Updated: Aug 19
A year and a half ago, I didn’t know one thing about self-publishing a children’s book. Last month, I officially published my debut picture book, The Train Rolls On. While I still have A LOT to learn about writing, publishing, and marketing children’s books, this journey has taught me many things that I didn’t previously know. Today, I’m going to share some of that knowledge with you by reflecting on five of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about self-publishing picture books.
It was difficult to pick just five lessons to focus on here, so I decided to break the self-publishing process down into its major phases (editing, illustrating, designing, printing, and marketing) and provide one lesson that I learned related to each phase. Perhaps I can elaborate more on each area in future blog articles. 😉 Let’s start with editing since it picks up where I left off in my previous article, 5 Things I've Learned About Writing Picture Books, which you can read here:
1. Editing can seem like a never-ending process, but it’s totally worth the effort!
Maybe it’s just me, but I self-edited The Train Rolls On multiple times before sending the manuscript to a professional editor. Once I had taken the story as far as I could alone, I brought in Editor Sarah Fabiny to assist me. Sarah and I conducted three rounds of formal revisions, where we worked on tightening up the text and improving the pacing and tone of the story. Once our collaboration was complete, I assumed that the editing phase was done.
Surprisingly, however, editing didn’t end there. For months, I continued to self-edit the manuscript, combing through it several times (too many times to count) in an effort to improve the text and rhythm even more. In fact, on several occasions, I sent Book Designer David Miles suggested edits that had nothing to do with the book’s design because I was still fiddling with the text and trying to make sure that the final book was as good as it could possibly be. Here's a simplified example of what the editing process looked like:
As a self-publisher, it is ultimately up to me to determine what text goes on the page. This responsibility turned out to be more daunting than I had originally thought, and I did not take it lightly. I researched the fundamentals of writing rhyming picture books, requested feedback from several individuals, and tinkered with the text until I could tinker no more. (Just ask Eric!) My hope is that the editing process will get easier (and shorter) with every book that I publish, but only time will tell. All I know is that I am really happy with (and really proud of) the finished book no matter how long it took to get there. Speaking of lengthy timelines…