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How to Self-Publish a Children's Book and Make Money Online in 5 Easy Steps

Publishing, Marketing, & Writing Tips

You may have Googled "how to self-publish children's book," and now you're here. Now, what? How do you go from ABC's to seeing 123456 zeroes in your bank account?

How to Self-Publish a Children's Book and Make Money Online in 5 Easy Steps
Table of contents

Like self-publishing in general, the children's book niche is steadily growing. There are thousands of schools, libraries, and families out there who are looking for children's books about everything from friendship and love to dealing with grief, adoption, and various hobbies like gardening. But how easy is it to find success and make real money online without the attention or help of a traditional publisher? And what are the steps to create a book that children will actually want to read? We've got your answers down below!

Wanna know the fastest way to get your publishing company up and running? Learn from other self-published authors who started out with NO publishing or writing experience and are now making well over six figures by taking the publishing process into their own hands. Attend our free webinar!

Should You Professionally Publish or Self-Publish Your Children's Books?

We've got plenty of blog posts comparing the traditional publishing route to independent publishing, and the decision is ultimately up to you. Just know that traditional publishing typically requires more time, more luck, and more cash. Sure, you might connect with a literary agent who might get your book idea in front of some large publishing houses, but there's no guarantee they'll go through with publishing and promoting your children's picture book after all the hard work you put into it. 

Let's say they DO decide your book idea is up to their standards and aligns with all of their rules. Even though they may offer you a book advance on the sales they think your book is going to make, you'll be stuck working with their chosen editors and designers who might not support all your ideas or the brand you’ve envisioned for yourself. Using vanity publishers in place of self-publishing is another issue that can get authors in trouble by tarnishing their reputation with readers.

Becoming a self-published author gives you control over the entire publishing journey. Besides, at the rate that AI is continuing to improve, there's no reason you can't make your own book with AI from outlining everything to the illustrations. And even if you’re outsourcing all of the work, wouldn’t it be better to have access to hundreds (or even thousands) of potential designers, writers, and editors to work with instead of a pre-determined handful? Wouldn’t it be nice to have the freedom to work on your own timeline at your own pace without anyone else to slow you down? 

The 5 Steps to Publishing Your Own Children's Book Without the Help of Traditional Publishers

Children's books come in a variety of styles. Some might be considered high-content books like chapter books, while others might be low-content puzzle books or even no-content picture books and board books. The sky is the limit when it comes to using your creativity to publish high-quality content that children and families actually want to read.

Crafting a children's story is very similar to publishing any book, with just a few exceptions.

1. Research, Research, Research (to Find the Most Profitable Niche)

Many new indie publishers make the mistake of thinking that every idea can be wildly profitable. That's simply not the case (we say this with love). Of course, you CAN publish a children's book about something you're really passionate about, even if a large royalty check isn't your primary motivator, but there are systematic ways to assess your ideas ahead of time to learn...

-what families and school teachers are searching for

-if a niche has low or high competition

-how much your competitors are making with this idea right now

-what your competitors are missing in their books to help yours stand out

This research will inform your book title, book cover (front and back), and everything in between. Children's literature and children's titles are constantly changing, so what's popular today might not sell next week!

TIP: We talk more about "Proof of Concept" in our self-publishing webinar.

2. Complete Your Manuscript (the Words and Photos)

Most traditional publishers have in-house ghostwriters and designers for you to utilize, but you won't be able to vet them yourself. When you self-publish a children's book, you can work with whoever you want. You might consider scouting some professional children's book ghostwriters on Upwork or network with other established children's book authors on LinkedIn for tips and tricks of the trade.

If you're creating a picture book, you may want to partner with a professional illustrator or designer to bring your vision to life. If you decide to try your hand at making your own illustrations, you'll need to set aside extra time in the publishing process to make sure you're not rushing.

Whether you bring in others to assist you with the project, you'll be responsible for overseeing the quality of each step, including the writing, illustrating, and page layout.

Kids can be brutally honest when it comes to just about anything (and they say the darndest things). Your illustrations and designs won’t be an exception. 

3. Polish Your Manuscript (Yes, Even for Picture Books)

Your manuscript might not be as long as a full-length chapter book, but that means small errors will stand out even more. And yes, you still need to edit picture books, too! We've all seen AI-generated images with funky hands and extra fingers, and we all have that family member who never learned the difference between "your" and "you're" or "to" and "too." You want to make sure that your book stands out for the RIGHT reasons. There's no reason a self-published book should be any less quality than a book published through the traditional route.

Part of the publishing process will also require formatting your completed manuscript to ensure the cover and interior are the right dimensions. You might decide to make your picture book square to match your competitors, for example.

Your formatting will play a role in how many sales you make, and it might also affect your royalties. Printing in color will always cost more than printing in black-and-white, even if you're utilizing Print-on-Demand services from an online retailer like Amazon.

4. Hit the Publish Button (and Celebrate Your First Sale)

Once you've checked and rechecked that your final manuscript is ready, the next step is the most exciting. You get to share your creation with the world! (Cue the mad scientist laughter)

Amazon's KDP walks you through uploading your manuscript and book cover step-by-step. Here, you'll also get a chance to choose which categories fit your book's target audience best and write your book description.

Some Children’s Book categories include:

  • Action & Adventure
  • Activities, Crafts & Games
  • Animals
  • Arts, Music & Photography
  • Biographies
  • Cars, Trains & Things That Go
  • Children's Cookbooks
  • Classics
  • Comics & Graphic Novels
  • Computers & Technology
  • Early Learning
  • Education & Reference
  • Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths
  • Geography & Cultures
  • Growing Up & Facts of Life
  • History
  • Holidays & Celebrations
  • Humor
  • Literature & Fiction
  • Mysteries & Detectives
  • Religions
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Science, Nature & How It Works
  • Sports & Outdoors

The biggest thing to keep in mind as a self-publisher and children's book author is that your content must abide by Amazon KDP's submission guidelines. So, make sure the content is age-appropriate and relevant. They don't take kindly to keyword stuffing and could potentially close your account down if you don't play by their rules. The good news is their rules are reasonable, and they also typically hand out multiple warnings before taking any drastic action.

The work here isn't quite done at this stage, but you should definitely take some time to celebrate officially publishing your book online (whether it's your first or 10th!).

Wanna celebrate the success of others? Our Student Success Hub was created to do just that. Here, we highlight self-publishers from all walks of life who are making passive income children's books, non-fiction books, and everything in between.

5. Promote Your Book (and Reach Even More Young Readers)

The challenge with writing for young readers is that they won't be the ones ultimately deciding whether to purchase the book. Most likely, that decision will fall on parents, other family members, and teachers. Your marketing and the way you build out your social media platform should reflect that.

Short-term marketing solutions, like running a book promotion, are great at giving your book sales an immediate boost. But long-term thinking is what creates the monthly five-figure and six-figure royalty checks.

We teach our students our time-tested approach for maximizing book reviews immediately after launching your book to build credibility and reach as many readers as possible.

Another pro tip? Take all the feedback your books get in stride. The good, the bad, and the ugly can all tell you how to improve your publishing craft for future books. You won't find a bestseller on the market without at least one negative review, guaranteed.

Note: Our Amazon KDP course has an entire module for marketing and running Amazon ads with a formula that's already generated millions in book sales for our students.

What Are Some Children’s Book Ideas? 

The following children’s book ideas are meant to jog your creativity. You’ll still want to make sure your idea passes through the “Proof of Concept” checks to see how profitable it could be. 

  • Educational Themes: Develop books that teach basic concepts such as numbers, letters, and shapes, or even introduce basic science and history concepts in an engaging way. 
  • Diverse Stories: Create stories that celebrate diversity, including characters from various backgrounds and cultures. Adoption and fostering stories have been gaining a lot of traction. 
  • Adventure Tales: Kids love adventures! You might consider writing about time travel, exploring the jungle, or even launching into space. These stories can spark imagination and encourage a love for reading at an early age.
  • Personalized Stories: Some authors offer personalized children’s books where the main character can be customized to have the same name or characteristics as the reader. This makes the reading experience more engaging and special.
  • Interactive eBooks: Nowadays, eBooks can be customized with special animations, sound effects, and interactive elements to make the reading experience more attention-grabbing.
  • Nature and Environment: Books focusing on nature, animals, and environmental conservation can educate children about the importance of caring for our planet.
  • Mythology and Folk Tales: Reimagining classic myths and folk tales for children, or creating new ones inspired by these genres, can be both educational and entertaining.
  • Rhyme and Verse: Children love rhyming stories and poems. Books that use rhyme are not only fun to read but can also help with language development.
  • Problem-Solving Stories: Books that present a problem or challenge and lead the reader through the process of finding a solution can be both engaging and educational.
  • Bedtime Stories: Soothing bedtime stories help children wind down and get ready for sleep. Gentle narratives and calming illustrations work well in this genre.

This list is nowhere near exhaustive, and there are quite literally thousands of untapped ideas out there waiting to be made into books for baby readers up through elementary school, middle school, and even high school. If you create a developmentally appropriate series, you might even have readers that grow with your books and pass them down to their siblings. 

How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Children's Book?

Assuming you have all the time in the world to develop your writing, editing, and designing skills, publishing a children's book can cost you nothing! Of course, this isn't most people's reality. Our students are busy moms and dads and working professionals who need income NOW, not six years from now. In that case, hiring some professional help to speed up the process could cost you anywhere from a couple of Jacksons to a couple of Benjamins. To get a clearer picture of the expenses especially if you're considering platforms like Amazon, you can explore the cost to publish a book on Amazon. This information can be necessary to understand the overall investment needed, whether you're doing everything yourself or outsourcing certain things.

What Are The Cons of Self-Publishing a Children's Book?

These are the biggest cons when it comes to self-publishing a children's book:

  • Less guidance. As a self-publisher, you are responsible for all aspects of publishing, including editing, design, marketing, etc., without the support of a publishing house. This can be challenging, especially for those without experience. But that's where book coaching comes in handy!
  • Less visibility. Nothing about the publishing process is ever guaranteed, especially as a self-publisher. You may not have automatic connections to your local library and online distributors, but we can teach you how to form those connections on your own.
  • Upfront costs. Depending on your experience and business goals, self-publishing might require investing in services like editing, design, and marketing, which can amount to thousands of dollars. But with so many online retailers offering Print-on-Demand services these days, you won't have to worry about inventory management or shipping hassles.
  • Competition. The children's book market is very large and growing, with thousands of books competing for attention, making it challenging for a new book to stand out...unless, of course, you learn about the ins and outs of the process from a blog post like this one.

How Can I Copyright My Children's Book?

Some copyright privileges are earned as soon as you start writing your original work. You become in charge of the following:

  • Who reproduces or makes copies of your work
  • Who distributes copies of your work
  • Who creates derivatives of your work
  • Who displays or performs your work publicly

But there's a difference between copyright and copyright registration. Once you formally register your work with the correct authority in your country (The Copyright Office in the US), then you are awarded additional legal protections. There are fees for registering your original works, but you will be guaranteed a payout of up to $150,000 (plus legal fees) if you ever end up in a legal battle about someone stealing your work.

Is It Hard to Get a Children's Book Published?

As a self-publisher, the only person's permission you need to publish a children's book is your own. As soon as you have your final draft and book files in order, you can publish your work in print format, digital format, and even audio format. Without literary agents, bosses, or parents to answer to, the hard part is staying motivated throughout your journey.

We've got tips for that, too! Learn from 3 Massively Successful Case Studies including a retired professor, single mom, and college student.

Is It Worth It to Self-Publish a Children's Book?

If you want to know if self-publishing children's books is worth it, why not hear directly from others who have already done it? These are some posts inside our private community of nearly 31k freedom-seekers who wanted to start making money online and took action.

Discover the ABCs to Making Money with Self-Published Books

Years ago, there was no choice but to work with traditional publishers in the hopes of getting your books seen by others. Now, the ball is in your court.

Thousands of retirees, parents, students, teachers, and farmers alike have started publishing without ANY prior experience, and now their royalty checks are paying their electricity bills and grocery costs. For some, publishing has even paid for full housing mortgages and monthlong backpacking trips to Europe.

It's NOT because they're smarter, more creative, or more talented than anyone else. And it's not because of luck, either. It's because this system works time and again. Attend our self-publishing webinar to discover the exact framework they all continue to use to this day!

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