Children’s book week continues!
Everyone’s journey is different, and there are a million ways to walk this weird creative business road. How we get from point A to point B is unique and terrifying and lovely, and we all have a lot to learn from those who are walking alongside us.
In this spirit, we’ve been talking to children’s authors all week on our blog to hear what they’ve learned and how they’ve sent their books out into the world.
Today, we’ve got an interview with A. L. Guoin. Her children’s books are inspired by questions her son started asking while he was in daycare. Storytelling proved the most effective way to explain the new world around him, so she began releasing her books to share with children everywhere.
How did you find an illustrator, and what was the process like for you?
I researched everything about publishing before I started (I’m neurotic like that 🙂 ). I made sure I knew about copyrights, trademarks, recommended font size/types, and even average word count per age range. During that process, I heard about Fiverr and the results were mixed. I spent a lot of time looking for a designer that had images that were custom illustrated and that were done in the style that I wanted. I found him and the rest was history. I will say, a lot of providers on Fiverr are across the world from me, so even though the pricing can’t be beat, I had to learn patience and better communication skills because there was usually a language barrier and time zone delay.
How did you choose to publish? If you self-published, what route did you take for printing and distribution?
I wanted the autonomy of self-publishing. There’s a control element there that is absent during a traditional publishing deal. But I also didn’t want to deal with the rejection and wait times that a traditional deal would take.
What was your biggest challenge publishing your book?
Learning to see my books as an asset to people. It was really hard to ‘sell’ them to friends but I needed to reframe my thinking to be a better salesperson. My potential customer wasn’t ‘doing me a favor’ by purchasing my books, instead, my books had something they wanted, and they were getting something out of it as well. It was a mindset shift and it has made it easier to boast about in my network.
Let’s talk about in-person events. Did you do any library or book store visits? Classroom readings? How did those go for you?
In person events can be amazing…and terrible. It’s such an awful feeling to pay to go to a vendor fair and not sell a single book. Now you are out the money for the booth and a whole day with your family! It can be almost as hard to go to an event, and not make the booth fee back. I found that teaming up with someone else for those events and doing booth sharing, can make it less painful. However, when I do library events or book store visits, those are always free, so there is no cost commitment there and they can be very fun. Yet, there is still stress there as well, because inevitably, you’re going to worry whether anyone will show up (besides your mom). Classroom readings are my favorite. I get no sales or income from them, but the kids love the stories and we can talk about a range of things, like how learning sentence structure is important, to the concept in my books, or even the process of publishing. With the growth of self-publishing, it’s amazing that with supportive parents, those kids could start publishing and start
What surprised you the most on this journey?
How hard it would be to make sales at vendor events and how hard it was to sell books online to people you don’t know! Also, those darn illustration costs-they’re killer!
What would you do differently next time?
I found the most purchases when I first released my books. I had people buying all three at once (I waited until I had three until I announced). I then released the fourth book a month later, and the fifth a month later. I wish I had just waited and released them all at once so people would have just ordered the five, rather than ordering the first three, and maybe passing on the fourth, and fifth.
I also probably wouldn’t have sprung for the formal copyrights for the picture books. Those were expensive and I don’t predict ever needing them, hahaha
Where did you find support/resources?
20Booksto50K has been the biggest resource in the world to my publishing journey.
The Moms Who Write Facebook group has also been incredibly supportive and positive during the journey. Especially when you just have a thought/experience to share that isn’t quite as professional as the 20Books group would require (that is not a book for posting about authoring while parenting struggles or what does your writing space look like, etc).