Children’s book authors, graphic artists, and anyone looking to self publish a picture book now have the ability to do something amazing: make money.
The low cost of print
While affordable printed books have historically been available for most styles and trim sizes, picture books’ larger size (9” x 7” landscape) and full-color interior printing made them far more expensive to produce. This made it difficult – i.e. impossible – for independent authors to publish and sell picture books at a competitive price.
Happily, this is no longer the case. To put some hard numbers on this, you can get 100 picture books from BookBaby – softcover, 9” x 7”, full color (cover and interior), 32 pages – for $8.99 each. At this price, you can price your book in the $11.99 – $14.99 range and still make a profit. (Hardcover picture books, as you can imagine, cost quite a bit more to produce and may push your title out of a competitive price point, especially when ordering smaller quantities.)
Of course, you can do more with these beautiful books than just make money. I used BookBaby to print the very first Mr. Pants book – which was originally a picture book – and I used those copies to land a publishing deal.
Print on demand
Now the price is right for bulk printed picture books, but let’s say you don’t want to order a large print run right away. No problem. With print on demand (POD) and distribution, you can produce smaller runs and even print on order.
POD means that BookBaby only prints a book when a retailer or wholesaler orders it. This enables you to sell your book in thousands of stores with minimum upfront costs and no warehousing. To get POD (which includes printed book distribution through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, and beyond), you simply add $199 to any printed book order of 25+ books.
That means you can sell that same picture book we mentioned above for $11.99 and still make $1.10 per book. You can also turn to the smaller, but still classic, picture book trim size of 8.5” square, sell them for $7.99, and make $1.02 per book.
Be your own online bookseller
People often ask me where they should buy my books so I get the best royalty. I certainly appreciate that, but as an author published by a traditional publishing house, my answer is always the same: it really doesn’t matter. I get maybe 50¢ a book if someone buys the hardcover edition at retail price. Less for paperback. Less if someone is buying from a wholesaler or through book clubs.
As we’ve seen from the figures above, independent authors can now earn way more per book, even if the customer is buying their book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. But selling directly to your readers is even more profitable, and BookBaby’s BookShop makes that simple.
BookShop is a free online storefront exclusive to BookBaby authors. When you steer your customers to your BookShop page, you can earn three times as much from your retail sales as you can by selling your book through Amazon.
Plus, you can sell POD through BookShop and earn even more money. For example, selling a POD book on BookShop for $9.99 can earn you $5.00 in royalties. That’s the best rate in the publishing business.
And what’s more: your book is guaranteed to always be in stock.
So, as a self-published author, if someone asks you where to buy your book: you’ve got an easy answer: “My BookShop page.”
One last note: don’t be afraid to charge more for your books at book signings. Even if you are selling your picture book on Amazon for $11.99, you can sell it for $15 at a book signing. People won’t hesitate to spend more for the chance to meet you in person and get an autographed copy.
Print On Demand: The biggest advance in publishing since Gutenberg
Product, Payment, and Profits… BookShop and Your Print On Demand Success
Chuck Beard’s Self-published Photography Book Is “Absolutely Stunning”
How printing your book can help you get a book deal
Dawud Anyabwile, Self-Published Comic Book Creator