Self publishing class?

  • SVS OG

    Will there ever be a class on JUST self publishing here? I have self published one book and it's a lot more work and you have to do it ALL alone but, I will probably keep doing it because I might never get published otherwise! It would be great to have a class or webinar at least.

  • @marsha-kay-ottum-owen I agree. Self publishing or trying to get published is so confusing. ISBNs, costs, marketing for artists.... all must have topics.

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    we may do a video on this topic. I think it is very relevant. Jake, Will, and I have all self published books and it's quite an ordeal for sure.

    The biggest thing is having a good idea on how you will sell them and if they will actually sell. As hard as making a book is, that is actually the easy part. The hard part is selling it and many people are shocked when they make a book and then only a few copies sell.

  • SVS OG

    @lee-white Exactly! I'm horrible at the selling part but I haven't worked as hard at it as I could. I only made 300 copies and did sell about 85 to friends and family , etc. I set up a store online but , the truth is, that my book looks pretty bad to me now and I'm a little embarrassed to sell it, to be honest. I would love to have someone else do it but.....I have a book in priocess and I am getting close to the finishing up stage...I think!

    I have 10 isbn's, I have gotten a copyright, I have tried to get a PCN number but was too late because my book was already published by then, I found a printer, I looked at Create space but it totally confuses me.

    I set a goal to make 10 books.....ay! ay! ay! I still have so much to learn!

    It would be nice to sit down with someone and show them what I have before I print a designer or editor or whatever it would be called. I went to an scbwi illustration day and when I listened to the publishing process (Marla Frazee was the author and illustrator), I thought, wow! It would be so nice to have all those other people looking things over, etc. but, oh well. I learn a lot with these projects at least.

  • I've only come across one course on this subject so far by Stephen Silver, a character designer: Not sure if it's what you are looking for but I bookmarked it for future reference on the subject.

  • Pro SVS OG

    There is a book by JAmes Scott Bell, a bestselling author who is both traditionally and self-published. He writes for adults, but the principles should be the same, I think.

  • SVS OG

    @christine-garner Thank you!

  • SVS OG

    @smceccarelli Thanks! I'll check it out.

  • I would sign up for a SVS class on this topic!

  • I've self published a picture book using Createspace for the paperback and KDP for the ebook. I've focused on Amazon ads which drive traffic but have been break even at best on terms of cost. The holy grail of book marketing is a Bookbub email ad since their site has a million plus subscribers. I've submitted three times and have been turned down. They prefer authors with several books published and wide distribution. Marketing kids lit is a whole different animal compared to adult genres. Book blogs are big trust builders with parents but most won't promote a self published title. It's not impossible to get a self published book into a brick & mortar retailer but you're likely to get a lot of buy backs that didn't sell because all the prime point of sale spaces are bought by large publishers. If you want a Kickstarter campaign to succeed then you need to build a following for your project well in advance of launching the campaign. Producing a book is only half the battle. Marketing a book is a steep hill to climb. However, I'm still hopeful of cracking the code though. And it starts with producing a high quality story and pro-level illustrations.

  • @smithdraws I think getting a following and doing heavy promotion before the kickstarter even begins is a MAJOR factor, and it also really helps you get a feel for how it's being received before diving in.

    I've seen a few super successful kid's book kickstarters (Notably Augie and the Green Knight, A Whale Who Dreamt of a Snail, Galunker (a personal favorite), and HERE is a list of more that I just found while trying to remember one of the titles and a bit on why they worked out. Most of them already have a substantial amount of the book completed prior to the beginning of the campaign, they have solid goals that they meet, keepo good communication, professional posts and videos, and of course the book is both stunning and unusual. Often you can do well by appealing to a niche crowd this way, or if you can make a book that also strikes home or considers a subject that adults would also enjoy.

    But man, there is SO MUCH involved in a kickstarter campaign. I'm thinking there's a whole Kickstarter Production manager job out there for anyone who's good at that and wants to be hired by those of us who would rather crawl in a hole and draw pictures of bears than even thinking about that mountain.

  • SVS OG

    @withlinesofink Ha! Ha! Yes! I think we need a self-publishing cooperative group. We all share and critique our projects so that they turn out top notch. Some writers, some designers, etc...then....some kind of cooperative self-publishing system but, I don't know. Not like a Vanity press because, IMO, they don't really know what they're doing and of course, charge you for it. We should put all of our creative minds together and figure out a way to publish great books and share the load together. ....or something, so we can spend more time in our "caves" drawing 🙂 Just always brainstorming.....

  • I think there is a stigma with self-published books, but I also think that it is well deserved in many cases. The majority of the self-published books I have seen are dead before they are even opened. There is a reason you don't see a lot of self published childrens books in the stores. @smithdraws hit the nail on the head. A good book (self-published or otherwise) starts with a high quality story and pro-level illustrations. Like comics, you might be able to get away with lower quality drawings, but the story has to be above par. Many a author goes the self-publish route because they are unwilling to change their baby based on feedback from those that just might know a bit about the business. Or they were rejected by a publisher and they go at it with a "I'll show them" attitude, and self publish a bad, unedited story with bad illustrations, and then wonder why they don't sell.

    I worked on a book that had tons of potential if the text had been reworded. I actually took the initiative to do just that, to rewrite or re-organize words and it was much better. But for reasons I don't understand, the text stayed unchanged. The client of course was happy, but IMO, published a poor quality story that probably won't sell beyond family and friends, which I think is sad, because it really was a good story.

    The best advice I can offer would that you have to put the same amount of work in a self-published title that goes into a traditionally published title, both in the story and the artwork. There is a reason a traditionally published book can take a few years before it is on a shelf. You have to edit, and re-edit, and re-edit until your brain hurts. The art needs to be rendered as professionally as possible, even if that means not using your artistic best friend who has no experience with childrens art. The way I see it, you need to produce something that does not look self published. People buy with their eyes, and if your cover art does not compel someone to pick up your book, they are never going to see the story inside, and it never gets sold.

  • @tombarrettillo That's right, an indie book should look indistinguishable from one produced by a traditional publisher. If possible with a little something extra that the traditional publishers won't do.

  • Another thought I had was to not settle. Don't settle on good enough just because you are ready to be published, or are tired of working on a particular book and just want it done. If those are your attitudes, prepare to have a lot of copies left over.

  • There does seem to be a stigma and elitism against the self publishing route and there is a lot of work involved, but if it's something you want to do then give it a go. I think the fear of the pros and cons can put people off before they have even tried something which is a shame. I agree that the quality of the artwork and the writing / story is vital.

Log in to reply