Writer Gives Advice on How to Self Publish Kids' Books

Writer Gives Advice on How to Self Publish Kids’ Books

self publish kids books
La Tasha Mason (Image: Shamecka Nelson, Nelson Photography)

Do you have a great idea for a children’s book? According to Publisher’s Weekly, the children and Young Adult (YA) book market is strong with children’s books being “growth drivers of the book industry in recent years.” But how do you go about getting your book published? One women found a way.

La Tasha Mason self-published her children’s book, Zana the Brave. In this interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, Mason discusses her experiences self-publishing, and how others can also self-publish kids’ books.

BE: Tell us a little about self-publishing?

La Tasha Mason: While self-publishing eliminates all the red tape and allows you more creative freedom, it is a lot of work. Depending on the amount of time you allow yourself to prepare, it can get costly. So allow yourself time to plan and find ways to cut costs. Do research to determine how much money you will need to complete your book, market it, promote it and get it printed.

How do you go about the process of writing the manuscript?

Before you begin writing your manuscript, it’s important to know who your intended audience is first. This is especially important when writing a children’s book. Why is this important? You want to know what level of vocabulary you need to use. Should you write in first-person or third-person? Should you be grammatically correct or use slang? There are various types of children’s books for different ages, reading, and grade levels. There are picture books, board books, picture storybooks, chapter books, and so much more. Knowing what direction you want to go in will save you some time, edits, and money.

How do you come up with a title?

Not only should your book’s story line be creative and well thought out, but the book title should, too. Contemplate the likelihood of your title auto-populating in Google or Amazon searches and being searched on social media. When formulating your title, you also need to think about whether or not the name is already taken as far as copyright, trademark, website domain, and social media handles. You can find this out by searching for the title on the websites of the Library of Congress, Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), Whois Domain Lookup search, and on each social media platform.

How do you make sure no one else can ever use your title?

Now that you have made sure the book title is unique and available — secure it. Submit your application with the Library of Congress to obtain a copyright for your manuscript.

self publish kids books
Zana The Brave (Image: Qin Mobley)

How do you find and hire an editor?

There are different types of editors. There are developmental editors, content editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. In researching editors, you will find suggestions to hire each type of editor for your writing process. That can get expensive for an independent author. Each editor’s fee can range anywhere from $250 to thousands depending on his/her experience. Determine what you need based on your writing level and understanding of creative and grammatically correct writing.

How did you find an illustrator?

I recommend hiring an editor before hiring an illustrator because your editor may suggest changes, or enhancements to your manuscript that could cause you to need modifications of your visual story as well. So it makes more sense to wait until after your book is completely edited before starting the illustrations. The illustrator also should be familiar with the basics of print-ready graphics.

How did you decide who would print them?

Amazon on Demand through Kindle Direct Publishing only prints paperback books. I wanted hardcover books  for schools, libraries and youth organizations that prefer them. The cost to print hardcover books can be quite costly. It depends on the number of books printed, trim size, the amount of illustrations, and the number of pages in the book. Take your time researching printers, their quality of work, and printing turnaround time.

How did you go about the actual process of publishing the book?

If you don’t already have an Amazon account, set one up so you can start your Kindle Direct Publishing account and book setup. Your Kindle Direct Publishing account is where you will load your manuscript, book cover, book details, obtain an ISBN, set your paperback book pricing and distribution markets, and publish your book to Amazon. However, you’ll need the exact specifications to upload your manuscript and book cover.

What should people know about the marketing process?

Before you publish your book on Amazon, grow your fan base. Get on social media and post content related to the subject matter of your book without giving away the book’s storyline; so you can increase your following. If your book is about bullying, post bullying facts, posts bullying testimonials and videos, post current news on bullying, and tips on how to deal with a bully. Interact with your social media followers, post consistently, use flyers and videos to obtain a greater reach, and use hashtags.

About two months before you publish your book to Amazon, begin promoting it on your social media pages and sending out manuscripts, or digital copies for children’s book bloggers to review. Send comp books to celebrities and others with significant following who are likely to share a photo of your book with their social media followers, or help you spread the word about your book.

What is the best way to tap into larger distribution?

Set your Amazon book release price as low as you can. Unfortunately, the thing about selling on Amazon is that people tend to go for the lowest priced items. So in order to make top seller, that will require selling at a price that won’t yield much of a per book profit. The lower you set the price, the more books you will sell, and the higher you will climb in book ranking. The higher you are in book ranking, the higher you will appear in the Amazon search engine. Hence, the more exposure your book will receive.

You can also host giveaways on Amazon to encourage reviews and more. Consider uploading your book for sale in Kindle or audio book format. Schedule a book tour and/or blog tour. The options for achieving success are limitless. Yes, it takes time, money and energy, but if you budget right and hire the right people to help you, you will procure success beyond your expectations.