Self Publish Picture BookSelf-publishing picture book
By 2013 I had Ferdinand Fox's Big Sleep, a 32-page color picture book for kids between the ages of 3-6, edited by myself. It is one of six rhyme tales that make up the adventures of Ferdinand Fox. Ferdinand had been sitting in a crate with my other works for over 10 years as I went back to my daily work after I hadn't found an editor or editor.
This is because colored picture albums are usually produced in more than one or more languages at the same press - known as co-publications - in order to legitimize the run lengths and thus reduce piece costs, which are so much higher than for monochrome internal use.
Since I could not give up so easy with those that I believe in*, I chose to give Ferdinand a try. Runaway Alien were rejected shortly after Ferdinand - but at the moment of the letter (updated in May 2018) The Secret Lake is a Amazon UK bestseller (over 9,000 units since its release in August 2011) and Eeek! has over 3,000 units on sale.
Meanwhile I have also oversold over 750 pieces of Ferdinand Fox's Big Sleep - almost all at schools or autograph sessions and over 500 of my successor picture book, Ferdinand Fox and the hedgehog. In the following I look at the practical aspects of self-publication of a picture book. The majority of picture-book titles are 32 pages and 500-1,000 words long.
But remember that 24- and 32-page ledgers are tried and true and will be conveniently seated next to the competitors in a bookstore. You can also get my 32-page artwork for the storyline here. Loaned a bunch of picture-book items from the locals and searched the lofts for old favorites like Hairy Maclary.
Not only was I interested in how the publishing houses had placed and woven the text and the illustration, but also how they had used the front and back (title page, half-titles, about the writer, etc.). At the beginning of Ferdinand Fox's Big Sleep I distributed a funny double-page colage - it contains many of the dishes Ferdinand dreams of later and offers extra possibilities for discussions and learn.
I' ve got the brainchild from some of the ledgers I've been looking at. The Ferdinand Fox's Big Sleep is 436 words long and consists of 13 sentences of four-line rhyme verses. It was quite clear to me which images would match which text, as they had always been playing in my mind of course.
But because I wanted to adapt my book to the 32-page version, I had to crop some parts of the book to create the storyline board (no space!) and insert other parts of the book with unscheduled images (to prevent a pure text page). It soon became clear, however, that this was not only because of page limitations, but also because the different tempo of the plot required more images in some places than in others.
All of us know which ones we have been reading to our kids and to which we always came back - and I can certainly recall some I found dull! When you are 99% sure that your history is correct, you can trim it to the desired page format with A4 sheeting.
You can browse through the book and enjoy the true "reader experience" - and have the last opportunity to be completely sure that the tempo of the book and the mixture of illustration are right. You can choose the available hardcopy formats depending on how you want to print and distribute your book.
To use one of the most important print-on-demand and redistribution options such as CreateSpace, Lightning Source or Lulu, please review their available sizes and match them with your own book in your own bookstore or in your area. Target the same or similar book sizes (unless you want your book to be different!).
But before you start to steam, you should make a decision about the type of papers you want and can achieve! While the most important print-on-demand features are comfortable and take charge of distributing, four-color book printing is not an inexpensive way to do this, and processing means that they may not be appropriate for your children's picture book.
May 2018 update: While the information below on tissue finishing is still true, in recent years, when I ran out of 500 pieces, I switched to printed on-demand as the customers really didn't realize the differences. I have learnt the toughest thing from the production of Ferdinand Fox's Big Sleep is that I couldn't get a semi-matt inside sheet from CreateSpace or Lightningource.
It is the somewhat heavy, sticky-fingerproof type of document used in most children's literature. It is essential if you plan to place your book in children's and grout bookstores, as 90% of picture-book sales (at least in the UK) have these fatter, silkier pages.
When you decide on whitewash it is elegant, looks good and has a very good feel (almost silky!) - and the indoor color is outstanding by both. However, my mind went down when I opened my proofs because I had been expecting tissueaper. LIGHTHNING SURCE matte wood fiber matte papers interiors - great color!
Speaking to parents/friends and even our librarians, they all said they couldn't comprehend why I would think about ordering a book in advance just to enhance the inside paperwork, as they hadn't seen anything "wrong" with myofs. Probably you can't look at the picture above. I spoke to Nielsen, who said I didn't have to use another Nielsen IDN just because the surface of the papers was a little different.
However, if you want to try to convince wholesale distributors to store your book - to give you fast entry to bookstores across the country - you will probably have difficulties, especially as an intruder. That said, provided you have a great book, your local bookstores can well take the matte size on air and you can still sale it directly via Amazon and other on-line stores. What is the best way to do this?
Lulu supplied satin finished papers at the writing stage, but only for 12" x 12" or 12" book formats. 75 ", which are not common in children's literature. This book is not suitable for Lulu as well. Please be in no doubt that the costs per piece for color picture book on call are high - despite the "non-silk" inner document inks.
Example, the price per piece for a copy of Ferdinand Fox's Big Sleep is £3.21! Since I usually provide a 45% rebate through Lightning Sourcing - to improve the odds of those on-line shops that discounted my titles - this allows me to make a gain of only £1.37 per listing on my other workbooks.
I was still interested in finding a way to make a silken finishing that I could get from wholesale. My goal was to reconcile the print-on-demand award with the shorter edition I could find. Would-be to buy in pressure many years go and therefore was not amazed (but still shocked!) to find out that to get my measure of printing expenses close to the pressure on demand outlay of £3. 21, I would have to expend at least 1,500 and order in a reserve of 500 books. a...
The higher the run, the lower the piece count and conversely, due to the preparation time. An order in 1,000 would clearly be more economical, but without a feel for how well the book would go down, and without a distributor or a domestic PR behind me to meet customer demands, this was not a chance I was willing to take - nor was the 1,500 pounds spent on the initially short run!
Fortunately I was able to find a British printer* that could deliver 100 copies of their machine at a price of 3.91 a book-inclusive. Yeah, the costs were high, and that means I had to order in advance - 391 - but it means I could test the finished silks at my bookstores, schools and through my distributor without having to order in large numbers and with a lot of effort.
Gardner's reasonably told me to commercialize the book at 7. 99 instead of its topical £6. 99 poun. But I could not explain this - especially not next to so many picture albums by well-known writers at a lower one. 99, based on my major gains from the sale of my products through schools and on-site consignation sale.
Meanwhile, most UK bookstores and on-line shops (WH Smith's, Waterstones etc.) can order the book from Gardners - which Nielsen lists as my primary distribution partner - quickly and simply, giving them more opportunities to test it on the open bookstore. Ferdinand Fox's Big Sleep has already secured an entry on the prestigious LoveReading4KidsUK website, where it was chosen by Julia Eccleshare, children's journalist at The Guardian, as one of the works presented in July 2013.
I' d suggest getting three offers from printers when you look at this itinerary - offers and service changes over the years, but the qualitiy I got was very good - ask Bruce Finn when you get in touch with her. Of course, if I had known in advance that I would order a total of 500 volumes, I could have been able to save a lot of cash by ordering in one go - for the lower offsets of 500.
However, without a success story in picture-book publishing and with the knowledge that the paragraph is remarkably low for them, I was not willing to take the chance. I wouldn't have done that if I didn't have two more children's literature for different ages that I could take to Ferdinand Fox's schools and Waterstones to make these activities more timely.
I did a much better test of Ferdiand Fox's Big Sleep than I had hoped and I was selling around 150 pieces at the moment of the letter - half of them through Waterstones and most of them through schools in May/June and/or bookstores on commission. Goodreads' on-line review (some of them from a Goodreads competition) was amazing (and all but one of them were from the non-silk edition delivered by Amazon) - which included another 5-star review by Louise Jordan, former Puffin UK readership and foundress of The Writers' Advice Centre for Children'sbooks.
If the number of sales/orders increases in large quantities, as the book becomes better known through my own PR and my own PR, then I will order in a much bigger edition in order to reduce the costs per copy and only deliver this finishing - or contact a partner firm like Matador with whom I would like to work.
I' m also under no illusions that picture book are not sold in very large quantities! I' ve got more classroom activities scheduled for the fall and I' ll be doing more advertising, so I' ll be making my own choices from there. The Ferdinand Fox's Big Sleep Coloring Book - another way! Well-known for our ingenuity, we independent writers, and when I thought about my lesson from this venture, I had the thought of producing a coloring book of Ferdiannd Fox's Big Sleep. Well, that's a great way to go.
It uses matte pages in monochrome as the default, so that they can be printed on demanda at significantly lower costs per page than the four-colour book. Two for the prize of one - a rhyme book and an activities book! The book's size, in which text and images sit separate from each other, is also suitable for a coloring book-size.
One rhyme and coloring book in one! I' m now offering Ferdinand Fox's Big Sleep Coloring Book via Lightningource at a £4.99 RRP - and at the moment of the letter this was 4.93 on Amazon, probably thanks to my 45% rebate. I' ve not yet marketed this release because I want to sell the full-color release as ventilation for now - but my favorite bookstores and Waterstones who have all my other titles in store have said they will have them in store, and I will deliver them directly for it.
Do you think I'd start printing with tissue again? I' ve got five more Ferdinand Foxtories and my judges are still working on how I'll be producing the rest. If I book at schools regularly, I have no doubts that I can resell my actual inventory. But I will make a definite choice which size I will use for the other Fuchsgeschichten sometime next year, as soon as I see how the book works.
Deliver the book in a different size - possibly with several floors - and use silk-free paper/print if necessary. Make coloring pages only! Producing only one audiobook! I wish you every happiness when you plan a children's picture book - and please don't hesitate to make your own comment and give us a few hints for the better!
I' m sure we would all like to know about low-cost four-color short-run printing solutions!