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February 27, 2013

To Print or Not to Print that Children’s Book

Posted in: General

So I recently blogged about my focus shifting to making my self-publishing profitable. Being profitable is a lot easier to do when publishing for Amazon Kindle. For the titles I’ve published, my upfront costs were probably lowest on Dogs, dogs, Dogs. In fact, I’m trying to remember if I had ANY upfront expenses for that book.

My most expensive Kindle book to publish would have to be The Day I Met Dr. Seuss which cost about $450 - $500 when I add up copyediting (my rhymes needed some polishing), the cover illustration and the cover design. Now, each sale of this book nets about $2 and then Amazon adds in a bit more (I’m hazy on the calculation) if the book is part of KDP Select and you do well with your free promotions. So I’ve probably just about recouped my publishing expenses and future sales will now be profits. Amazon’s reporting is decent, but NOT good to track overall sales of a single title. So it would take me more time than it’s worth to figure this out exactly Let’s just say that title became profitable for me in about 6 months.

So my original goal when I started in self-publishing was a children’s picture book that I wrote and had illustrated by a friend who I met through SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). My friend Jennifer Walk, is an art teacher and so she has her summer’s “off” — ha ha…. she and all the other teachers in my circle of friends and family, and there are a lot, will probably call me to complain about that statement tomorrow. Anyway, during one of her summers she painted the illustrations for my story, Dripping Dan, the Wild-Hair Man. I paid her a substantial advance (I had to or she was just going to work all summer at an art store, something about needing to pay rent), but that money is not a reason alone for me to invest more.

The truth is Dripping Dan, the Wild-Hair Man has been one of my popular titles among family members. So as they’ve seen me pull one title after another out of the desk drawer, they’ve asked, “When are you going to publish Dripping Dan?”

Okay, I thought, so what would be the next step in publishing Dripping Dan? We need to get the illustrations scanned. My sister happens to be a watercolor artist and had recommended someone that is friendly, helpful, and can make colors remain true and handle scanning large items. So I emailed to ask for the cost and it didn’t sound too bad. Each illustration is 12 inches by 14 inches and it would cost me $29 to get a high-quality scan. That didn’t sound bad, until I did the math (30 illustrations times $29) — $870 for 30. “Nine hundred dollars!” my newly discovered money-oriented publishing brain shouted, “and that’s not even THINKING about printing!” This practical voice rattled on, “Any idea how many months (or years) of sales it might take to recoup $900? And what about printing?”

What about printing indeed. I went off to CreateSpace (provided by Amazon) and to a few websites of printers and in no time my head was spinning with trim sizes (size of each page) and small-run-printing versus print-on-demand vs. offset printing. I suddenly remembered how printing and print specifications was an aspect of publishing that gave me such a feeling of behing overwhelmed. I decided to take a break from the topic for a couple days AND…. since this blog post is so darn long, I’m also delaying writing about what I decided should be my next steps in publishing until at least tomorrow or the next day.

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