By AK Fielding
Recently, I decided to take a leap of faith and self-publish my children’s book. If you have ever tried to get a children’s book published, you know that it is considered an extremely difficult market for authors and illustrators, especially if you are trying to publish your book for the first time.
I always feel there are two ways to deal with difficult situations: give up or get working. As you can imagine, I decided to get working. Although this article is aimed towards writers and children’s book illustrators, the points listed below apply to anyone who wants to self-publish.
Here are my top five points to help get you started:
- Develop your skills. Read if you want to write. Read a lot, if you want to write very well. If you want to develop your writing skills, reading MUST be an essential part of your training. Then, write, write, write, and write some more. Just when you feel you are done, write some more again. Habitual reading and writing will help you to develop your skills as a writer.
In addition, always have someone edit your work; even the most experienced writers can make mistakes. You don’t want your readers to put down your book—and never pick it up again–because of grammatical errors or misspelled words that you’ve overlooked.
- Practice. Point 2 stresses the first point. Never feel that you know everything you possibly need to know about how to write or illustrate. Be humble. Work hard. And ask for assistance or reviews from others. Take time to practice your skills and improve upon the ones you already possess.
- Follow your heart. Write about and/or illustrate something that is meaningful to you. Sure, you can aim to please others and often there is the thought that if you make what “sells” then you will remain in business. You may remain in business, but at what cost? Remember, “To Thine Own Self Be True.” If you create work that you love, your passion will shine through. It is not just a matter of text or objects on paper; your work reflects (or ought to) a part of you. Make sure what you are making does that and your fans will see it too.
- Educate. Educate yourself about the business of self-publishing. Writing and illustrating are only one aspect of what you do. You must consider your work as a business. All this means that, as with any other business, you must familiarize yourself with the logistics of self-publishing. Do you know your target audience? Do you know how to reach your target audience? Do you know how to format and edit your book? Do you know how to design book covers? Do you know how to market and sell your book? Do you know how to allocate funds for your business? Do you know how to allocate funds for taxes?
- Find support. I am listing this as the last point but, in truth, it is the point that covers all others. Where do you draw your strength from when everything is in chaos? Remember to put God first always. Pray. Have a supportive “team” such as friends and family who you can turn to in times of struggle. Look for mentors if you feel you need one. Make some time for yourself so you can think. Ask for help.
There you have it. My top five things to get you started on your path to self-publishing. If you are interested my new children’s book, Poor Richard’s Almanack, released in February 2015.
AK Fielding is an historian, artist, writer, illustrator, and homeschool educator. Her articles on American history have appeared on the Journal of the American Revolution, Illinois Heritage Magazine, Hoosier Heritage Magazine, new media publications, and her blog. Her art has appeared in galleries and national and international publications. For more information about her art and books on American history, please visit: http://trehanstreasures.com/.