Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

October 2020 Monthly Meeting: P.J. Hoover, Britta Jensen, Mariya Prytula

At the online October Monthly meeting, our distinguished panel discussed the nuances of self-publishing. Here are some highlights:

P.J. Hoover:
-Experiences with both traditional and self-publishing can be rewarding
Reasons to self-publish: write what you want; make some money; enjoy creative freedom; bring control to your side of the court; learn new skills; rekindle the joy of writing

-P.J. offers introductory classes in self-publishing (

Britta Jensen:

Recommendations: choose a very experienced independent (indie) publisher; join the Alliance of Independent Authors; ensure professional, high quality editing for your project; apply for awards by establishing a budget and inspecting the fine print
Reasons for indie publishing: if you want to access a wider market with international distribution; if agents don’t show interest in your specific characters; if your book is “too niche” for most publishing houses to market appropriately and receive a return on their investment
Advantages of indie publishers: knowledgeable about editing, distributing, marketing and public relations; aware of what leads to sales; treat your book like a product; flexibility in decision-making; marketing images and cover copy; ability to change marketing plans if they are not working; the life of your book sales is much longer; you choose your own team
Marketing: give yourself ample lead time (12-18 months or more); create a book launch party (even if it is virtual) and have a campaign; create mailing lists; support and give back to other authors; present at festivals

Why self-publish?
-If the book is out of print (to get your IP rights back)
-To create a unique family heirloom
-To do work outside the trends
-To make a concept/genre-bending investment
-To control the look and feel of the book
-To maintain control over the intellectual property
Why NOT to self-publish:
-If you want to make a lot of money
-If you are not comfortable with doing self-promotion
-If you want it done faster or easier
-If you have a super tight budget or no budget for an editor, designer, illustrator and marketing—you bear all these costs with self-publishing
-If you are very early on in the process or have not done enough research
Tips for self-publishing:
-Do not work without a contract; modifications to contracts can be made (such as adding that your illustrations cannot be altered without your permission)
-Typically, Kickstarter books are not profitable—if you decide to try it, consider it a hands-on workshop, networking tool, and marketing material
-Traditional publishers can still pick up your Kickstarter book