Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to publish your own children's picture book

We're pleased to have a guest post today from Kirby Timmons, indie author, speaker, and television writer who published his first children's book in 2009:

The Unopened Stocking: A New Holiday "Yarn" For Dads & Families Who Love Them

One of the great things about being a writer today is that you don't have to wait for a publisher to decide to accept and publish your work.  You can publish it and market it yourself with the help of the internet, the great equalizer.   It's easier than you might think to get your children's picture book out into the world.  What's the worst that can happen?  No one buys it?  What the best that can happen? You create a grass-roots movement and sell copies of your book, or perhaps you get the opportunity to decide whether or not you want a publisher involved when they come knockin'...

by Kirby Timmons

One of the pleasant things I remember about 2009 was that it was the year I published my first children's book, "THE UNOPENED STOCKING".  Thinking back, it seemed like a pretty daunting challenge. But once I broke it down into some manageable steps, it actually came about rather easily. And it could happen for you just that way also.


I chose a holiday story I'd written years ago, one in which my twin boys teach me a touching lesson about Christmas spirit. Whether you're adapting a story or essay you've already written, or writing something original for kids, focus upon something simple and personal that could appeal to young minds. If it's universal, it will appeal to adults, as well.


A children's book is really just a small artbook which mixes text, pictures and white space in an engaging way. So, take your original story and break down the text into self-standing, manageable bites. A good way to think about this is to look at individual sentences to see what is "illustratable". That will help you to define which text and pictures will live together comfortably on a page.


Each set of facing pages of a children's book really needs to be designed almost as a single page, so that, together, you can lead your viewer's eye down and across the left page and onto the right page. For those of you who have up-to-now been primarily formatting text only, this will take a little trial and error to achieve a pleasing flow.


For formatting, you can utilize writing programs you may already be familiar with -- Microsoft Word and PowerPoint both allow you to mix text and pictures. There are several online book publishers that will allow you to input your book online. When completed, you'll be able to print one-at-a-time copies for a very reasonable price.So, whether it's a children's book, a small art book for adults, or some other project you decide on, there are lots of advantages to starting small.

Not the least of which is that you'll be able to mark the passing of a very special year -- the year you became a published author.

Kirby Timmons is a professional writer, trainer and speaker who has written scripts for some of TV's most enduring series, including THE WALTONS, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GRIZZLY ADAMS, and THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Kirby has also written, produced and directed hundreds of training programs, including THE ABILENE PARADOX, named one of the 5 best business videos of all time by Fortune Magazine; GROUPTHINK, winner of the American Psychological Associations Award for Best Training Program; and TEAMWORK IN CRISIS: The Miracle of Flight 232, now used in disaster programs worldwide, including Columbine High School in Colorado.   While he has concentrated in scriptwriting, Kirby is also a published author, and has contributed articles to THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS, THE HERALD-EXAMINER, MARRIAGE & FAMILY LIVING Magazine, among others. Kirby taught Scriptwriting For Informational Media at California State University at Northridge, and has lectured at Los Angeles Valley College. He has also taught high school screenwriting workshops with the Writer's Guild Foundation.

Also Kirby Timmons is the Moderator of our upcoming Santa Clarita Writers Group Group and Creative Writing Workshop

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