Making and Publishing a Children’s Book, Part 5

This is my latest news/process post in my Making and Publishing a Children’s Book series. See all the posts here:

The Launch of Once Upon a Time!

I released Once Upon a Time on May 9 by putting the entire book online. You can read it on my website here:

Why did I do this? Why did I post it in its entirety instead of just a preview? Am I risking potential sales by having it online for free?

My main reasoning is this: My first and foremost goal for this project was not to make tons of money, but to put it in front of as many eyes as I can. I like having it on my website as a sample of my writing, character, and picture book skills. I also don’t think I’ll lose too many sales because I believe buying a digital book is about convenience and accessibility. If a fan really wants a copy to have on their iPad, I think they’ll buy it, much in the same way a person will buy a song from iTunes even though they can listen to it on the radio or stream it online for free.

Sharing: How much is too much?

Others have asked me how I feel about putting my full story online, and if it could possibly detract publishers or maybe risk the idea being stolen.

As an artist, I balance promotion with copyright and piracy issues all the time. When it comes down to deciding between sharing my work and hiding it because of fear of jerks on the internet, I usually lean more toward sharing it. That is what I decided here. Copyright issues so rarely ever come up, and the benefit of exposure is too great.

As far as publishers, I think they look for quality work in all forms. If someone really and truly loved the book, I don’t think the fact that I put it on the internet would detract them.

Keep in mind also that this book is not my ONLY idea. I have others stewing in my head and in my desk drawer. I am not putting all my cards on the table by putting this book out there, which is another reason I have no problem sharing it so freely. If any of these issues did come up, I have others ready to go.

Already, some results and a surprise!

In order to embed and share the book online, I used a site called Scribd. It’s a social networking and document sharing site for readers and creators. I like a lot of their features, and the online reader is pretty cool. I love the fact that people can share and embed documents so readily. (If you want to share the story by embedding the book right on your website or blog, please do!)

After I posted the story, I was pleasantly surprised when I recently returned to the site and found that Once Upon a Time was featured! As I’m writing this, it has received over 8000 reads and it is still growing. Huzzah!


So far, I have the book available as a $2.99 PDF download in my personal web stores – here and The Illustrated Section.

I have further plans to experiment with other digital outlets too. I’ve heard great things about Barnes & Noble’s PubIt program that lets you sell self-published Nook Books. I may also try Amazon’s Kindle and if I can figure it out, iTunes. If you’re a fan of any of those formats and want a copy of the book for your device, I will get them up ASAP. I will post links on the book page.

UPDATE: Once Upon a Time is now available in Kindle and Nook formats. See the book page for the links.

If you are curious about creating for these various devices, I recommend checking out Will Terry’s blog where he answers a lot of questions about formatting, sales, and self-publishing. I am also using the book Formatting Comics for the Kindle and Nook by Michael Jasper and Niki Smith for reference.

Unlike my other self-published works, I will not be producing a print edition of this book. Since my main goal is promotion, I don’t want to invest the large finances it takes to produce printed books. If you really want a print copy, help share the story and/or buy a digital copy, and maybe we’ll see a nice, shiny hardcover from a big publisher someday. ;)

Once Upon a Time… The End?

This is the last formal process post I am going to make about this project. I will continue to post any significant news as it comes up, but as it is, this project is pretty much done.

If you enjoy the book…

Please support it in any way that you can! Like I said in the beginning of this blog series, my main goal is to get this book or some of my other story ideas published. If you believe in my work and want to help out, this is how you do it:

    Comment and review. You can leave comments on the book page, on the Scribd page, and in any of the store listings. Having nice comments where other people can see them helps get the book more reads and sales.

    SHARE the book. Tell your friends. Post the link on social networks. Embed the story on your blog. The bigger audience I have, the better chances the book will get noticed.

    BUY the book. You can have your own PDF copy on your iPad for a mere $2.99. I will work on getting other formats available as quickly as possible. Every little sale counts. Sales figures look good to potential publishers, while also keeping me fed and clothed so I can make more fun stories. ;)

One last word for artists with similar goals that are making their own projects:

Keep going! All I have left for this project is to share, promote, submit, and see where it will lead. However, I’m not going to sit on my laurels and wait and see. I’m already thinking about the next thing I’m going to do.

I think that’s an important lesson to learn from these types of personal projects. Do them, get them in front of people’s eyes, then do another one. Once Upon a Time may or may not be published by a big name publisher. I may not get ANY direct results from Once Upon a Time. Or maybe the right person won’t see it for months or years from now. Perhaps this project is the catalyst that helps me create a BETTER book in the future. The point is to keep going and keep producing because if you do, you WILL see a result sooner or later.