9 Steps to Self-publish Your First Children’s Book
Dr. Seuss says (Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now), “The time has come. The time is now.” Yes, it is time to write your book!
Many speech-language pathologists dream of writing children’s books—or even novels. Maybe you want to target a specific skill, share a great story—or both. I say, go for it!
What gives SLPs an edge in creative writing? Our education in linguistics, grammar, speech, and all facets of language. Add to this our experiences and understanding of a variety people and the results are a bubbling cauldron of creative juices to churn out the prose. The advent of desktop publishing software along with print-on-demand services makes self-publishing easier and cost effective.
What do you want to write? A great way to start is with a picture storybook. Here’s the process I use:
- Make a few notes or outline for your story and start writing. Keep in mind your favorite storybooks you read to your children or those you use in your therapy or classes.
- For young children from preschool through early elementary, keep dialogue and story-telling short, less than 500 words. Less is better for young children.
- A good length for a children’s storybook is 28-32 pages. Three or four pages get devoted to title pages, copyright, dedication, end notes, or other such pages.
- Determine your page size ahead of time so art can be created for a specific size. You can see the various sizes on KDP.
- Determine your illustration theme and budget. This is where will spend money unless you illustrate yourself. If you can do the art, several apps are available. I like Procreate (iOS), but there are many others like Adobe Photoshop Sketch (Android, iOS), and others. If you’re not an artist and work in a school district, consider using an art student to keep costs down. But, if you hire a high school student, work with their parents on a simple contract.
- Next, put it all together. If you hired an illustrator, you can often include adding text to the images as part of their fee. However, adding text to the art makes if difficult if you decide to change the text. Adobe Photoshop is the standard tool for adding text to images, making other changes, or creating additional pages. If you are not familiar with Photoshop, LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) offers free courses if you register with your local library card.
- You can also create your own book cover. Many programs offer templates for generating book covers. I suggest using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/) as a beginner as they provide easy to use templates for both the book and the cover. Their site also gives good instructions.
- Once you complete your book, review drafts and make necessary changes. You’ll want to do this several times. Also invite colleagues, family, or your book-loving friends to review as well.
- Marketing is by far the most difficult part of “indie” (independent) publishing. As a beginner you can reach out to teachers’ groups speech/language pathologists’ groups for help. One Facebook group is SLP by Day Author by Night. You can also check SLP Storytellers for a growing list of books showcasing SLP authors of all book types. You can contact them to request your book get showcased on the site.
Self-publishing your own book doesn’t guarantee you’ll produce a best seller, make loads of money, and win renowned prizes. However, you will have the satisfaction of creating your own book. And, you can do this with little cash investment.
Check back for more tips on writing your book and Happy writing!
Check out book samples by clicking the toucan above.