Today, I welcome children’s book author, Sue Wickstead, as she tells us about her self-publishing journey.
Tell us about where you are on your self-publishing journey right now in terms of books published, where you publish etc.
I have published three children’s picture books to date with a fourth book in the illustration process. (In addition I have also published a photographic history book about a Playbus I once managed – this book started my children’s story book journey) I have also a further 10 books in various stages of writing; from planning to re-draft but am taking the process a book at a time.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
Initially I contacted agents and publishers but the first book was not polished. I did look at a self-publishing company but it was the illustrations that were the sticking point. “What sort of illustrations would you like?” Well, how long is a piece of string? I eventually found an illustration company to help me and they have been great. They deal with the illustrator, the layout and getting the book ready. I am sure they are more expensive but for now they helped me start my journey. The children’s books are about the Playbus that I once worked with. The illustrations needed to reflect the real bus, and they do.
I had further been asked to write 4 books for a Scottish book bus but this project never materialised so I took one of the books to continue my bus journey.
What is best thing about self-publishing?
The best thing about self-publishing for me was to have control of the illustration and to be able to put my bus journey from fact to fiction. It does indeed keep the bus project going. It has been fantastic to be able to show children I teach – as a cover/supply teacher – the story book and to share the story.
What is the worst thing about self-publishing?
I suppose the worst part was not really knowing the business and thinking that now the book is written that it would go into a bookshop.
That it would sell on Amazon.
The promotion and marketing is very tricky and despite help and advice the journey is very slow. (Like a bus it is a bumpy, slow journey but also a lot of fun along the way!)
Also children’s books are a very difficult and tricky journey too.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published your first book?
I wish I had the courage and belief to get the book ready. Although edited and improved maybe along the way. I could have taken a bit more time on the final look. The first book could possibly do with a polishing but most of all it is at least out there.
If you could change one thing about your self-publishing journey, what would it be and why?
To have maybe an editor to advise me further and perhaps encourage me in the next part of the journey. Self-doubt because of the cost of illustrations etc. …
Do you have any advice for those who might be looking in to self-publishing?
I am glad that I have taken the step into publishing; glad that I have heard from other self-published authors (in particular children’s authors); glad that I took the next step of my journey and wrote more books.
You can find out more about Sue and her books over on her Facebook Page
If you would like to share your self-publishing journey then please follow this link and answer the questions.
And here’s the blurb for the first book in the series …
Jay-Jay the bus was rescued from the scrap yard where he was sadly gathering dust and cobwebs. He is taken to an airport where he is magically transformed into a ‘Playbus’ full of toys, games and adventure.
A fictional tale based on a real life bus ‘Supersonic’ which flew in the imagination of the many young children who visited him.
About the author …
Have you ever been on a Playbus?
Not an ordinary bus taking you on a journey, exciting though this is, but a bus stuffed full of toys and imagination!
When my two children were young they attended a playgroup on such a bus and as a volunteer I became involved with the committee running the project. The bus really got into my blood and became very much a work of the heart. I ended up painting the bus, as well as working in the groups and raising the profile of the project and its work. As part of the committee and later as play-worker, I was involved in raising necessary funds to replace the old bus with a newer project. It really was a fun journey to be involved in.
I taught in the local school for over 20 years but even then I remained involved with all aspects of the play project in my spare time assisting in fund-raising and events, as well as working voluntarily in after school play clubs and holiday play schemes.
I left teaching in order to write the history book about the original bus.
I now work as a supply cover teacher and have been able to tell the many children I meet and teach about the bus as well as show them the photograph. The children were always curious and asked lots of questions about the Playbus. This led to me telling a story which I eventually wrote down.
Jay-Jay is the fictional story to go with the factual project.
Over the last few years I have been able to share the fictional story in each school I visit. I always leave a book behind as I go in case they might like a closer look.
I have also on occasion, when visiting school, been asked if I might be able to do some work around the book.
This has led to me producing a scheme of work as well as worksheets to support the story.
In addition I have undertaken author bookings and I always love sharing the story book and most of all love the feedback and book reviews which the children give me. Many of their comments and opinions I have been able to use on my web site blogs.
I have other book ideas in draft or indeed still in the telling but for now I can turn my attention to the next part of my bus journey!