6 Steps to self-publishing a picture book

 

manu-girl_finalCongratulations! You have finished your picture book manuscript and decided you want to self-publish.  What’s next?

When self-publishing a children’s book you will need to have illustrations prepared by an illustrator and the book designed and assembled by a designer. It is your choice whether you choose a professional illustrator/designer or a non-professional. A professional illustrator/designer with experience in self-publishing will able to help you step by step through the process. They make the process as smooth and painless as possible and work with your printer to give you the best-printed results. They know what kind of cover will stand out on Amazon’s pages or a shelf in the bookstore. They will carefully read your manuscript over and over until they perfectly understand your characters and can see them clearly in their mind.

Never forget, your readers (or in this case the parents of your readers) buy books because the covers and the blurbs on the back cover appeal to them. If the illustrations in your book are not professional, they will reflect directly on the perceived quality of your book. You can have the most well written and clever book in the world, but if your cover and illustrations are amateurish, your whole book will be judged of as such.

1. The first step is to have your manuscript edited and/or critiqued by someone experienced in writing for children’s books. Modern children’s picture books are rarely longer than 800 words for ages 3-6. They are usually 32 pages long. Chapter books vary as to age range in length and number of illustrations.

2. If you choose me to illustrate and design your book, I will read your manuscript to determine if the story will fit with my illustration style and to decide if it’s a story I am interested in spending 6 months of my life working on. Yes, children’s books picture books take between four and eight months to illustrate. Illustration fees usually run between $5,000-$14,000 depending on the number and complexity of the illustrations. A simple contract will be created and a payment schedule set-up for 1/3 payments at the beginning, final approval of pencils and finished delivery of illustrations.

If I illustrate your book, I will work closely with you on your characters and style of illustration. As the author, you will have a chance to have input. I will prepare the rough drawing of your pages and prepare a dummy to show page breaks. Page breaks are very important for a story’s arc, suspense, and surprise. You will have a chance to approve preliminary work at each step. A preferred color palette will be developed before I start the finished illustrations.

3. You will be responsible for acquiring your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number) from Bowkers and setting up a “fictitious” name for your publishing company so you can have a separate checking account. Be sure to buy more than one ISBN ( one $125 -10 $250), you will need them for each cover type and edition of your book. You may also want to set up an LLC in your state. This is easily taken care of online (there is no reason to pay anyone to do this for you). You should own your own ISBN if you are self-publishing. Do not get a free ISBN from CreateSpace. If you do they will be the publisher of record for your book. Bookstores do not particularly like to work with Amazon. Your book is best published under your own publishing company so you have control. Have fun choosing a creative name.

4. If you are doing printed books, I suggest using POD (Print on Demand) either Create Space (Amazon) or Ingram Spark (Ingram book distributors). They are both very reasonable with very good quality. CreateSpace only prints soft cover books. IngramSpark prints soft cover and hard cover books. There are advantages to both. With CreateSpace, you make a little more selling on Amazon, but they don’t play well with Barnes and Noble and independent bookstores. If a bookstore will accept the book, you get a very small percentage. IngramSpark also sells on Amazon, you will make a little bit less on Amazon, but with IngramSpark you will have the advantage of not only hardcovers, but access to Ingram Books distributors access to independent bookstores and Barnes and Nobel with a better percentage.

5. If you are thinking about an e-book, the options are different and the art preparation is different. It is more challenging to do a children’s picture e-book because of the different screen sizes of the reading devices and the ability to change font sizes. CreateSpace and IngramSpark have an e-book conversion option, I have not heard particularly good things about these services. Perhaps, if you are not picky, this may work for you.

6. The biggest job you will have is marketing and selling your book. Just because your book is listed on Amazon doesn’t mean it will sell. It takes a LOT of promotion on your part. Be prepared.

Hope this helps. I like to help authors with their books. I would like to read your edited manuscript.

Thankful Thoughts . . .

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Illustrated by Dayne Sislen @2014

Each year at this time of year, I take a little time to think about the things that make me thankful. Of course, my wonderful husband and family come first, then supportive friends and my dear patient dog. After that, I think of good health, my warm home and nourishing food. This year I can not help but worry about and pray for those whose lives are not as comfortable and happy as mine. I wish them a Happy Thanksgiving and holiday season filled with peace and love.

I am also grateful for the supportive community I have found in children’s literature,  and publishing. We support and help each other through setbacks and cheer on each success. It’s wonderful to surround myself with talented like-minded people. I am thankful to have a creative and fulfilling job I love, illustrating children’s books.

I think children’s books are important. Children are the building blocks of the human race and the future of the world. Reading is important to build knowledge, imagination and self-confidence.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Dayne

Gigi and Grandma Remember, by Maggie Konopa, illustrated by Dayne Sislen ©2016

Gigi and Grandma Remember, written by Maggie Konopa, illustrated by Dayne Sislen. ©2016

 

Gigi and Grandma Remember. A story about memory loss.

cover_gigi-and-grandma-social-mediaSo excited! I just wanted everyone to know, the book I just finished illustrating Gigi and Grandma Remember, is now listed for pre-orders on Amazon.com

Gigi notices Grandma sometimes forgets, but she learns to help by giving Grandma clues to trigger her memory. Their bond is strong and they can still spend a silly and fun-filled day together, despite a few bumps in the road. Gigi and Grandma Remember illustrates how children can engage in normal family activities with their loved ones with memory loss and also gives parents a platform for discussion in an age appropriate manner.

Maggie Konopa is the talented author I worked with on this book. She has been a joy to work with on this project of love. Please read more below about her journey to write this book.


Guest post by Maggie Konopa 

To this day, I still find children’s books captivating and enchanting. I had a strong desire to write a children’s book, but I didn’t know where to start. How do I select which of my many ideas to develop? I decided to move forward with a project to dedicate to my mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  “Gigi and Grandma Remember” was born after researching how dementia affects children, integrating my own personal experiences and imagination.

After too many revisions to count, my manuscript was ready…or so I thought. Professional editors reminded me that an ideal word count for a picture book is around 500 words. My manuscript was close to 1,000 words. Back to the mother of all revisions. The next step was a professional critique. The critique gave me crucial advice. I must trust my illustrator to help me carry the story. This is where Dayne Sislen enters the last leg of my long journey. 

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I researched illustrators online after reading how to choose an illustrator. I found her on SCBWI, Behance and then, of course, her website. Dayne’s experience, customer reviews and portfolio won me over.

Dayne is a highly experienced and talented illustrator. She studied my manuscript and began the sketches for my review. It was uncanny how she captured my visual thoughts on the first iteration. Not only was she my illustrator, she also served as a valuable mentor.


Maggie Konopa uses a few of her personal experiences with her mother as an inspiration to write “Gigi and Grandma Remember.” She lives wherever the Army sends their family and enjoys seeking out a cozy corner to write short stories. Maggie Konopa is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Her facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/MKonopaGigiandGrandma Preorders are now available on Amazon.com.

“There’s a Mouse On my Head! is officially on sale today!

delivery of books

My puppy Ghillis is “helping.”

Today is P-Day or publishing day for us. Our book, There’s a Mouse on My Head! is finally able to ship. Amazon listed it earlier, but held up shipping until today. My front hall is filled with books for Donna Warwick and me to sign. My puppy Ghillis “helped” with the unwrapping.

Right now the only way to get a signed book is directly from one of us. Hard cover books are $14.99, Soft Cover books are $9.99.

MOYH 3d_BookCoverWe did a lot of running around like crazy people at the last minute. I have to admit the website site is not quite up. The author Donna Warwick has a few more things to write and finalize. I have posted activities pages and coloring sheets for parents and teachers to download for their kids. We will be setting up school visits and library visits for this Fall and Spring. Hopefully the website will be up and running by Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Contact us directly: DonnaWarwickAuthor(at)gmail.com or Dayne.Design(at)gmail.com 

 Here is the website link, be sure to wait until August 19th to visit:  www.DonnaWarwickAuthor.com

The Amazon listing for our book & the B&N.com listing. “There’s a Mouse on My Head” is also available by special order from your local independent store book.

I’m so excited! Self-published books have arrived.

MOYH_coversOur self-published picture books (sample run) have arrived!!! They look great and I’m so excited! IngramSpark prints a very quality book.

OK, I keep telling myself to act like the “cool girl.” You know the one who doesn’t show she is excited, who is cool and collected and blasé about something like this happening. The girl who doesn’t use exclamation points after every sentence when she does something like this!!! Well, I never was that girl (now woman) and I will never will be that sophisticated cool girl, because I’m really, really excited about this!!!!

I have illustrated many children’s books for other authors, but never been as closely involved in the whole process. Donna Warwick, the author of There’s a Mouse on My Head! is a good friend. She is also a member of my SCBWI picture book critique group here in St. Louis. When I first read her poem, which was very much shorter than this book, I was hooked. I loved the idea of the clever boy who doesn’t want to eat his veggies and comes up with a way to win over his grandmother. Donna listened when our critique group advised her to lengthen the story and bring more action and characters into the mix. I loved this story so much I suggested we work together to bring this book to the world.

The books, a 8 1/2 by 10 1/2″ hardcover version $14.99  and a soft cover version at the same size for $9.99 will be distributed through IngramSpark to independent bookstores and Barnes & Noble’s online store. They will be available for special order from Barnes & Noble brick and mortar stores. They will also be printed by CreateSpace for distribution on Amazon.com at a 8″ x 10″ size. There is a good reason for the two printers, I will go into later. I did quite a lot of research and had a lot to learn about this whole process.

Our publication date is set for August 17th. We are setting up a website right now, where we should soon be able to  take pre-orders and eventually sell the books.  We are planning free activity sheets and lesson plans available to teachers and homeschoolers.  We are scheduling school visits, library visits and even senior center visits for this Fall. We also are presenting our book at a Jewish Book Festival luncheon in St. Louis this October and the Jewish Book Festival Book Store in November. So much to do, so little time.

Yes, I’m having fun!!!

Pre-orders at Amazon.com, just search for “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” WordPress won’t let me put links to Amazon on this site. B&N.com will have our book by August 17th.

Reviews are the  lifeblood of authors and illustrators, please leave honest reviews on Amazon, B&N and GoodReads.

 

 

Proofs today for “There’s a Mouse on My Head”

Theres a Mouse on My Head!_proofIt’s so exciting to finally see this long-awaited project coming together. I have been working on the illustrations for 5 months. Today we saw the proofs for the first time from IngramSpark our printer. Donna Warwick, the author of the book “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” and I, as the illustrator, have formed a Publishing Company called Glass Pen Press. I am still working on the logo for Glass Pen Press so I can’t let you see it yet.

Starting a business is a lot of work, but it is so exciting. This is the fun part, the setting up and the creation. The real work will come later when we must do the marketing and promote the book. We are planning a presentation for a luncheon sponsored by the Book Club for the Jewish Book Festival in St. Louis. This will be in October. Before that we are working on a video presentation for the luncheon, a trailer for YouTube and a song. We will be selling the book at the bookstore at the Jewish Book Festival in November in the Missouri’s Own section.

We also plan to do School and library visits this Fall. I am working on a website for the author, where you can buy the book and find games and study guides for classrooms. I will be posting my progress on all these projects.

Are we having FUN yet? YES!!!

Illustrating a Rhyming Picture Book

There's a Mouse on my Head! illus. by Dayne Sislen

 

There's a Mouse on My Head! illustration by Dayne Sislen

I’m having a great time illustrating this funny rhyming picture book. The story is so cute, it’s about a little boy who doesn’t want to eat his peas and cheese. But does want to eat his cherry pie. It’s called, “There’s a Mouse on my Head!” written by Donna Warwick. This book soon to be as a picture book and an e-book. To see more of Dayne Sislen’s illustrations visit this website, or this portfolio site.

Book I illustrated finally printed

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I illustrated this 32 page 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ book for Leila L. Leidtke last year. It’s about three little pigs and their adventures in the wild. It’s a rough scary jungle out there! Right now this book can only be ordered from Friesen Press, later it will be available in many bookstores and Amazon. Click here to order.

It seems like I have waited forever to see these books printed. It does give me a good feeling seeing something I worked on so long to finally be completed. I am very happy with the color and the quality of the paper.

I love working with self publishing authors, contact me to talk about your book.

Snowed in & Working on Pencil Sketches for Children’s Picture Book App

I love being snowed in. When everyone else is trying to shovel their way out and fretting about being stuck at home, I’m happy. My studio is now in my home so I always have so many fun things to do. Today I worked on some full size pencil roughs for the book “Round” by Shervonne Taylor. I will be doing a picture book app first, then a printed picture book with the same art. So all the art must be made larger than it normally would for a picture book application for iPad. When I do the final illustrations everything will be on different layers, so the characters and backgrounds can move separately.Illustrator_pencil_roughs

I worked out the character sketches and the dummy earlier, so I know what each character will look like and what happens on each page, but it is so much fun seeing the main character doing her thing in each scene.

I love working with Children’s book authors. Each book is so different and so much fun to illustrate.

Finally Illustrations done, “Don’t be a Pig in a Panic!” picture book

After illustrating this book for the author Leila Leidtke for the last 7 months, I am happy to say it is almost finished. I can now draw pigs snakes and tigers with my eyes closed. I loved illustrating the pigs, what really bogged down the process were the jungle backgrounds. You can’t fake a jungle background. Regular landscapes can be a sweep of green with a few strategically placed trees, jungles on the other hand are very complicated. I started out with very complex backgrounds, but as I went along and the characters count increased on each page the backgrounds got more and more simple. I’d much rather illustrate pigs any day.

I’m ready to move on to the next project. . . Ballerinas anyone?

My contact information: www.daynesislendesign.com

Just a few of the 16 full color spreads without the text in place.

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