Hi All, I am not sure if I want to go the self publishing route. I have written the manuscript for my book, but need an illustrator. Would using a vanity press be a good idea? Would the ISBN number be registered to me or the vanity press company (Trafford, Outskirts Press for example)? Also, would finding an agent be a better idea and submit my manuscript to an agent?  I have many questions because I am ready to get moving with getting my book published. Thanks!

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Hi Shauni! This is kind of up my alley and I'd love to be able to give you some advice. I spent many months, researching the self-publishing industry - including Trafford, last year. I've written and illustrated 6 children's books called The Waussies ("Boomerang Waussie to the Rescue" and 5 others in the series). I received samples of Trafford's work and they couldn't offer me the quality production for color, that I wanted.

I'm assuming your book is a novel??? Mine are brightly colored children's books and I was determined to have them printed on very high quality paper with special laminated finish for the covers. So I decided not to go with Trafford. Having said that, if you're talking about a novel - I feel they are certainly a well-informed, professional company. They even spent considerable time on the phone with me and finally sent me colored proofs which they printed from my artwork - which they didn't have to do as I hadn't signed up or paid for them.

Usually, the ISBN is yours. Did you realise you can apply for this yourself? It's no big deal. I purchased all 6 myself. Sent a cheque, received the numbers and presto! They're mine. I then allocated the numbers to each book. Make certain you clarify the contract with whoever you go with. Lulu is another company I think, who may be ok. I didn't personally check them. Only Trafford. Be careful. There are some real sharks out there!

I cannot, however, stress enough - that you MUST have an efficient editor and proof reader. Don't skimp on that. Don't, for one minute, think that because you've written the world's best novel - that you will pick up all the errors. You won't. And you'll kick yourself in the end for not investing in this absolute necessity! Usually, Trafford and other vanity publishers do supply these, and you pay for them if it goes over a certain amount of proofing/editing (I think). I had a fantastic editor/proof reader whom I can recommend to you. You can send her the work - and she's really on the ball! What type of book have you written? How many pages?. Watch out for the costs. They can build up and you will get charged for everything. From memory, they allow you a certain amount of proofing and/or editing - but make sure you check it out thoroughly. Also, the artwork is another thing you need to consider. Are you working with colors? Do you need really brightly colored finished artwork or is it black & white? If you're working in bright colors, you must have the graphics prepared using CMYK not RGB. I learned the hard way. Basically, I had to start my 6 books from scratch after illustrating about 150 black & white drawings and coloring up three books! Ended up having to learn Photoshop. But I succeeded!

Marketing is an enormous part of selling your work. It stands alone and apart from everything you've done so far. Don't be afraid to approach places like Amazon.com to check out their offers also. I think they too, are offering publishing, printing and complete finished processing of books now. Do check them out before doing anything else. Amazon is the first place people go. My books are now on Amazon.com but I have a distributor as well, in the US, UK & Australia. HOWEVER - it is not easy - even having distribution. Because in the US, for example, they expect the author to advertise and market. That's their business.

I have been fortunate in that I was able to afford my own website construction www.waussieproductions.com and my books are about to be launched in these three countries at the end of this month.

To sum up: Unless you have a lot of money - I would first find out about Amazon and their publishing opportunities. It's still vanity publishing (if they do it) but I would rather go with them than any of the others. If not Amazon, I would recommend Trafford for the reasons I stated above. As you obviously know, their package deals aren't too bad.

But you must bear in mind the marketing of your book. You will need to get involved with a PR company - this costs money. You also need to check out who goes to which book fairs. There are specific book fairs which focus on different markets. Find out! Find out the cost you will be charged for representing your book at these fairs. It's all extra.

Personally, I'm having a ball! I'm enjoy the connections I'm making with people.
I just want you to be aware that although Trafford will quote you for the publication - be careful of all the extras you will be charged for. Did they send you their bookelt and book samples of other work? If you wish to write to me at my address it's waussiebooks@gmail.com and I'd be more than happy to speak more with you - I'm off to Australia on Sunday to do the launch there as I have a number of places where I have to be. Not back here until 05 May.

Good luck! I so which you success! I love to see other writers succeeding in this difficult area. Please remember something. Your success should never be judged by others. It's what you feel inside. If you have written a novel - you are already successful. Do your homework and I look forward to hearing more from you.

I'd love to help you with any information I can give.
Jacqui Taub
Hi Jacqui,
Thanks for your reply. I am writing a children's book as well as a memoir. The memoir is a work in progress. I have already written the manuscript for my children's book. It is roughly 30 pages. I have drawn my characters and I want them to look a certain way. I need an illustrator who is willing to work with me . I have visited your website and love the Waussies! You have a wealth of information and I would like to speak with you further. I will send you an email shortly.

Kind Regards,

Shauni T.
I have actually self published four books using CREATE SPACE and have been very satisfied with them. I am the author of the children picture book series, The Jazzy Series. I illustrate my own books and my hubby helps me put the books together. If you want to check out my books, they are all posted as slide shows on my site at http://www.jazzyseries.com. Please let me know if I can help you out in your quest to self publish your book. I would be happy to do so.
Shelina Ishani
http://www.coolmamablog.com
http://www.jazzyseries.com
By the way, one of the things that I plan to do on my blog, is to review picture books and I want to focus on self published new authors who otherwise would not get any publicity. So, if there are any new, self published authors of picture books out there, and if you want free publicity for your book, please contact me via my blog http://www.coolmamablog.com and we will set up how you can send me a PDF of your book.
Shelina Ishani
http://www.coolmamablog.com
http://www.jazzyseries.com
Hi Shauni. I saw your post and wanted to throw my 2 cents in for CreateSpace. I use them to publish my own books as well as helping others through my www.OneStopPublisher.com site. I have helped numerous authors with children's books, short story collections, fictional novels, etc. and have been extremely happy with the finished products. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, I would be happy to point you in the right direction. If not, I offer various services to help with each step of the way. You mentioned illustrating and that you have your characters. If available, I have a fantastic illustrator that you could work with directly. There are numerous opportunities out there, including what I have to offer, so know they are open to you and you really need only to decide what is right for you.
Hi Linda,

Thank you for your reply. I am still in search of an illustrator. Any information that you can provide in regards to an illustrator is welcomed. Also, please let me know what you have to offer in regards to self-publishing. I look forward to speaking with you in the near future. Thanks!
Hi Shauni. Actually, my illustrator is a member here so maybe I can hook you up directly that way. Let me get with her and see. On the self-publishing....are you wanting to do the work yourself or have it done? I can help you either way. Formatting is the main issue. In my opinion, it isn't hard but there are some "tricks" that you need to be aware of and it does take time and patience. My email address is AwesomeMessages@sbcglobal.net. If you want to contact me that way I can link you with my illustrator to see if you can work something out and then go from there. There are other illustrator options as well (like ODesk and such. She has done jobs for people through them and you may find that extremely affordable.). Regardless of where the illustrations are done, please feel free to contact me for help with the formatting and/or self-pub questions.
Hi, Shauni -

Excellent questions. I've been down both paths: I've had two agency contracts for two separate books over a period of 8 years, neither of which led to a publishing deal. The road was so rough and heartbreaking that with my third book, Veronica's Nap, I buckled after the first rejection (the agent of an author friend who introduced me, positive that it would work out) and decided I'd had enough: time to self-publish.

Turns out It's the best thing I've ever done. The reactions, support and feedback I've gotten have proven to be all I really needed as a writer. Rather than produce a paper copy or an e-book, though, I decided to do something a little different and...serialize the book on a blog! The blog also offers book-club style conversation about related issues: the story, the characters, the reasons for this choice and some publishing industry background.

Maybe you'd like to check it out: http://www.veronicas-nap.com. My very first "Backstory Blog" post gives an overview of why I made this choice that might give you some good food for thought: http://veronicas-nap.com/backstory/unboxed-pioneer/.

Hope all of this is helpful! And if you do opt to self-publish, there are plenty of ways to handle the illustration aspect.

Good luck, and all my best,

Sharon
Hi Shauni,

Whatever route you take, make sure the book is professionally edited. That's the BEST investment you'll make in your book and your writing career. You want your best work out there, a perfect book you'll be proud of and most people will love.

When I say editing, I mean technical and developmental--not just copy editing.
Hi Shauni,

After being realistic about the chances of breaking into the Children's picture book market, I self published through Lightning Source. I basically had to set up a little publishing company, but it really wasn't too much work. I love having the control and reaping the rewards.

I blogged about finding an illustrator etc. (Guru.com is excellent for that sort of help) here are my websites:

Arithmetic Village: http://www.arithmeticvillage.com/

Personal:http://kimberlymoore.wordpress.com/

Best of luck!
Kimberly
Shauni, every word Jacqui Taub wrote is golden. She nailed it, mate. All I would add is this: make sure you have the time, the energy, and the money to produce and sell a really great book. Before you sign any contracts, research every aspect of putting this book into print: especially the cost of paying a good illustrator, a professional editor, and a really great print job, When added up, these three can become a significant amount.

Then there is the cost of promotion, and the time needed to do all those small promotional things - they will add up to a large chunk of your year. Like writing Press Releases, contacting newspapers, radio, schools, doing interviews, finding book reviewers, bookstore signings, etc. Plus a blog or website to be updated often, with fun stuff that attracts readers, as well as buyers of your book. And a promotional must these days, having a real-time presence on Facebook, Twitter and others. If you can cover all of these without developing heartburn, GO FOR IT, mate.

Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques
http://www.margotfinke.com

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