Read newspaper article on my 2009 release. Bubble Gum Trouble and other giggle poems
In 2006 I self-published my first two books to kick start my children’s book writing career.
To see my other published works please click here – just scroll down to Published works and further information subheading.
However, as a result of my past experience in self publishing, I have written some articles on the preparation and process that took place. The following are the links to these articles. Also following these links is the original article that I wrote for ‘Buzz Words’ in 2006. It may be of some assistance to any writers thinking of the self-publishing path.
Check out my articles on self-publishing at the following links:
1. Title: ‘Self Publishing my children’s book ‘
This article outlines the different stages in my journey of self-publishing my first two children’s books.
2. Two articles:
Title 1: ‘Self Publishing in Australia:One Woman’s Story’
Title 2: ‘How I came to self-publish’
The following is the article (now slightly tweaked) that I wrote for ’Buzz Words’ in 2006.
Incidentally, if you haven’t heard of Buzz Words (All the Buzz about Children’s Books), it is an online professional monthly magazine, targeted at writers, illustrators, librarians, teachers, editors and children’s book lovers.
THE SELF-PUBLISHING PROCESS FROM A SELF PUBLISHER’S JOURNEY
The following is in response to the self-publishing of my first two children’s books in 2006.
Why did I self-publish? I didn’t want to be dependent on a publisher deciding whether my book was marketable or not. Also I believed that I could take on the many roles of researcher, publicist, distributor …due to my skills and experiences.
PREPARATION I read as much as possible on self-publishing, and looked objectively at the pros and cons.
After years of research, one of the clearest books that I have come across is Self-Publishing Made Simple – The Ultimate Australian Guide by Euan Mitchell. All relevant contacts mentioned below can be found in the Useful Contacts section of this book – suitable for the self publisher publishing in Australia.
I also acquired approximate quotes from a number of printing companies, before making the final decision to go ahead to self-publish.
One thing I have learnt is to be super organised and to plan your marketing strategies in advance.
The following is a general process that I followed for my first children’s book, Ten Yellow Bananas released April 2006. Even though some of the following are Australian contacts and my target audience is children and their parents, teachers, etc. the process may give assistance to looking outside the square and developing your own plan.
After making the decision to self-publish:
• I visited an accountant
• Registered a business name
• Acquired an ABN number (Australian Business Number)
• Set up a bank account
• Read any material related to writing as a business
Issues to consider (not necessarily in this order)
• Editing & proofreading: I tried to save as much money as possible so asked fellow teachers to check my punctuation and grammar.
• I completed a short InDesign and Photoshop course.
I was informed that InDesign was preferable than using a Word program. However, I found the knowledge of layout, bleeds, design, colour processes confusing so found an excellent student graphic artist who charged student rates.
Self-publishing made Simple also outlines the differences between off set printing verses digital printing costs but I relied on my graphic artist’s advice.
• Cover design:
As I illustrated the book, the graphic artist and I adapted the cover from one of the illustrations then conducted weeks of target marketing for feedback.
• I visited book shops to gain ideas on prices. I recommend to set the RRP early in the process in order to apply for an ISBN and CiP (National Library catalogue number).
• Whilst waiting for these, I worked on my copyright page, dedication page, and back dusk cover.
• I also aimed for a mid March book release (in 2006) and had to plan ahead to meet trade magazine deadlines, etc.
I acquired four quotes and asked to see different card stock. I decided on a thicker art board than normally used as well as a cello glaze for the cover as it was more durable and attractive.
• Type of binding – saddle stitched; burst bound or perfect bound
Most printers recommended saddle stitched considering the book was aimed for young readers (more durable). (However, please read * BOOK BINDING at end of this article.
MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION
• I registered with Nielsen BookData/James Bennett Data Collection at least 2-3 months prior to my book’s release. Free listing.
• I advertised in Thorpe-Bowker’s AB&P (Aust Bookseller & Publisher Trade magazine) Deadline was early February for the March edition.
• One week before release, I placed an ad in Thorpe-Bowker’s Weekly Book newletter
• I set up a website and organised credit card payment with http://www.redhen.com.au then submitted site to major search engines
Think outside the square.
Unless you have a name it can be difficult to acquire much sought after media attention. I held my book launch at an annual local ‘Harmony Day’ event which normally attracts local media attention. I also conducted a media blitz including the local newspapers, local radio and TV stations. A photographer did turn up and my story appeared a fortnight later in the local newspaper. Also placed notice in community billboard section of newspaper (free)
• I contacted Angus & Robertson (large Australian Bookstore) for their distributor’s details, then contacted each distributor
• I immediately began door knocking – local gift shops, book stores, local libraries
• Worked every Sunday in April at a large community market to gain exposure.
• Soon found my niche with libraries and pre-school centres
• Sent off copies to children’s book magazines
• Sent of copies for competitions, again for exposure eg. WritersDigest Awards
• Joined Copyright Agency Limited, Public Lending Right (PLR) & Educational Lending Right (ELR)
• Registered with the main library suppliers in Australia eg. James Bennett P/L, Peter Pal …
Marketing strategies in progress
• Establishing Australia wide email library list for promotion
• Establishing mail out list of all kindergartens in Brisbane, Australia for promotion
• Continue door knocking on bookstores, gift shops …
• Contact state schools and similar
• Continue working on gaining media publicity
• Continue to look outside the square
With all that said. Would I do it again? Yes, and I did, with the release of my second book, Santa is in the Chimney in September 2006 . It was a little easier and quicker.
I have learnt that you can’t please everybody. Also just because your book may not fill all the prerequisites for book distributors, does not mean that the public and your target audience (in my case, children, parents, teachers. etc) don’t enjoy it.
The End (ie, of the Article – but please read on)
© Helen Ross 2007
Due to my experience in marketing and promotion with my first two books I am also involved in promoting my 2009 releases, Bubble Gum Trouble and 10 Yellow Bananas alongside the publishers, Little Steps Publishing, and their distributors, Dennis Jones & Associates.
Latest release: A Christmas Tail co-authored with Donna Smith. Published by Spider Ink Press (released 2013)
I mentioned above that most printers recommended that my books be saddle stitched. (I always remember one printer’s words, ‘Even if you don’t go with our printing company, please promise me to go with saddle stitching’. Who was I to argue?
On the other hand, a lot of my reading suggested that the book have a spine, such as would result through burst binding or perfect binding process (where the individual pages are glued into a cover). This was because it was easier for librarians to add their ‘call’ numbers/identification nos, thus easier for finding books, instead of having to pull them from the shelf to find their title, and author’s name; same reasoning for bookshops.
‘Promise me you will go with saddle stitch’ kept ringing in my ears, so I checked the bookstores and libraries. I found a lot of saddle stitched on the shelves. Also saddle stitching was a lot cheaper to produce. And I had to think of my pennies.
But in retropect
When discussing the publication of my third book with Little Steps Publishing, ‘saddle stitch’ wasn’t in the equation. I had seen samples of Little Steps/New Frontier’s work and all their published books had a spine (still not quite up with the difference between burst bound and perfect binding). And I must say that books with a spine do look much more professional than those saddle stitched. And as for durability, I think it is all a much of a muchness – how you treat your book. And with little fingers, anything could happen.
So that ringing in my ears has now left – No more saddle stitching for me.
Don’t forget to check out my two books published by Little Steps Publishing.
10 Yellow Bananas
Both books are available through any bookstore, particularly Agnus & Robertson, or via my website at: http://www.helenross.com.au