Self-publishing a picture book seemed like an extremely daunting task when I first considered the idea. That was about three years ago. If you are thinking of self-publishing, then you may wish to read about my process.
Thanks to a whole bunch of people, my book’s birthday with be April 24th. Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker will soon be out there in the world. Here’s a look at all the little bits of help I got along the way.
When I first had the idea, I contacted my sister-in-law, Megan Ciana Doidge, who self publishes novels. You may have read one of her books. I had already told my pancake story to my preschool classes and I wanted to ask her about the process of making a book. That’s when I discovered it would need editing, book design, illustrations, cover design, beta readers, proofreading and a different format for an ebook; the whole process felt a little overwhelming. I didn’t know anyone would could design a book. I would also need a platform; a blog or a presence on other social media. I had no social media presence. I didn’t know an illustrator or how to do the illustrations myself. I had never worked with an editor. It seemed like a nearly impossible process and certainly no hope of big money at the end of it all.
I made the decision to start blogging with the idea that it would help me practice writing and connect with other writers and bloggers. Through blogging I was able to learn more about the self-publishing process. I read other blogs and asked questions from people who seemed they might know something about the process. My confidence in my writing abilities started to grow.
Caroline Bowles, a colleague of mine, was excited about the idea. Her encouragement gave me the jolt I needed to follow through. She asked people she knew who might do illustrations and eventually helped me connect with Paula Nasmith, who was an art student at the time. It turned out that Paula had imagined illustrating books for children and was interested in my project. Eventually when all the art was finished, I had it scanned and made into the files that would eventually go into the book.
After meeting and discussing the book we decided we’d be a good match to work together. After awhile, I sent my manuscript to a few beta readers (Amy Nehme, Beth Kent, Megan Desroches, and Norah Colvin). These are people who I connected with through Facebook or friends of friends or blogging. They were all people who had young children in their lives and were interested in the story. And their feedback was so valuable. Then I went back and did some revising and rewriting.
Through joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and reading their blueboards, I was able to learn more about writing and publishing for children. I got some feedback on my manuscript through SCBWI and I found an editor through the society named Paula Morrow, who gave me a detailed critique of my manuscript complete with ideas on how to improve and make it into a viable book. When she described my story as “charming” I felt so encouraged. I thought I might be able to actually do this.
Fortunately for me, my aunt, Diane Braithwaite, is an editor and offered to do the copy editing; she diligently went through the manuscript to check for errors and then I found a company called Accurance who could do the book design for the interior and the cover and the ebook conversion at a really reasonable rate. I’m sure there are more expensive and even free ways to do this but this company fit my budget and allowed me to leave some of the work with people who had done this before.
I showed the first draft of the original cover design to Karen Booth, who I knew had experience with art and design and she had some super helpful ideas about how to improve the cover and really feature the artwork in the best way possible. Her ideas together with the cover designers at Accurance really brought the cover to life.
And finally, here I am with a self-published book ready for release. As you can see, I did not do this alone. And now, thanks to all these individuals who helped along the way, I have the pleasure of reading my story to children and sharing the book with parents and teachers I know. I’m very glad I decided to see it through. Will there be another book? I don’t know yet but I sincerely hope so.
If you appreciate learning about my process in making the book, please visit and like my Facebook page! Thank you.