It was my son’s birthday, and I wanted to give him a gift he would remember. He had written a story when he was seven years old about eating boogers. As a urologist, I can attest that this is not a healthy habit and do not recommend it. I helped him publish his first book, Boogers for Brunch, on Amazon.
I wanted to share some of the stuff I learned along the way so others who wanted to do it too can realize it’s not so daunting. My philosophy was to outsource everything on Fiverr. I had no idea how to do because it probably was not worth my time to learn.
Here is the breakdown of costs:
- Illustration: $290
- Write book description: $30
- Amazon Kindle and keyword research for SEO: $10
- Format book for format for KDP publishing and also e-book: $69
- Get a Library of Congress Number:Free
- Apply for cataloging service to get P-CIP data to get into library: $74
- Apply for copyright: $45
- Publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing: Free
- The look on my kid’s face to see his book on Amazon: Priceless
How to get started writing a children’s book
First, I wanted to talk about perfectionism. As a physician, you are expected to be perfect. Unfortunately, that carries over to creative pursuits as well. I think that is sometimes what holds people back from starting. They believe it needs to be good or that they need to be excellent at it like they are at medicine.
I want you to give yourself permission to write and create something not great, maybe even bad, and be OK with it. You probably weren’t very good the first time you took out someone’s kidney.
Set a timer for 30 minutes.
Open up PowerPoint or Canva.
Write out your story. It doesn’t have to be good.
Stick stock photos of whatever you think you might want the picture to be.
Voila. Now you have the beginnings of a book.
Now that you have a rough draft, it’s time to go find an illustrator.
Fiverr has some excellent resources, and depending on the style of illustrations you want — there is a freelancer for that. I contacted several freelancers to get quotes on how much the project would be and finally decided on one based on their prior work with other children’s books.
Refine, refine, refine.
Show your friends. Show your friend’s kids. Get feedback on what works. Where do they laugh? Where do they look bored? Like a stand-up comic honing their material, you will want to edit until your target audience seems to like it.
The legal stuff.
Apply for copyright here.
If you used a freelancer, you would retain the intellectual property rights for the illustrations. So there is no need to share royalties with your illustrator.
If you want your book in a library, you will have to apply for a Library of Congress number.
You will also need something called Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication Data to help the process of filing in a library.
You can get that at a cataloging service website like this one.
There are many others, but this was just the one that I used.
Hire someone to format your book for the correct size. You will need to pick the dimensions of your book and decide whether you want a hardcover or paperback copy.
I used a freelancer to do this for me, and it was invaluable as there were nuances to the formatting that I could not have even imagined. This file will then come back as a PDF.
You can also get them to make an e-book version of it.
Decide where you want to publish. There are several options like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing which is a publishing-on-demand option or IngramSpark. I just picked Amazon because it seemed the easiest, and I was already ordering batteries off the platform.
Upload your files. Decide how much you want to charge. Publish. Congratulations! You or your child is now a published author.
But wait. That’s just half the work. Now, you will have to market your book. Tell your friends. Tell your friends’ friends. Tell your staff.
Robert Chan is a urologist.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com