Reasons Not to Self-Publish a Children’s Book

I’m addressing this question because many authors are wondering whether to bother querying at all. More and more writers are asking, “why should I query like crazy, to agents who are overwhelmed with wannabes, to publishers struggling to make money, to sign my rights away for a long time (or forever), to be told I’m STILL responsible for marketing the book, AND have a limited amount of time to make sales before I get yanked?”

I posted this question (not directly, after the discussion took a turn as they always do) to the Wattpad community and here’s what I got. Now I did not get specific permission to repost here, but as all comments were made publicly on Wattpad, and the writers in question are supportive of other authors, I am reposting for your information to give you some ideas about what to do.


“Question: I have a children’s book and I am unsure if I should go indie or play the trad-pubbed game. On the one hand, I feel comfortable managing my career and don’t know if a publisher will really be a benefit to my career. While I would like to have a major publisher work on my book, I don’t require Big-Five validation for my stories to think they’re good. On the other hand, most kids prefer print books and do not seek indie authors out on Amazon, and the channels to reach them (parent groups, libraries, school book catalogues, word of mouth) are too difficult for one person to do effectively. Why should I seek out a publisher?”

Author 1 (indie romance author)-

1.Simply to know that what you wrote is considered good enough to publish by someone in the industry. If the trad publisher is willing to put up their money, that gives you the validation.

2. If you want your book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble.

3. The experience of working with a professional editor. You can learn a great deal.

4. If you can’t edit and/or make a book cover yourself and don’t have the money to pay for it.

5. If you don’t have the expertise or desire to market your novel. If no one knows it’s out there, you get zero sales.

6. For your ego, as in, “Hey, everyone, I got a Big-5 publishing contract!”

Author #2 (makes somewhere between $100,000 and $999,999 from her books, mostly YA romance):

“MG is an entirely different market. You won’t sell as an indie MG author, because MG readers don’t have credit cards or Amazon accounts. They also read predominantly in print. MG authors need agents and trad deals to get their books into reader hands. YA is similar, it is print dominated. The indie authors who do well in YA are selling to adults who read YA books. It’s all part of knowing the market and knowing which path is better for what types of books.”

Author #3 (has a Big-Five published novel and is a hybrid author)

1. Writing in a genre that buys print, not ebooks, and gets those books from sources indies have limited access to. That basically includes all the genres aimed at 18 or under.

2. If you write slowly, you may indeed do better with traditional than with indie publishing. Trad publishing is usually one book per year. (BW note: I asked her about book writing speed because I can only write 2 quality books a year, whereas successful indies often write 3-6 a year, depending on industry and writing speed).

3. If you have just one standalone book. Go indie if you have an adult series OR a healthy back list.

4. Go traditional if you don’t have the money to self publish WELL. Seriously, publishing badly is worse than not publishing at all.

So there you have it. I asked indies at K Boards this question as well and got a similar response. Now that said, there HAVE been some bestselling self-published kid’s books (really for pre-schoolers, which means the parents bought the book), and if kids end up fully moving away from print books in the future, that will open the door for an indie (presumably a non-celebrity) to self-publish and sell a lot of e-copies. But for the foreseeable  future, I can confirm anecdotally that most kids do prefer print books and schools rarely accept self-published books for availability to their students. While you are unlikely to earn a lot of money writing for kids, you have a better chance if you are able to find a publisher.


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