How I published my book
The words to Big Apple Kid came to me in 2011, when I was Mom to a one year old in Manhattan. Read more about that under The Beginning. In the years that followed, a lot changed in my life. My husband and I had another child and we moved to Singapore, where I reinvented myself as a watercolor artist. I created art everyday, had two successful solo exhibitions and opened my own studio to teach drawing and painting. Every year, my dream of making a children's picture book kept nudging me and every year I managed to postpone it. Till finally, one June morning in 2017, I decided that it was now or never. My first born was already 7 years old. If I ever wanted to make that book, I HAD to do it right then. And that’s when it all really began...
Traditional vs Self-Publishing
One of the first choices an author faces when they decide to publish their book is whether to go down the traditional publishing route or the self-publishing route. Like with most things, there are pros and cons to each option. With a little bit of research and lots of gut instinct, I decided to self-publish my book and here are all the reasons why.
Deciding the 'look' for my book
My first stop was my sons’ room where I looked through all their picture books to decide what I wanted for my book. There are many options out there within the picture book space, from board books for the youngest readers to paperback and hardcover versions for older children with several size and paper options.
I zeroed in on a square 24cmx24cm hardcover based on a picturebook by Mo Willems. I imagined that the size and dimensions would work great with my artwork. With the look and dimensions of my future book decided, the next steps were to decide on my printing options and to start working on the illustrations.
When it comes to printing your book, once again, there is a choice - whether to use a traditional printing company or a print-on-demand service. Some more details on the two options can be found under Printing Options. Since I was working completely on my own and felt like I needed some guidance, I decided to go with a traditional and well-established printing company based in Singapore called TWP (Tien Wah Press).
Understanding the numbers
During my initial meeting with TWP, they showed me various paper and finishing options for my book and after I made a few basic choices, they got back to me with a set of different quotes. The accountant in me immediately jumped up and created a spreadsheet to decide the ideal print run and figure out how many books I needed to sell to break-even. More details on that can be found under Understanding the numbers.
Once I was clear on all my costs, it was time to launch my crowdfunding campaign. I am really glad that I took this route because it helped me cover most of my cost even before I sent the book for printing. This reduced a lot of the stress of undertaking such a huge project all by myself. And it also made me feel less alone since all of my friends and family were now with me on my journey. Read more about why I recommend crowdfunding and some tips on how to make it work for you.
Tying it all together
By the end of 2017, I had finished all my illustrations and my fundraising campaign had also ended successfully. Next, I got the illustrations scanned (TWP did it for me at an additional charge) and I used Adobe Indesign to add in the text. This was my first time using Indesign but with the help of Adobe tutorials, it was fairly easy to pick up the basics. You could use a professional designer to do this for you but I decided to save some money where I could. My mother-in-law, who is a school principal and an English teacher (and one of the most amazing people I know!) was visiting us for the holidays and she helped me
me with the editing and proofreading. Once all the i's were dotted and the t's were crossed, I submitted my book for printing. I had to wait for about 6 weeks for the books and I used this time to make lists of all the pre-orders, get all the envelopes and addresses ready. Also, as a token of appreciation for all the people who generously supported my little dream, I printed some Big Apple Kid themed bookmarks and Thank You cards and wrote a personal note for each person who pre-ordered a book.
If you plan to sell your book commercially, you need to get an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), which is a unique 13 digit number assigned to your book. You will need a different ISBN for each edition and variation (ebook, hardcover, paperback etc) of the book. The method of assigning an ISBN is nation based and depends on country to country. In Singapore, all ISBNs were issued for free upon application by the National Library of Singapore. In the US, they can be purchased from www.bowker.com.
Some countries require certain copyright formalities for establishing copyright while others recognise copyright on completed works without any formal registration. In the US, your book is legally copyrighted as soon as it is written. However, to strengthen your legal rights over all your materials it is highly advisable to register your work (as a published book or as an unpublished manuscript) with the US Copyright Office.
On February 22, 2018 after a lot of eager anticipation I finally received delivery of my books. This time, my parents were visiting and it was so great to have them both around for my big moment. They were the first ones to receive a signed copy of Big Apple Kid :) and that was just magical!
Receiving delivery of 1,000 copies was both extremely exciting and a little overwhelming as you can imagine. It was a good thing that I had
already sold about a quarter of those as pre-orders through my crowdfunding campaign or I would have been a lot more stressed.
And that is how my first book came to be. It all simply started with an exciting dream that wouldn't go away. I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing industry when I began (and I'm still learning something new everyday). But I dived in, learnt to swim and reached the shore with a book in hand! And most importantly, I had a fantastic time doing it.
I've shared my journey here in the hope that it would inspire you to move towards your dream. I am by no means an expert - not even close to being one. But I am definitely an eager student who never stops learning. I'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or suggestions or even random thoughts.
If you would like to support me and my creative pursuits, please give my Shop a quick visit before you leave.