From Writer to Writer: Susan Ross on Self-Publishing
I am a self-published children’s author with 4 books: The Great Bellybutton Cover-up, Say Please to the Honeybees, The Kit Kat Caper, and The Rose & the Lily. I published my first book in 2008. Three of my books were created while I was a storyteller.
Fifteen years or so ago, I started writing my stories down after a woman said I should write them for my (as yet non-existent) grandchildren. I sent one book out to traditional publishers. After a few rejections—in defense of the editors I did change the book considerably before publishing it—and frustrations with the typewriter, I ended up shoving my manuscripts in the closet.
Years later I saw The Bucket List. That movie, combined with the new technology of computers, prompted me to start writing again, and now the rest is history. What I like about self-publishing is that it’s the fastest route to publication, and it lets me have total control.
All books combined, I’ve sold around 5,000 copies, mostly of The Great Bellybutton Cover-up.
Susan’s Self-Publishing Tips
- I read my manuscripts to hundreds of children and make tons of revisions before publishing. I also hire an art student to do illustrations and hire a professional for feedback on the manuscript.
- If you have the means and the time to promote your book, self-publish. One of the best means of self-promotion is through the use of promotional products. Companies like Quality Logo Products, Inc. offer a wide variety of different promotional items to help you promote your brand. Another option is to get a print-on-demand (POD) company so you don’t have to lay out a ton of money (like I did). For a small investment ($300 not including art, layout, professional editing) you can get your books on Amazon.com and buy some to sell on your own. You won’t make as much money, but you won’t have as many headaches either.
- Before you go this route, however, you need input from your target audience. This does NOT include family and friends. Make sure your book is as good as you think it is before you invest your time and money. (I had to scrap one book because what I thought was funny kids thought was mean. Live and learn!)
- If you have not written multiple drafts/revisions, odds are your work is not ready for the public.