Tip Number One
Don’t send a manuscript directly to a publisher. It will end up in what they call a ‘slush pile’. The envelope you sent with your prized work will not be opened. Ever. You need to go through an agent. And trustworthy agents who will represent you are very difficult to find.
Tip Number Two
Don’t feel bad if you can’t find an agent. It’s almost impossible. Agents look for material that they can sell to the publishing houses who know them. And very few published books are moneymakers for the publishers (i.e., selling many thousands of books). The other books are quickly abandoned by the wayside. According to my calculations, only one in several thousand manuscripts is ever acquired and published by a publishing house.
Reputable agents only make money (commission) when they sell your manuscript to a publisher. Their chances are much better if the writer they represent is already well-known, notorious, or well-connected. This creates a ‘chicken and egg’ situation: agents don’t normally take newbies, and in the absence of agents it’s hard for newbies to get published.
This situation can be remedied by becoming a well-known self-published writer.
Tip Number Three
Don’t spend a great deal of money self-publishing your manuscript (according to Kawasaki, authors may spend thousands of dollars self-publishing on Amazon or on similar e-publishing platforms). You will never recoup it. Most of the authors who upload on such sites never sell more than fifty e-books for two dollars each (and you get only a fraction of the two dollars!) . You make the calculation. I recently saw a website asking for money from writers, suggesting that they will sell in the neighborhood of one thousand books. That is a pipe dream, almost never achieved. Don’t get sucked in. Don’t pay money to scammers who promise you fame and recognition.
Tip Number Four
Hire illustrators if you are wealthy or happen to like illustrators (I do). You are unlikely to ever recoup the expense of hiring a professional illustrator to design your cover or glorify your children’s book. I should know. I have sold thousands of self-published children’s books, yet still lost money. I love my illustrators, and don’t regret paying them the thousands of dollars. But I can afford it. Can you?
Tip Number Five
You can start out by making your own book cover for free or one dollar. Try www.canva.com or a similar website. I am a terrible artist (trust me), yet I ‘designed’ the cover for this book in less than ten minutes. You can do much better. If you are an artist and you feel an uncontrollable urge to send me a better cover as an act of pure kindness, my e-mail is [email protected]. I am waiting.
Tip Number Six
Illustrations can be a strait-jacket. Let’s say that you have decided to self-publish your children’s book, and have hired an illustrator who has made you gorgeous pictures. Let’s say that you are unbelievably lucky and have found subsequently a publisher for your manuscript (I did, once). You should keep in mind that publishers prefer to work with their own stable of illustrators, and are highly unlikely to use the artwork that you paid so dearly for. You may end up with a book that you cannot publish, because of your commitment to the illustrator, or the illustrations.
Tip Number Seven
Avoid self-publishing books made out of paper, unless you are doing very small runs. Even if they are original, genius, hard cover, superbly illustrated and tell a story that will make the whole world sit up and take notice, it is almost impossible to sell more than fifty or a hundred. You will end up with a garage full of unsold books (I have plenty, glad to sell you a thousand, and trust me, they are SUPERB). Bookstores will not stock them. They may be awesome, but the world will not sit up and take notice because the world will not know they exist. Again, seeing your book in print is fun, but very expensive. So, unless you are rich and like to chop down trees, this is a foolish option. Sorry. I’ve been foolish time and again. Time to let the world know that it’s a mistake. Much better to publish online.
Tip Number Eight
Write, illustrate and self-publish OUT OF LOVE. Do it for free (much cheaper than losing thousands of dollars). Share your e-books for free. Make a name for yourself by giving away your e-books to as many people as want to read them. Write because you want to write, not because you think it is going to make you rich (the opposite is almost always the case). Give your manuscripts to others and ask for their constructive criticism. Improve. Rewrite. Improve. Rewrite. Be the best writer you can. And love every minute of it.
Creative writing is like playing tennis. Very few of us can make it to the ATP circuit. We play tennis because we love it. If a couple of people watch us play, wonderful. If someone gives us a few tips on our backhand, we take it. Please think about it.
Tip Number Nine
Don’t worry too much about dishonest people copying your written and illustrated material. Today, dishonest people take advantage of the web to copy and download material that they do not own. This is unkind and unfair, to say the least. But if you say to yourself, “I won’t self-publish on the internet because my material will be plagiarized”, you are probably doing yourself a disservice. Better to get your stories and illustrations out into the world and make a name for yourself. The alternative, after all, is not to publish at all. Dishonest people can copy your stories and artwork from paper books as well (and have done so since the beginning of recorded time).
Tip Number Ten
DRM (digital rights management) is good for publishers and their top writers (the text is encrypted so that it is harder to copy but is not read by search engines), but bad for the rest of us. When search engines cannot ‘see’ our content, they cannot rank and rate us. If you check out the top pages of search of key phrases such as “love yogurt” or “magic street”, you may find my internet books on the first or second page of the search. This is because websites such as Ourboox.com publish using HTML5 which allows search engines to see and rank every word of your live content (without allowing readers to copy it themselves).
Bonus Tip Number Eleven
There are illustrators (even professionals) who fall in love with stories and may be willing to illustrate them as a joint venture, in between paying jobs. Try to find and enlist them. It isn’t easy, but it is remarkable when it does happen (check out my books, Color My World, Why I Love Yogurt and The Early Bird which we all written as joint projects with three amazing illustrators).
You can always use photographs that you have taken yourself, or other images, provided that you have the rights to use them. This is also an excellent option.
Get published now!! Good luck!!
Mel Rosenberg, writer
Thank you for reading my book! If you enjoyed it, you might also want to read:
“A Simple Approach to Making Your Own Atomic Bomb”
Read more about me and see ALL my books on Ourboox (I have many)
Or even better, create a book of your own!!!
Here is a tutorial to help you get started on your own voyage as an Ourboox contributor!!
And finally, you can always write me at
Published: May 10, 2014
Latest Revision: Mar 1, 2018
Ourboox Unique Identifier: OB-8269
Copyright © 2014