The most professional, best looking amateur ever ignored !
Self publishing, is it worth it ? Well, if you search the internet about this topic there´s a million different opinions out there. Most of them really negative on how self publishing ca be a waste of time or how self publishing keeps being a bad idea.
I have read a lot of things but I never read any article or opinion, from a professional illustrator point of view. This is where I think I can contribute to the discussion and bring a little beam of positive light into this so much trashed idea about self publishing your books.
One popular understanding out there is that self published authors spend more time just trying to do their own marketing and stressing about it, than actually being writers and enjoying what they do.
Self published authors end up spending 90% of their time doing marketing and sometimes even less than 10% actually creating something.
And this is when people still pursue their dream and don´t just simply quit after the first couple of months with zero sales and zero visibility. Mostly because like me, they have zero talent for online self marketing, or many times, (also like me), have absolutely no time to do it properly…and that is where the 90% marketing argument comes in.
Particularly true if you, as a self published author expect to get rich or instantly make a career in writing or think you´re going to become an overnight superstar sensation on the web.
For every success story you read online and some really are true, there´s about a billion self publish failures out there.
And I speak for myself too. Trust me, I´m guilty of everything I see mentioned as a negative thing about self publish you see on the web also. Like everyone I made a ton of mistakes on my first attempts.
Working full time in illustration I hardly have the time to illustrate for clients, let alone do something for me that requires hours a day. The fact this blog has been on halt for almost a year now is proof of that too.
In short, if you don´t do your marketing right, chances are you will not become a popular author.
If you think about it, that is true for everything.
And the first step to avoid that fate, if you want to have any chance of ever achieving something with your book, is to put yourself out there.
Don´t be afraid to put your work out in the world. Just do it as a hobby.
Do it for fun.
But do it really well !
In the specific world of children book authors , if you can invest some money in creating a really good looking , well produced book go for it as that is the way to arrive.
Rule number one, if you put yourself out there , if you´re looking to understand how to self publish your children´s book, your work needs to look as professional as possible.
Because in self publishing the risk number 1 is not investing a bunch of money on a project and then not recover your investment. Risk number 1 is arriving at the scene looking immediately like an amateur.
And don´t think because you´re self publishing, therefore you´re not being that noticed, you won´t be immediately labeled as a stinky amateur. Sometimes by someone that matters and could really take your book to a different level.
Being labeled as an amateur should be your number 1 fear.
And why ?
Because self publish despite all the negative connotation that keeps having in many opinion circles, has a fantastic positive thing that in fact should be your number 1 goal right from the first go.
Self publishing can do for your book, with your name attached the same the initial free illustration web galleries did for illustrators like me when we started to arrive at the online illustration field many years ago, circa 1999.
Back then when I started to experiment with online job search on illustration it was the fact that sites like the classic “Elfwood“ already existed that brought me my first commissions.
Online galleries that allowed us to post our illustration work for free ; sites like that which later evolved into stuff like the now popular Deviant art; which allowed us to spread our work around and get noticed.
That is why nowadays as an illustrator I also sell my own fantasy and science fiction illustrations on stores like Displate or as downloadable prints at my brand new Etsy store.
I´m not trying to get rich or even be a successful entrepreneur at we-commerce. I´m doing it for exposure because, many illustration commissions already came from clients that bought posters at my Displate shop.
So, keep this in your mind when it comes to self publishing and before you get too depressed with the standard negativism out there from many articles.
Without you ever noticing it , your work can be seen.
Not only by amateurs but also by “invisible eyes” connected either to illustration agencies, publishing companies or when it comes to children books , if yours is really good , get the attention of some major mainstream publisher.
We never know who´s looking at our work online.
And you don´t need 1000 visits.
You only need 1.
The right one.
The one person who´s actually connected to an established spot within the art/publishing or media industry.
The one person that notices your work and recognizes your value and potential.
The one person that contacts you based on your “simple” online presence and which can take your name and your work to the next level creating new opportunities for you.
I´m now an online full time illustrator because of this mindset.
I spent years “failing” and “self publishing” my artwork all over the place. And I failed so much and so many times that one day things started to work for me.
So it can happen to you , either if you´re an artist or an independent children´s book author you too can follow the same steps that many times contribute to establishment of indie companies like New Paige Press which is my favorite independent publisher to work with.
But that will never happen if your book looks totally amateur at first glance.
In just one second you can be totally forgotten.
So you should not go for 1000 visits or 1000 “LIKES”.
You should go for – that one second – of attention from someone , the 1 visit that really matters.
After spending 28 years in illustration, with about 10 years working full time online and in which 5 of those ten were also dedicated to create illustration work for a lot of independent and self publishing authors, at least from my point of view and personal life experience I can guarantee you that 90% of those people that really fail in self publishing , may not being failing just on the marketing side. There´s more to failure than the corporate reasons stated on my anti-self publishing articles out there.
It won´t matter if your marketing skills are awesome, if you´re the king and queen of social media in your own neighborhood or if you spend thousands of $ or € on Facebook adds or Add Words.
If you have really ugly book, which totally screams amateur up front there´s no reason to blame anything else. You can even have the greatest children book story ever told. You have an ugly amateur book, you´re gone.
The main thing that negative articles about self publish usually don´t mention, or don´t give much attention to, is the fact that probably 99% of the self published children books out there fail because they are really amateur and really , really badly produced when it comes to illustration.
I see that happening all the time in children´s book Facebook groups, Instagram and all over the place.
Many people think their book is so awesome that they are convinced they don´t even need to invest on professional artwork, professional editing or professional design.
As an illustrator, I see that all the time.
As an illustrator I see people in forums asking themselves how come their book is not selling when many times the answer is right there visually ! And don´t even try to explain to them what is happening with their book.
I´ve made that mistake once trying to help an author and let´s just say it, from now on if a person don´t ask for my opinion as an illustrator I won´t be the one to comment.
If you´re a children book author and you are serious about it, although self publish is mostly free out there, that does not mean you should not have a good initial budget when it comes to producing your book.
I´ve seen people in forums with incredible amateur books ( the ones which are only loved by mum and friends ), but because they are loved by their mum and friends ( yes, that is an actual real argument for quality in more than one project that I knew ), the author is convinced he does not need to spend money on professional artwork.
In one example that I know, the author did not wanted to spend more than $25 per spread page because he found – an artist – on a known crowdsource site that did the entire book for less than $150.
Let´s just say, that you don´t want to arrive on the children book scene with a $25 spread page book. Not even on print on demand.
No matter how your mum and friends will say it´s great ( and you got it cheap too!! )
You really end up getting what you payed for. And this is not a compliment.
If you don´t know how to hire a children´s book illustrator for your project, do not make the mistake of thinking because , oh , you´re just self publishing , it´s your first try, you don´t have any money to invest on it and so it does not matter that much who you get.
It does matter.
Wait a bit, gather some cash and create your book well.
Don´t be one of those “self published” authors that contribute for the extremely negative numbers the self publishing scene presents from the mainstream side of things. It´s those self publish “authors” that totally justify the bad reputation self publish still has.
Don´t expect to get rich, but if you do it well, trust me; you will recover your art investment money and you can expect some surprises along the way. You never know who´s looking at your work online. You only need 1 person. 😉
Present yourself well, put a real quality book out there and make sure you´re the most professional best looking amateur that was ever ignored !
But beware of Vanity Press scams…
More on this later. 😉
AVAILABLE FOR ILLUSTRATION WORK
If you are searching for how to hire a children´s book illustrator or concept artist take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do togheter.