The self-publishing and print-on-demand market
ONLINE COLUMN: Writing for Children
Published: August 12, 2009
|Will it hinder or help my career to self-publish my children's book? |
With the struggling economy and the tough competitive market, it's tempting to consider publishing your children's book yourself, especially after receiving numerous rejections for your treasured manuscript from traditional publishers listed in market guides. Writing magazines as well as the Internet are exploding with offers to help you get your book in print. What should you do? Nancy I. Sanders
First and foremost, consider your own personal goals. Do you want to read your picture book to your grandchildren this year, before they're too old to appreciate it anymore? Do you want to have the personal satisfaction of holding your own book in your hands sooner rather than later? Do you want to give your book away as gifts to your family and friends and don't really care if it generates a lot of income?
Self-publishing your book might be the way to go. It can help your career by giving your confidence and writer's self-worth the boost it just might need. It can also give you a writing sample to share with editors to help land future contracts.
Make sure, however, that you get the facts up front about the publisher you choose before you sign the contract. Otherwise, it might hurt your career if you don't know what commitment you're making. For instance, some self-publishers offer a three-year contract or less that can be broken if a traditional publisher offers you a contract instead. Other self-publishers offer a longer contract that can't be broken no matter how lucrative a contract you're offered from another publisher. Some self-publishers require tens of thousands of dollars up front payment for a garage-full of books that can be hard for you to sell. Others are print-on-demand, cost less than $1,000 even to publish a full-color picture book, and print copies of your book to sell as people order it online.
If you opt to self-publish your book, print out the contracts of various self-publishing and print-on-demand publishers. Compare their terms, fees and perks. Talk with their representatives and ask for cold, hard facts. Network with other writers and discuss the positive and negative aspects of the self-publishing world.
Writing is a team effort and the input from a traditional publisher helps shape your manuscript to be the best it can be in today's tough market. However, what if you have a particular manuscript that you want to keep exactly how you wrote it? The self-publishing market might be the way to go. You have complete control over the wording of your manuscript if you opt to publish it yourself.
Always keep in mind, though, that there are other factors that might be out of your control if you choose to self-publish. First, most walk-in bookstores will not carry self-published or print-on-demand titles. Most self-publishers set their own retail prices for a book, which are generally much higher than similar books by traditional publishers. Some self-publishers format their books in a way that is not up to current professional industry standards, which produces a book that looks, in essence, homemade.
Yes, self-publishing might help your career, but it also might hinder it. Evaluate your own personal goals, check the facts carefully, and make an informed decision so you can do what's best at this stage of your own career as a children's writer.
Nancy I. Sanders is the author of over 75 books. She has self-published several titles as well, including To Follow Yahweh's Plan: A Story Based on the Book of Ruth. Web: www.nancyisanders.com.