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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In this case, the ebook is a mid-length poem (something like 'Goblin Market') too short to publish as a paper book--not for kiddies with a few words per page--but not a problem in ebook format.

I can think of one good reason to search out an illustrator and make a deal--50/50?  If the illustrator had a substantial fan base, I would benefit from that.  Splitting $.99 wouldn't amount to much.  Good sales would spread my name, build my brand.

What do you think?

 

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I have a children's book and can tell you that even though the book is a perfect fit for the majority of my readers who have adopted children, the book is my slowest seller. I worked with an illustrator in Budapest, and her rates were less than half of that I found from other artists, but it was still quite an investment.

I'm not sorry I did it, as the children are where my heart is and I wanted to do something for them. But I don't know that it helps my sales or builds my brand. Maybe--I just haven't seen evidence of it. But for the last two Christmas seasons, I've put the Kindle version free as a gift to my readers and they've seemed to really appreciate it. I also send print copies to specific elementary schools around the world to be used to educate children about adoption, to help stop the bullying and teasing that children who 'look' different than their families go through.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your response.  So then, you paid a lump sum up front for the illustrations?  The illustrator took no financial risk?  With slow sales, that is discouraging.  And yours is what one could call a 'socially useful' book.  Maybe instead of building your brand, such an ebook is more of a gift to your fan base established via other titles.  Sounds like my charming little frog story in verse needs to marinate on the back burner awhile.
 

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Hudson Owen said:
In this case, the ebook is a mid-length poem (something like 'Goblin Market') too short to publish as a paper book--not for kiddies with a few words per page--but not a problem in ebook format.

I can think of one good reason to search out an illustrator and make a deal--50/50? If the illustrator had a substantial fan base, I would benefit from that. Splitting $.99 wouldn't amount to much. Good sales would spread my name, build my brand.

What do you think?
I buy ebooks for my kids, but quite frankly they prefer physical books. For them the computer/tablet/laptop is a place to play games, and books must be in paper form...I also think it is easier to read on paper.

Melody
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Melody, I think you are right about kids and paper.  And, I'm guessing, illustrations stand out more on paper than in pixels.  Unfortunately, my story is too short for a paper book, less than 20 pages or so.  It would have no spine, look like a chapbook.
 

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Hudson Owen said:
Thanks for your response. So then, you paid a lump sum up front for the illustrations? The illustrator took no financial risk? With slow sales, that is discouraging. And yours is what one could call a 'socially useful' book. Maybe instead of building your brand, such an ebook is more of a gift to your fan base established via other titles. Sounds like my charming little frog story in verse needs to marinate on the back burner awhile.
Mine looks great on the Kindle Fire, but I agree with the age group my book targets that their parents are sticking with print.

I paid the illustrator a deposit of about 1/4 of total cost, then the rest when she completed the finished illustrations. I paid via Western Union, then held my breath that I'd really get the files. And I did, but I wouldn't recommend anyone else doing that. Too risky. However, she and I had built of an online relationship with all the work to get the illustrations as I wanted them, and I trusted my gut.
 

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The most successful picture book authors are able to do their own illustrations. A great example is Gerald Hawksley. His books are simple but the rhymes are smooth and clever. His books are popular. I despise rhyming that is stilted or the rhythm is irregular. I would be happy to look at your ms and offer a critique.

My illustrator was paid 50% at the start and the other 50% when the illustrations were complete. She lives my community and is helping with the promotion a little. We were acquainted before this project and she is a well established artist in the community.

I don't expect to make money off my books. I am using them as teaching tools to help children and their parents make better choices in order to be healthy throughout their lives. This is a labor of love and a cause to which I am committed.

If you or a close family member who expects only 50% of net royalties could do the illustrations, you might be able to make some money. They can be simple, as Gerald Hawksley's are, and as with other books, having a series seems to be the best route to success. 

Kindle has a new program for children's books that is similar to Select but so far there seems to be no self pub books on the list of choices. I think e books for children and e readers for children are emerging markets, but how much it will grow is unknown.
 

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As a parent, I've been buying more e-books for my 6 yr. old than physical books, just because we're running out of space, and because e-books tend to be much less expensive, and because they're immediately available.

However, one thing that drives me crazy, is the text on children's books can be difficult to read -- it's often too small and you can't change the size, and for whatever reason, the book is only available portrait, turning the Kindle doesn't flip it to landscape.

But my daughter loves reading on Kindle for some reason. So, I think there's potential for growth in this market. She's six and all the kids in her class are iPad-literate. And really, the books are easier to manipulate on the iPad for some reason. I have no idea why.

This has been on my mind though, because she wrote her first story last year, and it's actually pretty good. I just need to get the illustrations done. But with Createspace and Lulu, we should be able to have both e-books and physical books, right? Is there a reason that physical books aren't feasible with CreateSpace?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I think you're right there is growth in the children's ebook market.  If kids are able to publish ebooks (limited now by age of consent?), then we will all drown in the new ocean of titles--imagine twelve-year-olds writing and marketing YA novels!  They have the technical skills--Yikes!

I should think Lulu could handle the illustrated story, though I've read complaints about quality.  Don't know about Createspace.

BTW, I love your handle, Sophrosyne.  It's one of those great Greek words for the nature of things.  One of my favorite TV shows growing up was The Honeymooners, still on network TV here in the NY area.  Bensonhurst became my idea of Brooklyn.  I loved the economy of the set, usually the the one-room of Ralph Kramden's apartment.  You never saw the bedroom.  Until recently, the stove and fridge from the set were on display in the Brooklyn Historical Society.  Someone bought them, I think.  They were the lodestone of post-war Brooklyn, which today more resembles Mexico el Norte.  Times change, I guess.
 

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Sophrosyne, the Createspace books are a little expensive. Some people don't like the glossy covers. I am using them primarily for promotion and give-aways to get reviews or endorsements. You can order author copies at about half the list price but then you have to sell them yourself at book signings, kid's day at the zoo, etc.

I am pleased with the way my paperback book turned out with Createspace. Planning to set up a hardback book which could be marketed to libraries.

If you can do your own illustrations, it would be an awesome project to do for your child. I would involve the child in the process as much as possible so he/she can have a sense of accomplishment.

Hudson, Rachel Yu has a lot of books published and she began as a young child, so it has begun!
 

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Thanks!

Hudson, I'm impressed. Not many people know the meaning of Sophrosyne.

I'm actually in the process of trying to convince her school to let me start a write your own book program for each classroom. I figure I could help them with formatting, but the kids are going to do their own stories and illustrations, so the book is their own creation. I think they'd get a kick out of it, and it's cheap enough to do.

This story that she made up last year is actually pretty clever. And I haven't found another one like it. So I may get a professional artist to illustrate it. I think it actually has potential. Although, I'm trying to get her a tablet, so that she can try illustrating it herself, with the computer. Last summer, she made a short film and learned the basics of working with a digital video camera, online editing, scene-writing and acting. This summer, we may be tackling writing, illustrating and publishing.
 

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There is not only growth here, there is EXPLOSIVE growth, 1000 percent per quarter as adult fiction levels off to mid-20 percent growth. It's the fastest-growing segment of the ebook industry as parents get away from their sentimental bias toward the "bedtime story." You can have just as cuddly a good time with an ereader as a paper book. Plus THAT is the kids' world, the one they grow up in.

Why do children want paper books at bedtime? Because that is what they've gotten and there is comfort in tradition and familiarity. But I believe it it is far more the nostalgia of the parent than the desire of the child. Every kid I know that gets a device immediately starts clicking and learning interacting--and that is something a paper book can't do. And before the fusty arguments rain down of "Well, kids get too hyperactive and clicky and jumpy," I say, "No, it is the grownups who are slow and dull and always trying to mash these kids into zombies and dope them up to slow them down to stupid adult speed." Kids are already in the future.

Now, there are tech challenges--I have four out, with full-color illustrations that looked awful on the base Kindle (but I knew color was coming so I did it anyway) and it's really tricky to fix the text with the picture. Amazon actually made me change one to flowable text--which can remove the text from its associated art depending on screen size, which creates other problems. So the real challenge is every end user is getting a different experience from the one you think you're delivering. But that is also an advantage as creators come up with new ways to let the kids into the experience and shape it the way they want.

"Yeah," one might say, "but that's not a BOOK." And I say "Who cares?"

It's already happening. And will only get more cool. Just look what Christian's daughter is doing--why stick with a flat fixed book when you can create a four-dimensional world of your own?

(PS Christiana, you can certainly use Createspace but with color art, your per-unit cost is going to be pushing the book to $7 or $8, way above the price of similar offset-printed books. So that is a nostalgia move rather than a business move. I only do it when the artists sort of forces me to...)
 

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My two Leon Chameleon PI books were trad published before I e-published them. I have another story ready to publish, and about 20 storylines to follow, but sales have not been good enough for me to invest in getting the third story illustrated. Although the illustrator is a friend, I could not ask her to take a percentage of royalties as she did with the paperback versions because the sales are not there :'(.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
KayBratt - I'd want the illustrator to assume part of the financial risk, to motivate that person to help sell the book.

Sophrosyne - Today, I more likely impress the girls with words rather than deeds -- it depends.

Scottnicholson - I think the answer would be Amazon's version of the iPad.  Illustrated books need a larger page.  The iPad screen has wonderful color.

Janet Michelson - The kiddies are coming!  The kiddies are coming!
 

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IPad is great for children's books, because of the interactivity too. You can click on the illustrations, and they animate and make noises. Really delights the kids. My daughter is all about technology. When she finds a book that's too advanced for her to read, the iPad will read it to her in a normal voice. I'd love to see Kindle Fire match the iPad's versatility. I think they're getting close, but I don't have the latest Fire to really compare it.

Scott, is there a different offset print company you'd recommend? Outside of Createspace, I don't know much about printing options. What I'd like to do, is give them the option of print books, so they can all sign each others books and since not all the parents have e-readers. I agree with you -- kids are much more advanced than adults when it comes to technology. My daughter had to show me how to use an iPhone when I finally upgraded. And another seven-year old showed me how to manipulate photos on the iPhone. Kids love technology and they embrace it wholeheartedly.

 

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Some people use Lulu for printing but I never have. I don't even do print versions of my new novels. Print books are literally about 0.003 percent of my income and therefore there is really not much incentive.

No matter which way you go, the color will run up your costs. And getting an offset print run into stores--or having several thousand shipped to your garage--also doesn't seem very practical. If you are passionate, I'd say just use Createspace--I really can't imagine a near term where Amazon isn't the dominant bookseller, plus you can use expanded distribution to reach stores and libraries (although, again, your price will be so high that sales will be rare.)

In my opinion, pursuing the dynamic future where more options reveal themselves every single day is preferable to trudging back to the old way that is ever more expensive, limiting, and time-consuming. But the best thing about Createspace is you can order, say, 20 copies for yourself and get them at a fairly reasonable price (probably between $4 and $5 if it's around 30 color pages.)n So it's a nice option for personal use or a small group, or if you want to hand sell at conventions, etc.
 

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Scott, you are absolutely right. This market will increase dramatically in the next few years. Apple is trying to put ipads in classrooms across the nation. That's a big reason why my books are educational-- it increases the chances to reach more children and also to make a few rubles.

Interactive e books, audio e books, and other new technologies are making this an exciting time to publish children's books. It's a blast to be a part of the new wave of technology.

On another thread about children's books we refer to it as "skating to where the puck is going" not where it's been. I love it when people on this forum tell me that children's books don't sell. I've done my research and am preparing for the future, both in subject matter and in media used to deliver it.
 

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I've had good luck with my middle grade illustrated novels. From what I've seen picture books are a harder sell, but a few people are doing really well with them.

I hired a recent graduate to do my pictures. He did them for less as he was building his portfolio. I found him on Deviantart.com
 

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Hudson, while I can't speak for the particular market in question, an old friend of mine is an incredible children's book illustrator. He has illustrated books that have been NYT best sellers. I don't know if he works under the terms you are looking for, he and I haven't spoken with one another in many years. PM me if interested, and I'll send you his web address.

Best of luck with the project!
 
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