It is no surprise that Amazon is an online shopping giant. But long gone is the time where Amazon fulfilled only the role of an online shopping platform. With the popularity of Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, the retailer assumed an important role in the publishing industry as well. Writers of all genres and walks of life are taking advantage of the tools Amazon offers. So, if you want to self-publish children’s books on Amazon with ease, this is what we will explore today.
My first encounter with self-publishing my children’s literature on Amazon started over four years ago, when at the time, Amazon was known as Kindle Publishing. At that time, indie authors (myself included) could only publish ebooks through their platform. Our option to publish paperbacks on Amazon was made available through its sister company, CreateSpace.
But as of late 2018, in order to improve independent publishing experiences, Amazon merged the CreateSpace services with its existing digital services and became Kindle Direct Publishing (aka KDP). The platform evolved and now offers a full set of resources to facilitate the writer’s publishing journey.
Since we are here to discuss how to self-publish children’s books on Amazon with ease, let’s dive in:
Table of Contents
How to Self-Publish Children’s Books on Amazon
When you log on to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, your first stop is your Bookshelf. On your bookshelf, you will encounter a dashboard where you can create an ebook, paperback, or both. Recently, Amazon released a new feature: Series. Now you have the option of creating and managing a series. Not only that, but this feature allows for readers to find your books easily. For those of you who want to take advantage of marketing your books as a series, and for readers who love to read books in series, this can be this platform’s icing on the cake.
For the sake of simplicity, we will focus on the “create a new title” section. Once you pick if you want to self-publish an ebook or paperback, you will land on Kindle E-book or Book Details and start with Part I.
Part I – Kindle Ebook/Book Details
On Kindle Ebook/Book Details, you will add information about language contributors, description, publishing rights, keywords, categories, and age range. In addition, if you are self-publishing a children’s ebook, this is where you will set up your pre-order–as of today, there is no choice of setting up pre-orders for paperback (more on this later).
First, start with choosing your language. If you have a translated version, this is where you will choose from the options offered.
Then, you will insert your book title and/or subtitle.
Following that, you will have the chance to include your children’s book series. This is completely optional. A lot of children’s authors don’t have a series name, but they create one on Amazon based on the theme of the book.
In my case, I have created an educational series, Let’s Learn While Playing, because I wanted to use my education and child development background to create stories that inspire and teach children educational concepts in a fun way. Not only that, but I also wanted to create simple solutions to make the lives of parents and caregivers easier.
Having a series is beneficial for several reasons. A children’s book series allows you to play around with keywords and drive readers who are interested in a particular theme to your children’s books. As I mentioned earlier, this is a win-win for you and your readers who love to have books in a series. If they love your work, they will surely buy your next children’s titles.
An important note when you are self-publishing your children’s books on Amazon is that if you decide to include a series, you must include a “series number.” In other words, on Amazon, this is the volume number–if it’s your first, second, third, fourth, etc. children’s book in that series. If you do not include a series number, Amazon will not let you proceed to the second part, content.
Following that, you will include the edition of your children’s book. If it’s your first time self-publishing children’s books on Amazon, you don’t really need to add anything. But let’s say you want to publish a new version or revised edition of your children’s book–as is the case with my title Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember. This is where you add it.
In the next step, you will add the contributors. This is where you, the author, will add your credentials, and that of your co-author, if you have one. Since we are discussing children’s books or picture books, this is where you add information about your illustrator. This is also where you have the opportunity to provide information or give credit to your editor, translator, and anyone else who played a big role in producing your children’s book.
Next, we dive into book description. The description is a very important part when you self-publish children’s books on Amazon. According to Amazon,
“Customers view your book descriptions as they shop on Amazon. Often, it’s the reader’s first experience with the content of your book. A well-written description piques readers’ interest and assures them that your book is of high quality.”
You have 4000 characters to make your case and write a rich description to entice readers and convince them that you have a great product, in other words, an unmissable children’s book. You can use several tools such as Kindlepreneur Book Description Generator or Amazon Book Description Generator by Pillow Talk Books to help you create and format beautiful descriptions with different tags–highlights, italicized, bolded, etc.
After you go through the publishing rights, you will curate your keywords. This is another crucial part of the process when you self-publish your children’s books on Amazon. The reason being is that when people shop on Amazon, they use keywords to search for items or products.
You can find target keywords when you research them on the search bar or use tools to research them such as Publisher Rocket and KDSPY. Another great way to optimize your search is using keyword phrases, for instance: picture books, picture books for kids, picture books for children, etc. At this point, you get the idea. What is important to keep in mind is that optimized keywords can make a world of difference in getting your book in front of the right audience. Keep that in mind!
Right after the keywords, you will have the chance to choose categories for your children’s books. Categorization is another important area for Amazon.
Amazon points out that you should think of a “category like the sections of a physical bookstore.” In other words, the more precise you are, the higher the chance of getting readers to find your kid’s title. So, be sure to select the most appropriate categories suitable for kid’s books or children’s picture books.
Once you choose the category, you get to pick the age range and grade level for your book. Like the previous areas, those aspects are completely optional. But if you want to be targeted with your strategies, you should be as specific as possible. This helps your audience–parents, teachers, caregivers–when they are searching for a book for their little ones. That said, I strongly suggest you fill that area accordingly.
After this, it comes to the point where you choose if you want to publish your book at that moment or if you prefer to set up a free pre-order. The process of self-publishing your children’s book on Amazon is the same in both instances. What differentiates one from the other is that in a pre-order, you will set up a publishing date in the future, and Amazon gives you a few days or months (depending on how far you pick the release date) to revise your files and upload your final manuscript.
The best part is that you can set up a pre-order up to a year ahead of your publishing date, giving you plenty of time to prepare. The downside is that when you set up your pre-order, you can only change the release date once (a delay of 30 days only) without penalties. If by any chance you have to delay your pre-order or cancel it for some reason, Amazon will not allow you to set up a new pre-order for another year.
Another important note about pre-orders is that they are only available for e-books. Hopefully in the near future, Amazon will allow pre-orders for paperback. Though, as of today, you cannot set up paperback pre-orders on Amazon, you do have other options. You can still set up a pre-order of your children’s paperback or hardcover through other distributors such as IngramSpark, and have your title available on Amazon. That goes to say that nothing is lost.
This is it for part one. Once you’ve finished this section, we move on to part two, Kindle Ebook/Book Content.
Part II – Kindle Ebook/Book Content
Proceeding with the content section, this is where you are going to upload your children’s book manuscript, followed by the ebook or book cover.
In terms of the cover, you will be given an option of uploading your children’s book cover or creating your own. Amazon has a cover creation tool, in which KDP not only allows you to design your cover on the spot, but will also guide you with the process.
But a word of caution when it comes to creating your own children’s book cover! I don’t know about you, but all these years of writing and self-publishing children’s books have taught me a lot about this process. I’ve listened to a lot of readers and participated in several writing groups. All of those exchanges were filled with valuable insights on what readers want to see. As the adage says, readers do judge a book by its cover. This is real.
And if you want to be successful when you self-publish your children’s books on Amazon or anywhere else, you should take this seriously. What I mean by that is, if you are not a designer, illustrator, visual artist, or don’t have a background in any of those areas, hire a professional. Please don’t get me wrong, but a cover designer or a children’s book illustrator will create a beautiful cover that appeals to your readers. And that cover can be the difference between a well-crafted and carefully produced children’s book and an average one.
You can find highly-skilled, inexpensive cover designers and illustrators in several places. You can find them at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Fiverr, Upwork, etc. As a matter of fact, I go over choosing and finding designers and illustrators with more details in this comprehensive guide on How to Self-Publish Children’s Books without Crushing in your Spirits. Also, I have been fortunate to partner with talented artists on Kidpressroom’s former program The Illustrator Corner.
After you upload your manuscript and cover letter, you will have the chance to preview and ensure that everything looks fine. If there is an issue that can be potentially detrimental to your book in terms of formatting, it will show in the preview. Besides that, once you approve the files for publication, the Amazon team will also revise the file to ensure there is no issue with your manuscript before publishing it–issues can include things like proper margins, text within margins, etc. If there is any problem with your file, you receive an email notifying you of the issue and how to fix it.
The idea is to provide the best quality of product for your readership.
Continuing, the next part is the ISBN number, which is completely optional if you are publishing a children’s ebook on Amazon. That is because the identifier or the reference number of a product, including books, on Amazon is the ASIN number.
However, if you are publishing a paperback, you will need an ISBN. To go even further, if you are self-publishing a children’s book for global distribution, you will need your own ISBN. The reason I’m saying this is because if you decide to go for expanded distribution through Amazon, Amazon offers you one ISBN for free. However, here goes another word of caution: Amazon free ISBN will allow you to publish under Amazon imprint, not yours.
Also, even though it says “expanded distribution,” you will be limited in terms of distribution to libraries and bookstores. The reason being is that librarians don’t get children’s books for libraries through Amazon, but through their specific distributors. In addition, bookstores don’t accept distribution from Amazon since this online giant is one of their biggest competitors. So keep this in mind before making your selection.
Another important note about ISBN is that you will need different ISBN numbers for different formats of your book. In other words, you will need an ISBN for your ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audio book, if you decide to publish in all formats.
Each country has their own ISBN provider, and here in the US, Bowker is the recognized organization that facilitates ISBN numbers, which you can buy in units or in bulk.
Moving on, once you finalize this part, we jump to the last step, which is Kindle Ebook/Book Pricing.
Part III – Kindle Ebook/Book Pricing
As the name already hints, this is where you set up the price and enroll in promotions, if you plan to.
You can enroll in KDP Select, where you set your book to be free for a certain period of time and maximize your promotions on Amazon. This allows as many readers as possible to download your kid’s book for free. Since the books enrolled in KDP Select are automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited and are eligible for the KDP Select Global Funds, you can earn royalties through first-time page reads of your children’s books.
This is a great strategy if you are just starting out and don’t have any other titles or series to push your children’s book rankings.
Keep in mind, in order to enroll in KDP Select, you have to make your children’s ebook exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. In other words, you can not choose expanded distribution or sell your Kindle books anywhere else, including your website.
Moving on to the subject of royalties, you can choose if you want to go for 30% or 70% royalties. According to the size of your children’s manuscript (remember that picture books tend to have a larger file size), Amazon will tell you the minimum price that you can set up in the marketplace. If you go with the 70% royalty, you will receive a slightly higher royalty.
However, this is the area where children’s authors and writers of other genres like to play around with their promotional strategies. That is because you will not be able to set up a $0.99 book price at a higher percentage, like 70%. The only options you have to set up a $0.99 book are either dropping the royalty to 35% or enrolling in KDP Select while participating in other promotional offerings, such as Kindle Countdown.
Then you ask, Why should I drop my book to $0.99? You might want to, depending on your children’s book marketing strategies. That is, according to research in the industry, books priced at a lower tier tend to get more downloads. This is where you’re going to see what works for you.
When you choose your book price and royalty tier, Amazon will calculate the price, including delivery fee, and show how much you will make in terms of royalty when the costs are included. Also, Amazon automatically calculates the price for the other marketplaces, which is also another area where you can manually adjust.
After you have your children’s book price taken care of, you read and accept the KDP terms and conditions, and voila!
Once you hit “publish”, you will see a note saying “it can take up to 72 hours” for your book to be live. From my experiences, I always had my children’s books live in less than 24 hours. Provided that your files are all correct and follow Amazon specifications, you should be good to go. If not, the Amazon KDP team is very hands-on. If you need any further assistance, you can easily reach out to customer support, either through email or phone call.
As you can see, you don’t need to break the bank to self-publish children’s books on Amazon. You don’t need to get overwhelmed either. Whether you are starting out or need a refresher, this resource can give you the confidence you need to publish away.
So now go, have your children’s title ready, and enjoy the ride!
And if you have been on this journey for a while, share your experiences with us! Tell us about your joy, your setbacks, and how your promotions are going.
How is your journey to self-publish children’s books on Amazon going? Let us know in the comments below.
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