When you self-publish a children’s books, you have the wonderful experience of having full creative control over your work. You can capture those ingenious bedtime stories you’ve conjured up for your children and put them straight onto the page. However, it’s rarely an easy journey and to do it successfully takes plenty of hard work and planning – don’t expect many lazy days!
To help understand what goes into the self-publishing process, we’ve spoken to independent children’s author Anne Stairmand, creator of several children’s books including Desmond’s Dragon and Archie Dingletrotter’s Flying Caravan.
Become a self-published children’s author
If you have an incredible idea for a children’s book that you can’t stop thinking about, this is the advice for you!
Why did you decide to self-publish?
Well, I wanted to have my own voice, develop my own team and links and decided to see how it would work. I would have loved an agent, but they are so hard to meet and commit, and having spoken to other authors, unless your agent is proactive, it can be quite difficult.
What does self-publishing involve?
I had a lot of work to do in order to try and compete against the other publishing houses which have teams for every aspect of writing and publishing, so a writer is fully supported. I had to learn about publishing, all the many areas of it and slowly build a team to call on for each element of the process. Even having an ISBN number, something you don’t think about as vital, as it’s needed to sell books in shops. It has been very hard to build great people around my work and much of it in the earlier days was trial and error. I have to be very disciplined and organized and stick to my daily agenda in my diary so the jobs get done properly.
Editing and redrafting the stories is important and I have companies to tear my stories to pieces so when they are complete, they have no mistakes, make sense, look good and are easy on the eye.
What are the benefits of being an independent author?
I love self-publishing, but it is not a cheap option, but on the other hand, I am in control of what happens to my work. I choose the illustrators, editors, layout team, printing and distribution companies, PR and social media companies to work with. So this puts me in an exciting position, though pulling it all together can be hard work but incredibly exciting.
What do you love about going into schools and nurseries?
I love everything. I love the drama sessions where all the children dress up and act out parts of my books and share it with each other or in an assembly with the school. I love working with Desmond’s Dragon with nurseries, building our own dragons with balloons and lovely things to stick on. This was very successful at Latitude last year and we are returning with Return of the Dragon!
I love seeing children and teachers thoroughly enjoying the events and asking me questions about writing and developing stories, with the importance of the skills placed on editing and redrafting. Of course, it is also wonderful to sign copies of my books and speak to the children individually.
What advice would you give to anyone wishing to self-publish a children’s book?
Think carefully about the commitment you are about to undertake and make sure you choose your teams or people with the right skills to support you. It is expensive, and to publish making your book look professional is no easy task. The editing and redrafting can take many months and this is really vital. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a couple of edits will make it fine, to compete on the shelves, or have Waterstones support you, your books have to be as perfect as possible.
Do your research, homework and take your time- plan in 18 months. Don’t release or sign your book off until you, only you are happy with the standard of your work. Your published book represents your standard of professionalism. So give more than your best so you can be proud.
Check out Anne Stairmand’s fantastic children’s books
As well as creating a picture book called Desmond’s Dragon, Anne has also published several books for older children aged up to 9-11 years, including Archie Dingletrotter’s Flying Caravan which tells the story of a travelling family and their very special caravan; The Phantom Sock Snatcher about a boy discovers the incredible secret behind his disappearing socks; Petronella Pumpernickel-Pinkstocking-Berck and Big Wart about a tractor-riding girl who’s used to getting her own way until an unusual new boy arrives at school; and The Idiot Family at Home, a satirical story about a family who are far too rich for their own good.
For more information and to buy Anne’s books visit: www.annestairmand.co.uk