Have you always wanted to self publish a children's book? Do you have that story on paper (computer) or in your head but aren't sure what to do next. Do you have so many ideas you want to share? I am still on my self publishing journey but many people have reached out wondering about the creation of my two children's books about yoga, mindfulness, and positive affirmations. My intention is getting these books to as many families as possible in order to share what has helped myself and my family so much.
I did some things right and made some mistakes.
The content for both books came easily. My entire world used to be yoga and now it is being a stay at home mama so the marriage of those two passions created not only the poetry of My Little Light: my first postures and the narrative in I Am Light: postures and affirmations but many more stories that still live in my head. The Sun Salutation poem was literally inspired by our preschool co-op leader Sarah asking if I’d be interested in sharing some kid’s yoga and I wanted a way to engage them in a sun salutation. The entire story of I Am Light was developed during a 7-week series of kids’ classes I taught at the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach.
I got SO lucky with my illustrators. Nova Stanley is only 13 years old and talented beyond belief. Her mother Cynthia, who I went to college with years ago, shared her work on Facebook and I felt she would be perfect for the poems. She was. Valerie Willis Tower who illustrated I Am Light is someone I’ve known for a decade through yoga and have always been a fan of hers. I could not believe she had availability when the second book was finished. My amazing husband, Shaun did the layout (amongst other things like walking me through Excel spreadsheets to get organized with my orders and account for ALL costs) for the first and Valerie for the second. I am fortunate to have a brilliant community who helped me with the edits. I reach out to mom friends, a mom/poet, a mom/professional writer/grammar genius and mom/yogis. They were my editors and were essential to this process.
I filed my copyrights through Pint Size Productions a US based board book printer. This is a very unique type of book. As far as I know they are the only US based company and that was important to me. If they are not the only they are certainly the best and their prices are actually competitive with overseas. There are incredible Facebook self-publishing communities that can point you in the right direction whether you want to print and have inventory as I did or print on demand. Author Marketing Community for Women- the Book Babes moderated by Marie Ann Seaton and Self Publishing Support Group moderated by Melinda Tipton Martin are the groups that I were most helpful. I also found Dependent Media who created and maintains the BEST website ever., my ISBNs and barcodes through and since mine was a board book I selected
Where I got stuck both times was that crowd-funding allowed me to print 1020 books which made my per book cost too high to work with major retailers who wanted 50/50 split. I got into 26 retail locations (mostly yoga studios, a cafe, a couple of boutiques, and 2 independent books shops) just by walking in or calling or being connected through friends. They were all open to 70/30. I feel honored that they were open to selling the book though they were not making a huge profit. There was interest from bookshops and toy stores but if I agreed to their cut I'd loose money. So that's where I am stuck in this process. If I could afford to print twice the amount I'm sure I could get the books on more shelves. I've also done ok selling from my website but if I had more funds I would hire someone with more experience with that. Marketing is definitely the most challenging so if you have someone with those talents you are much further along than myself. My husband has given me a 50 state challenge where I send a copy of I Am Light with a cover letter and press kit to a fitting retailer in 50 states. I am taking that challenge. This book will not be profitable because of marketing expenses but I keep learning and writing and creating and am not in the red.
Funding my books: There are several crowd funding platforms where you create incentives for donations. GoFundMe and have had correspondence with Kickstarter and by far Gofundme has superior customer service and the platform is user friendly. That said Kickstarter may have a better reputation of supporting artistic endeavors as Gofundme is also used for other types of fundraising endeavors. I didn't really care about that perception as most of your donations come from your circle and your circle's circle. I think my first campaign was more successful than the first for 2 main reasons that my friend Reggie helped me see. The first is that crowd funding is less about your book and more about people supporting you and being excited about what you're doing. It’s a little tough to get that excitement the second time around. The second and probably biggest problem I faced second time around was timing. The first time around I ran my crowd funding mid September through October with a mid November ship date. Only the people who pre-ordered the book through my fundraising site would get the book in time for the holidays. That was a pretty big incentive. A huge mistake I made this time was doing my crowd funding August/Sept which is back to school time when parents have just spent hundreds of dollars and too early to be really thinking of the holidays.is mine. You can also use it as a platform to accept preorders. The transfer the funds into your bank account daily. They take a small percentage of donations. I have tried Indigogo and
I did all shipping. I am a seller on Amazon which means if you search Amazon you can buy my book but I still do all of the shipping. I do not get many unique orders from Amazon.com because I do not rank high in my category. I also struggled to get reviews (though I am beyond grateful for the ones I have). I have had FB messages and personal notes but it’s challenging to get written reviews.
SOME EXCITING ACCOMPLISHMENTS
My Little Light: my first postures
sold out 1020 books in one year
sold in 25 retail locations most with reorders
featured at April is for Authors aprilisforauthors.org
featured on Elena Brower's newsletter for teach.yoga
8 school/library readings
donated copies to hospitals and families in need
there are copies in Canada, Israel, Singapore, England, and Sweden
I Am Light: posture and affirmations
featured at BAM a festival of books and music https://www.palmbeachschools.org/employees/2018/02/20/bam-a-festival-of-books-and-music-downtown-west-palm-beach-march-3-2018-a-free-family-event/
people from 19 different states received copies of the book through their preorders
presented for 150 3rd grade students at Barton Elementary School Lake Worth, FL
presented at Pottery Barn Kids https://www.potterybarnkids.com/
Please, if I didn't answer your questions, comment and I will answer or do my best to find you an answer.