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Publishing a Book

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > The Arts, Books, Entertainment, & Media > Publishing a Book


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Publishing a children's book...Where to start?

April 2012

I've searched the BPN on the subject but the advice was pretty old. I could use some fresh information and advice on publishing a children's book. What are the steps to take? I don't know enough about the subject to even know what details to ask? Any information, advice and recommendations are appreciated! Wannabe (published) Writer


Go to http://www.scbwi.org/ and follow advice there. They also have a local conference this fall for people who want to write for children.

You may want to read this posting by children's author Mem Fox http://www.memfox.com/so-you-want-to-write-a-picture- book.html

She cautions not to self-publish, unless you want to waste a lot of money. Granted, there are exceptions to that rule, but virtually no self-published books find their way into libraries and bookstores. You can self-publish as a kindle ebook for virtually nothing, I think. But trying to peddle your own book made of paper is a huge endeavor that most often leads nowhere.

I work at a library and we rarely even look at self- published material. The few things that we have looked at (as a courtesy to local wannabe authors) have been pretty awful. We like to see material that a major publisher thought worthwhile enough to publish.

The quality level for Children's publishers is fairly high, though mediocre stuff does slip in. If your work isn't as good as most stuff in bookstores then it is unlikely to get published. The sites above will tell you all about it. Library Guy


Hi, I teach a class at California College of Art/OAK and teach out of my studio in North Berkeley. The description of my class, is at the CCA link. Most of the classes are on the process of producing a children's book. I work with people who have a manuscript, in mind, out of my studio. Link for class description with a bio about me. http://www.cca.edu/academics/extension/courses/design#visual Picture books I have published and my website address. www.ardenjohnsondesign.com arden
A good starting place for inspiration and nuts and bolts is the Write Now! one day class taught by Heather Macleod at Piedmont Adult School! A book she recommended is The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard. Kristine

Finding a publisher for husband's book

June 2010

My husband just finished a fantastic fictional novel set in Italy during World War II and would like to find out how to get it in the hands of a publisher. Does anyone have any advice on how to do that? It seems you have to know someone in order to get a publisher to even take a look at it. Thanks for any help, Beth


The traditional way to get published is to find an agent (there are listings online) and they find you a publisher. It's very hard to be taken seriously by publishers without an agent; they accept very few unsolicited manuscripts.

For background information on agents/publishing, try this blogger: http://rejecter.blogspot.com/ She works for an agent and gives great advice on how the industry works. Her personality is a bit abrasive, but you're reading her, not lunching with her.

For some interesting ideas about ways to promote your book and get the attention of traditional publishing houses, the SFChron just did an article called ''Authors Using the Internet to Get Their Books Out'' at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/05/25/DDTJ1DIJ95.DTL.

And your husband might want to consider hiring a professional editor to review his book. Elaine Beale, a recently published author, just did a great analysis of mine. Expect to pay in the $800 range for a really thorough review (by anyone, not just Elaine). in rewriting phase now


Want to publish a toddler's board book

March 2010

I am considering creating a board book for toddlers because I cannot find a certain niche specific book. My brother is an artist, we would create this book together and I would market it. I cannot find a company that prints board books. I would like this to be similar to a company called createspace dot com where one can self-publish a book. Unfortunately, createspace doesn't do board books. I appreciate any advice that you can give me. Thanks, C


Edition One Books in Berkeley is fantastic: http://editiononebooks.com/ Ian

Book idea and how to protect it during development

Oct 2009

I would really appreciate some advice on the following area, which is really brand-new and totally unknown to me: I have an idea for a book, which I happen to think is a really great idea. It will be non-fiction and will require interviews and lining up those interviews will require casting a wide net to folks I don't know as I seek out my interview candidates. The question is: how does one protect one's idea while going public with that idea? I would really be upset to embark on my project only to find that someone else took this idea and ran with it, so to speak. Are there any steps I can take to protect my idea. Additionally, is there a way to find out if another project, similar to this one, is in the works? Many thanks. Budding author


Sounds like you need to learn more about how to pitch a nonfiction book. Do some online reading or get a resource such as The Idiot's Guide to Getting Published. There are specific conventions for how you pitch a nonfiction book to a publisher--for one thing, you pitch it before writing the whole thing, unlike with fiction. Read more to learn more. On the issue of your idea being stolen--usually we all think our ideas are more exciting than they really are. Probably no one else is going to want to do the work to write the same book you're writing. You can always look into some kind of nondisclosure contract with the people you're interviewing, but realistically, how many of them are going to want to do this? Writing a book takes a lot of hard work, and the process of going from idea to publishing (if you're one of the very few who gets published) will take years. And as for finding out if anyone else is doing this idea, I'm at a loss. You can't know what everyone else out there is working on. You may find as you pitch your idea that some publishing houses will tell you they're working on it already. But it's all up to chance. Be sure to do some online researching to see if your idea has already been published, of course. A non-yet published author
There's no way to protect an idea, only the manner in which it is expressed, under copyright law. Your best bet is to write the book as quickly as possible. You can't stop anyone else from writing on the same subject. anon
There is a great book by a SF patent attorney that covers trademarks, intellectual property, and copyrights. The book is Patent it Yourself by David Pressman and put out by Nolo Press. I too am considering writing a book and David points out some great tips in his book. I was also told the writers guild of America issues certificates to protect a script for $10-$15. How to sell your screenplay is by Lydia and Joan Wilen. Hopefully those sources will get you on the right track. Not sure if I will write mine as a book to maybe be made into a movie or write it as a script for a movie right off. My story based on real life experiences would work either way. If yours if just a book then perhaps a copyright is the best protection. Best of luck. anon

I want to write a book - advice please!

Oct 2009

I am a 40 year old SAHM with two young boys.. Prior to raising them, I was in the business world. I don't have a lot of time on my hands, but I love to read, and I've always wanted to write a book. I am an introverted, sensitive person who has a very active (tend to spin and intellectualize more than what is probably healthy!) mind, and I like to write to cope,think, etc.. People tell me that I write well, and I'd like to write a book but don't know where to start. I know it's hard to get published, but I'd like to go for it. It would give me something to put my passions into outside of mothering, wife-ing and household stuff..I would like to write a personal memoir of sorts, I think, but I don't have an exceptional life, per se.. And, that feels very vulnerable to me too. Are there online resources, classes, exercises that can give me ideas for a topic? I'm at a loss - not sure where to start... Thanks!


I'm a former editor & book doctor. I would suggest starting by reading Anne Lamott's wonderful book _Bird by Bird_. I have recommended this to authors who subsequently published. It's terrific! Full of very practical advice. --Bookie
A couple of ideas--check out National Novel Writing Month at nanowrimo.org. There will be some writing advice but also a lot of support. You try to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November (it's coming up!). It's a good way to practice writing every day, since you have to write every day or you'll get behind on your word count. It gives you a target and a sense of community. You can do it at home. And it teaches you to just get text on the page without getting hung up on perfection--at that speed, it's about production, which is great for first-draft work. Also consider a community college creative writing class. Even a short-story class could work, as you could turn in your novel in chapters. Great place to get advice and feedback and have some motivating deadlines. Plus you get out of the house and feel like a grown up for a while! Write on!
Join a writer's group. A good one is California Writer's Club, Berkeley Branch. You can google them. EJW
Author and Monthly editor Autumn Stephens holds ongoing writing workshops for both beginning and experienced writers. She is skilled, experienced, helpful, delightful and very very funny. You can reach her by email astephens@earthlink.net or by phone (510-540-1065). I can't recommend her highly enough. jolie

Getting a book printed

Sept 2007

I am looking for any recommendations for an inexpensive but good quality printer for a children's book. I prefer to get it printed up, though not necessarily bound, on paper like that used in a board book. I would thus appreciate any printer recommendations. Thank you in advance for your help.


First you need to decide on whether or not you need offset or digital printing. Offset is MUCH higher quality, especially with photos and illustrations. If you are going to try to sell this book, you'll probably need offset printing.

Offset printing in small runs (less than 1 to 2 thousand copies) is very expensive in the USA. Having recently secured quotes from a range of printers, both here and abroad, I went with a Chinese company, Wa Fai Printing, and had a good experience with them.

Make sure your cover design is top notch. Get both the cover and inside designed by a professional graphic designer who has experience with children's books. If any part of your book looks ''home made'' it will be unsellable. This especially true of the cover. Make sure you have a GREAT, ENERGETIC, COMPELLING title.

Before printing make sure that you've studied all aspects of book production and that your book is TERRIFIC in every area. Get it professionally edited first for content, then again for typos. Take constructive criticism to heart. Your writing should snap, crackle, and pop off the page!

A good resource for all things self-publishing is Dan Poyntner's web site, www.ParaPublishing(dot)com. Helene


Publishing/Creating my grandfather's book

April 2006

My grandfather wrote an autobiography and I've converted it into a word document. I'm looking for a way to get it put in a book format as a gift for his 90th birthday. Ideally this shouldn't be an expensive effort. If anyone has any ideas it would be greatly appreciated. Time is a factor. Thanks! Stephanie


Funny, the computer columnist guy in the Monday Chron answered this same question. ''You might look into a young Internet company called Blurb (blurb.com). It offers free downloadable software for creating your book, then the company will print it for you -- hardbound, complete with a customized dust jacket -- for as little as $29.95 per copy (up to 40 pages). Longer books cost more. I can't attest to the quality of the product, but it sounds like a great way to print everything from a senior thesis to a wedding album.''
Check out Blurb.com. I understand it can help you publish your word file in book form for under $50.00. It was written up in the Chronicle on Monday, 4/24/06. peter

Getting my writings published

June 2005

I would like to get some information/advice/tips on getting my writings published. I've never thought of ''writing'' as something I'd be doing seriously but I've been writing essays on parenthood , based on my experiences, that my well-meaning, sincere and true friends say, ''You should get that published!'' I have no training or degrees in journalism or creative writing. I don't have a clue as to the first thing one must do to break into this industry. Writing has always been just something I love to do...but lately, I've been thinking, it would be interesting if I can get paid to do it!! Do I have to have an agent?? Thanks! sahm-writer


Try reading The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner. She's spent her career in publishing. The second section of the book talks about the do's and don't of trying to get published. It's very readable and should give you a feel for where to start. Pam
I missed the original post, but if you're looking to get nonfiction published, I highly recommend Michael Larsen's ''How to Write a Book Proposal''. I used it as a template, followed every bit of advice, and sold my (first and as yet only) proposal quickly to a good publisher. Almost all the publishers who rejected the proposal commented to me on how good the proposal was, and were sorry not to be able to accept it.

FYI, I did it all without an agent. If I were to change one thing, I would have hired an agent to represent me after the initial offer from the publisher. Negotiating a publishing contract without an agent is like going to court without a lawyer. published author


I have an idea for a children's book

April 2004

I have an idea for a children's book that would be a collection of quirky songs/lullabies that mom's (and dad's too) have made up to sing to their children. But I'm not sure how to approach publishing houses. I've published before but short stories/personal essays where I sent completed pieces. Should this also be complete and then submitted or should I query first? And if I query first, how much of the book do I need to have completed, if any? Does it matter if I don't have it illustrated? Do people work through agents or directly with publishing houses for children's books? Thanks for your advice. Confused mommy - Cynthia


Like many parents, now that I have a child (or two) I have some great ideas for children's book. I looked in the resources and there is only one listing form 1999. I would like some more up to date information from those in the know (in the publishing industry, those having previously published a children's book, etc...) How do I start (other than putting pen to paper)? What are the resources? Must I have a prototype done to present or is a rough mock up OK? What about hooking up with an artist? How do you submit the raw idea or finished product? What are the things to watch out for in terms of contracts? This seems like it should be a somewhat easy process but is so daunting if you don't know where to start. Any information or pointers would be greatly appreciated. Suzie
I just wrote an article about this very topic that will be published in the May issue of the Neighborhood Parents Network newsletter. Following is a condensed version of some of the resources I listed that can answer your questions.
Books and web resources:

Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, published annually by Writer's Digest 
Books, is the bible. Includes a comprehensive listing of children's book publishers - 
how many books they publish a year, types of books for which theyUre looking, 
payment terms, and how to send queries, manuscripts, or illustration portfolios.

The Business of Writing for Children by children's author Aaron Shepard gets 
straight to the point about topics ranging from publishing to the craft of writing.

It's a Bunny-Eat-Bunny World by Olga Litowinsky, former executive editor for 
children's books at Simon & Schuster, is a comprehensive guide to Rsurviving and 
thriving in today's competitive children's book market.S

Web resources on children's writing are available at the following sites:
dmoz.org/Arts/Writers_Resources/Children's_Writing/
dir.yahoo.com/Arts/Humanities/Literature/Genres/Children_s/Writing/
Writing_for_Children/
childrensbooks.about.com/cs/forwritersartist/.

Organizations:

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org) is the 
primary organization serving this market. There are three regional chapters of 
SCBWI in the Bay Area (www.sbcwinorca.org).

Classes and workshops coming up in the next few months:

Children's Picture Book & Early Reader Workshop ($250)
Saturday, June 12, 10 a.m.P5 p.m. & Sunday, June 13, 9:30 a.m.P1 p.m., Book 
Passage Bookstore (Corte Madera)
www.bookpassage.com

Of Course You Can Write Children's Picture Books ($45)
Saturday, July 17, 10 a.m.P4 p.m., Piedmont Adult School
www.piedmontadultschool.org

The Magic of Writing for Children ($165 members with $45 membership/$195 non-
members)
May 22PJune 19, 2P4:30 p.m. (5 Saturdays), Writing Salon (San Francisco)
www.writingsalons.com

Picture Book Workshop (focus more on illustration, but covers business aspects) 
($195)
Saturday, May 22, 10 a.m.P5 p.m. , Palo Alto Arts Center
www.brookescudder.com

How to Write A Children's Picture Book ($65 plus $3 materials fee)
June 8 and June 15, 6P9 p.m., City College of San FranciscoQDowntown Campus
www.ccsf.edu/Services/Continuing_Education/othersem/Summer04/
Also - if anyone is interested in getting together for a support group around this topic, please let me know! Lysa

How to get a children's book published

May 2003

I wrote a children's book for my 18 month daughter and used real photographs to illustrate it. Well, one book has turned into a couple different books with the same theme. Family and friends who have seen the homemade books have suggested trying to get them published and sold. Has anyone had any experience with presenting a children's book to a publisher? Do you go to an editor first? I have no idea where to begin and would appreciate any information/experiences. Thank you, Amy


Hi, I have worked for almost 20 years as a book buyer, and would be happy to give you a buyer's perspective on what works and what doesn't. I do have publishing connections as well, and have a good understanding of the industry, and am happy to share what I know. However, as I am not an agent or an editor I will not promise anything beyond my own opinion! Please email me if you are interested in showing me your books. I'd be more than happy to help in any way I can. Tracy

Resources dealing with publishing a children's book

July 1999

I am looking for resources dealing with publishing a children's book. How one goes about it? If a prototype is necessary, and to what degree of finished quality is necessary for the prototype? Where does one go once you are to an almost finished point? Any information or pointers on this issue would be greatly appreciated. Tamara


I recommend the book "Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market," updated yearly. It talks about how to prepare a story for submission, promoting books, contract terms, and lists numerous publishers. Wendy
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