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A Word of Caution

  Now that I've listed reasons you should consider self-publishing your picture book, let me add just a few notes of caution. If this is the first children's story you have written, here are some things to consider.

Typically no one's first efforts are their best and if you are going to invest the time and money needed for self-publishing, you want to be sure that your story is something that you will be proud of.

Very few writers have such natural talent that they write well with no instruction or advice from others. Before self-publishing a book, you should polish your writing, by reading about writing for children, or attending conferences/workshops by either Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) or Children's Book Insider ( Another wealth of information is the Writing for Children page at

Children's writing classes are offered by:
  • Children's Authors' Bootcamp" - A two-day workshop, that I highly recommend. Tips from Laura Backes of Children's Book Insider and Linda Arms White include a formula for strong plot development.
  • Institute of Children's Literature - Offers an extensive correspondence course in writing for children. Frequently praised on children's writing forums.
  • Author Anastasia Suen's online workshops - Online courses which other writers have highly recommended to me.

Participating in critique groups can also offer improve your writing. While many enjoy the camaraderie of getting together in person to review each others' writing, I like the advantages of online critique groups, namely:
  • Each person offers their own advice independently.
  • The critiques can be done on your own schedule.
  • Critiques are written down, which means it is easy to remember exactly what someone else said.
I found my critique group from a list at The Children's Book Writer Cafe.

Signs that you and your book are ready to self-publish
  • You're a member of SCBWI and/or have read several books or newsletters about children's writing or publishing.
  • You have submitted the manuscript to publishers and received a favorable personal comment from at least one.
  • You have participated in a writing critique group and incorporated constructive criticism from that group into your writing.

Signs that you and your book are NOT ready for publication
  • You had never heard of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) until now.
  • When you write the book description that you would like to appear on, it includes phrases like "enchanting children's book," "characters are lovable and warm," "poignant and humorous." These phrases break the rule "Show, Don't Tell." Readers want to be captivated by your story, not told that they will love it.
  • You are unfamiliar with the rule "Show, Don't Tell."
  • You hope to get rich or support yourself from the profits of the book.

One other note of caution, if you feel that the story you are considering publishing is the only book you would want to publish, your odds of success are less. Booksellers, be they distributors, bookstores, or other sales venues prefer a longer-term business relationship. If you give them reason to believe that this title is your one and only, it isn't worth their time to work with you. It is logical that if this book is not followed by more, then your publishing firm will have a very short life expectancy. And no one wants to do business with someone who will be out of business soon.
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