The Ultimate Publishing Preparations for Children’s Book Authors
Before you take the time to find an illustrator for your children’s book, we recommend deciding on which publishing type you want to use to publish your book. This part is important for you to figure out because knowing what you want will make it easier to start the publishing process once your manuscript is done. Once you’ve determined the type of publishing you want to use and you’ve finished your manuscript, you’ll need to find a suitable publisher. At this stage, it is important to stay alert to the possibility of publisher scams.
Types of Publishing
To determine which type of publishing you want for your children’s book, it’s important that you understand the 3 types of publishing, which we’ve explained below:
This is the old-fashioned way to publish a book; at one point in time, it was the only way to get your book published. If you choose to go this route, you’ll need to find a literary agent to help you get your manuscript into the hands of traditional publishing companies once you finish writing it. Then, the traditional publishing company will ask you to work with their internal editors to revise your manuscript. Sometimes they’ll take creative control over your manuscript. Once the text suits them, the publishing company will pass on your revised manuscript to their in-house design team to work on the book cover, illustrations, and other creative finishing touches.
The advantage of traditional publishing is that you don’t need to pay upfront costs to hire editors or illustrators or cover printing and other publishing costs. In addition, publishing companies are full of experienced people, so you don’t have to worry about how the results will come out.
On the other side, there are disadvantages to traditional publishing. For instance, you won’t have full creative control over your manuscript because the publishing company will adjust your ideas to suit their “taste” and market demands. Moreover, with traditional publishing, you will pay the publishing company royalties of approximately 30%.
Most indie authors choose this type of publishing for their children’s book manuscripts. Note that “self-publish” means you will work on your own throughout the whole process, including finding the right marketing strategies when the book is done. This gives you full creative control over the final product, but you can still hire professionals to help you. For instance, you could hire freelance editors to revise and give you advice about your book’s plot or characters, or you could hire a children’s book illustrator to help you out with the illustrations you want for your children’s book. In this case, you will be shelling out the cash to pay the professionals you hire, including for any marketing you choose to do.
The advantages are that you’ll have full creative control over your work, and you can learn about the publishing process by acquiring professional help along the way if you need it. In addition, all of the profit you make from selling the children’s book goes into your pockets, and you don’t need to pay royalties to anyone.
Some traditional publishers have switched their strategies and become hybrid publishers. Hybrid publishing is a combination of traditional publishing and independent publishing. Thus, it can sometimes be a great way to get your manuscript published at lower costs to you than traditional self-publishing. Typically, a hybrid publisher will invest half of the costs, and you will be expected to cover the other half. The costs include production, marketing, and distribution to bookstores. In addition to helping you with the financial part, a hybrid publisher also will offer you some help with the various publishing steps, working with you before and after the book is published to ensure the quality of you and their investments.
You and the publisher will divide the profit between you since both of you invested equally in the publication process. All good hybrid publishers should provide you with several services, including distribution services and publishing according to industry standards.
Now, we move on to the technical part. Every printed work, including children’s books, requires lamination for the covers and paper. As a self-publisher, you might want to know what common lamination styles are used for children’s books.
What is Lamination?
Lamination is the after-printing process that is done by applying a thin layer of plastic to cards or paper. Lamination is used to protect and enhance the look, quality, and content of the printed matter. The most common lamination types that are used by the publisher are gloss, matte, and silk, which are often used for business cards, product packaging, brochures, book covers, and other printed items. Using lamination has several product advantages. For example, laminating a children’s book cover will make the cover more durable and tear-resistant and will protect the book from creasing, sun damage, and water damage.
Using gloss lamination will make your printed piece look a bit shiny or glass-like. It will enhance the ink’s colors and vibrancy. Also, gloss lamination is a durable choice that is easy to clean. It is often used for marketing or promotional purposes, where a strong visual impact is required.
Matte lamination gives a natural and softer look and makes it easier for people to read the printed piece. The softer look is created by softening the contrast of dark colors so that they won’t stand out too much. The texture of matte lamination is velvety, which gives it a satisfying feel for various readers. Usually, matte lamination is used for retail signs, seasonal packaging, clothing labels, or other printed pieces that need to have a soft look and velvety texture.
Applying silk lamination will give your printed piece a soft texture and a natural look that will be reflective in certain light but not as reflective as gloss lamination. With silk lamination, the product will look and feel like a premium product. Silk lamination is commonly used for book covers, business cards, brochures, and other products that need to have a natural and clean finish.
So, when do you get to use gloss or matte laminations?
Gloss lamination is best to use in the following circumstances:
- Will be handled a lot every day (because it will give greater protection and is easy to clean)
- A strong visual impact is desired
- Should be shiny in appearance
- Costs less than matte
Matte lamination is best to use in the following circumstances:
- Will be placed underneath direct lighting (because matte lamination helps to deflect any glare, making it easier to read from any angle.
- A modern and elegant look is desired
- Printed piece contains subdued color tones
Silk lamination is best to use in the following circumstances:
- A premium impression is desired
- A soft texture and natural look that reflects but is not as reflective as gloss is required
Start Writing Your Manuscript
Now that you know your options for publishing, it’s time to start writing your manuscript. Here is a step-by-step guide to get you started:
Start Your Research
The first step when it comes to self-publishing a children’s book is to research the topic you’re going to write about. Even if you’re writing a fictional story, there must be some truth to the story. For example, if you’re writing a fictional story about a rabbit, you need to include some real details about rabbits’ behavior—for instance, how they eat, how they jump, how they survive, and so on.
The other research you have to do is in regards to your audience. Who you are writing for? How old are your readers going to be? What kinds of things and genres interest your ideal reader? What language are you going to write in? This research will be beneficial for you as you are planning and implementing your marketing strategies too. You can also research children's book topics that haven't been written about much before. Or, you can base your subject on something that concerns you that you want children to know and learn from. For instance, if you’re concern about the environment, you could write about it in an interesting way and make children know and understand how important it is to put rubbish in its place and save the environment.
Also, you need to do some research about the illustration styles that are available for your children’s book. These include whimsical, cartoon, realistic, stylized, and sketches. You can also use your favorite children’s book as a reference for your books’ illustrations.
Write Down Your Plan
The next step after doing some research is coming up with a plan of the story that you’re going to write, including who the main characters are going to be, where the story will be set, what the story’s plot will be, and what problem will be solved. The planning stage goes until you figure out every detail that you’re going to write for your children’s book manuscript.
After planning the story, you must come up with an idea for the illustrations that will accompany your book later. We advise you to do some research on available illustration styles or use your favorite children’s book illustrations as a reference. This will help the illustrator to illustrate your writings and shorten the process.
Begin to Write Your Manuscript
After planning all of the details, now you need to put it into words and make a great story out of all of your planning. It’s important to remember that you must use words that are suitable for the targeted readers that you’ve planned for. Apart from that, the words that are used in children’s books need to be understandable and easy for children to pronounce so that they can easily understand and remember the point of the story.
We suggest that you take your time and enjoy this step of writing, but you need to make progress each day. After this step is done, you’re ready to move on to editing.
Edit Your Manuscript
Take a break for a little while after you finish writing your manuscript. Then, come back to the text and edit it. You need to check to make sure the story’s plot makes sense. In addition, you need to check for correct punctuation marks, grammar, and syntax. If necessary, you can hire an editor to read your manuscript and edit it to improve the plot. This is a great way to invest in professional help to improve your children’s book. Also, some advice mentioning your editor’s name, your illustrator’s name, and any other professional help you’ve hired in the process of completing your book to help with sales.
Hiring a professional proofreader to recheck your structure, punctuation, and grammar is another option to make sure your writing is correct and ready to go to the next step.
Find a Professional Children's Book Illustrator
The research you previously did on illustration styles will help you get through this process of getting your manuscript illustrated with images that depict what you’ve written. Interesting illustrations are also the most important aspect indie authors need to pay attention to because interesting illustrations can engage children to read a story until the end. Therefore, you must choose an experienced illustrator who has a full portfolio of children’s book illustrations.
Finding an experienced illustrator can get a bit tricky because you don’t just want someone who is good at drawing. You also need an illustrator who is communicative. Now, many websites provide you with lots of freelance illustrators who you can choose based on experience, budget, styles, and lots more. TullipStudio is among those experienced and communicative children’s book illustrators that will provide you with many styles of children’s book illustrations to choose from. We have been in this field for almost 10 years, and we have many finished and ongoing children’s book illustration projects. Also, we provide front and back cover creation and book formatting so that you can get your children’s book published right away. For more information about TullipStudio and other tips about children’s book publishing, please visit our social media @tullipstudio (Instagram) and TullipStudio.Illustrations (Facebook Page) or our website at www.tullipstudio.com/blog
Do Research & Plan Again
During this step, you’ll need to do some more research, but this time you’ll need to research which publisher is most suitable for your children’s book according to your budget, distribution, and marketing strategies. There are many publishers that allow indie authors to self-publish their books and get them organized on their own. Many publishers also provide book distribution straight to customers, libraries, and brick-and-mortar bookstores. The tricky part is when it comes to royalties. Different publishers will pay different royalty amounts to the author. Royalties also vary depending on your book costs, distribution fees, and publishing costs.
There are plenty of publishers to choose from, including Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, IngramSpark Publisher, Lulu Press, Barnes and Nobles Press, Apple Books, and many more. Publishers offer different feature benefits, such as allowing you to publish a printed book and also create an ebook at the same time, providing you with a free ISBN, paying a high royalty rate, distributing to large areas, and many more.
Evaluate Your Process
In order to start this phase, you must have your illustrations finished and ready to publish. Try to get your closest friends and relatives to read your finished manuscript and ask them for their opinions. Or, you can evaluate the illustrations per page, making it quicker and easier for you and the illustrator to finish the job. Note that both your book’s story and its illustrations must be interesting. When you think you’ve got it all done, then you’re done with revisions.
Time to Publish
In order to start this step, you must already have decided which publisher is suitable to print your books and whether you want to have print or ebook formats (or both). The tricky bit in this step is that you’ll be given several trim sizes for your printed children’s book and you have to calculate it on your own or ask your publisher’s advice regarding which one is the best choice. The cost will vary based on the trim size, type of paper, type of lamination, distribution fee, and much more.
You’ll be asked to fill in the description and keywords for your children’s book. You must make the description as attractive as possible and choose the right keywords. Keywords are important because they increase your book’s potential of coming up when a shopper searches for the same keywords that you’ve filled in.
The Marketing Journey Begins
You can have a head start on this phase by doing a book reveal while your book is being published. Many authors utilize the Internet for marketing. For instance, you can promote your book on your personal social media accounts and create a personal website that will lead shoppers to purchase the book. Make sure you’re connected with other children’s book authors and have a mutual support system. You can try to join Facebook Groups, ask for follows on Instagram, and so on.
Advertising is another way to increase your book sales. In the digital era, advertising has gotten so easy that you can directly sell your products to those who have a direct interest in what you’re selling. For instance, when a shopper types in the same keywords as those on your products, they can find your book. This kind of advertising program is offered by many companies, including Facebook, Google, Amazon Marketing Service (AMS), and many more. Of course, you’ll need an advertising budget to use these services, but they’re quite useful.
Recommended Publishing Companies
As part of the research in step 5B, we recommended that indie authors choose a publishing company that allows them to self-publish their book. Here are the 4 publishers that we recommend you consider:
1. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
A publishing company created by Amazon, it is the world’s biggest seller of digital ebooks. Kindle Direct Publishing is a self-publishing platform that allows indie authors to choose which format to publish their books (printed books or ebooks). Because of that, you’ll need to prepare everything on your own, including editing, book cover design, illustrations, and marketing. Choose carefully if you decide to hire professional help.
Also, another program under KDP is KDP Select. To participate in that program, you have to get your name and children’s book enrolled first. Then, you’ll be able to sell your books on Amazon exclusively. The exclusive features of KDP Select for indie authors are that they’ll receive free promotions and Kindle Countdown Deals, but this program only allows you to sell your books on Amazon.
Note that Kindle Direct Publishing is a different platform from Amazon Publishing, even though they both were created and are owned by Amazon.
Pricing: Free to upload
Available for: Printed books & eBooks
- eBooks will be available on every Amazon’s sites.
- For printed books, you’ll need to enroll in an ‘Expanded Distribution’ program and fulfill the requirements to get your books distributed to libraries and bookstores.
- 30% if the book’s priced below $2.99
- 70% if the book’s priced between $2.99 and $9.99
2. Apple Books
Apple Books was founded by the Apple Company in 2010, and 2 years later they claimed that 400 million books had been downloaded on Apple Books. Like Amazon with its Kindle Platform, Apple Books has its own platform called iBooks. The Apple Books app is only available to only Apple users and allows them to read eBooks and listen to audiobooks in a single app. If you’re not an Apple user, you can still access it by downloading iTunes, but it will only allow you to listen to audiobooks; you cannot read eBooks. Also, Apple Books won’t be available in any browsers.
The access is very exclusive and segmented to Apple users only, and that also applies to any authors who publish through Apple Books; they will need an Apple product of some kind, whether it’s a MacBook, iMac, or some other Apple product.
Pricing: Free to upload
Available for: Printed books & eBooks
Distribution: Exclusively for Apple Book users
Royalties: 70% for author and 30% for Apple Books
3. Barnes and Noble Press
Barnes and Noble Press is a publishing company formerly known as Nook Press that is owned by Barnes and Noble. It is in competition with Amazon’s KDP. Barnes and Noble Press allows authors to self-publish their books and turn them into printed books or eBook formats. You can select color printing options, book finish, trim size (for printed books), and more. Barnes and Noble advertise to sell over 500 copies of your book within 12 years.
Pricing: Free to upload
Available for: Printed books & eBooks
Distributions: to Barnes and Noble stores and websites
- eBook royalties: 70%
- Printed book royalties: 55%
4. IngramSpark Publishing
IngramSpark is a book publishing company with lots of distributors from around the globe that allows indie authors to print and distribute their books and also create them in eBook format. With over 50 years of experience, IngramSpark has its own global distributor network that is called Ingram Book Group. That is the largest book distributor in the world that has more than 39,000 book retailers worldwide.
Pricing: Start from $25/ for one eBook Title, $49 / for one printed book title, and $49 for both ebook and printed book title
Available for: Printed books & eBooks
Distribution: Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Apple Books, Kobo, Zola Books, Follett, Booktopia, Bookmate, EBSCO, 24Symbols
Royalties: IngramSpark has a built-in online royalties calculator.
Beware of Publishers Scam
If you want to go with a different publisher from what we’ve recommended above, please be aware of scam publishers that might offer you their services. Here are the 6 signs of a publisher scam that every author should know:
1. Guarantees your book will be a bestseller
Almost every legitimate publisher will never guarantee that your book will become a bestseller or even will sell a certain number of copies. Best-selling books are often based on the story’s plot, characters, illustrations, cover, and marketing strategies. So, make sure you aren’t tempted by those publishers who guarantee your book will be a bestseller.
2. Restricted copyrights
Every author deserves to own the copyright to their own books. Therefore, you need to make sure the publisher you’re working with does not restrict your book’s copy. To make sure your copyrights aren’t restricted, you’ll need a clear contract between yourself as the author and the publisher.
3. Required to sell a minimum number of books
Another sign of a scam publisher is one that requires authors to sell a minimum number of their books within a certain time period or else the author will need to pay back the difference or pay back the book production costs. This is why it is important to reread and have discussions about the working contract.
4. Direct offerings
Getting offers directly can be a bit suspicious, especially if the publisher isn’t one you’re familiar with. Cross-checking on Google and social media platforms is the simplest way to avoid publishing scams.
5. Required to purchase your own book
Authors should not be required to buy copies of their own books from a publisher. If a publisher wants you to purchase your own books to re-sell at your book signings, it’s probably a scam.
6. Book contest fees
While many book contests do require fees to enter, if a publisher claims that your book is one of the finalists and charges you a fee to make it to the finals, it’s a scam.