Picture book publishing on Kindle Direct and Createspace

by Daniel Derasaugh

A stranger danger story

A stranger danger story

A stranger danger story
The stranger watches the fawn
The fox leading the fawn into the gully
The trap is about to be sprung

My Ebook edition is distributed through Kindle Direct and the physical POD edition through CreateSpace.

It's a long road with many unforeseen tasks but well worth it.

When I began writing The Fox and the Fawn, I was expecting the endeavor to be difficult and require a great deal of hard work. What I was not expecting was that writing was just the beginning; the tip of the old proverbial iceberg.

Originally it was intended to be a short story without any illustrations, but once I changed my mind on that, I had to illustrate the story.

I am not an illustrator or anywhere near what most would call an artist. I made my attempts, which where terribly lacking, and I ultimately rejected my plan of illustrating the book myself.

Yet, the effort would not go to waste. A few years later, I met an extraordinary woman, Alicia Templin who happened to be a professional artist.

At first, I did not put together my need for an illustrator with the fact that I now knew one because, well, I was focused on other, more important things. Once my focus was redirected, I asked her and she agreed. I used my original illustrations as a form of concept art to give Alicia an idea and a layout to what I was looking for in each illustrated scene. Her work went far beyond my expectations.

Once the writing and the illustrations were completed, it was time to consider how to publish. At first, my plan was to submit the manuscript to agents and publishing houses, but when I found out that most publishers have their own team of illustrators for the children’s books they publish, and that they would most likely take my story (if it was accepted) and then do their own illustrations, I decided to self-publish. I had recently discovered Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon and decided to turn my book into a children’s ebook. This is where it got difficult.

I had no idea how to make my book into something that would be viewable on a Kindle eReader. I did not know what programs to use. I read all the “Getting Started” information provided by KDP, but I was still lost. I am not a technology person and after floundering around for about a month, I decided to hire a professional.

I needed the book in PDF format for a professional to do the formatting for the Kindle Fire, so I created the book as it was to appear on the Kindle Fire in PowerPoint, and then saved it as a PDF, sent it to Hitch over at BookNook.biz, and they formatted the book perfectly.

Was I finished? No. Now it was time to get a physical edition of the book. This was done through Createspace. There is a convenience here because Createspace is owned by Amazon, and therefore it is easy to connect an ebook distributed through KDP with a POD book distributed through Createspace. Amazon will do that automatically for you.

It took some time to get the illustrations to print correctly because the color settings on my computer monitor and what you get from Createspace printers is somewhat different. Though the illustrations are black and white, I had to choose color printing because the quality of the print is superior. I went through 30+ proof books until I was able to get the illustrations the right quality and tone. Createspace offers services to format the printed version for you, but I chose to do that on my own. Next time, I will take them up on that offer.

Sales do not come in on their own; a book must be promoted. It is the job of the publisher and author to do this, and since I was both, I also became a publicist.

This can be tricky. There are many ways to lose money, and the best way is to advertise in an undirected way. Let’s say you have an ebook for kids; do not simply target ebook readers. It’s too broad of an audience. You have to target people who would buy ebooks for kids. Look for sites that are devoted to children’s literature and look for options to advertise on those sites. Find blogs or groups that review children’s books and submit yours for review.

Summing it all up, if you want to self-publish a book and/or ebook, here is my advice:

1) If you are doing a book that includes illustrations; hire an artist if you are not one.

2) Get a professional to edit your work. It is money well spent.

3) Get a professional to format your book so that it displays perfectly on whatever e-reader device you are distributing to. Again, it's money well spent.

4) Do not sit back once your book is finished and available to purchase. Your work is just beginning. You need to promote it. People cannot buy what they do not know exists. Occasionally an author will luck out and the right person will stumble upon their book, read it and then blog about it to their large followings, but that is uncommon.

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Dec 30, 2012
Success level and format preference
by: Daniel Derasaugh

a) As to my level of success, I would say it can be described as realistic. The book is getting 1-2 sales per month online. Obviously that is not much at all. When I first released it, I did the 5-day giveaway that KDP offers for books enrolled in which there were 2000 downloads, which was great because it made the book visible on sites like Goodreads and Shelfari. Most of my sales, by far, have come from doing book readings and signings at schools in which both I and Alicia do a joint presentation. This is why it is vital that the author be active in promoting their work, but do so in a legitimate way and avoid spamming.

b) By far the most purchased format is the paperback edition. It is always better for a child to have a physical book that they can hold and flip through the pages. Kids are very tactile, and while ebooks are great, it is always a good idea to have a physical edition as well. I have found that a physical book also earns the author a bit more points in legitimacy with some people.

Dec 29, 2012
Picture books: ebook vs hard copy
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Daniel, thanks for a great, truly thoughtful post. I'm wondering a) what kind of success you're having, and b) what you might be learning about the openness of parents/buyers to the ebook format versus the traditional picture book?

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