There are many reasons why I chose to self publish my first children’s book Lost Property, but the main reason was because I was desperate to get it out into the world. I will admit that I originally wanted to be a traditionally published author, I knew that most kids didn’t read ebooks. Then I read about print on demand and that it was free, and my entire view of self publishing changed.
I began by finding a good editor and for this I used the Society of Editors website, a fantastic database full of editors waiting to be contacted. I picked out several who mentioned children’s fiction in their bio and emailed them for quotes. I went with both my gut and the price, I was on tight budget after all. At the same time I also contacted an illustrator I knew. Andy Gray is my friend’s brother and I had loved his work for years. His experience in children’s illustration and his ability to draw in any style meant that he was a good fit for my book. Andy loved Lost Property, and we were able to come to an arrangement that wouldn’t break my bank account.
In the months that followed I worked on polishing my manuscript, I read it out loud over and over again, refining my sentences and word choice. Then I sent it to my new editor for a copy edit. I also spent time on the business side of self publishing, I opened my business bank account and transferred in my meager start up fund and I set up my Amazon account – my chosen self publishing platform.
Once Andy got rolling on the illustrations exciting things started to happen, I actually got to see my story come to life! We spent a bit of time designing the characters and once they were agreed, he began to draw the main illustrations. I wanted about 20 black and white illustrations that could be evenly spaced through out the book so I gave Andy a list of scenes that I thought would look good illustrated and let him do the rest. I sent my manuscript back to my editor for a final proof read and once this was done I started on the formatting.
Formatting my manuscript for the paperback version was a steep learning curve and my biggest achievement of the entire project. I can easily see why some authors would out source this part of the process, who can blame them. From creating the ‘front matter’, setting the correct paper and margin sizes and formatting each chapter heading to look the same, there were many frustrating moments when I wanted to hurl my laptop out of the window. But I stuck with it and eventually I produced a beautiful, painstakingly formatted document that was ready to go. The ebook, on the other hand was a breeze. The Kindle Create tool helps you format your book and add a table of contents easily. Once both documents were ready, all I needed to do was insert Andy’s incredible illustrations in to the right places.
When you self publish your own book you get an amazing feeling the moment you hit publish. I had the ebook version up in no time and while people were buying that I was waiting, rather excitedly, for my first ever proof copy to arrive in the post. If you are considering Print on Demand then you should definitely order a proof, this allows you to make sure your margins are all even and your illustrations are clear and central. I made several tweaks to my document based on the proof copy before I hit publish on my first children’s book, Lost Property.