Chris A. Baird | June 9, 2023
How to Self-Publish a Children's Book in 2023 [10 Steps]

Are you writing your very first children’s book? Here are the 10 steps on how to self-publish a children’s book in 2023.

Have you written a children's book and now you're looking to self-publish it? Well, this is the right video for you. So, what we're going to be looking at is how to self-publish a children's book in 10 steps in 2023.

Now, you may be thinking, "This is going to be difficult." But I'm telling you that if you break it down into simple steps, it gets a lot easier. 

1. Understand the costs and benefits of self-publishing

So, the first step is to understand the costs and benefits of self-publishing. This means there are a couple of things you have to keep in mind. If you're self-publishing a children's book, it's going to allow you to maintain a lot of control compared to if you were going to other traditional routes or even the hybrid route.

When you're self-publishing, you can decide exactly what size, shape, how the cover looks, and how it looks and feels. The formatting, all of it, you have complete control. The downside, though, is that you're going to have some upfront investment costs that you're going to have to take. Both in terms of paying for these services and also finding who's going to provide those services.

Check out this related article: How To Self-Publish A Book in 2023 [Step by Step Guide]

So, this is one of the downsides if you choose to self-publish. It's also very important to remember that there are some serious benefits to self-publishing, both in terms of once you've learned these steps, it makes it a lot easier, and you're going to do it for future books. And you're going to have 100% control over what exactly is happening with your book as you move it through the self-publishing process. 

2. Purchase an ISBN number + barcode.

Point number two, purchase an ISBN number plus a barcode. Now, you have to remember, with your ISBN, it depends upon where you're planning on publishing it, okay? So, if you're just putting it on Amazon, then you're not going to need to supply your own ISBN. But there are some exceptions to this rule, and one of them is that some bookstores look to see if it's an Amazon-published ISBN.

That is the code that's assigned to it to specify what the book is, the genre, and maybe even pricing information can also be assigned to the ISBNs. It sort of gives them the ability to say, "It's this book in this format," okay? And so, they have a very good idea of what exactly this book is, right? And that's what bookstores and libraries and all these places will also be looking at.

But if it's an Amazon one, that can create barriers for you to get your book into other stores. Some stores will not want to carry those books. So, one of the ways to get around it is also it also looks more professional if anybody looks it up, which they normally don't.

But if you do want to do your own, well then you can purchase ISBNs through Barker or whatever your country's thing is. Some countries offer free ISBNs like Norway and Canada, but for the most part, you're going to have to purchase them, and they can be a bit pricey.

Check out this related article: How To Self-Publish With No Money?

If you only buy one, that's like $125 to purchase an ISBN and then get the barcode for the ISBN. But then, it gives you the ability to have your company name or your name attached to an ISBN. It then will get past that barrier that some of the small bookstores have against running Amazon books.

It also will look more professional because it's using your own. Though again, most people do not look up. They don't even know what an ISBN is. It's at the beginning of all the books you read, but most people don't. And on ownership, it gives you a way to prove that you own a book.

I've specifically used this route sometimes when somebody does a challenge against one of my books on Amazon, and I'm able to say, "No, I own the ISBN to this book," and Amazon says, "Okay, that is just fine." 

3. Identify your target audience's age group

Point number three, identify your target audience's age group. Now, you may be thinking when it comes to children's books, it's children. But that would be a huge mistake because you need to remember not all children are the same. Is this for boys? Is this for girls? Is this for toddlers? How old are these people exactly?

And you're going to want to do this when you're putting in your subtitle. So, it specifies, "This book teaches such and such for this age group," a specific age group. So, when a parent is looking, they don't want to have to guess based on the types of pictures you have who's going to be reading this book.

You need to make that really clear and ideally in that subtitle. So, they're able to see, but you need to figure it out because you can't be writing to all of the different age groups of children, and that's a huge problem. This is a core marketing strategy, which is figuring out exactly who the book is for.

Is it for little girls? Maybe little boys? Maybe it's for both? There are ways of doing this, and a lot of the things that you have, like the artwork, graphics, and illustrations, are going to reflect the choices you make for who this is for. Some books also focus on certain minority groups and things like that.

So, it's important to sort of figure it out. Are you writing for a particular minority group as well that maybe this book is going to appeal to them? And that's a thing that's going to play a big role, as opposed to just throwing random groups and saying it's for all children. It's not a good idea. You're going to want to narrow it down, niche down to that specific single group. 

4. Copyright your book.

Point number four, copyright your book. This one is especially important in the United States, not as important as in a lot of other areas, but again, Amazon sometimes wants proof that you own the rights to the book. And copyright is one exact way of doing it.

It also protects your book from getting stolen or reprinted, and people copying and reprinting it. You're able to establish, "Look, I own the rights." Now, keep in mind, for the rest of the planet, for the most part, right if you put a copyright on the second you've published the book, you have the copyright to that book.

So, it's automatically applied, even if you just put it in a blog and you're the first to put that content there, you already own the copyright to it. But in terms of defending it in court and things like that in the United States, it can then be important to pay for that copyright. And there's a process to this whole copyrighting thing.

It can be a bit of a pain, it can cost you money, but it may be worth considering. I would just say one special thing is that if somebody takes your book and then just throws it for free on the internet or whatever it might be, it's usually really hard to get money back from them, even if you think you're gonna bring some lawyers in.

There may be doing it to make money, and they have no money, so that's one of the reasons they're going that route. Secondly, if you're doing email lead generation inside your book when somebody steals your book, the fact is that the people who read it, may give their email address, and you're gonna be able to bring in some new customers. 

Even if they're taking your first book, they take it because it's a low risk, just getting it for free. But going forward, it may be something that actually will generate more customers and more future readers for you.

So, you need to think deeply and hard about the copyright. I would say, for the most part, it's not worth doing that, so I probably would hop over that step for some, but it's worth at least considering.

5. Edit the manuscript to pro standards

Step five, edit the manuscript to pro standards. We want to make sure the manuscript itself is reaching a professional standard, and the best way to do this is through editing. The editing will give it that polished touch that you need to ensure you're going to be getting positive reviews.

The other thing it'll help you with is clarity, so it's super clear the message that you're passing on to people who are purchasing the books, these children, and they know exactly what's happening and the message within the book itself. It all fits together—the illustrations, the storyline—all of it that you're doing.

And then the other thing is for feedback, you're able to go with your beta readers and such to make sure that the manuscript is up to the highest level possible, even if it is a self-published book. It doesn't have to be of low quality, as some people try to accuse self-published authors of doing. 

6. Hire an illustrator to bring it to life

Number six: hire an illustrator to bring it to life. This one is so important for children's books. You want that visual appeal to be in place so that when they're looking at the book, they can't wait to flip to the next page, and that the illustrations themselves.

The other thing is, you need to make sure that they all fit together and match your branding. So, when we go from one children's book you've done to the next one, they should all be fitting within some sort of brand where they all look a little similar, so you're going to want to stick with that same illustrator, assuming they do a great job for you.

And that's one of the reasons why professionalism plays such a huge role here. Make sure that you're hiring a professional, somebody who's going to be able to do a great job on that. I would recommend finding somebody on Fiverr or Upwork to put these graphics together. These illustrations and one of my clients recently asked me specifically this question, which was: do they all need to match each other, the illustrations? 

And I said, "Yes, they do." We don't want to have one as a photo and then the next one as some clipart, and then the next is a little pencil outline of something. We need to make sure that all of these things fit together closely. 

7. Apply for a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN)

Okay, step number seven: apply for a Library of Congress control number. This is an interesting one. This has an impact on the cataloging that they're going to be doing at the Library of Congress. So, this is something you may wish to consider as well to ensure that you're getting maximum distribution when they're going to the library.

It's going to give that ability where they can easily register this thing in the overall Library of Congress with a catalog that they have there at the Library of Congress. So, this is an important one, and for the process, you can just apply right through their website and provide the information for your specific book.

8. Marry the pictures and words with a great layout

Point number eight: Marry the pictures and words with a great layout. This is so important; it hits the aesthetics of your book. So, the story is moving along, the illustrations are fantastic, and all of these different components of it are clicking in.

When the children and the parents are reading these books, they're going to be tempted to buy book after book, and that really will make a difference for your books as you go. Because you're not going to be dependent upon just finding new readers; no, old readers will come back, and they'll be reading your book over and over. 

The other thing is having somewhat of a visual hierarchy, a well-designed layout that creates a visual hierarchy, guiding the reader's eyes and emphasizing the key elements of the content. That is, when they see the page, their eyes are drawn around the page.

So, the way that it all fits together on those pages with the text and the images, it seems like it's so simple, just a picture and some text, but really, it's a lot more difficult than that when we're trying to do this. The other thing to remember is branding, making sure that consistent consistency with your layout is incredibly important. 

9. Choose a printer (or go all-digital)

Number nine: choose a printer or go all-digital. So, the first thing is, from a budget standpoint, what's your goal? In the old days, you always had to get the printer and print out five thousand copies. You have them in your garage.

You'd sell some of them, and then you try to give them away or sell them at flea markets to sell the rest of your books. But this can be a very painful process and difficult. Nowadays, you have print-on-demand, that's also an option, or you could have just a digital version.

But you know, if you've watched my channel long enough, I will always tell you that you should go for as many options and as many distribution channels as possible. If you are going to be handing out and selling in person, then choosing the right printing company is important to ensure the quality is exactly up to par. And I always would say, go for maximum distribution.

So, your book should be in all of the different formats possible, and at a minimum, print on demand in all of these platforms, so that when somebody sees your book from some random place, they can place an order, and you don't have to ship it from your garage. You also don't have this huge backlog of books sitting in your garage waiting to be sold that you never managed to sell.

10. Start building up your amazing reviews

Step number 10: start building up your amazing reviews. The first thing is, reviews show credibility, and credibility is something that defines you as an author. Have they even heard your name? That means you're gonna have to do some marketing to get around this. And one of the things is getting the reviews in place.

Whether it's on Amazon, though most authors do go that route, Amazon does not want you to do friends and family reviews. But, ideally, you'd build up an email list as you go. And through that email list, over time, you'll be able to contact them and give them free copies of your book, even the eBook version or PDF version, in exchange for an honest review. 

Check out this related article: Is Now a Good Time to Publish a Book?

And then, that will increase the sales and the strategy behind it. It involves helping with ads, and even if you're doing content marketing on your website, podcast, or other platforms like YouTube and other social media platforms, where you're showing little shots or maybe flipping through your book, or maybe even reading your book.

All of these things build a connection, which will help you get better reviews. And if these people compliment your book, you can immediately ask them, "Can you please leave a review for my book?" which is incredibly important.

How to Self-Publish a Children's Book [10 Steps]

So, in conclusion, you can see these 10 steps when pulling it together when you're going to self-publish your children's book. It makes it a lot easier for you as an author to slowly work through each one of them as we're getting the book put together, and placing the orders for the different aspects of the book.

And these are just the key elements that we need to keep in mind, above and beyond just the normal basics of self-publishing that you'll find in my checklist below in the description. But my question for you is: Have you written a children's book you're looking to self-publish? If you have, write "Yes" below in the comments.

And if you have not, write "No" below in the comments because I need to know how far you've come with your children's book. Check out my other blogs and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.

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