Saturday, February 19, 2011

“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!” Part 5: Choosing Your Self-publishing Company

This is Part 5 of my blog series on publishing a children's book. 
If you missed the first articles, read
“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!”: Part 1!
Part 2: Know your Publishers!
Part 3: Two Ways to Self-Publish
Part 4: Self-publishing Author’s First Step

First, you had your manuscript makeover. Now, choose your publisher!

The best thing to do next if you plan to use a self-publishing company is to research which companies will be able to produce the product you want, figure out all of the technical aspects the company needs from you, and get an idea of cost.

Self-Publishing Companies:
Here is a list of some popular self-publishing companies out there today:


Dog Ear Publishing



Outskirts Press

Trafford Publishing



I have used and recommend Dog Ear Publishing. I found that their design options, product quality, internet sales set-up, POD convenience and overall cost worked the best for me. I know authors who have used other self-publishers for different reasons and have had good experiences with them as well. Who you choose depends on what your wants and needs are, what works for your project, and what you want to spend.

Be wary of companies that claim no costs at all. They should be straight-forward about what they charge, and believe me, they will charge you something. Dog Ear actually has a good cost/services-comparison resource for this on their site. (Mind you, they are trying to sell you their company's services, but it has honest stats.)

What to ask:
Research, and if you can talk to a representative, do so. Ask a lot of questions if their web site does not give you all of the information you need. Make sure you find out the following things:
• Does the author retain all copyrights, publishing rights, and ISBN number (If no, look elsewhere.)?
• What retailers and e-retailers will your book be listed with?
• Does the publisher provide a web page or publisher web presence for you or your book? Is that included in cost?
• How are author royalties determined and paid? *
• What document formats will they accept for manuscript/illustration submissions?
• Do they provide image scanning services? Is there an extra fee for that service?
• How long will it take to produce the book and have it print- and sale-ready?
• How long does it take for the company to complete author web site and other marketing materials?
• Does the company do any marketing of your book at all as part of their publishing package?
• How quickly does their POD service print and ship a book?
• How many children’s book authors do they publish at this time?
• Are there extra fees for producing a full-color children’s book?
• Is there a paperback or hardcover option?
• How long will the book be listed in their catalog?
• What if you want to pull your book from their catalog?
• Who owns the digital productions files used to create your book?
• Is there a way for you to track your sales?
• Ask the publisher if they could send you a sample of a book similar to the type you wish to publish, or purchase one yourself.

*Most publishers (traditional, too) pay royalties in yearly quarters, well after the quarter is finished. It’s not unusual to be paid in March for the quarter that ends in December, and so on.

Questions for YOU:

As far as gathering information on what the company will charge for their publishing services, you have to have some idea of what you're going to need.  The information you will need to give your publisher to determine cost will be:
• # of pages
• Size of book
• Hardcover or paperback or both
• Will you need them to provide a cover design and/or illustrations?
• Will you need to use their editing services (You should have already done this but if not, last chance!)?
• # of images
• Color or black and white
• Will you want extra marketing services and merchandise?

Decision time:
This information should help determine your cost of services and your per book cost. Now, compare the services from each of the candidates and decide which one produces the best product and services for the money you will spend.
Check the Better Business Bureau where your publisher is located, Predators and Editors web site, and if possible, contact other children’s book authors who have used that publisher and find out if they recommend their services.

It’s almost the time to finally choose that illustrator who will magically bring your children’s book idea into reality. I’ll blog about what you need to know to find just the right person for the job in my next article!...

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