Fifty Tips for New Picture Book Authors Who Wish to Self-Publish

Okay, I’ll admit I’m no expert but I do like to share so here’s my list of 50 tips for brand new writers and self-publishers of the kid-lit variety.

  1. Show don’t tell  You will hear this a lot.  In a nutshell, this means your words need to paint a picture by including details, coversation and action.
  2. Use dialogue to help identify your character When you write dialogue remember who is speaking and choose words that help define the character who is speaking
  3. It is not completely taboo to use the word “said” Don’t just flip through the thesaurus and swap other words in for variety.  Choose words that add to the action or the character’s emotion.
  4. Write your story and then leave it alone for awhile When you go back to it you’ll have fresh eyes
  5. Watch out for things that don’t make sense
  6. Learn about child development Knowing and understanding your audience is hugely helpful.
  7. Make sure the images compliment the words Children will notice if there’s a disconnect
  8. The children in the story need to solve the problem, not the adults
  9. Each page needs to connect to the next one so that the story will flow
  10. Making a book ‘dummy’ can be helpful to see where the page turns will be
  11. Generally children’s books have a sense of being home, leaving home and then coming back home 
  12. Find a group to share your writing with You need other people to read your writing.  They will see things you cannot.  A fresh perspective is so valuable.
  13. Write and revise over and over The more you work with a story the more it grows and changes to become something better than it was at the beginning
  14. Take notes When you get little ideas, jot them down and save them for future stories.  You never know what you might be able to use.
  15. Join the SCBWI There is a huge resource of expertise available to you.
  16. Writing for magazines is a great way to start
  17. If you’re writing for children, then prepare to do school visits Most children’s authors sell their books through school visits in person or via Skype.
  18. Start a blog In order to sell books you need a platform and that platform grows from blogging.  Blogging helps you practice your craft as well.
  19. Grow your blog with giveaways When you host a giveaway it brings more traffic to your site allowing more people to become aware of you and your books.
  20. Network Through your blog you can network with other writers.  You can share ideas and learn from each other plus help grow each other’s blogs.
  21. Guest Posts Write guest posts for other blogs and invite others to post on yours.
  22. Do Some Research Learn all you can about self-publishing and how it works.
  23. A Good Editor is Extremely Valuable A good editor can guide you so that your unpolished work becomes polished and professional.
  24. Be Prepared to Spend Some Money to Get the Book Published Though it is possible to publish a book without spending a lot of money, you are better off to pay for the services that will make your book stand out.
  25. Non-Fiction Books for Children are in Greater Demand If you have the ability to write non-fiction books for children, it may be easier to sellcropped-101.jpg
  26.  Adding a non-fiction section at the back of a fiction book can be a way to make your book more marketable
  27. Books that deal with topics related to the curriculum are sought after
  28. Research the books that are already out there Write the book that you wish you could find but no one seems to have written yet.
  29. Diverse children’s books are needed
  30. An author website is essential
  31. Social Media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are important ways to let people know about your book
  32. Book reviews are super important You need book reviews of 4-5 stars if you want people to buy your book
  33. Do not pay for reviews
  34. Doing a blog tour can help get the message out about your book
  35. SCBWI has book parties that feature newly released books 
  36. Your book needs a marketing plan
  37. Spend a lot of time thinking about the title of your book, choose a great one!
  38. People do make judgments about a book based on the cover so make sure the cover is excellent
  39. You can use Goodreads to connect with readers and do giveaways
  40. Giving away your book for free might feel difficult but it is all part of marketing
  41. Book design is important If you know how to use Indesign then you may be able to do this yourself but hiring a book designer is worthwhile.
  42. Having your book available in as many ways as possible allows more people to buy the book so consider making it available as widely as possible
  43. Ebooks are different from the physical book and require formatting You can pay someone to do a conversion for you.
  44. Children’s picture books are more expensive to produce because of the colour images.  
  45. Images for a children’s book should be minimum 300 dpi This will avoid having the images come out looking pixilated.
  46. Once your artwork is completed, you can have it scanned and converted to 300 dpi files There is a significant cost for this as well so be prepared.
  47. Read a lot!!! Read all kinds of books but especially the books in your genre.
  48. Reading and commenting on other blogs is important too.
  49. Look at other author’s websites to see how they are structured and how they do their school visits.
  50. The list seems long, but keep this quote in mind… “How do you eat an elephant? A little at a time.” – Creighton Abrams


Published by cynthiahm

I am a preschool teacher/music teacher who loves to take photos and write stories in her spare time. My dream is to become a published author. Follow my journey as I work towards turning my dream into a reality.

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