Always wanted to write or illustrate a children's book? Here's how I did it, and you can too...
Self-publishing a children’s picture book is now as trendy as a crowd-funded startup. If you get it right, self-publishing keeps you in control of the marketing, the distribution and, most importantly, your profits! Getting published may be the holy grail, but your book could turn to stone whilst you wait for that publishing deal, so here’s a look at the nitty-gritty of self-publishing in Singapore…
As an illustrator, I’ve both successfully self-published and landed an elusive publishing deal for my children’s books. For my next book, I’m sticking with self-publishing. Here’s how it’s done!
Step one: give yourself a publishing name
My ‘business partner’ (aka, my BFF) and I set up Little People Publishing, and we publish our books under this name. It will simply make you sound more professional when contacting bookstores, libraries, and anywhere else you’d like to distribute your book. You can register your business, but you may not need to – see our tips on setting up a company in Singapore.
Step two: putting the book together
If you have non-digital illustrations (paintings and drawings), get them professionally scanned and supplied to you as high-resolution jpegs. I highly recommend Zo at iZaps. iZaps is a rare find not just for the helpful service but they have a commercial scanner – turning your beautiful images into quality high-resolution jpegs. The office scanner won’t do your illustrations justice.
Next, combine your jpeg images with your text (it’s called a ‘layout’). At this stage, it’s a good idea to visit your selected printer and talk through book sizes and costs. Tip: the number of pages in a book usually goes up in lots of eight, 32 pages being the most common picture book size, which gives you 24 pages for your story. ‘Self-ended’ simply means the cover is included in your print layout.
You can use programs such as Adobe InDesign, Scribus, or PageStream to layout your book or find a graphic designer or book designer to do this for you – again; sometimes your printer may offer these services. What you end up with is a digital version of your book (usually in the way of a high-resolution pdf). But before you finalise the design, don’t forget your ISBN!
Step three: ISBN and copyright
To get your book into stores and libraries (aim for the stars!), you’ll need an IBSN (International Standard Book Number), which The National Library can help you procure. An Amazon number (AISN) is an alternative to an ISBN if you’re not planning to sell through stores.
Include a copyright statement to protect your work from being reproduced (and sold) without your permission. You’ll find a standard copyright clause in most books. Use this as a good guide.
Step four: hit print!
You can publish your book for Kindle or iPad only (Amazon self-publishing can walk you through the steps), but nothing beats a picture book you can touch and feel. Take the digital files of your final book to a printer, choose the paper and finish for your cover and inside pages and choose a binding style (your printer will explain this to you). Print-on-demand is another option to explore via Amazon’s Create Space. The benefit is that you can sell through Amazon online and save yourself the inventory costs.
Don’t have illustrations?
Find freelancer illustrators (and book designers) on sites such as guru.com. They’ll provide you with a quote and estimated turn-around time.
All too hard? Get someone to do it for you!
My absolute go-to for all things book production is Zo at iZaps (as mentioned above). Zo also provides an all-inclusive design and layout service – and can also hook you up with some offshore illustrators. Simply supply him with the copy, and he’ll work with you to do the rest.
Truly over this DIY thing?
Services like Notion Press can help you do everything, including obtaining an ISBN, uploading to Amazon and the lot! Just be cautious of the fees and pushy sales staff – I promise you can do it yourself and have fun doing it too! I had a fantastic experience with Ingram Sparks’ online self-publishing support. They’ll do as much or as little as you need. Their website shares great tricks of the trade. Check them out and see if they’re right for you. You can also check out Lulu.com for resources and guides on the self-publishing process.
Did you know?
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is a wonderful community to join. Get your membership online and then contact the Singapore Chapter for support.
A special thanks to Singapore-based self-published author Leila Boukarim and illustrator Barbara Moxham of My Quiet Adventures for their input. Join Leila’s Self-Published Children’s Authors and Illustrators Facebook page for more tips.
Wishing you all the best in your self-publishing journey!