One self-published children’s author shares seven key tips for success. By Karen Inglis
“Know your audience – and be ready to go and meet them.”
Know what age group you’re targeting
Be clear what age group your book is aimed at. This affects not just the storyline and age of the main characters (kids prefer them to be at least their own age and ideally a bit older) but also the length and format – right down to font style and size! Visit your local bookshop or library to see what the latest books for your target age group look and feel like. Read as many as you can.
Use children’s editors and beta readers
Try to find a couple of bookworm children to give you feedback on your draft – ideally children you don’t know. Kids are notoriously honest! Once you’ve honed your manuscript, hire an experienced children’s editor. This is crucial if you want to produce a professional and marketable book. In the UK I would recommend the Writers’ Advice Centre for Children’s Books (writersadvice.co.uk) – otherwise ask other children’s authors, check ALLi’s database, or try SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).
Understand your print options
Most of your sales will be face to face at school events or bookshop signings. I recommend combining CreateSpace (CS) with Ingram Spark (IS). CS will fulfill your Amazon orders and IS will fulfill all other online and bricks and mortar store orders, and your own orders for school events or local shops. Buy your own ISBN and use the same for CS and IS, but don’t opt for for CS’s Expanded Distribution Channel – this is covered by Ingram Spark. Bookshops don’t like to see CS as main distributor.
Create an author website
This will be your calling card – a place to refer bookshops, schools, journalists and children. It’s easy to set up a free Wordpress site. Build your brand over time eg adding posters, puzzles, lesson plans, blog posts and links to social media or YouTube readings. Be yourself!
Contact local bookshops
Call to identify the children’s buyer. Email with links to your website then take in a copy of your book. Offer to supply sale or return or through their usual systems (you will appear there if you’re with Ingram Spark). Offer to do a signing and/or a reading. Offer bookmarks if you can.
Promote your book locally
Create book cover flyers to post in newsagents, coffee shops or playgroups frequented by families. Say where your signed book is available locally.
Contact local press and email a follow-up press release. Highlight any local angle, such as the book’s inspiration, and/or any events planned locally and say where the book’s available to buy. Include your website URL.
Contact local schools and libraries
Offer to go in to do a reading and talk about your book and being a writer. For schools, offer to visit for free in return for them sending slips home – which you will draft for them – giving children the chance to buy personalised signed copies of your book.
Karen Inglis is ALLis Children’s Advisor. Her time travel adventure The Secret Lake has sold over 6,500 copies – around half in print, while her graphic novel Eeek! The Runaway Alien has sold over 1,200 copies and won praise as a great book for reluctant readers. Karen has also successfully self-published a colour picture book and interactive book app.
kareninglisauthor.com (for readers and book buyers) and selfpublishingadventures.com (for writers)