Navigating the steps of self-publishing can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created this beginner’s guide to self-publishing picture books! Where should you start? What’s next? Read on to find out!
Would you like a checklist to keep track of all these steps? Download your FREE picture book self-publishing checklist now!
Step 1: Write your book
First, start writing! The most important step in the publishing process is creating your story. Decide on the story you want to tell, then start putting it to paper. Remember, your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. You can write as many drafts or make as many revisions as you like!
Once you’ve written a draft that you’re happy with, ask friends and fellow authors to read it and share some constructive criticism. This is called beta reading, and it will help you develop an understanding of what’s working in your manuscript and what might need to change.
Step 2: Write back cover blurb & author bio
When you’ve finished writing your story, it’s time to sum it up in a blurb. Your back cover blurb should tell readers what your book is about without giving too much away. It’s often a good idea to include rhetorical questions in your blurb to get readers wondering what might happen in your story.
Next, start writing your author bio. Focus on things that are relevant to your book. Do you have previous writing or publishing experience you could include? Do you have an interesting hobby that makes you an expert in the topic of your story?
Step 3: Work with an editor
Working with a professional editor is an essential part of creating high-quality children’s books. Developmental, line, and copy editing will help you perfect your manuscript’s structure, content, style, flow, grammar, and more. An editor will help you improve your story so that readers can get the most out of it when your book goes to print.
A good editor will include you in the editing process by asking questions about your goals for your book and explaining the changes they make to your writing. This way, you’ll have both a polished manuscript and new writing skills!
Step 4: Decide on printing and production
Deciding on printing and production logistics early on can help to simplify the self-publishing process later. You’ll need to think about things like your book’s trim size, the paper type you’ll be using, and whether you’ll be printing on demand or ordering in bulk.
The best way to get started with these decisions is to choose a self-publishing provider, like IngramSpark or Amazon’s KDP, and look at the options your chosen provider has to offer. Think about costs, logistics, and distribution channels as you choose the option that will work best for you and your book.
Step 5: Hire an illustrator
Now to the fun part: illustration! There are hundreds of talented freelance illustrators to choose from, all with different styles and skills, so you’re sure to find the perfect match for you and your story.
Spend some time researching illustrators and looking through their art portfolios. Once you’ve found a few illustrators whose work you love, send an email to ask about their services. Remember to provide as much information about your book as possible, as this will help illustrators provide you with a quote.
Not sure where to start? Some of the illustrators we recommend are listed under the recommendations tab of our website.
Step 6: Create an author website
As a self-published author, having a strong online presence is essential. While you wait for your illustrations, it’s a good idea to start building your brand by creating a great author website. Your website should align with your brand, tell visitors a little about you, and provide plenty of opportunities to learn more about your books.
Find some of our favorite website designers listed here.
Step 7: Purchase ISBN & national library ID
Publishing books comes with a few all-important rules, including ISBNs and national library IDs. All versions of your book (paperback, hardcover, eBook) must have a unique ISBN number, which can be purchased from Bowker.
You’ll also need to file for a control number with the national library in your home country (for US-based authors, this is the Library of Congress).
Step 8: Hire a typesetter/book designer
When your illustrations are complete, it’s time for typesetting and book design. This is when your illustrations will be put together in book format, and your text will be applied to your pages.
Good typesetting and design can make your book shine. Click here to find our top typesetting, design, and formatting recommendations.
Step 9: Work with a proofreader
After typesetting and design, you’ll need to head back to the editorial process for one last check of your book. A proofreader’s job is to check your text and ensure that no errors have popped up since the editing stage.
Proofreaders also look for design inconsistencies like poor text placement, misplaced illustrations, incorrect copyright information, faulty fonts, and more.
Step 10: Get your book formatted for print & eBook
When your proofreader has checked your book and your typesetter has applied any necessary changes, your book will be ready for formatting. Your book formatter (often the same person who did your book design) will create print and eBook files that align with the requirements set by your self-publishing provider.
Step 11: Assemble a launch team
With publication day nearing, assemble a launch team to help you spread the word about your book. In exchange for early access to your book and an inside look at the publishing process, your launch team can help you build traction by sharing reviews and telling their friends and communities all about your story.
Step 12: Write sales copy
Ads sell books! Think carefully about how to write sales copy that shows off all the best things about your book. Your sales copy will appear on your book’s online listings (think places like Amazon and Book Depository). Good sales copy can convince readers to buy your book.
Step 13: Order & check your proofs
Most self-publishing providers are able to provide print proofs for authors to review before publication day. This is an opportunity you should make the most of. Check your proofs for errors, quality, and printing mishaps before you give your provider the go-ahead to publish.
Step 14: File for copyright
Now that your book is ready for reading, you’ll need to file for copyright to ensure that your story is legally protected in the event of plagiarism. Don’t worry; you’re almost there!
Step 15: Publish
Hit publish! That’s right; you’ve done it! Publishing your book is a huge step, so this stage in the process comes with obligatory celebrations. Congratulations!
Step 16: Market and sell
Finally, marketing. Marketing is how you’ll let people know that they should purchase a copy of your book. If you’re wondering what marketing strategies you should try, download our free list of marketing ideas!
Some of the children’s book marketing professionals we recommend are listed under our recommendations tab.
At Wildflower Books, we offer a range of editing and proofreading services. We specialize in children’s fiction, from picture books and YA novels, and have helped many authors create fantastic books. If you’d like to learn more about your editing options, we’d love to hear from you. Send us an email today!