How to publish a picture book – advice from a professional children’s author


A CB dealers, how are you doing well today, is part two of my writing picture-books video series, and today I’m, going to talk about the kind of technical side of publishing and first, I’m going to talk about traditional publishing With a proper publisher and then I’ll talk about self-publishing self-publishing used to be really frowned on and used to be called vanity publishing.

Nowadays, it’s, so easy to self publish that major authors are publishing their own work and nobody bats an eyelid. So you’ve written a story, and maybe you’re, the illustrator too, and what on earth do you do with it? Well, it never started.

You could send it to a publisher, and nowadays, most publishers, don’t, want to hear from you. They’ve kind of out sourced that whole thing. Two agents say what you really need to do is to find an agent first, and the agent may then want to work with you in an editorial fashion and and kind of hone the story and get it kind of ready to then take it on, so that They’re happy to sell it to the publishers.

So you know, if you’re gonna sell something you really need to believe in it. So an agent may well kind of work with you to really refine that story and get it right to take to publishers and then joy.

Yes, we’re interested well that’s, that’s. The start of process in the end of us it might be different cause. It’s, a bigger market there, but here in the UK and in other smaller countries, a pitch book costs a lot of money to bring out and to to market and just spread it out into the world.

So to spread the costs out. A British publisher will want to do Co editions with other countries, publishers in other countries, so that they’re. All the colour books are printed basically and then the black print is printed on top in different languages and it spreads out the costs for everybody and reduces the unit cost of the book.

So before you get a contract, they had to go to get other people. Interesting, so you I get an option. What generally happens is picture books will get taken to the bolonia Children’s Book Fair in Italy in the spring and there everybody kind of looks at what everybody else has gotten kind of deals get done.

You know if you’re famous or you ‘ Ve got a booklet, it’s, so obviously, given commercial and earth-shattering rules can be broken, but for your average run-of-the-mill author, this is kind of the process you need to go through.

This could take quite some time and also publishers might need to have found an illustrator for you at some point. If you’re just writing the book, then they’re, not going to take it to anywhere until they found an illustrator.

So they might contract you with a sort of a pre-contract contract or something like that. There’s, all sorts of ways. This can be done and an agent will penetrate therapist for you on that. The publisher will then be looking for an illustrator unless you are the illustrator, and that is their choice.

This is a commercial thing, you may have some suggestions and they might think yeah that’s great, but they might think no, that’s wrong. So they when they ‘ Ve read your story. They ‘ Ve got a very firm idea of who the market is and how they’re going to sell this, and they think I’m going to need that kind of an illustrator, and we know this illustrator.

They are tried and tested and we put the two things together and up comes a dummy, so you’ve kind of put together a dummy book with a few sample illustrations that will then go to belong yeah. Everybody can then look at it.

Yes, we want to be involved in this, and the process goes on and at that point, when, when you’ve got enough of a head of steam enough people coming together, then you will get a contract. The full contract for the whole thing.

Are you going to be rich and famous? No, I think I’m going to need to make another video about author earnings. I think so then what happens you? You will be working with an editor and that can be a wonderful relationship.

It could be a very tense relationship, it depends what it depends. You know those personalities involved and it depends on how much you are determined to stick to your art, and you know this is I write this.

It’s. Gon na stay exactly like this word-for-word and it depends how much you are prepared to kind of give and take and realize this is a commercial project and it has to sell this has to sell to make the money back that is being invested in it, and So that is the editors job to do that.

The editors job is really the that the champion of the reader and when you write something and an illustrator comes and works together on it. You have this kind of idea, and this is what you want to do and it’s all about the art and the creativity you can produce a book, give it to a reader and they ‘

Ll go huh, doesn’t quite make sense. The editor is the Regis champion and it’s. Their job is to pull this book together so that it presents a really great story, a really great thing for the reader and at the same time, is putting across what it was that the author really wanted to say in the first place.

So they’re right in the middle, and sometimes you get big big egos embossed it. It editors have to sort of tread on eggshells, sometimes with some authors. I hope I’m, not too bad, so yeah you have to tell it keep it takes about being professional and it’s about them.

In the end, it’s about the book and it’s about selling that book and recouping just what is actually about. As far as the publishers can say, art does come in there and you know, but it’s. It’s down the list a little bit, and yet you need to have the art and everything in there to make the things sell in the first place.

So it’s, a very, very tricky mush. So eventually, once the your gonna have a designer involved, who’s, gonna be designing the book and the type and everything and the feel of it, putting the illustrations in there choosing the type and then you will also have the marketing department Who will be on board right from the very start? They will be in the commissioning meetings and they will be going home.

I don’t think we can sell this. Oh, yes, we love this idea, we can sell it and they will be thinking about how they’re, going to sell it and they will be having their say right from the beginning about the way the book is going to go and what kind Of markets it’s, going to be aimed at and and pretty much.

Then it’s. It’s all out of your hands. The publishers decide what’s going to happen, and when the book comes out it’s, it’s got three weeks to sink-or-swim. Basically, these days, publishers are publishing so many books that they’d.

Have not the budget to really put into marketing every single book? They’re, going to really put the big budgets into the big authors and if you’re a new author, it’s down to you and it’s up to you to go out there and kind Of do your best to sell that book, the marketing marketing that everything is like black magic, who knows what it’s about how it works.

I don’t know. This is partly why I’m doing this video, because I have, at the end of this month my book Pandora, which I am self-publishing. I’ll talk to you about self-publishing now, and so this is coming out at the end of the month and I want you to go to Amazon click the links below, and I want you to pre-order now, because Amazon really likes to see books.

Pre-Ordered, so this is all part of the whole marketing thing, so if you went to it and was it now and pre-ordered, that would really help boost doors levels on Amazon. So why did I decide to do this? The self-publishing, as I said right when I started you know you just wouldn’t dream her self-publishing.

It was kind of you know. You were a failure, if you self-published and it was called vanity publishing and self-publishing was for everybody who couldn’t get published anywhere else and you were very much looked down on and now a self-publishing is very much a choice and I like, I Would kind of talked about this yesterday? My pretty you can click up here to find huh and I’ve been working on this book for about 20 years, and I knew that it was going to take.

If I found a publisher who’s, gonna take three to four years before it would ever come out, and I want it in my hands now, because I know when I go to schools. I love telling this story and I want to have a book that the children can buy and it’s a risk, so I launched it on Kickstarter so that that partly Ricky would give me a bit of income.

What would happen to an illustrator if they were commissioned by a major publisher is they would be given a sum of money in advance, which is to kind of pay their wages while they sit down and do the work and sort of paint? The pictures, if you do get yourself and you sit down, spend six weeks to months painting you’re, not getting paid.

So I did it don’t, kick yourself is to bring a bit of income in, and it was certainly not as much as I would have got from a publisher, but it also meant that I had to do it and I think you’ve seen oh yeah, I’ll.

I’m gonna kind of do a children’s book it. You need something to really make you kind of do all that artwork. That is the hard part to actually sit down and sort of complete something on your phone and having having kind of promised and having sold copies upfront to my Kickstarter’s.

Supporters then that may not had to actually do the projects that’s. One reason that I did it technically. What would you do? I think if you’ve written a story, a picture-book story, you really need. You really need it to be edited you.

You will be so close to this story and anything, I think, takes many sort of possible ways. You can get lots of friends to read it and make suggestions. Do you have to really listen, and you have to be constantly thinking about the book and not about your art, and this is me like the stuff? Is you have to think about the book and make the book as best as possible? So you might want to hire, hire an editor and you can do that.

You could trial it. Try and try out the story and just get a lot in our schools and light beers. If you cannot come and read this to a group of children, it’s. I don’t know this. It’s, not easy. You could just have to keep knocking on doors and asking I’m lucky that I’m out already, and also so.

I visit lots of schools and I can try out stories as I’m going on, and I knew this story was right. I know I’ve honed it and it’s over 20 years so said, then you’re gonna need an illustrator. So if you are an illustrator, then that’s great and you can illustrate your book even though you might not be the right person to illustrate it.

Some stories need a kind of style and it might not suit your style and that’s, a really difficult decision. What to do there, because you might need to employ a different illustrator FedEx, Oh kind of goes against everything on the inside an artistic integrity and all that kind of thing.

As an author, you can need to hire an illustrator, and I see on children’s, picture book message board. Oh yeah, you just got Fiverr and you get somebody to illustrate it. You know and pay them pay them peanuts in Philippines or something like that and it’s.

Not gonna help your book and if you look on Amazon, you will find hundreds of thousands of children’s. Books which have all been put up there and people have written them. I think on and I got someone in the Philippines to bang out some illustrations.

If somebody is very good at don’t Photoshop, but they don’t understand the story. If they don’t understand the culture the stories coming from and they are just pictures added to a story. So it’s, just a book with pictures and they kind of have a kind of cover style and you just look at it.

Mmm it’s, a self-published book. It’s, not serious seriously. It’s. A lot of work gone into it. I know how much work that’s gone into, but not enough work there’s, nothing to it. So you really need to find a proper illustrator heap understands what you’re doing.

He understands stories who is gonna bring something extra to your book. Then you have to kind of do a deal with them. They need to pay the rent. Have you & # 39? Ve got the money to pay them. Are you going to recoup your investment? Some people are great marketers and when it comes to marketing, marketing starts right at the beginning of the idea of the book, so some people know I’m, going to write a book about the Tooth Fairy and I’m going to Sell it to dentists of that whole kind of you know.

They know exactly the market. They’re, aiming at. They write the book specifically for that market. They found the right illustrator for that market, bang go in there and they’ll. Make a profit marketing starts right at the beginning, the inception of a project, and you have to be thinking ahead.

Who am I writing this? For, if you’re, just writing it for your family and that’s? Fine, but you know who you’re writing it bought and you’re, not going to expect to make a huge profit or or to you know, become a famous author.

So once you have got yourself an illustrations, all those kinds of technical contractual problems, then how do you actually go about making a book and getting it out there? Then you’re gonna need to design the book, so you might need to employ a designer unless you have skills in designing books.

So you’re, going to need to use InDesign or quark or some kind of publisher program, and eventually and and you’re gonna need, Photoshop and all those other things too to create the covers. And you know, even though it’s being done in watercolor, it’ll, be scanned, and you’re, going to be needing to touch it up in water in Photoshop, and things like that.

So you might need it to employ a book designer and they will be able to get the whole thing ready. As a PDF for you to upload to wherever you go now you can publish on Amazon, got what it’s. Moot is changed again.

It was create space or something now his Amazon Kindle create space was that I’m, not quite sure I don’t, do it with Kindle, because you’re kind of slightly stuck just within the Amazon world, so I Published through Ingram, lightning source, Ingram spark who very much for self publishers.

I put a link down below for that, and so I upload my book to them. I fill in all the tags and information on there and you can either just publish straight away if you like and and and it will be published and you can buy copies straight from them.

So if you’re going to his libraries and schools and things and whatever you can sell, you’ve got copies to sell and you’re gonna and you can. You set the prices and everything and but all those from Ingram Lightning Source spark you will.

Your book will be available on Amazon and all the other bookstores and and book stores throughout the world, and each copy will get printed one at a time I’ve been to the factory it’s incredible. So when somebody orders a book on Amazon, the information goes to like in Seoul so Ingram and they put the whole thing together and there’s paper just running through their machines, all the time wolf.

Your book will go through as part of that and and it will get printed, it’ll, put packed up and sent off to the customer. Is it an extraordinary system? And there you are, you, have a book in your hands and then it’s up to you to sell it, and that is that is just the beginning of the journey.

Really, yes, and this this video here is actually kind of part of my sort of whole promotion to try and sell my books and and sort of develop an audience online who might actually want to buy my books.

So so it’s, not easy, but you do have Twitter. You have Facebook, there are lots of people who are gonna teach you how to sell on Facebook. Teach you how to sell on Twitter and Instagram, and all this these methods you’re gonna need a website.

It’s, a business, it’s, a business. If you want to be that rich and famous author, you have got to sell hundreds of thousands of books and if you are self-publishing, then that is very, very difficult.

Unless that point this finger of God comes down as this. It’s. You and you’re just that really really lucky person. Nobody ever knows why that person gets chosen, but every now and then somebody does.

But you know you might as well buy a lottery ticket. You’re, probably better off, buying a lottery ticket, so the only other thing is to warn you about some people who call themselves publicist and they aren’t really publishes.

They’re publishing, facilitators. Okay, yeah! We’re publisher and we got a big website and you know monkey yeah. You get a royalty and everything for every copy you sell. They are not published as they they’re not going to edit your book.

They’re, probably gonna charge you they are making their living from you and not from selling books. A publisher is going to make their living from selling books and giving you a commission. If somebody’s asking you for money up front there’s, a red flag.

You really really want to think about that. I’m sure there were some people and there are business models that work. But generally, if somebody’s asking you money to publish your book, I would think twice unless you’re, absolutely aware that this person is going to be a facilitator, they are going to do the editing they’re, going To do the marketing they’re gonna do everything, but I’m, paying them for it, but you’re gonna get a much higher royalty return from it, so they’re kind of business partners.

Rather than you know being a traditional publisher, so there we go. I think that kind of explains it very right back down away kind of the process is, you might come across if you’ve written a picture book and you want to get the published if you have any more ideas, questions put them down in The comments box below and I’ll – have a look, and maybe you’ll spot at the same time, probably not covered in now.

So in the meantime, make sure you have God’s. What happens in a pre or Pandora and keep watching what you watching? Keep writing writing illustrating, publishing, publishing, publishing and I’ll see you next time.

You take care now.


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