How to Self-Publish Children's Books or eBooks
Notes from Authors
Have you thought about self-publishing a children's book or children's e-book or app? If so, learn from this Q&A with Nicole and Damir Fonovich, the co-creators of Luca Lashes, a line of multilingual children's e-books and apps, who decided to forego contacting any agents or publishers and, instead, launched the entire series themselves.
Self-Publishing A Children's Book: A Business Decision
Nicole and Damir, you didn't even attempt to find a traditional publisher for Luca Lashes series. What made you decide to go the full-on self-publishing route?
We came to the decision to self-publish when we researched what other authors were saying, and learned what the common practices are in the traditional world of publishing. It seemed that in children’s publishing, it's very uncommon for a publishing company to work with a writer who doesn't have an agent, or who haven't published previously. We were also hearing that publishers frequently rely on their authors to do most of their marketing, and we knew that whatever royalties we made—minus the agent's percentage—wouldn't add up to the profits we could potentially make by doing it ourselves.
It just didn't seem like the right business decision to wait years to get noticed by a publisher and then run the risk of not being able to make any discernible income. Given the marketplace shift to digital content, we decided to forego contacting any agents or publishers and to do it all ourselves.
Knowledge of the Children's Book Market from Teaching and Bookstores
Children's books coming onto the market are vetted heavily by gatekeepers such as educators and children's librarians, as well as children's book editors. What made you feel you were qualified to publish your own children's books and apps into that demanding marketplace?
We embarked on the project of publishing Luca Lashes with 17 years of experience in education, in both teaching and administration, which gave us a lot of insight into what we were doing. Damir had had some experience working in bookstores, and so we came to the project with a good knowledge of what was typically in the kids' section — we knew there was a limited amount of books in different languages available. We're also committed book-buyers ourselves and wanted our son to inherit the love of books.
Anyway, with all the exposure to kids book marketplace, we knew there was a demand for the content of our series, which is specifically designed to help young children turn "fear of firsts" into fun. Things like fear of the first dentist visit are something so many parents encounter with their children, and there was less on the kids' shelf than you'd think. We're also fortunate to have a facility with multiple languages and knowledge of a number of global cultures. Knowing that childhood development stages are pretty universal, we figured we could find a niche for our creative content in the digital global marketplace.
So how long did it take you to develop the series?
It took a year for our team to write, edit, and translate nine books and apps, and to beta test seven of them. There are two more coming.
Sales Statistics Give Insights to Distributors and Markets
Your ebooks are being sold through the big retail booksellers — Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, etc. How are you distributing the Luca Lashes apps? What sales trends are you seeing?
iTunes most visible gold standard for apps and initially we saw more traction for apps there, but Amazon.com has also done well. Since Luca Lashes are currently digital-only, sales are generally higher in more technologically developed countries—like France. And some of the trends are interesting — one surprising statistic is that our haircut story in Spanish outperforms the English language version. And we know that a good number of our 25,0000 Facebook "likes" come from Spanish-speaking countries.
How to Market Your Books
How are you bringing people to your website and your series?
We've done a bit of Facebook promotion and some book PR, but we've worked really hard on our online discoverability through by giving our books appropriate metadata (which happens at the back end of the e-book coding) which helps people find them when they're searching. We've attended conferences and seminars to learn as much as possible about things like metadata strategy to increase the likelihood that Luca Lashes will be found when people are searching for our types of books.
What would you tell those who are thinking of self-publishing a children's book or e-book?
If book quality and sales are your goals, self-publishing children's books is a lot harder and a longer process than you might assume. That said, we're really pleased with the great consumer reception for Luca Lashes.
We entered the project with a lot of research and passion and hard work and dedication to finding an audience for the series. Years ago, we heard an author say his philosophy was to "Do a little good, have a little fun, make a little money." We've adopted that.
Nicole and Damir Fonovich live in the Chicago area with their son Lucas. The couple created Luca Lashes, a line of multilingual e-books and apps designed to help kids (0-4) turn "fear of firsts" into fun. Learn more at www.lucalashes.com.