Author of the upcoming children's book series, The Little Labradoodle shares five key lessons learned on the road to self-publishing her first book, Puppy Pickup Day about a little Labradoodle's adventure to get back home in time to meet his new family.
1. Research is Important
Read the types of books that you're trying to write. Make note of the things you like and what you don't. I visited my niece with her large collection of children's books and got a sense of the size of book I would like to produce. It helped me understand early readers and the words, format and layout of those books. What are you trying to create?
Are you drawn to picture books that rhyme?
What style illustrations catches your eye?
What is your target audience drawn to?
There are plenty of resources out there to help you learn more about the subject. Read and devour those books on writing a children's story, rhyme and meter, self-publishing. I love to learn new things and it was exciting to delve into things that were previously foreign to me. YouTube has so much information about self-publishing, marketing your book. I binged watched many individuals and learned a lot from others sharing what has worked well for them and discussing pitfalls to avoid.
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
2. Connect with Others
There are a number of like-minded people that will share your journey and help you along the way. Facebook groups are a great place to start. I started by searching for "author" groups and was fortunate to find a few with good size and active membership. Following others on their journey and seeing feedback that was provided to others helped me learn some of the pitfalls and get a great introduction to the process.
You can't do everything yourself and even if you could, you wouldn't do it all well. For example, I am not good with visual arts so I knew right away I would need to find an illustrator. In addition, I found a graphic designer who would help with layout of the book covers and inside. An additional benefit is that the individual had experience using Amazon's publishing format and was willing to help me learn it. I paid a small fee for editing assistance and will need help (I'm sure) with Marketing.
When connecting with others, be careful of people who may want to take advantage of you. There are "vanity presses" that will tell you they want to publish your book but want to charge you thousands of dollars to do that. There are unscrupulous freelancers who ask for payment up front for a service they don't provide or they don't deliver on what's promised. For me, these are all valuable lessons from others that can help me avoid trouble in my journey. My goal is to create relationships with talented people who will partner with me through the book series, not just this one.
I hope I can help others from my journey!
3. Revise, Revise, Revise
You will revisit your book many times after that first draft is complete. I am currently on version eight of mine. Around the third rewrite I brought it over to my son's house to read it to my Grandkids and get their opinion. I got through the second page and my grand daughter said, "Nana, it's too boring. Can I play on the IPAD instead?" She wasn't trying to be mean. Kids are brutally honest, which was exactly what I needed. So, back to the drawing board I went. I changed it up, added some adventure, some new characters and made it rhyme.
There are also some critique groups out there on Facebook or writing clubs you can join that will help peer review and provide constructive criticism for each other. I had a few key people that spent time with me on the phone and really helped move me forward leaps and bounds. Five more revisions later and I think I'm almost ready to put the pen down.
Let's see what the Editor thinks next week!
4. Quality is Important
Small details matter. If you aren't producing a high quality product it won't sell well. There are way too many books out there that are immediately recognizable as self-published books due to the lousy quality. You don't want yours to be one of them.
Are you happy with the illustrations?
How about the graphic design / layout?
Do you have a well-designed cover?
Is it print quality as good as possible?
Is spelling, grammar and punctuation correct?
5. Start Marketing Early
Getting the word out about a book launch is not easy - even in this "connected" world with social media galore. I'm not a social media influencer. In fact, I had to create my first Instagram and Twitter post to get started. I have a lot to learn about marketing the book. I'm turning to books, experts and absorbing as much as possible from others. I will post more about marketing as we get closer to our launch and expand on this very important topic. No matter how good your product is, if no one knows about it, then it won't sell.
Help get the word out - like and share my post and sign up for my mailing list so you can be one of the first to know when the first book in the series is published!
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