Self-Publishing a Children’s Book Toxic?
Shaunda Kennedy Wenger
That was the word ascribed to self-publishing a children’s
book in a recent discussion on a children’s publishing thread that I follow on
I recently addressed this conception of self-publishing on
another Slow Stir post here. Although I can say that
self-publishing is many things. Brow-beating. Lonely. Frustrating. Satisfying.
And certainly THE-HARDEST-THING-I’VE-EVER-DONE. One thing I cannot say, based
on my experience, is that it has been toxic. And I don’t think I could say
self-publishing would be toxic for anyone, provided they have done their
homework and have become a seasoned writer.
Self-publishing does give you more than a book to hold in
your hands. In fact, I have come of up five things you might not get if you
simply sit back and wait and hope for that NY contract to come along.
experience. More experience in more facets of the publishing industry than you
ever could have thought you’d need or want to gain.
2. It puts you in front of
readers. Or perhaps I should say, it puts you in front of at least one. But
with time, persistance, and hard work, maybe a bit more.
3. It shows you where you can help
fill in the gaps in roles that a traditional publisher might not be fulfilling
for you if/when you enter a contract with one. And in the event that you need
or will want to help drive marketing, you’ll have the confidence to do so.
4. It helps establish you in the
marketplace. As in any business, who you know and how you treat people and how
people have come to know and respect you can make all the difference in the
world. Why not start networking with others who are involved in a side of life
you love? Why not starting helping and learning from one another? If you want
to read about what cross-promotion and networking can do in business, read this post here.
5. Self-publishing amounts to an
addendum, an accomplishment, a supplement to your writing platform. It can be a
resume builder (if you choose to look at it that way), which can only work to
help you in future projects down the road.
As with anything that comes along in life, it all adds up
to what you make of it. Choosing to self-publish my books, which include The Ghost in Me; Reality Bites, Tales of a Half-Vampire; and Little Red Riding Hood, Into the Forest Again, has opened doors to
a readership I never would have found if I had sat around waiting for a
traditional publisher to decide that my books made a match in Heaven with them.
I’ve earned reviews from readers saying they want to read more of my work,
which I only could have dreamed of seeing in print had I waited. I have earned
awards that have boosted my confidence to continue on this path. And rather
than put time and money into submissions that may never receive a response
(simply because that is the way much of NY does business), I’ve put my money
(and less of it) into putting my books into publication. It has all been
Would I welcome that contract from NY? Yes, simply because
I know any business is easier when you’re not in on it alone. But I have no
control over NY. I only can control what I choose to do. My choices have not
been toxic, and I’m glad I didn’t read such opinions prior to getting started.
Without knowing what I know now, I might have been deterred.
The bottom line is, when it comes to publishing—wherever
your pursuits lead, make the best of it, and leave the worrying behind.
*** I want to thank Shaunda for visiting my blog, and may I say, I totally agree with her post. It reminds me of an old saying I heard a lot while growing up. “Don’t wait for your dreams to find you…go make them happen!!!”
Mimi Barbour says
Great Post Shaunda, so glad you could visit.
Emily Hill says
Shaunda, Bless Your Heart! I am putting this blog post in front of each of my clients – INCLUDING – the ones pubbing Children's Books.
I self published for the first time this year my children's fantasy fiction aimed at 8/9 years up to adults who like middle grade fantasy – and I agree I have found an audience that I never thought I would or probably would have with trad. publishing. So thanks for a great post. I might even do it again!
Antonia Murphy says
So what was the reason for calling it "toxic," I wonder? Did they think you were contaminating the minds of innocent youth? Or were they accusing SP authors of lacing their books with arsenic?
Bravo! I self-published two picture books, and I heart-and-soul agree with your post. The experience is far more valuable then sitting on the porch waiting for the right answer to arrive in the mailbox. Thank you!
Thank you so much for posting my thoughts, Mimi. I'm so happy to hear about other people finding good experiences, and better yet, an audience. I certainly do hope you all will do it again and again. Your first book is your first step to building a bridge with readers.
The perception of self-publishing your own books being toxic stems from the opinions I've heard shared at mainstream conferences that if you do so, and it's deemed to be a poor job, then editors/agents won't take your future work seriously. More or less, it adds up to a new author being feared into not self-publishing, or at least taking a few steps back to slow down, seriously consider and research what they are getting into, and then cross all those t's and dot all those i's so to speak before they do.
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