For Writers & Readers

(This list includes some referral links. I may earn affiliate fees from these links, but all the recommendations are my own and ones that I use and recommend anyway.)

Writing & Publishing Picture Books:


Writing Picture Books Revised and Expanded Edition: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publicationby Ann Whitford Paul - a thorough introduction to the craft and process of writing picture books.

Illustrating Children's Books: Creating Pictures for Publication Paperback, by Martin Salisbury - an artistic history of picture books with lots of information about different art styles.

How to Create a Successful Children's Picture Book Paperback, by Bobbie Hinman - all the details you need to know to self-publish a children's book.

A couple of these books may available through local libraries, and you may find other books at your libraries that cover similar topics.

Blog posts:

Writing & Marketing in General:

The Writer's Alley (general advice and marketing)
Joanna Penn's blog (general advice and marketing)
David Gaughran's blog (understanding Amazon's algorithm and general marketing tips)
Jane Friedman's blog (general publishing and marketing advice)
The Kindlepreneur Blog (especially for metadata on Amazon)
The Bookbub Partner's Blog (book launches & lots of social media ideas)

Check this Pinterest board to find more ideas related to art, typography, book formatting, and more:

How to Publish: 

For authors these days, there are two main options - finding a traditional publisher, or self-publishing. There are pros and cons to both options. The main advantages to self-publishing is that you can earn higher royalties if your book sells well. The main disadvantage is that you are going to have to work much harder for those royalties, since you are going to be in charge of producing and marketing your book on your own.

With a traditional publisher, the publisher will pay for illustrating, editing, and designing the book. You'll still need to market it, but the publisher should have connections and resources, so that you aren't starting from scratch the way you would if you self-publish.

If you are planning to find a traditional publisher, please note that this can be a long process. I've heard an estimate that it takes at least two years to find an agent, find a publisher to buy the story, and get the book to publication. 

Please note also, that a traditional publisher will pay the author, not the other way around. If a "publisher" asks you to contribute toward publication costs in anyway, they are a vanity press / author services company, not a true publisher. Most of these companies will charge you large amounts of money to produce low-quality work. They make their money from authors, not books, so they have no reason to invest in the book's quality or to market it well. In most cases, you would be better off using that money to hire an illustrator and self-publish the book on your own, so please avoid companies like this. 

Finding a Traditional Publisher:

While I don't have any personal experience working with a traditional publisher, these are a couple of resources I've seen recommended multiple times:
Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market 2020 (a book listing agents, publishers, and other resources)
Query Tracker (a site for finding agents and publishers)

Where to Self-Publish:

You'll find a lot of information about how to self-publish in the resources above. I've written down the basics here, with some specific information for children's authors:

For print books, the best print-on-demand sites are IngramSpark and KDP (for Amazon). There are other options, like Barnes & Noble Press and Lulu, but they tend to have higher print fees, which makes it harder to price the books competitively. That's why I would only recommend using IngramSpark and/or KDP.

POD is a good way to start publishing without investing in a large print run. POD is a great option for novels and other text-heavy books, but the quality is lower than traditionally printed picture books, and POD fees for color books are relatively high.

As an alternative, some authors prefer to work directly with a printer to order 1K+ books at a time. They then sell these books through their website or as an Amazon vendor. This requires a fairly large investment upfront, but the costs per book are much lower, so it's easier to make a profit. Some authors will also use Kickstarter to fund their initial print run, allowing them to market the book and cover some of their costs before they invest in a print run. This option requires authors to manage inventory and distribution, however, while POD companies handle these steps for authors.

For ebooks, KDP is the easiest option, since Amazon offers free apps for converting either novels or picture books to Kindle format. All other ebook sites use the ePub format, but some have their own formatting rules that override the ePub formatting. This can make it difficult to create a fixed-layout ePub picture book, so it can be simpler to stick with KDP to start with. If you only make the ebook available through KDP, it will also be eligible for the Kindle Select/Kindle Unlimited program.

If you do create an ePub and want to make it more widely available, Draft2Digital or Smashwords are the best options for wide distribution, especially if you want to get your ebook into libraries. However, you can also upload the book directly to a number of sites, including Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Google Play.

Need more help getting started?

I'm available to answer questions, create book layouts, and coach you through the self-publishing process. I've successfully published six children's books and can help you through the ins-and-outs of the POD options. Just drop me a note in the contact form, and I'll be happy to answer questions!