How to publish your first picture book
I will share our experience writing the Gracie to the rescue! illustrated book. This does not intend to be a comprehensive guide but a list of things that we didn't know as first time writers (and self-publishers) and would have liked to know before hand. We hope you find this useful.
Ok the basic things that you might already know, but are really worth saying:
Focus on your story
Do not be afraid to re-write and discuss. We are a team of two writing the book. We wrote it a couple of times, discussed every page of the story, and made sure we knew/imagined what the illustrations would look like. If you do not have a co-author, I think it is worth bouncing ideas off to another (or even a third) person. That said, do not compromise your story.
Find an awesome illustrator
It is really hard. We interviewed several people and really wanted to see if we could work with them. At the end we decided to work with an old friend from school. The reason why that was amazing because we had a lot of corrections and back and forth.
OK, now for the actual publishing tips...
KDP and IngramSpark ask for a minimum 24 pages to publish a book. Not all pages have to have illustrations. But do keep this in mind as you wrap up your story. We added a dedication (that we already had planned) and a couple other pages.
Use free fonts
We didn’t even think about this until our editor suggested the change. We used this site to look for a font that we liked.
Invest in a great cover
You've probably read this somewhere already but worth saying, it is the face of your book. If your book has a pretty face people will look at it whether it is on their computers or offline. Also make sure you hire a specialist to help you with the formatting to submit to KDP or IngramSpark if your illustrator has not done it before.
Buy your own ISBNs
I know, it is expensive, and a really hard decision to make But buying your own ISBN allows you to publish in multiple places. Amazon can provide you one for free but that is theirs not really yours. Having your own ISBN allows you to control distribution rights if that is important to you.
Upload to Publishing Service
We could write a whole post (or even short book) about this. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to upload my finished product to KDP and IngramSpark without getting format errors. After two days of trying I decided that it was worth hiring someone to help me with this part. This person was able to not only help me decide on the format of the book and size (6x9 vs. 8x10) but also on what fonts to end up using. Fiverr has lots of good options.
Thank you for reading! Make sure to check out our little book Gracie to the rescue!. In it, Gracie is a naughty dog that finds herself given up for adoption. After much searching, and some hiding, Gracie is able to find a happy home with parents that will do anything to make her feel safe.