I’ve gotten a lot of questions regarding my experience of self-publishing my two children’s books and I thought, “HEY! Why not share on my blog!” So here you go! I know there are a lot of authors out there exploring this option for their artistic creations, and I found the process to be quite fun an educational. First off, a little back story: I wanted to write a children’s book that addressed childhood fears. I’m super afraid of spiders, so I wrote a book called, “Don’t Scream! I’m Just A Spider” to help kids cope with a fear they may have. After that, I knew I had to find the right illustrator for it.
I went to college with a talented graphic designer/graffiti artist in Chicago, and we’ve been friends for a long time. Oddly enough, she had been wanting to illustrate a children’s book, I had just written one, so we teamed up under the name Mad Duo Books. Since then, we’ve finished two children’s books together. I do the writing, she does the artwork. We wanted to do a children’s book that appealed to what we called “the hipster’s kids” — one that was edgy and didn’t look like other kids’ books on the shelves. Her graffiti style really brought that to the table.
Once our little creation was completed, the ULTIMATE question popped up. Should we self-publish? In this case, the answer was a resounding YES. We found out pretty quickly from the responses we were getting back from agents that the children’s picture book market was in a big slump. No one was willing to pick it up with the current state of the genre being so slow in the retail market. We decided to do it ourselves and paid out of pocket to get it out there.
The next step was to figure out where the heck we were going to publish this thing. We sat down and made a list of companies we researched from the internet. Finally, we had a bunch of companies we wanted to consider. A few were American-based companies, but the one we settled on happened to be Canadian. Our approach through this process was to take the quotes from all the companies we called, and then call them all BACK with the lowest quote we received to see if they would beat that price. If they did, we repeated the process until we got the lowest possible quote. And that’s why we went with ArtBookbindery.com.
I should mention that initially we only chose publishing houses that could print the type of book we wanted (we had specific dimensions, paper choice and inks we wanted to use). It is usually more pricey to do a children’s picture book because they are normally hard cover (so the kids won’t tear them apart) and they require the gamut of ink colors for all the artwork in the book. In the end, we went with the cheapest quote and the friendliest people that could help us complete the book the way we wanted.
After 4 weeks of waiting, we got our books in the mail. And oh, the joy! After we self-published the book, we knew we needed a marketing plan for it. We blasted it through social media and got our friends to buy the book and asked our friends to spread the word. We also hoofed around Chicago with the books in our hands and went to independent book shops and had them sell it consignment. We also attended a few book/art fairs to sell it and had a “book-signing party” where we invited people and signed the books for them in person. Finally, I did a few live readings to an audience of children to get the kids familiar with the book. After reading to the kids, I would set up a stand and sell the book to the parents.
Needless to say, it was a lot of work on our part, but we really had fun during this whole process. If you are on the fence about self-pubbing, I say GO FOR IT! See how it goes. If you have any questions, I will also be more than happy to help you out. Go get ’em tiger!