National Young Readers Week

All Indie authors have their own obstacles to overcome, but many deal with similar problems. In honor of National Young Readers Week, I want to talk about the unique troubles indie authors of children’s picture books face.

Think about the children you know. They might like to read—many kids do—but they probably prefer physical books. While more children read on devices these days, the majority still read old-fashioned paper and ink books. Most toddlers don’t have their own tablets, and bedtime stories aren’t same with the family cuddled around an e-reader. The parents of young children prefer that their kids read physical books, too. If you want to write children’s books, especially for younger kids, plan to offer print-on-demand, or budget for a print run.

Getting a physical book into libraries and bookstores is also important. How many of us found our childhood favorites while exploring the shelves of our public libraries? For small children on library visits, searching for something to read is half the fun.

That said, it’s never a bad idea to offer a digital edition of your story as well. Digital books are inexpensive and don’t require a trip to the bookstore, making them more accessible for many readers.

Keep in mind that formatting can be an issue. Because of their illustrations, some picture books are not reflowable, making them difficult to read on some devices. Make sure to check your ebook for any technical difficulties that might arise.

Formatting might be difficult, but marketing usually isn’t. Quality illustrations are eye-catching and easy to share via social media. Choose a few of your favorite images, pair them with quotes from the book, and spread them far and wide! Don’t forget to add a purchase link to your posts, and direct traffic back to your own website whenever you can.

The downside of those beautiful illustrations is the cost. Unless you’re an artist yourself, if you want your book to compete with traditionally published titles, you will need to hire a professional illustrator. The internet makes it easy to find artists and vet their portfolios. It’s also easier than ever before to communicate with an illustrator, making revision a faster process.

There’s one thing technology can’t fix: money. Illustrators are creative professionals who deserve fair compensation for their work. Expect this to be one of your biggest expenses, but it’s one you can’t skimp on if you want your book to succeed.

Like any indie venture, self-publishing a children’s book can be challenging. Even a short book is a major commitment for the author. Don’t let this discourage you. Writing and publishing your own children’s book is an incredibly rewarding experience. Enjoy the process and keep your end-goal in mind: who wouldn’t want to be the author of a child’s first favorite book?

To all the young readers and authors who write for them, happy National Young Readers Week!

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