Hello to all the aspiring childrens authors out there!
Enjoy this list of FREE resources you can rely on when you’re starting out, so that you won’t go majorly into debt while you’re still learning all the ins and outs of the publishing world.
- Kickstarter crowdfunding is HERE
- Indiegogo crowdfunding is HERE
- Listen to the Crowdfunding episode with the wonderful Lisa Ferland!
- Publish your book on Amazon
- Create an ebook using Kindle Kids Book Creator
- Profit First book by Mike Michalowicz
- Download the Profit First Cheat Sheet
Prefer to read instead of listen? Here you go!
What do you do if you have a fantastic idea for a children’s book but your bank account is empty? For the most part, you can get a book out there for no money. What’s always going to cost is the illustrations, but I have some ideas for you!
Writing Your First Draft is Often Harder Than You Think!
Here’s how we’re going to break it down. I’m going to share with you resources you can use at every stage of your writing and publishing journey. And then at the end I have some general ones that either cover a lot of information or something really specific. Let’s get started. First, of course, in this journey is writing the damn book and right now the hardest part about this is nothing to do with money. The hardest part about this is sitting in the chair and your fingers actually moving on the keyboard and getting something out.
The first draft. And I’ve heard from people, for example, Nathan, who is my case study this summer. He told me for weeks, ‘I have the book in my head, it’s going to be no problem to write out’. Like I sort of expected, he said actually it was a lot harder to write out because you have the idea in your head, but not maybe the specific words or the cadence, the meter if you’re rhyming.
1. Resources For the Writing Process
That definitely does happen. And I would say that’s the hardest part when you’re starting is just getting the book written, the first draft. You could look for books from your library about the craft of writing or about how to pay attention to the rhymes, the meter, the cadence, if your book is a rhyming book. Because there’s nothing worse than bad rhymes in a rhyming book, in my opinion. Please, if you’re writing a rhyming book take the time to learn about good rhyming.
Anyhow, moving on. There’s also some Facebook groups that are devoted strictly to the craft of writing. I don’t have any specifically to recommend to you because I’m not in any, so I don’t really want to just do a quick search and share some names when I don’t have personal experience with them. If anybody’s listening to this and you have something to recommend, please share it in the comments. I’d really appreciate that. I don’t want to recommend anything that I personally haven’t tried or used or it’s not somebody that I know on a personal level.
So books from the library, free. Facebook groups free. It will take some time and so sometimes those things end up as a procrastination technique, more than a help.
The most part, but the hard part is also just sitting in your chair and writing your book. In the first stage you just have to write the book. Maybe as you’re going and you have spelling mistakes, you might like the Grammarly extension for chrome that would point out any spelling mistakes.
But I don’t know at this point if it’s super important to edit your spelling because it might interfere with the flow. Once you actually get into the flow, you see the red line, you have to stop and decide if it’s Canadian spelling or US spelling. It actually might be a hindrance. So maybe I should go back and delete that. No to the Grammarly plugin at this point. Oh, I used the wrong word, the Grammarly extension. But you might want it later and it is free.
2. Free Resources for the Editing Process
The second part of your journey is when you have written the first draft and you need to edit it. Your first thought is going to be, oh shoot, I don’t have a few hundred dollars for an editor. And if that’s the case, that’s fine. It’s just going to take a little more leg work on your part. So there are books on how to self edit. So that could be a place to start.
You might know someone who was an English teacher. I’ve worked with one writer in particular whose mom edited everything and she was really good at it. That worked for her. I would say if it’s somebody who is very sticky about spelling and grammar maybe don’t necessarily listen to each and every one of their suggestions. You don’t want to lose the magic of your story, but of course you don’t want any spelling mistakes. Unless it’s on purpose because you made up some words because you’re a super fun writer like that.
Books, Friends, Editing Swaps
Other things you can do are Facebook groups specifically for editing swaps. I don’t think that’s the right term. Correct me please. Newsletters, swaps, but of course not only newsletter swaps. There’s groups where you share manuscripts and you edit each other’s. You give feedback. It’s like peer review. That works really well. I’m thinking Kidlit411 is a Facebook group and there’s an offshoot of it. Again, this is something that I haven’t personally used, but I know Mike Suarez referenced one. I’ll double check on the name of that group and I will make sure to put it in the show notes for you.
To recap, when you’re editing, you could use a friend who’s particularly good with the words and the spelling. You could use peer review edits and critiques, maybe in Facebook groups that I will add in the show notes or you could go to the good old library and get a book out on self editing.
3. Free Resources for Hiring an Illustrator
In the third step of the process, we need to start getting some illustrations and maybe there’s a chance that you could find someone to do this for free, but I’m not going to push that idea very much. Like if you’re thinking there’s a high school student or a college student, they still deserve to be paid for their work. It’s still work that they’re doing. Some people go onto Facebook and say, well, I have this great idea but I have no money and so please can somebody take pity on me?
But would you write a book for somebody for free? Would you babysit for a month for somebody for free? Would you do any work for somebody for free? I mean it would have to be a very special situation is what I’m thinking. I don’t think you’re going to find anybody who will do it for free and do good enough illustrations.
If you are totally strapped for cash, there is an option for you. And the option is to do a crowdfunding campaign. So crowdfunding is like the Kickstarters, the Indiegogos. Those types of things where basically you ask a hundred of your friends for $20 each and you end up with $2,000.
Now it sounds like free money, but the people who are most successful with these treat it like a full time job. They really do. They do a lot of promos, they reach out to a lot of people. They work at it like a job and you either pick I think a 30 day or a 60 day period. If you don’t make all the money, you don’t get any of the money. It has its nuances. Let’s put it like that.
Crowdfunding Expert: Lisa Ferland
Let’s put it like this. I am not the expert on crowdfunding. I did a podcast episode, I will link to as well in the show notes, with Lisa Ferland who is the crowdfunding expert. She has a free course. So her free course is Lisaferland.com/crowdfunding-lessons-101. But like I said, I’ll put that in the show notes so that you don’t have to frantically pause and write that down.
But Lisa really is the expert. She has helped so many other children’s authors and she is a children’s author herself. Actually she’s written some nonfiction books as well. She’s a jack of all trades and she does consulting when it comes to crowdfunding. I highly recommend her and her free course to give you an idea at least of what’s involved.
And then you can make the decision. Do I want to do it that way? Do I want to put $2,000 on my credit card? Maybe do I want to get online of credit? Maybe do I want to talk to good old mom and dad? You know, there are choices, but you are going to have to expect to pay one way or another for your illustrations.
4. Free Resources for Publishing Your Book
So then the next stage of course is the actual publishing of your book. If you use kdp.amazon.com that is a print on demand service and it’s free. Assuming your illustrator has formatted your book and it’s all ready to go, then just upload your files. You do your book description and your title, your author, your illustrator, and then you’re good to go. You have to pay for your proof, you have to pay for the shipping and you have to pay for any author copies. But that won’t be all that much money.
Kindle Kids Book Creator
If you want to do an ebook, the KDP platform has a free program you can download and run on your computer. It’s called Kindle Kids Book Creator. I’ll put that in the show notes. Anyway, it’s a free program and you download it onto your computer and you take the PDF from your actual book and you put it in. It turns it around a little bit and spits out an Ebook for you basically.
Then you upload that to KDP and now you have your paper back and you have your ebook. So the time and effort, yes, but free. That’s always nice to hear. Right? That’s basically the four steps. At this point, you have maybe put out some money, to pay for your illustrations. Maybe put some money out to pay for your proof of your author copies. But that’s all the money, pretty much that you’ve spent so far.
5. Help for Marketing Your Book
Then you have marketing. Marketing, promotion, social media. ‘Oh my goodness. Now I’ve published the book. Nobody’s buying it! Help, help!’
That’s pretty much how everybody’s brain works. So after you do the publishing part of your book, then you do have to think about promoting it.
Selfpublishingadvice.org by ALLi
You have your graphics now when you’re doing your promotions and now you’re wondering, what else can I do to sell this darn book? Well, there is a website I will link to this so you don’t have to pull over off the road while you’re driving and write it down. It’s called selfpublishingadvice.org and it’s run by ALLi, which is the Alliance of Independent Authors. It’s a whole website just on self-publishing advice. It’s incredible. It’s such a fantastic resource.
ALLi itself, you can sign up and be a member, but all these resources are free. For example, you can go through and look at beginning self publishing categories, but you can also look book production, book promotion and marketing.
There’s 529 resources on this website, so it will likely be a little bit overwhelming. But if you can narrow it down to your precise topic, like do you want to just talk about the writing? There’s stuff in there about the writing. Do you want to learn about editing? There’s stuff in there about editing. They have a podcast and they have a blog. This is a fantastic resource. The person, Lisa Ferland, who recommended this to me, said any article on this website is going to be a worthwhile resource. Go to self-publishingadvice.org for any information that you need.
Somebody else suggested in case you’re at the point with your books and you are wondering about the business status is do I need an LLC? Do I need a DBA? What is a DBA? What is an LLC? There’s a YouTube channel actually called LLC University. This has come highly recommended. If you’re at that stage in your business and you’re wondering, what do I need to do to be legally protected?
If you are a children’s author and have a free resource that I missed, please add it into the comments or send me a message and I will edit the show notes because I certainly haven’t been everywhere, done everything and I don’t know everybody. So please just let me know if there’s something that I missed.
Now let’s take a minute and talk about money. And let’s say you’re starting out right now and you’re totally bootstrapping your book, but in a year’s time, your book is raking in thousands of dollars. I hear so many times from authors when I say, Hey, what’s the best thing that you spend your royalties on? And almost without fail, people say, well, I rolled it back into the business. I rolled it back into books, rolled it back into illustrations or whatnot, and I cringe inwardly because I absolutely used to be that person.
Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
I was terrible with money my whole entire life. And I ran an entrepreneur group two years ago and one of the ladies in the group recommended a book by Mike Michalowicz called Profit First and she was shoved it at me basically and said, “This book changed my life. You need to read it.” And so I read it and Mike has a very casual conversational writing style. He’s a really funny guy. Even reading this nonfiction book about saving money, which could be boring, it was a really enjoyable read and it was easy to read.
I highly recommend it. I’ll put the link in the show notes says the broken record named Laurie. But I wanted to bring it up here in case you’re listening and you don’t read the show notes, I need you to know this. I need you to know that just because you have no money doesn’t mean that you will always have no money.
You can get it out from the library and you could read this book today. No matter what your financial situation is, you can start putting money aside and start having that little bit of profit, even if it’s $5 a month. I will tell you really quickly what his program is based on and then how it helped me. And then Mike actually left me a little voice message that I’m going to share with you too.
Parkinson’s Law and How Profit First Works
Mike’s profit first system is based on Parkinson’s law basically. Parkinson’s law says if you fill up your dinner plate, you’re going to finish your dinner plate, but if you fill up a smaller plate, you’re going to eat less, right? We’ve all heard that. If we know anything about dieting. The same goes true for your bank account.
Let’s say you have $5,000 in your one bank account, chances are good, by the end of the month, you’re going to spend your $5,000. And if you suddenly get an extra $5,000, well chances are good you’re gonna magically have expenses that amount to almost exactly $5,000. And it’s been proven because there’s a lot about it – Parkinson’s law.
What he says to do is not just make one smaller dinner plate, make five smaller dinner plates, in your bank account so that you have five different accounts, each get a different percentage of your income and you’re saving for taxes, you’re saving for profit, you’re saving for your regular daily expenses, and you’re saving for your business expenses. Those are not his terms. I can’t remember all of his terms.
How Profit First Changed My Life
In the entrepreneur group, I think it was Jacque who told me to get the book and read it, and we worked through the book together in the group. And so I made my five bank accounts and labeled them 10%, 20% savings, tax, etc. This was right in the beginning of me publishing my books. That was in the fall, let’s say September, October, I set up my five accounts. I had to figure it out, but it was free, no cost. You can just make online free accounts. That was fabulous.
Fast forward to October and Amazon went ahead and ordered 8,500 copies of my book on one day in anticipation of the Christmas season and the Christmas rush! What that meant for me at that point was a $28,000 sales day. Here’s a spoiler alert: that had never happened to me before! As a teacher, I think my max, you know, take home pay was maybe seven or $8,000. And of course in the olden days before I knew of Mike or knew of the Profit First system, it all went in the bank account and it pretty much all got spent because that’s how I rolled.
I Started Spending the Money In My Head!
I have that small weakness for clothes. I buy a lot of clothes. Anyway, I find out that Amazon ordered 8,500 copies of my book. I find out that I will be expecting in two months because that’s how they pay. 60 days delayed. I find out I’ll be getting a check for about $28,000. So what did I do? Of course I started spending in my head, ‘oh well I want this and I want this and I want this’. I think I did actually spend some, I don’t remember what on and then I stopped spending because we didn’t have the money yet.
And fast forward two months when I actually got the check, it was close to 30,000 and I went ahead and put it in my five bank accounts. So what did it do?
But This System Brought Me Back to Reality!
Well, it meant that in my like everyday sort of spending account, I think it’s called personal income. But anyway, in that account I only had about $5,000. So it wasn’t extravagant. I wasn’t going out to buy a new house or a new car or anything. And it brought me back down off that high, cloud nine of tons of money. It brought me back down to, okay, I actually better watch what I’m spending, which has been really hard for me my whole life. That’s just how I am I’ll admit it, bad with money.
But this book changed my life. That month I also started saving for the first time in my life for taxes. Because when you work for yourself, of course you have to pay your taxes differently. Up until then, I hadn’t really made much money on my books and I hadn’t really even thought about a tax account. You know, you just sort of feel like, well I have a few thousand in my one bank account, so I’m sure that will be enough.
Setting Up My 5 Accounts
It doesn’t work like that. When you start actually making good money, you need to really dedicate an account. You need to know how much you have. You need to know how much you’re gonna owe. It’s very sad and depressing. But on the other hand, if you owe that much it means you made a lot. A little bit, went into my profit. I don’t remember at this point how much, let’s say $1,000. Some money went into my expense account, my business expense account.
So the profit, the tax, the expenses, the personal savings. And then there’s one more that I’m forgetting. It might’ve been owners compensation, I can’t remember now. It probably went to pay off some of the advertising and some of the other things that I had racked up on my credit card. Not tons of money because I still had some of my profit account.
I Was Suddenly Profitable!
Just like that, after reading this book and setting up the accounts, all of a sudden I was profitable because I had money in that profit account that I didn’t touch. Now he actually has some really great advice about putting your tax and your savings, your profit account in a whole different bank and making it really hard to get to. And you don’t have a bank card. You have to go in and you have to stand in line. It’s really hard to take that money out and it’s smart. But to be honest, I didn’t take those steps and I’m doing okay.
Profit First for Children
In the book there’s also a little bit about getting kids started on this profit first system. Because I had been bad for close to 40 years, well I probably wasn’t managing my money before I was 10 or 20. I had been bad with money for 20 years let’s say.
And I was so excited to feel like I had a handle on what to do when checks came in, how to pay bills, when pay bills. It was such a liberating feeling and it’s why I want to share it with you here today. Then when I found out that he has this system for kids as well, I was over the moon because I never felt like my dad giving me the Dave Ramsey money book really did it to help me learn how to save.
And so I want to try different things with my own children. I want to teach them better, if I can. My kids have all envelopes. My younger kids have two envelopes. One is mad money, one is the vault, which is saving forever.
Sometimes My Kids Grumble…
My older son has five envelopes. He has the vault and he has mad money, but he also has, oh shoot, I wish I could remember the names. He has a big dream. So that would be more like a six month or a yearly saving for – well he thinks he’s getting a phone but he’s not – for something big. Like I said, a bike or he says an iPad or a phone. We’ll see. Because so far he spent the big dream on Lego. We’re still working on how we’re dealing with that.
And then there is like a social, donation type envelope. I let him pick the percentages of his money. I let him pick everything that he wanted, but every envelope needed to have a certain amount of money. They get allowance for doing some chores. Birthday money goes into that as well. Of course they grumble a little bit, but you know what, when they get those crazy desires for putty and for slime, I don’t have to be upset about putting my money up for all the slime, the glittery slime, and the bouncy slime and the color changing slime because they have mad money.
…But They Do Their Chores!
They’re really happy to do the chores, to earn the money to put in their envelopes once a week and then to spend their money. My daughter has over $100 saved and my four year old has, I don’t know, close to $50 saved. And it’s very interesting to me because I have learned a little bit about their money personalities. So of course the four year old has no concept.
The seven year old wants to save for something big. She does not want to fritter her money away on those little things, with the exception of putty of course. And the older son now goes into the store and he assesses things and ‘that’s too much money’. ‘And I don’t want to shop in this store because it’s too expensive’. ‘And that Lego is not worth that price.’ He sort of debates with himself and I feel like already they have learned.
I’m So Thrilled to Have My Money Managed!
I’m sorry I’ve rambled on now about the Profit First system, but I think that just goes to show you how much I endorse it. I love it. I highly recommend it. If you have a 14 year old or a 16 year old, they need this book and you need to help them. You have to be the parent and teach them the steps, the envelopes, the bank accounts because they don’t just read the book and implement, strangely enough when they’re children, they really do need those scaffolding steps from their parents.
And really the parents! We need the scaffolding steps and I’m just so thrilled with my ability to save and manage my money and that’s why I’m going to share. So I’ll stop talking about profit first and I’ll share with you the little blurb from Mike and then I’m going to share with you where you can find the free resource besides the show notes that has this all linked really nicely. Stay tuned.
Hey everyone, it’s Mike Micalowicz here, the author of Profit First. And I understand that you are listening to Laurie Wright’s podcast specifically for children’s authors and how to make your business. And let me tell you this, you are in a business to make your business profitable. I believe the profit first system will help you manage royalty checks and all the other ways you generate income. So listening closely. Enjoy it. And I hope to see out in the road one day. Oh, author’s rule!
Comment, Review, and Subscribe
Thank you Mike. I am fan-girling over here a little bit. I have all his books and he’s such a fantastic writer, which is of course why authors rule! He does loads of other things for everybody. After you use the free resources, even before you start collecting your royalty checks, please read Profit First and put the bank account system into place so that when you start earning the big bucks or the small bucks or the medium bucks or any bucks, you know what to do with them when they come into your bank account. Please, please, please.
It will make me so happy to hear that even one of you has done that because I really want your author businesses, your book businesses to be profitable.
If you would like the very pretty pdf that I made for you, because I have to admit, I do love making pretty PDFs. If you would like it, you can download it at Lauriewrighter.com/freeresources. Talk to you next week everybody!