Publishing your own kid’s book is a great strategy to set up streams of passive income. Once you have done the work to make the book successful, it only takes a little maintenance to keep that revenue stream producing! Children’s books are a common target because of their high demand and short manuscripts.
However, attempting to publish your first children’s book without proper planning will result in both wasted time and little to no income for you. So, to answer the question of how to publish a children’s book, we’ve created a guide to lead you through how to publish a children's book using five easy steps!
Decide “Where” You Want to Publish Your Children’s Book
The first step to consider is where you plan on publishing your book. In the past, traditional publishing was your only route in hoping to get your book in front of readers. In today’s market, traditional publishing is still an option, but now it’s easier than ever to self-publish a book!
In certain cases, you may be able to do both, but it’s easier to focus on one route for your first book. Each method has its pros and cons, so consider these before deciding which route you will take (and which is best for you)!
Traditional publishing involves a lot of effort upfront. You’ll need to complete your manuscript before being able to pitch to multiple publishing houses. Not all publishing houses are looking for kid’s books, so you should research which publishing houses specialize in the children’s book niche.
If you are having trouble getting the attention of a publishing house, which may be likely with your first book, you might need to find an agent to get noticed by editors. Agents will require an upfront fee, a cut of the revenue generated by your book, or both. The help they provide may make it worth the cost!
Once you have an agreement with a publisher, your interaction with the publishing process will be limited. They will provide an editor and an illustrator and will take the lead in marketing your book.
Publishing houses also have the connections to get your book in physical retail stores, which can increase your name recognition and make future books easier to publish.
While this path is viable, it is not the easiest path to take to get your book published. Since easy is the reason why you’re here, consider self-publishing!
Self-publishing allows you to market your book at your own speed. Whether you want to take your time or you have a book ready to publish in the near future, this route is more accommodating to how quickly you want to work. Several platforms handle self-published books, but the platform we recommend starting with is Amazon.
They have an enormous captive market through their Kindle reading program and a special self-publishing program called Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
The ease of self-publishing Amazon children’s books also comes with drawbacks. You will be required to find an editor, an illustrator, and to market the book yourself. It is possible to find them yourself, but if trying to hire an editor or illustrator is beyond your level of expertise, we recommend hiring a ghostwriting publishing house.
However, once you successfully publish and market your children’s book on Amazon, the lion share of the revenue will be yours! You won’t have to split up the money between a publishing house and an agent, though Amazon does take a small cut.
Create an Outline and Write Your Manuscript
Once you have decided which path you are going to take, the next step is to create an outline for your manuscript and then write your book! An outline may seem like a chore, especially for a children’s book, but they are crucial in helping you organize your thoughts, getting a birds-eye-view of the book’s plot.
An outline can also help you decide which pages need illustrations where text should be placed based on the kinds of illustrations you need.
If you already have an idea for a book you know is a winner, go for it! If you are focused on making sure your book can compete in a crowded market space, you should conduct some competitive research.
Researching the Competition
Researching the kinds of books you will be competing against is key to ensuring the financial success of your work. For example, if you want to write a children’s book with dinosaur characters teaching basic morals, you might be dissuaded from doing so if there are 50 Amazon children’s books with similar themes.
Studying your competitors, seeing what they do well, and seeing what they do poorly can give you a competitive leg-up when you finally self-publish.
Consider a Ghostwriter
You don’t have to be a gifted writer to be a successful author. Choosing to hire a ghostwriter can save you time and energy to focus on other aspects of the publishing process, like navigating the Amazon publishing process.
If you choose to work with a ghostwriting publishing house, you’ll have access to both a writer and an editor. This can cut down the time it takes to get your book to market significantly. Depending on which ghostwriting service you choose, it may include illustrator services, which are a requirement for your kid’s book to be successful.
Skip the Illustrations Unless You Are a Professional Artist
Are you a professional artist with experience in children’s illustrations? Do you already have access to a professional artist with these credentials? If the answer to these questions is no, then skip illustrating your book. Your book must have high-quality artwork that will be appealing to both the children reading it and to the parents buying the book.
Trying to do these illustrations yourself or outsourcing this work to someone who does not have experience in this niche can tank a book that would have been otherwise successful. Don’t cut corners with your illustrations!
Find a Children’s Book Editor
After you have created an outline and written your first draft, it’s time to find an editor. You might be tempted to skip this step if your book is particularly simple, but this is one of the most crucial steps of all!
A professional editor will find grammatical errors you and proofreading software will miss, and an editor will critique the flow of your story and plot.
Children are early readers, but this doesn’t make them stupid. If your book has plot-holes and doesn’t make sense, they will recognize it. Their parents will also see storyline problems, which may prompt negative reviews of your book. A wave of negative reviews will tank any success your book might have had, but an editor can prevent these problems!
A professional editor will also make sure that your manuscript is formatted properly for Amazon publishing. It is common for KDP to reject books because their formatting is off. Having an expert editor ensures your book is ready for KDP.
There are many professional editors to choose from, and you might already have one in mind. If this step seems intimidating to you, remember that ghostwriting publishing houses will provide a professional editor for you!
Allow Peers and Children to Critique Your Book
Let your friends and their children read your book! While this doesn’t replace the need of a professional editor, friends and children can provide consumer insight into your book. Children are honest and will tell you if they find your book boring, too scary, or too complicated for them to understand.
Pitch Your Book to Children’s Publishers
If you have decided to go the traditional publishing route, this is a good time to pitch to children’s publishers. You’ll be offering a clean, correctly formatted book that is ready for the market, which will help catch the eye of publishers.
There are dozens of children’s book publishers you should consider pitching to; just make sure to find ones that reflect your book’s niche as closely as possible and that you follow their submission guidelines.
For a brief run-down of how to pitch to publishers, we recommend watching this video:
If Self-Publishing, Skip This Step!
Remember, if you are following the self-publishing steps, you won’t need to pitch to publishers. While we recommend using Amazon’s publishing platform for ebooks for first-time publishers, there are a variety of self-publishing platforms to choose from.
Many, including Amazon, provide a path to publishing physical books, which is important for children’s books.
Market Your Book!
Once your book is written, edited, polished, and published, it’s time to market! You aren’t going to make any money if no one knows your book exists! There are a variety of marketing tools at your disposal, including great free marketing techniques that can help your first book be a smashing success.
Leverage your social media connections, paid ads, and strategic SEO (search engine optimization) for making sure your book gets noticed by potential customers.
If your first self-published children’s book isn’t the wild success you imagined it to be, don’t get discouraged! Building name and brand recognition take time. Most successful children’s book writers did not start with a single smash-hit, and you might not either!
These steps we’ve outlined can make the process easier, but the factor that determines your success the most is you!