Nicholette Thomas wrote and illustrated her first children’s book, Ibari’s Curls, that focuses on creating a dialogue with her young readers. I know this because my kids love “answering” the main character’s questions throughout the book. I’ve never seen anything like that before and we have quite the collection of children’s books in our house.
It turns out that creating that conversation was the main reason why Nicholette decided to self-publish her book. That style of writing is not commonly found in children’s books (but it should be because it is quite effective).
Read more about my conversation with Nicholette and how she plans to educate kids (and their parents) through this type of interactive reading style.
Why did you decide to self-publish your illustrated children’s book?
I always wanted to write a story, and I set a goal to publish a book. I wasn’t sure traditionally publishing was right for me because it takes a long time and I can be really shy. With self-publishing, I felt in control, I didn’t need approval from anyway, and I could accomplish it all by myself.
The illustrations are really unique in your book. What was your process?
I sketched in pencil, did the watercolor, outlined in marker, and then scanned and enhanced them to make them transparent. I wanted a painted background to make the illustrations more unique. I didn’t use any fancy tools—I dropped the scanned file into Word and clicked the tab “Set to transparent,” and that was it. I upgraded my Canvaaccount so that I could control more of the settings, but that was really it.
You really used Word to manipulate your images? That’s crazy. Word is not designed for that at all. I’m impressed.
Yeah, I did! I made it work.
You ran a quick Kickstarter campaign to cover some of the fees of your book. Can you explain what the campaign covered?
I wanted the Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs of the ISBN 10-pack ($395), the Canva upgrade ($12/mth), and then the set-up and printing costs of the book (Ingram Spark $49 and CreateSpace $75).
Next time I self-publish a book, I want someone to take my artwork and make it digital, but for this book, I didn’t hire any editors or cover designers.
How long did it take you to create the book from start to finish?
It took me about a year. I ordered a bunch of copies from Ingram Spark to have on hand, giveaway, and sell on Multicultural Children’s Book Day. (Set your calendars for the next one Jan 25, 2019)
Ingram Spark ($8/book) ended up being much cheaper than CreateSpace ($13/book) for me to produce since my book was full color and there was no noticeable quality difference that I could find.
What advice would you give an indie children’s book author?
My advice is to hire a cover designer and illustrator if you don’t know how to do it yourself. Also, have kids look at it and make sure that the words make sense to them. I got a lot of great feedback from the kids who read the book and pointed out things that I wouldn’t have thought about. Getting group feedback is really good even if it means you have to change things.
Do a lot of research and keep testing before you publish.
Your book used to have a different title. What made you decide to change it?
During the research phase, I noticed that a lot of children’s books had really unique names. Golden Girl and Her Curls (the original title) just didn’t seem unique enough to stand out. I asked for feedback in a book group, and Ibari’s Curls was overwhelmingly more popular.
Be careful in how you share your work publicly as you might still be working through things and changing things right up until publication.
Has self-publishing your book resulted in any new opportunities for you?
Self-publishing definitely forced me to put myself out there more than I was already doing writing for my blog. A book is a much more visible product of your work, so it’s easy to feel more vulnerable because it is being seen and judged by others.
What’s next for you? Are there any new books in the works?
I’ve started illustrating another book about unique families and want to show different makeups of families. There will be all sorts of families with two dads, two moms, one mom, one dad, etc., and I want kids to know that this is normal.
For any book I create, I want there to be a dialogue with the reader, so they learn as they read while still having fun.
Any last takeaway messages for indie authors?
Make sure publishing a book is something you feel passionate about.
Don’t do it to try to make money, do it because you love it.
Even if you don’t sell one copy, you’ll still feel great when you hold your book in your hands.