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How to Publish a Children's Picture Ebook

how-to-publish-a-childrens-ebook

♫ It's a BIG World After All...

It's a big, big world ♫. And the world of children's book publishing is getting bigger by the minute. It's a world I entered and you can too - right now! Orange juice isn't just for breakfast anymore, and books aren't just on paper either. So look out Random House, here we come! Even though we will probably always love the tangible book because it does so much to please our senses, and even though you, as a writer, might be bent on publishing your book in this traditional way, you might want to awaken the Star-Trek persona within and consider four possibilities for publishing your story:

  • a physical book
  • an e-book
  • an interactive/animated app
  • an audiobook

Any or all four of these can be done through self-publishing or outside publishing, as I like to call it, and each has it's own positive and negative aspects. There is one choice of the four listed that, theoretically, could have little eyes reading your book next week! Can you guess which one? Yep, it's the e-book. Since this is the fastest track and the way I chose to publish my own little story, "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy," let's start with that. (UPDATE: June 25, 2012: Just heard an interview with Tim Sanders of http://www.netminds.com/blog a network pulling together authors, designers, and markers for ebook publishing.) Be sure to check out Tim Sander's blog.
Word of Caution: The self-publishing industry is presently extremely dynamic and changes with every new device or technological advancement. Since Information can be outdated quickly, it's best to use multiple sources when self-publishing.

And now - on with the show!

how-to-publish-a-childrens-ebook

Helpful Hints: Kindle Publishing

  • If your book is basically text-based with just a few images, the process of formatting text with images, bullets, etc. is tricky. You can find online instructions, but you could save yourself a great deal of frustration by going to Liber Writer which specializes in Kindle formatting! For only $25, you can work with their software and they'll check the formatting or for $50, they'll handle all the formatting for you. While "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy," was easy for me to publish myself for Kindle because each page was an image, I decided to go with Liber Writer when publishing a version of "Polly and the Measuring Stick," because I had separate images and separate text that needed to be placed in various positions. I found the guidance through emailing at Liber Writer to be excellent!
  • Be sure to copy the NAME of the file you uploaded to Kindle. Example: lucky22812.doc. Why? Kindle doesn't show you the name of the file you recently uploaded, so you're never sure whether you uploaded new changes unless you have a system for knowing the name of each updated file. And, trust me, you will the need to update the file.

Ready-for-Publishing Checklist

1. You know your book's category:

  • Picture book
    - 250 words to 1,000 words
  • Early reader
    - 1,000 and 4,000 words
  • Chapter book
    -10,000 and 15,000 words
  • Middle grade novel/nonfiction
    -25,000 to 40,000 words
  • Book for teens/young adults
    -50,000 to 70,000 words

√ 2. You perhaps have had a professional critique of your book through a service like "Second Draft" at Writer's Digest - (only $39.99 for a picture book critique).

3. You've read the Ten Frequently Asked Questions about Children's Publishing and Types of Publishers featured free online at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Perhaps you've even become a member for only $85 a year!

4. You have edited and proofread your manuscript and have had every living soul who would indulge you read your story. (Your Aunt Sue on Facebook might even find that the published version has a MISSING WORD!) It happens. I know!

 

- for KINDLE with Amazon
You could quite possibly put your picture book or manuscript up in the Amazon Store for Kindle TODAY! How?

  • Sign up with Kindle Direct Publishing and click on the "Bookshelf" and then "Add new title." Click on the blue links connected to the blanks for quick access to your questions. Skip down to #5, "Upload Your Book File." Even though you're not ready to upload, this is the fastest way to get to the publishing guidelines and the simplified guide for formatting. Read those instructions again, and at least one or a hundred times more!
  • Reduce any image sizes with your favorite graphics program to 72 dpi. (This makes the files more manageable for Kindle). The marvelous artist who I found to illustrate "Lucky..." assumed, as did I, that I would be publishing a physical book! The images I had received, therefore were: 1800 x 2700 pixels, 300 dpi with the text embedded. (See examples of embedded text and un-embedded text images below). When I decided to publish for Kindle, I had to first reduce those images to 72 dpi with my favorite graphics program, JASC Paintshop Pro.
  • Next, simply start a new Word Document using the INSERT PICTURE feature rather than cut and paste. Go back to Kindle publishing page, upload your document, and check your book in "Preview Document" section. If your book looks great, click "Save and continue" and complete the form. Kindle will convert your .doc or .pdf document to its .azw format. You'll need to wait 24 hours for your upload to be reviewed. If approved, your book is then immediately available in the Amazon store and you can go back to KDP's "Reports" and see if you have any sales!

Positives in Publishing an E-book for Kindle:
+ Rapid Publication: There is nothing like the feeling of knowing that within 24 hours, some child might be enjoying a story that you actually created!
+ Ability to view sales and manage files immediately right at Kindle Direct. When a company like Book Baby creates your e-book for you, you're locked into their reporting system and can't change prices as quickly as you can with at Kindle Direct.

Negatives in Publishing an E-book for Kindle:
- Difficulty in obtaining direct support from KDP. There is no one to call and the forums are not easy to navigate. The FAQ's don't answer all the "Q's" you might have!
- In order to be in Kindle's newest program, KDP Select, you must have your e-book published with them exclusively.

page from "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy"

page from "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy"

Embedded text by an author looks fantastic for a physical book and even on the Kindle, Nook, and iPad screens. However, little four-year-olds are "reading books on smartphones as "read-to-me" narrated books or as "read it myself" stories. It's easy to see from the picture above that if we take off the text, the picture would be perfect for a smartphone. However, where do we put the text now? Clearly, the text is connected with the image on the left from "Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy" is too overwhelming to add on the bottom for the smartphone. Therefore, be sure to decide beforehand on all of the formats in which you wish to publish: print book, ebook for smart phones, narrated apps, etc. More importantly, be sure to COMMUNICATE with your artist, letting him or her know all of the various forms you wish the book to take. As a writer, viewing the excellent video below by artist John Morrel will help to get a feeling for the tremendous knowledge and talent-base your artist possesses and decisions that both of you, as a team, need to make.

- for NOOK with Barnes and Noble
Self-publishing with the Nook is also possible and the procedure is similar to Kindle. However, there is an additional step to follow when submitting your files for the Nook. While you can still upload a word document, it is suggested that you convert your file to an .epub instead. There are several software programs such as Calibre that will allow you to convert your .doc or your .pdf to .epub.

- for IPad with Apple
There is an excellent video on creating a book with Book Creator from Apple. However, it appears as if narration is not yet available as of 2015. While the FAQs state that you can sell a book created with Book Creator in the itunes store. if you already created your ebook, it was difficult for me to get into the Apple IBookstore. This is the reason that, after self-publishing my e-book with Amazon for Kindle and Barnes and Noble for the Nook, I ended up going to bookbaby.com. The developers created a .mobi file that can be download from Apple through itunes.

- for the Desktop Computer and Android
Years before e-readers such as Kindle, Nook, Sony, and the IPad appeared on the scene, writers were creating dynamic, narrated, "page-turning" e-books with Desktop Author software. I personally loved using this software and found it quite intuitive. It was the only way I was able to create narrated stories at the time. As of 2017, however, it seems as if the only way to get the software is through download stores such as CNET.com. You can search around and try this software out. The ebooks created with Desktop Author do require the downloading of "a reader," plus they are compatible only with PCs and the newest MACs. This happens to be the first way that I published "Lucky..." because I was familiar with the software and because we had a website through which I could sell this narrated e-book. Since that time, I created a narrated version of "Lucky..." with Windows PowerPoint and then converted it to a video. While it doesn't have the page turning effect that Desktop Author had, it seems to be a more accessible way to create a NARRATED ebook. A sample of my book can be found below.


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