professionally created by the publisher's design team. The layout takes into consideration the age group and format of the children's book.

5. Production: The physical production of the children's books, including printing and binding, is managed by the publishing house. They handle the choice of paper, typefaces, and other production details.

6. Distribution: Traditional publishers have established distribution channels that allow the children's books to be made available to bookstores, libraries, and online retailers. They handle the logistics of getting the book into the hands of readers.

7. Marketing and Promotion: Traditional publishers typically have marketing and publicity teams that work to promote the book. This can include author book tours, advertising, social media campaigns, and other promotional activities.

8. Sales and Royalties: The publisher sells copies of the children's books, and the author receives royalties based on the sales. Royalty rates vary, but they are typically a percentage of the book's cover price.

9. Advance: Some authors receive an advance payment from the publisher against future royalties. This advance is typically paid upon signing the publishing contract and in installments.

10.  Copyright and Rights: The publisher usually obtains the copyright for the children's books, and rights may be sold for translations, adaptations, or other formats (e.g., audiobooks, merchandise).

Traditional publishing can offer authors and illustrators many benefits, including professional support in all aspects of book production and distribution. However, it often involves a competitive submission process, and the author or illustrator may have less control over certain aspects of the children's books content and design compared to self-publishing.

It's important to note that the landscape of publishing, including children's book publishing, has been evolving, and there are now various hybrid and alternative publishing models available to authors and illustrators, allowing for more flexibility and control over the publishing process.

Self-publishing and traditional publishing are two distinct routes for bringing a children's book to the market, and they have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Here's a breakdown of the key differences between the two:

A.   Control

  1. Self-Publishing: Authors have full control over the content, design, and distribution of their children's books. They make all the decisions, including the cover design, formatting, and pricing.

  2. Traditional Publishing: Traditional publishers have the final say on many aspects of the children's books, including the cover design, illustrations, and sometimes even the content. Authors have limited control over the final product.

B. Cost

  1. Self-Publishing: Authors bear the financial responsibility for the entire publishing process, including editing, cover design, and marketing. While this allows for more control, it can be expensive.

  2. Traditional Publishing: The publisher covers the majority of the production costs, such as editing, cover design, and printing. However, authors typically receive lower royalties to compensate for this financial support.

C. Time

  1. Self-Publishing: The process can be relatively quick, allowing the author to set their own timeline. The children's books can be published within a few months.

  2. Traditional Publishing: The traditional publishing process is typically slower due to the need for manuscript acquisitions, editing, and the production schedule of the publisher. It can take a year or more to see the children's books in print.

D. Distribution

  1. Self-Publishing: Authors need to handle distribution themselves, which often involves selling through online retailers, local bookstores, or at events. E-books can be distributed through various online platforms.

  2. Traditional Publishing: Traditional publishers have established distribution networks and relationships with bookstores, making it easier to get the children's books into physical stores. They also handle the distribution of e-books.

E.  Marketing

  1. Self-Publishing: Authors are responsible for their book's marketing and promotion, which can be time-consuming. They may need to build their own audience and hire marketing services.

  2. Traditional Publishing: Publishers have marketing departments to promote books, which can include author tours, advertising, and other promotional activities. However, even traditionally published authors often need to be involved in marketing efforts.

6. Credibility and Prestige

  1. Self-Publishing: Self-published authors may face challenges in gaining recognition and credibility, as there is no external validation of their work. However, this has been changing as self-publishing becomes more accepted.

  2. Traditional Publishing: Being traditionally published can lend credibility and prestige to an author's work, as it implies that the manuscript has been vetted by professionals.

7.     Royalties

  1. Self-Publishing: Authors typically receive a higher percentage of royalties for each book sold, but they also bear the costs of production and marketing.

  2. Traditional Publishing: Royalties are usually lower, but the publisher covers production and distribution costs.

The choice between self-publishing and traditional publishing for a children's book depends on an author's goals, resources, and preferences. Some authors may prefer the creative control and potential for higher royalties in self-publishing, while others may value the support and credibility offered by traditional publishers. Hybrid models and collaborative publishing options also exist, providing additional choices for authors.


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