Seeing your name in print and your ideas online is an amazing feeling made possible by self publishing. I know because I wrote a children’s book last year that is now selling worldwide through Amazon’s self publishing platform, Createspace.
If you’ve been thinking about self publishing on Amazon or elsewhere, I’d like to share my experience with you and encourage you that it is possible to share your ideas with the world and make money self publishing in the process. Of course, this entire process starts with your idea, which you bring to life with good design and illustration and then share with the world through publishing your own book.
Put Your Idea on Paper
I had been mulling around an idea for a children’s book for years. My mother in law and I had often joked about how there was a growing list of places she was unwilling to drive as she got older. It started with bridges and then expanded to tunnels, highways, night driving and more. We thought a neat idea for a story would involve a very circuitous route to Grandma’s House for a weekend sleepover with our daughter. That idea eventually became Grammy Doesn’t Do That.
I sat on that idea for years until my mother in law finally asked me if I was ever going to write it down. I put it on my To Do List and within 15 minutes, the book was written. I guess it came out as fast as it did because I had been thinking about it for so long. What seemed like the scariest, hardest part of the process ended up being one of the easiest once I just sat down and did it. If you’re sitting on your own book idea, follow my lead and just start writing.
You can always delete it later if you don’t like it but sometimes, just starting is the hardest part.
Find a Good Designer
Once I had my book written, I knew the next step towards joining the ranks of those who are self publishing children’s books was to hire a good designer. The problem was that I had no budget for this project. I had about $150 I had saved up in my personal money and decided to use that to find a good designer.
If you are self publishing a novel or non-fiction work, a designer may not be as big of a need for you, other than to give your book an eye-catching cover. I was self publishing a children’s book so I needed colorful, engaging design throughout. That kind of design isn’t cheap.
I explored various sites like Fivrr, Odesk and Elance and reached out to local graphic designers and children’s book illustrators, but in the end decided to go with a friend who was a college student specializing in design.
We agreed to split profits evenly and she agreed to design the book for $150. You may be able to find a less expensive designer, but I believe that when it comes to illustration you usually get what you pay for. I was thrilled with her work and loved how she worked from pictures of my family to create a unique book that made an incredible gift for my mother in law.
Choose From the Best Self Publishing Companies
While my designer was storyboarding and working on digitizing her illustrations for Grammy Doesn’t Do That, I researched self publishing options. I looked at semi-traditional publishing companies with more expansive cover, size and paper type options like AuthorHouse, Infinity Publishing and Dog Ear but ultimately, found all of these options, which ranged from $4,000 to about $1,000, too expensive.
I considered print on demand options like Lulu, iUniverse and ultimately landed on Createspace because it allowed me to distribute my book through Amazon’s powerful, global channel with absolutely NO upfront printing costs.
While I was more limited in page size and printing options, I needed a solution that wouldn’t cost me anything upfront and Createspace offered me that.
Pros and Cons of Self Publishing Through Createspace
In addition to Kindle self publishing, Createspace offered a number of attractive pros, including:
- Free and Easy Tools – Their software made it easy to upload my book files and preview them before printing.
- Powerful Distribution – Createspace books are automatically integrated into Amazon’s book inventory and made available around the world.
- Impressive Royalties – No one is going to publish your book for free, but Createspace takes about a 40 – 60 percent cut depending on the list price of your book and where it sells. Its Royalty Calculator helps you determine ahead of time how much money you can expect to make per book with Createspace.
- Fast, Immediate Printing – With Createspace, your book is manufactured to meet demand. This means your title is always in stock and you can order how ever many or few copies you need at any time.
- No Upfront Publishing Costs – This was the biggest benefit for me. With Createspace there are no upfront costs and no need to carry inventory of your book.
No option is without cons. Here are the biggest ones I have with Createspace.
- The Royalty Cut Could be Higher – This is a bit of a catch 22. Getting your book published for free and distributed on Amazon’s wide network comes with a big trade off – quite of a bit of the cut of your book sales go to Amazon.
- Payments Can Be Hard to Figure – It takes a while to start earning royalties from book sales as Amazon waits to see how many buyers return your book. This delays payments by two months and can make it difficult to track the progress of your book sales.
Ultimately, Createspace was the right option for me. It’s easy to follow, comprehensive file creation guidelines, uploading platform, distribution network and lack of upfront costs fit my need. To date, I’ve sold about 45 copies of my book and have made nearly $200. Having nearly covered what I put into the project, I’m happy, but I’d like to do more with it.
I created a simple website to promote Grammy Doesn’t Do That and plans for a series are underway. But for me personally, the most satisfying aspects of the project have been seeing my idea come to life and bring joy to others.
What are your thoughts about self publishing? Are you thinking of trying to self publish a children’s book or novel? What platforms have you looked at? If you have an idea but haven’t put it on paper yet, what’s holding you back?
Mrs. Frugal Rules is a published author, professional copywriter, business owner and mother to four children. When she’s not busy writing for some of America’s top brands, she enjoys taking her kids on adventures around Omaha, Nebraska.
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