Self-Publishing for Children: A Creative Outlet for All Ages

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

I remember the first time I "published" a book. My grandparents owned a bookstore, and I would spend most of my adolescence in the back office helping to price books, doing my homework, or goofing off. While bored one day, I came up with an idea to make money the same way my grandparents didselling books.

I drew a short 20-page comic, copied all the pages on the office copier, stapled them together, and sold the black-and-white comic books for five bucks a piece. I would go around to all the employees and try and get them to buy these makeshift comic books. I was around 10 at the time and it was the first time I remember that the whole "publishing" process just made me want to keep doing it.

I'm now in my 30's and have published a few books through IngramSpark. It's an incredibly simple process. Almost as simple as using that old copier in my grandparents' back office. In fact, so simple that, with supervision, a child can do it.

And mine did.

Maci Smithers Storyboarding 1-1

There’s no greater feeling than when your child attaches to the same interests as you. My eight-year-old daughter decided she wanted to write books. Just like her dad, she would write stories, staple them together, and distribute them to her relatives.

One day, she told me she wanted to publish a "real" book. I said to her that if she wanted to get into self-publishing her work, I would make her a deal. The deal was that if she did every step herself, I would walk her all the way through the processfrom storyboard to print. If she finished the process, she would get to keep all the money earned from her book sales.

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Maci Smithers Storyboard

She got right to work storyboarding then illustrating using the Procreate app on iPad. I thought she would lose interest after that, but she didn't. Once she finished the illustrations, I showed her how to chose her fonts and set text in Photoshop. Once she had all her files print-ready based on IngramSpark's print file requirements, I showed her how to purchase her ISBN and then walked her through setting up her book for print through IngramSpark. She finished the whole process in about three months.

To see her opening up the first, freshly printed hardcover version of a story she put so much effort into was a proud moment, but I was more proud of what happened next. The same day she got her first book, she started in on her next book. She loved the process so much, she wanted to do it again.

Independent Publishing is the New Lemonade Stand

The past decade has been an exciting time for authors who self-publish and my hope is that parents of other wonderfully creative young authors see all the amazing tools that are available and encourage them to put their own work out in the world.

Not only does independent publishing give children a sense of artistic freedom and encourage the indie spirit, but it also gives them a great lesson in business. Young writers can now write a story or draw a picture book, set it up through IngramSpark, and have it for sale on Amazon and several other major retailers within a couple weeks for thousands of people to find. Once it's there, you don't pay anything else to keep it for sale. For young entrepreneurs, it's like a lemonade stand that stays open 24/7.


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Jason Smithers

Jason is a 3-time author and Creative Producer at Vers Creative. His passion is to see stalled-out creatives take the first step forward to dream, complete, and repeat their life’s work. For more about Jason and his work, check out his website here.