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Self-Publishing Children's Ebooks

Learn from authors who have successfully launched their own children's series


Self-Publishing Children's Ebooks

Successfully self-publishing children's ebooks and apps takes research and commitment.

Courtesy of Luca Lashes / Kim Stace Thomas, illustrator
Have you thought about self-publishing your own children's book or ebook?

If so, you might learn from the experiences of Nicole and Damir Fonovich, the co-creators of Luca Lashes, a line of multilingual children's ebooks and apps. The Fonoviches decided to forego contacting any agents or publishers and instead launched the entire series themselves.

Here, the couple share with About Book Publishing readers what they learned from their children's self-publishing experiences.

Nicole and Damir, you didn't even attempt to find a traditional publisher for Luca Lashes series. What made you decide to go the full-on self-publishing route?
We came to the decision to self-publish when we researched what other authors were saying, and learned what the common practices are in the traditional world of publishing. It seemed that in children’s publishing, it's very uncommon for a publishing company to work with a writer who doesn't have an agent, or who hasn't previously published. We were also hearing that publishers frequently rely on their authors to do most of their own marketing, and we knew that whatever royalties we made—minus the agent's percentage—wouldn't add up to the profits we could potentially make by doing it ourselves.

It just didn't seem like the right business decision to wait years to get noticed by a publisher and then run the risk of not being able to make any discernible income. Given the marketplace shift to digital content, we decided to forego contacting any agents or publishers and to do it all ourselves.

Children's books coming onto the market are vetted heavily by gatekeepers such as educators and children's librarians, as well as children's book editors. What made you feel you were qualified to publish your own children's books and apps into that demanding marketplace?
We embarked on the project of publishing Luca Lashes with 17 years of experience in education, in both teaching and administration, which gave us a lot of insight into what we were doing. Damir had had some experience working in bookstores and so we came to the project with a good knowledge of what was typically in the kids' section — we knew there was a limited amount of books in different languages available. We're also committed book-buyers ourselves, and wanted our son to inherit the love of books.

Anyway, with all the exposure to kids book marketplace, we knew there was a demand for the content of our series, which is specifically designed to help young children turn "fear of firsts" into fun. Things like fear of the first dentist visit is something so many parents encounter with their children and there was less on the kids' shelf than you'd think. We're also fortunate to have a facility with multiple languages and knowledge of a number of global cultures. Knowing that childhood development stages are pretty universal, we figured we could find a niche for our creative content in the digital global marketplace.

So how long did it take you to develop the series?
It took a year for our team to write, edit, and translate nine books and apps, and to beta test seven of them. There are two more coming.

Your ebooks are being sold through the big eretail booksellers — Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, etc. How are you distributing the Luca Lashes apps? What sales trends are you seeing?
iTunes most visible gold standard for apps and initially we saw more traction for apps there, but Amazon.com has also done really well. Since Luca Lashes are currently digital-only, sales are generally higher in more technologically-developed countries—like France. And some of the trends are interesting — one surprising statistic is that our haircut story in Spanish outperforms the English language version. And we know that a good number of our 25,0000 Facebook "likes" come from Spanish-speaking countries.

Your website is very robust and well thought out. How are you bringing people to the site and the series?
We've done a bit of Facebook promotion and some PR, but we've worked really hard on our online discoverability through by giving our books appropriate metadata (which happens at the back end of the e-book coding) which helps people find them when they're searching. We've attended conferences and seminars to learn as much as possible about things like metadata strategy in order to increase the likelihood that Luca Lashes will be found when people are searching for our types of books.

(Be sure to read:
• Nicole and Damir's words of wisdom on technical self-publishing issues such as metadata, programming, prices etc., here.) and
• Ideas to publicize and market self-published books.)

What would you tell aspiring children's book authors who are thinking of self-publishing?
If quality and sales are your goals, self-publishing children's books is a lot harder and a long longer process than you might assume. That said, we're really pleased with the great consumer reception for Luca Lashes and we know it's heading in the right direction.

We entered the project with a lot of research and passion and hard work and dedication to finding an audience for the series. Years ago, we heard an author say his philosophy was to "Do a little good, have a little fun, make a little money." We've adopted that and in a relatively short time, we feel we're definitely on our way.

Nicole and Damir Fonovich live in the Chicago area with their three-year-old son named Lucas. The couple created Luca Lashes, a line of multilingual eBooks and apps designed to help kids (0-4) turn "fear of firsts" into fun. Learn more at www.lucalashes.com. .

Have you self-published a book? Take the opportunity to share your experiences with About Book Publishing readers here.

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