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Children's Books



Children's books are a whole different proposition. I put children's books in the GO FOR THE GOLD section because of the unique challenge that comes with being a children's book author. Because illustrations are a necessary part of a children's book, the cost to print is quite high.
 
The only way to market your children's book for online sales is through a distributor. That will require minimum sales of 2000 or more books per year. The reason for a distributor has to do with the digital print cost for one book. It is generally too high to make Print On Demand online sales possible. Amazon, for instance, requires a %60 discount to offer a book online. If your book cost $10.00 to print digitally and you charged $20.00 retail, Amazon would want it for $8.00 ($2.00 less than your print cost). The only way to offer it online and not lose money is to print 2000 copies or more and get a distributor to take you on. It is a difficult proposition at best and risky at the very least.
 
The average children's picture book (depending on size) sells for $5-$10. Commercial publishers print from 10,000 to 20,000 initially and, as a result, keep print costs low. That is why they still make money at $5-$10 retail.

Your best choice is printing what you can afford and doing your own marketing. Barbera Cohen tells you how to do just that on her website: http://www.underdown.org/marketing.htm.
 
Jo Ann Kairys offers advice on Facebook Marketing you might try.
 
 
You will find many sites offering help with marketing your children's book.

If your children's book takes off, securing a distributor becomes a practical way to go when you have a proven track record of sales.
 
Printing hard cover children's books make you more competitive, but it is more expensive.

As you can see, there are challenges for children's book authors. I could never explain the challenge as well as Ron Pramschufer did in his article, What are the differences between publishing a trade book and a children's illustrated picture book? Ron Pramschufer answers that very question (refer to questions 17 & 18 under Childrens' Books FAQ). Ron also talks about the cost of publishing a children's picture book as well as retail pricing and print cost. He recommends printing 1000 hardback children's books to start with.
 
You will find the Children's Books page at selfpublishing.com a great source of information including print pricing for different sizes as well as specifications. 
 
What about children's books for the ebook market? It gets tricky. A general trend suggests parents and their children seem to prefer real books with real pages children can turn with excited anticipation about what comes next. The smaller screens are also a negative factor when compared to the large, animated pages in paper books. 
 
*For those seeking a book deal, check out this list of agents who represent children's picture book authors.
 
You might consider joining SCBWI: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Cost is $85 annually.   
 
 Average picture book size and word count:
 
For toddlers and preschoolers (age 1-6) the average is 350 words and ranges from 80-700 (no more than 700). Think in terms of 300-500 average word count and 24 to 32 pages standard.
 
For first through fifth graders (6-10 years old) the average is 1500 (range 700 to 2500).
 
*Word count is not set in stone.
 
Dr. Seuss' book, Green Eggs and Ham,  62 pages, (769 words) is written for 2nd graders. The Cat in the Hat is 1629 words and 61 pages long.

 
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       Updated February 24, 2016