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Should You Self Publish Your Book with Darcy Pattison

Do you sometimes wonder if you should self-publish your book? It seems like a viable option, but is it realistic in the children’s market? Our latest interviewee talks about her publishing process and what it takes to make it as an indie publisher.

Read the full interview with Darcy Pattison below to inspire your own publishing journey!

Should You Self-Publish Your Book? Full interview with Darcy Pattison

Full Interview with Indie Publisher, Darcy Pattison on How to Self-Publish a Kid’s Book:

1. I see you have a handful of books that released this year, congrats! That’s a lot of books. What’s your number one tip for writing this much?

I write picture books and novels, so it’s easier to have 4-5 books coming out. The picture books take intensive work for 2-4 weeks and then it’s up to the illustrator’s schedule. The novels, of course, take longer, which is why there are fewer of those each year.

2. Where do all of your ideas come from? 

Ideas come from everything I am and everything I do. For the nonfiction picture books, I look for ideas and do lots of research. The novels are often inspired by life-events or shoot-offs of the nonfiction research. 

3. Since most of your books appear to be non-fiction, what kind of research is involved before you start writing?

It does appear that most of my work is nonfiction because the picture books are faster to write. But if you look at my titles, about half are fiction!

For nonfiction, I do intensive research. I look for scientific journal articles and then contact scientists for in-depth interviews. Stories are always vetted by scientists working in the field. For POLLEN: DARWIN’S 130-YEAR PREDICTION, the German scientist Lutz Thilo Wasserthal responded to email questions. He also allowed me to use his original photographs in the book. 

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4. You’ve been both traditionally and self-published, what are the pros and cons of both?

How long do you have? They are both valid methods of bringing a book to market. Traditional publishers already have established channels for reaching readers. Indie publishers must find their own marketing path, and that’s the hardest part.

Either way, you can produce quality books. With my indie books, I’ve had two starred reviews (Kirkus and PW), three NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books, two Junior Library Guild selections, and one NCTE Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts. Choose the path that makes the most sense for you.

5. Walk us through the process you take when moving from idea to publication with a self-published book?

To publish a book, I first write it! Once I’m happy with it and my critique group likes it, I do copyediting, layout, and design. If illustrations are needed, I find and contract with someone.

I produce the files for print production, eBooks, and commission audiobooks. Then, everything is uploaded onto the appropriate sites for sale. There are marketing and ongoing sales to maintain. Every day is different from many writing, producing, and marketing tasks.

6. With so many books coming out at once, how do you make time for marketing?

Lots of marketing is in the pre-publication phase and in making sure your metadata makes your books discoverable on the different platforms. After that, I just do what I can! Sometimes, I hire part-time help for grass-roots marketing efforts. My job is to write; my part-time job is publishing.

7. What do you think is the number one marketing strategy every author should do?

Get the cover and metadata right! The cover should match your genre and tell a reader at a glance the genre and tone of the book. The metadata is the keywords, categories, description, BISAC categories, and other information about your book.

If that’s all spot-on, your book has a chance of doing well. If that foundational work is wrong, it’s hard to help your book do well. Also, make sure you’ve done all the pre-publication work such as submitting for review.

Kidlit Writer's Starter Kit | Your guide to help you write a children's book

8. What’s been the most challenging part of publishing for you in your career?

I choose to indie publish. It’s a business practice, nothing more. It says nothing about the quality of my books, and yet, I’m constantly shut out of things because of my business practice. It’s slowly changing, but it’s very slow.

9. What’s your favorite part of the publishing process?

I love it when a child reads a book and it touches them in some way. It intrigues, delights, engages—it’s the reader response that keeps me writing.

10. What would be your best advice for someone hoping to get their book published?

Learn the writing craft. Don’t worry about the publishing end—agents, submissions, or indie publishing—until you’ve studied hard and achieved a level of quality in your writing.

That may mean taking courses and workshops, getting feedback from critique groups or editors, and writing consistently over a long time period. First and foremost, it’s the writing and the storytelling that matters. Write well! Then, worry about publishing.


Thank you to Darcy Pattison for offering her expertise on what it takes to self-publish your book! If you want more information about Darcy and her books, visit her website here.

Self-Publish Your Book Today!

Download the free children's book template

And for more help learning to write kid’s books, check out these articles around the blog:

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13 Comments

  1. Dear Darcy. I am so grateful for this article, thank you. I had a children’s book idea over 20 years ago while at college. Years went by and i was dipping in and out of the editing and illustrations, taking the odd bit of annual leave here and there working away on it bit by bit.. until August this year when i decided to take a sabbatical from work and work full time on it.. it is now completed!! i am so happy but am now lost in confusion about the next step.. getting an agent and going to a publisher.. going to a publisher who accept unsolicited manuscripts.. going alone and self publishing.. it’s a learning curve and i am still trying to figure it out! It’s a slow process but i am hoping it will all work itself out and i dream of seeing my work on the shelf 🙂

    1. That’s amazing Denise! Congratulations on finally finishing your book 🙂 I alway say think about your goals with your story to help you decide what publisher is best for you. Self-publishing is great, but it requires a lot of extra work on your end up front. Traditional publishing takes care of all the extras, but it takes a long time to find the house that’s right for you. Good luck on your quest!

  2. Darcy, Congratulations on so many releases in one year! I really like the catalog you have for Mims House. Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed and offer some insight. I love that you mentioned it’s important to learn the writing craft and the fact you contact scientists for in-depth interviews. I think it’s helpful to understand that research is necessary, and it is important to have accurate facts. I’ve self-published two children’s fiction picture books and some journals, but I’ve been hesitant to publish nonfiction. This is encouraging to me to possibly pursue selfpublishing for some nonfiction writings, too. I’d be curious to hear how you got the starred reviews from Kirkus and PW and all of the awards you have received (Congrats by the way on all of them!) – if you had to submit them, if you had to pay any additional fees, etc. I recently gave a presentation on self-publishing basics to my writing group, and I will actually be doing an encore presentation this Saturday for those who had missed it the last time. I am hoping to turn it into a self-publishing basics course (things to consider before deciding to self-publish), but we’ll see what happens. I think it’s helpful for people to understand that there is quite a bit of behind the scenes work involved in self-publishing, but publishing a book definitely can be done by anyone who is willing to put in the effort. I see you have created multiple courses yourself, which is great! May you have a wonderful day!

    Brooke, Thanks for another great interview! I always enjoy reading your interviews and posts. I look forward to hearing how your books are coming along as they reach publication. Keep writing!

    1. Thanks, Brigitte! You too 🙂 I’m excited to hear all the amazing things you’re doing. As for your review question, I believe it’s because Mim’s House is a member of the CDC. That allows her to get lots of awards, too. I’m not sure everything it takes to get approved, but Darcy recommends all indie publishers join.

    2. Brigitte:
      Congrats on your books! Getting one out is amazing and you’re doing even more. Amazing!

      As for the reviews, I just send books in consistently to the review journals and they do what they do. The teacher-based awards are through the Children’s Book Council. If you’re a member, then you have access to the awards, and again, I consistently send books for consideration.

      It’s a matter of plugging away and building on small successes. If I get a small success, I try to “trade up” and see if that will get me more recognition somewhere else. Often, it works.

      Good luck! And congrats on winning the book!
      Darcy

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