Doing some research and looking at my personal experience (and let me be clear I am in no way a best selling author - yet ;)
When I "looked into" key steps to self publishing here is a summary of what I found/ read that were the key ones
- Write a book someone wants to actually read (sounds obvious but it's probably a pretty import step LOL
- Get the manuscript right - editing is a crucial part to this process and many people recommend getting a professional for this step.
- Design is important, covers sell books so spend time here making sure it's right" on the money.
- What format are you going to publish - eBook, hard copy etc
- Have a marketing plan or partner with someone who can help you with, No marketing plan = no sales
- What's your launch plan?
- The money honey.
1. Write a book that somebody wants to read
I write kids books and I have kids, which it makes it a little easier to know what lands well and what doesn't - BUT kids don't buy books - parents do, so that's who you need to appeal to!
The first thing you need to do is plan your first draft. However, this plan will depend on what kind of book you're writing:
What's the core message - the "so what" to your book.
When you're writing a children's book, make the title appealing and intriguing so there's more chance mum/ dad/ granny etc will pick it up and read the blurb at the back! Life lessons that help parents teach their children an important lesson or skill are pretty popular with parents. Also children like visuals to help them relate to something, it's why I chose "Charlotte's Shoes" as simple visual children can associate with staying close to those are no with us.
As basic guide - in the prep phase - most fiction / children's book writers will lay some groundwork and develop the world of their novel, sketch out their characters, and map the plot.
Create a routine
You need time to write a book - I mean duh, of course you do but so many forget to actually set aside time to write. Most authors will say that finding the time to write is an enormous challenge — especially those of us who have to balance a full-time job and family obligations. To make sure you don’t lose momentum and interest in writing, you need to establish a sustainable writing habit that works with your schedule and create your regulsr writuing habit. If you don't do this step, you wil NEVER be an author, simple as that.
Whatever you need to get that routine started, make sure you do it. If it means not treating yourself to a muffin until you've written 3,000 words in a week — do it.
Love (like really fall in love with) your craft
Like any skill, it requires time, effort, and a willingness to learn. If your goal is to be a better writer, make sure you’re always learning from your mistakes and building on them.
2. Editing is KING
Editing is a pretty broad term. It can range from an author’s rewrites of their first draft to the final proofread before the book launch. In this section, we offer our recommended approach to editing your book for self publishing.
Do as much of it yourself as you can
An editor’s time is money: your money. Before you hand your work off to a professional, make sure you do everything you can for it — or you’ll just end up wasting money paying an editor to clean up basic mistakes.
But, let a professional help you over the finishing line
Once you’ve taken your manuscript as far as you can by yourself, it’s best to bring in a fresh pair of eyes. These days, finding your ideal editor is more straightforward than ever.
Before getting too far down the editing rabbit hole, it’s important to understand the different types of editors, and what each of them does.
Okay, your manuscript has been edited, polished, and proofed. Now it’s time to make sure your book looks as good as it reads.
3. Design is important, covers sell books!
If sex sells, then for authors Covers sell! Self published authors rely heavily on a book cover for sales, but it’s also important not to forget about interior design: the way that the words are formatted on the page.
It's here that great illustrators can make (or break) your book. Go to a library or book store and see which ones pop out for you.
Some key tips from me (just my opinion and in no way expert advice)
1. Easy to read - the font should be clear enough and big enough that you can read from arms length at least, but not too big that your whole page is taken up with total. It's the Goldilocks principle - not too small, not too big - Just Right!
2. Try showcase your protagonist(s) - Get their attention with a fun image of whom they will learn more about within the book.
3. Make the visual magical. Ignite a sense of wonder and intrigue that makes the reader want to pick it and read the blurb (which also needs to be punchy, interesting and succinct, but leaves them wanting to know more...)
4. What format are you going to publish?
In days past, self-publishing a book involved getting a print run and paying up-front for thousands of copies. You pretty much always ended up with copies that you couldn't sell. Thankfully, modern publishing has provided simple solutions to this problem!
If you're looking for the simplest solution, here it is: just publish your book with KDP. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing is an author platform that lets you. Readers can then buy the eBook or have a print version created for them at the click of a mouse. No need to understand how the sausage is made: Amazon has simplified the process. However, if you want to dig a bit deeper and explore your options, carry on reading...
Print on Demand
With POD (print on demand), authors can upload their book files to a printing service. This service will churn out individual copies as, and when, they are purchased. The cost-per-unit is higher than with printing methods of traditional publishers, but the lack of risk still makes this the preferred option of self-publishing authors.
The two largest POD services in the world are Kindle Direct Publishing and IngramSpark both of which provide comparable products at similar costs. However, it's worth investigating the options to see which one makes more sense for you and your book.
Book sales on the Kindle store can be self-publishing author’s bread and butter. After all, KDP offers the highest percentage royalty, and ebooks are usually priced lower than print books. This greatly appeals to readers who might not want to drop $15 on an author they’ve never heard of. Additionally, once the book is on an e-reader, the quality of the product is virtually indistinguishable from something that a big publisher puts out.
5. Master the Kindle store (and other retailers)
Anybody can get their book onto the Amazon store (and therefore the ubiquitous Amazon Kindle) for free. Yet few people know how to do it properly.
For instance, when uploading your title, there are certain things you can do to increase visibility with your readers. Then there's the matter of getting the people who find your book to buy it. To succeed here, you need to turn yourself into a bit of an Amazon expert.
6. Have a solid & clear marketing plan
Apart from writing a great book, all of the other steps above can be realized through an afternoon of research and work. But when it comes to marketing in self-publishing, things start to get a little more involved.
The good news is that there are tried-and-tested methods for promoting your title, including automated mailing lists, price promotions, and online advertising.
7. What's your launch plan?
A lot hinges on a book’s first few weeks on the market. To give yourself the best chance at thriving on Amazon and other platforms, your title must accumulate a healthy dose of book sales and reviews soon after its release. With that in mind, a lot of work needs to go into preparing your book launch. Here’s what you need to learn:
So far, we’ve covered writing your book, editing and designing it, planning your launch, and growing your marketing efforts. You now have enough knowledge to actually go and self publish your book. Assuming that your finances are in place, that is...
8. The Money Honey...
Money is an obstacle that nearly all self-publishing authors will face. At this point, you are solely responsible for funding everything to do with your book. However, that doesn't mean you need to empty your savings account in order to publish it!
The cost of self publishing
Look, it's not cheap and most of the costs for a children's book are in the "things you can't do" - Like illustration (unless you're super talented) and printed (unless you own a printing firm. But for kid's books the pictures are what bring your story to life, so it's my recommendation is to find an illustrator that understands your vision intimately and a printing house you feel you trust. I also thing help with creating a marketing & launch plan would be ideal!
The upside to all this, as we hinted at earlier, is that by bearing most of the costs, the self-publishing author also gets to enjoy most of the spoils.
If I had to pick the TOP 3, they would be:
1. Make the time!
2. Get your plot/ characters where you want them!
3. Partner with great people who can help navigate the process - Illustrators, editors, printers, mentors etc!