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How I Published My First Children's Book

Updated: Jan 11

Since publishing my first children's book, a couple friends have told me they share the same dream. They ask me how I started...

My answer: TikTok. 🙃 Well, okay, rewind: First I wrote a story and then TikTok happened.

Yes! The algorithm must have been algorithm-ing and fed me content from an account by Kjersten Faseler. She has a great starter check list for aspiring authors. While I didn’t do absolutely everything on her list, it was valuable information to me. It was the launching point for my own research that then became my own path.

 

I said “own” twice because there are many ways to go about this process. My advice is to look at a lot of the free content that is readily available to you. Discover first if this is something you really want to do. This process, while technical at times, can be done by anyone with a little patience.

 

This is how my journey went, more or less and took roughly six months.

 

1. I wrote my story. I’m not sure how other people write, but when I do, it’s a lot all at once. I start and the words start flowing and before I know it the entire thing is done (minus the critical editing stage). If the words aren’t coming naturally, step away and try again later. Or, explore another topic. When you’re writing about what you should be writing about, it can come easily.

2. Share your story with a select group of trusted people. Then edit accordingly.  So after I wrote Auburn: A Story of Love and Loss for Children, it felt special to me, but I needed to know if it would be special to other people. I needed to see if my message would land. I wanted to make sure people “got it.” I chose a few people close to me and asked for honest feedback. This can feel like a really vulnerable position to be in, but so is putting out a book for the entire world to read and critique. Take their reviews and edits seriously, especially if they are in your target audience.

3. Decide where you plan to publish your book. For me, this was Amazon KDP and IngramSpark. Amazon would handle most of the online orders and print and ship on demand. IngramSpark is for retailers to select books to feature in their stores. Both are free to use, but collect royalties off sales.


If you’re already overwhelmed at this point, hire a consultant to help you with the rest of the list. I muscled through, and you can, too! But, consider how much you’re willing to spend financially to make this book happen. This is an added expense you might not need, even if the process may go a little slower.

4. Hire an illustrator. You can hire an illustrator from Etsy, Fiverr and an array of other places. But I couldn’t bring myself to send my manuscript to strangers on the internet. Luckily for me, I had a connection to a wonderful artist who agreed to illustrate my book. We came to an agreement and from this point onward, it’s very much hand-in-hand between the illustrator and author. Make sure you pick someone you like and trust.

5. Format your book. Determine your trim size and make sure it’s a size that is standard across all of the platforms you’re using to print and sell your books. My book is 8.5x8.5, but there are many others to choose from. This is information your illustrator will need before they begin. I didn't create a hardcover, because Amazon won't print those on demand. There are specific trim sizes for hardcovers, so make sure you pick your paperback version can be converted to the same hardcover size.

6. Buy an ISBN and a barcode. By this point, you really need to start getting organized. Purchase an ISBN and barcode from Bowker and only Bowker (in my opinion). Once you have these items, you can begin writing your Copyright page, which you’ll submit to your illustrator if they are formatting the book. Do this while your illustrator is working to save you time.

7. Create ways to share your book.  Take to social media to get the word out about your book. It can feel a little cringe to put yourself out there, especially when this is all new, but listen, you worked hard. You didn’t write a book for no one to know about it. Tell people! Create an author Facebook page; share posts and videos promoting your book; create a website for yourself as an author (I used Wix); plan to purchase ads; offer pre-orders if you feel confident you have a strict publishing date you can count on; and create a Goodreads author page. There's probably more you can do. Do it all.

8. Upload your book and order proof copies!  By this point, you just want to be done. You're questioning your life choices. You love and hate your book depending on the given moment. It's been a ride. You're tired. But you're nearly there!


After you upload your book, you need to order proof copies. NEED! This was how my illustrator and I discovered the vibrance on the screen proof didn't exactly match what we held in our hands. This is a critical step to make sure your book baby looks how it should. I ended up ordering a second proof after we made changes so I knew for sure she was good to go.

9. Publish your book and... Celebrate!

You did it! You published a book and people are actually buying it! After you sell books, don’t be afraid to ask for review. This will help keep the life of your book strong. You might see a rush of your friends and family purchasing your book right away, but after that, you must enhance your marketing efforts to keep the momentum going. Ads on Facebook, Instagram and Amazon are great avenues to start.

 

The above is not an exhaustive list of the process. There are many other small steps in-between. It sounds like a lot, and I guess it was.

But if you have a story you want to exist outside your head, it's worth it... and maybe even a little fun!

Go for it! Go for it and enjoy creating for the sake of creating.

- Hannah  

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