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Keobooks
02-02-2016, 11:03 PM
My daughter is five and she told me that she's writing a book. When she told me about the plot and characters, I could tell that she was very serious about this. I told her that I would help her out. She draws all of the pictures and I will write all of the words.

She took it a step further and said that she wanted to sell her book and make money so she could save up for a trip to Disney world. I told her that we probably couldn't save up for Disney world right away, but maybe she could sell her book for US$.99 online and tell her friends and family to buy digital copies.

I found some sites where children can publish. They are of excellent quality, with guest children's authors giving advice to the children. This month Sharon Creech is talking to the kids and holding a contest. My problem with this site and the others is that they are obviously vanity presses. You can publish online for free, but only people with an account can access it. People can buy physical copies of your book, but they are US$ 25.00, and are obviously meant for proud grandmas.

The second issue I have is that even though the authors are kids, they are all much older than 5. They write chapter books without illustrations for the most part. They write on subjects that don't interest my daughter yet. She'd have little interest in the site beyond looking at her own story.

So any suggestions? If I have to settle for a blog, I will. But she really wants the whole shebang. She wants to sell her book to strangers. I'm not sure Amazon would be appropriate because obviously her books won't be on a professional level anywhere near the standards self published authors hold themselves to. I don't even know if they do picture books at all!

So any ideas are welcome. Thanks!

cornflake
02-02-2016, 11:16 PM
I've known five-year-olds who wrote and sold books. They wrote them, their parents copied the pages, they sewed or stapled them together, and went around to neighbours.

I don't get putting it online for digital copies - seems more of a hassle, less likely to succeed, and much less charming.

Also, have you looked at some of the self-published books on Amazon? There are no standards, and professional level applies to a small subset.

Keobooks
02-02-2016, 11:38 PM
Well, I'd like a digital version available because we have relations overseas and cross country. It would make everything easier. It may not be as charming, but having the Californian and the German relatives have easy access to her work is more important.

As for Amazon, I should probably spend more time looking at the books themselves. I get most of what I know from reading the forums and authors tell each other that their books aren't doing well because they are poorly formatted and they chose a sans serif font. I assumed everyone was as serious. If I were self publishing, I would.

Sheryl Nantus
02-02-2016, 11:40 PM
I'd go to Kinkos or any local printer and do up a few copies for your family and friends. Have some on hand for extra sales.

Your daughter is five. She doesn't need the hassle of you spending a lot of cash on books that likely won't sell beyond the immediate family and friends. Not to mention that this might be a passing fad - in six months you could end up with hundreds of overpriced books in the garage that you can't sell.

Go to the local printers and spend your money there. You'll have full control and if you're lucky, you'll break even.

JMO, YMMV.

Cyia
02-02-2016, 11:43 PM
If you want to send copies to relations overseas, you can always upload the book as a PDF file and send it to them. Or, you could use a hosting site and make a slide show of the pages and send them the link.

cornflake
02-02-2016, 11:55 PM
Well, I'd like a digital version available because we have relations overseas and cross country. It would make everything easier. It may not be as charming, but having the Californian and the German relatives have easy access to her work is more important.

As for Amazon, I should probably spend more time looking at the books themselves. I get most of what I know from reading the forums and authors tell each other that their books aren't doing well because they are poorly formatted and they chose a sans serif font. I assumed everyone was as serious. If I were self publishing, I would.

Giving them easy access to her work? I mean... she's five. She'd also probably get more of a kick out of getting to mail a couple of copies out, getting stamps and helping address envelopes and going to the post office. Tell her they paid for it and stick a buck in her jar.

There are certainly self publishers who are quite serious and careful, who edit diligently, produce a professional-level product, etc. There are plenty here on AW. The percentage of self-pubbed books that level of care and ability accounts for is small though. Go look; there's a lot on Amazon that are barely comprehensible.

Keobooks
02-03-2016, 12:41 AM
I don't see why it's so ridiculous to set up a little Amazon account for her. Who cares if she's five? Who cares if she loses interest? Worst thing that could happen is that she loses interest before she finishes it. And in my opinion, I wouldn't expect her to do multiple books. Just the one. It would be fun to learn how it works, and look up her book and show it to people. I don't think Amazon self publishing costs much if anything simply for digital copies.

This is what she wants to do. She wants her book to be "real" and she thinks strangers will want to buy it. (I don't think that they will, but I'm not going to tell her that.). This option is cheaper than Kinkos. This will make her feel accomplished and good about what she did. Even if she never gets another desire to write ever again, she'll have nice memories of being taken seriously about something. I don't see what's so terrible about that. Little stapled books are charming and sweet but if it's not too much extra work to put it online, why not?

ASeiple
02-03-2016, 12:47 AM
DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, I am not giving you legal or career advice, I am just offering opinions below and should not be liable for anything you do in this area so please god don't sue me.

Sadly, I think most of what you'll find out there for kids' publishing is vanity stuff.

But there's obviously demand out there. Ever hear of Axe Cop? A guy teamed up with his five-year old brother, and illustrated the kid's stories, and so Axe Cop was created. It's absurdist stuff, that started out as a webcomic, and spun off into various licenses. So it's possible, but don't expect it, especially not with your first effort in this area.

The big obstacle to getting something like that up on Amazon would be the tax questions, and legal stuff that a five-year-old isn't allowed to select. But if you publish it under your name and have her listed as a co-author, then you could go that route. In that case I'd recommend putting your daughter's name in the title of the book. It'll make her happy, and leave no doubts as to who really wrote it.

I think there's no harm in going that route unless you get silly with it and drop money on things you don't need. You'd essentially be her manager, and naturally when the royalties come in you'd shuffle the money off to a little account for her. If it does great. If it doesn't, well, no harm done.

J. Tanner
02-03-2016, 12:48 AM
It depends if you want her to learn the potentially difficult truth that strangers aren't likely to buy her book at this young age.

But, otherwise, I don't see the problem. Put it on Amazon and make sure the description clearly notes that age of the author at the beginning. Friends and family will be able to pick it up. Pretty much no one else will even see it, and the few that do will hopefully just enjoy the charm of it and move on.

Keobooks
02-03-2016, 12:59 AM
She's going to get excited that 9 whole people bought her book! Or whatever. She's going to be excited that she can look up her book on Amazon and see it there just like a real book. She's only five, but she's savvy enough to know that stapled pages aren't what the pros do. And to be honest, if the only way to get her book out is to go print up and staple stuff, and spend a ton of money mailing it out, it's not going to get done. I'm too lazy to do all that legwork. I don't mind figuring out how to format it for Amazon, but I'll be danged if I'm going to knock on doors all over the neighborhood and waste printer ink or real money. Forget that. She's only 5!

Cyia
02-03-2016, 01:11 AM
She's going to get excited that 9 whole people bought her book! Or whatever. She's going to be excited that she can look up her book on Amazon and see it there just like a real book. She's only five, but she's savvy enough to know that stapled pages aren't what the pros do. And to be honest, if the only way to get her book out is to go print up and staple stuff, and spend a ton of money mailing it out, it's not going to get done. I'm too lazy to do all that legwork. I don't mind figuring out how to format it for Amazon, but I'll be danged if I'm going to knock on doors all over the neighborhood and waste printer ink or real money. Forget that. She's only 5!

Honestly, it sounds like you're the one who's excited about this. (And you should be. Collaborative projects with your kidlet should be fun.)

For picture books, staples are exactly how it's done. You can get formatting templates online, print them and put two staples in the spine exactly like a commercially produced book. Or go through services that do "photobooks," like snapfish (or go to Staples for the same thing) and have them print you one with pasted pages for around $12 if you want your own copy with a cardboard cover.

J. Tanner
02-03-2016, 03:05 AM
I'm too lazy to do all that legwork. I don't mind figuring out how to format it for Amazon, but I'll be danged if I'm going to knock on doors all over the neighborhood and waste printer ink or real money. Forget that.

Time is a resource too. Between formatting a picture book properly (which ain't always straightforward) and dealing with tech support for 8 of the 9 people who want to buy it but aren't current Kindle Fire/Reader users you may wish for the simplicity of DIY printing. :D

cornflake
02-03-2016, 03:13 AM
I don't see why it's so ridiculous to set up a little Amazon account for her. Who cares if she's five? Who cares if she loses interest? Worst thing that could happen is that she loses interest before she finishes it. And in my opinion, I wouldn't expect her to do multiple books. Just the one. It would be fun to learn how it works, and look up her book and show it to people. I don't think Amazon self publishing costs much if anything simply for digital copies.

This is what she wants to do. She wants her book to be "real" and she thinks strangers will want to buy it. (I don't think that they will, but I'm not going to tell her that.). This option is cheaper than Kinkos. This will make her feel accomplished and good about what she did. Even if she never gets another desire to write ever again, she'll have nice memories of being taken seriously about something. I don't see what's so terrible about that. Little stapled books are charming and sweet but if it's not too much extra work to put it online, why not?


She's going to get excited that 9 whole people bought her book! Or whatever. She's going to be excited that she can look up her book on Amazon and see it there just like a real book. She's only five, but she's savvy enough to know that stapled pages aren't what the pros do. And to be honest, if the only way to get her book out is to go print up and staple stuff, and spend a ton of money mailing it out, it's not going to get done. I'm too lazy to do all that legwork. I don't mind figuring out how to format it for Amazon, but I'll be danged if I'm going to knock on doors all over the neighborhood and waste printer ink or real money. Forget that. She's only 5!

No one is saying you can't; do whatever you like.

Personally, I don't know a kid who'd want to make a 'real' book and think a digital version satisfied the criteria. I'm pretty certain every kid I know thinks real books are the ones you hold in your hands.

If you think formatting and opening an Amazon publisher acct and all that mess is easier than copying and stapling, so be it. Doesn't seem to me it'd be much fun or learning for her, but it's your kid. Again, can only speak of kids I know, but the ones that age range would only understand writing and selling a book to people in a physical sense.

Polenth
02-03-2016, 06:22 AM
The worst thing is not that she gets bored. It's that either strangers will buy the book, rate it one star, and write negative comments about it. She'll find those comments eventually, and she'll see your reactions to them. Or strangers won't buy her book, she'll be crushed, and she may think it's because her book is terrible. No matter how much you tell her that they probably won't buy it, she's going to hear that as yes they will. She will believe it will fund Disney World for her, whatever you say.

A child entering an adult world will be treated like an adult. That can destroy a child's confidence and motivation to keep practising. Five is not a good age for constructive criticism and hard work. It's the age to say, "That's lovely, keep going." The publishing world isn't that happy supportive place. It can be hard enough on adults, who have a lot more grounding.

ASeiple
02-03-2016, 06:44 AM
At the end of the day it's all gonna depend on your kid.

Is she really up for this? You and her are the only ones who know that for sure.

AW Admin
02-03-2016, 06:56 AM
Take a look at Blurb.com too; it might work well for you.

You'll want to pay attention to color; some colors print better than others, whether it's Amazon or a local printer. It's the nature of the chemistry.

RedWombat
02-03-2016, 07:13 AM
I was gonna come here and recommend Blurb.com too. You can make a PDF that people can buy, and while the profit margins aren't great, it's free to upload everything and it's not the deep-end swim-with-sharks that Amazon is. I've used them, and their printing is good quality (and I'm a professional artist, so I get seriously obsessive over print quality!) and you can order a print volume so that she's got something in hand.

M. H. Lee
02-03-2016, 06:44 PM
I say why not give it a shot. If those little kids on Master Chef Junior can handle the pressure of cooking gourmet meals on television why can't your kid write this book? Sounds like a great project for you to work on with your child. Check out this link: https://kdp.amazon.com/kids

It's Amazon's solution for uploading illustrated children's books. If you want to do a print book you could use Createspace but you need to be over 24 pages, I think it is.

I'd open an account in your name so you're the one getting the money (that means you'll be paying taxes on it), but put her name as the author and make it clear in the bio for the book that this was illustrated by her. (There's an author that's a teenager that uses the same name as me and her bio makes it clear she's a teenager.) And if someone says something mean, well, that happens in life and you can't protect your child from that kind of thing forever. It's not a reason to not try.

Cyia
02-03-2016, 07:05 PM
If those little kids on Master Chef Junior can handle the pressure of cooking gourmet meals on television

You can't use prodigies as a baseline for the behavior of all children.

As was mentioned upthread, there are serious matters to consider, including how a child might respond to negative criticism. It's not likely that a child's book would garner attention from the truly awful trolls out there, especially if it's clear by the artwork that a child is involved, but then most people wouldn't think of strangers hacking their baby monitors to scare their children, either.

Things happen. You want to make sure the kidlet in question can handle them if they do.

In all honestly, there is a precedent for children writing a book with the goal of getting to Disney world. In the one case I'm aware of, the brothers far exceeded the amount they needed for their trip. It was a novelty thing that caught on with the right people. However, the next kid to try it was likely disappointed.

The same thing happens in crowd-sourcing. One parent gets the idea to crowd-fund their kids' dream trip because their economic situation, family health issues, whatever, make it impossible to afford. They figure there's no harm in trying, and the first one or two people who ventured out there made more than they needed, but then the flood came, and the money stopped flowing. For every failed attempt, there's at least one disappointed child.

cmhbob
02-03-2016, 08:20 PM
Sooo....this just popped up at Indies Unlimited. Rather eerie timing.

Kickin’ It with Kindle Kids’ Book Creator (http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2016/02/02/kickin-it-with-kindle-kids-book-creator/)


I never dreamed of writing a children’s book — didn’t think it was my style. Well, a little ducky changed that. Her name is Sevy, and she caused me a whole heap of trouble as a duckling. I’d posted her exploits on Facebook and everyone kept urging me to write a children’s book. Okay, I did. The print version had its headaches with formatting, bleed, and such, but it’s out there. The eBook, however: I could never get the formatting right for some reason, so I ignored it for a couple of years.

Enter the mighty Amazon and the Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. This is a free download that you can pluck from the KDP login page. There’s also a short (video) on the KDP website that’s pretty helpful.

EMaree
02-03-2016, 09:22 PM
Be careful if you choose to make this book available online. If you kid grows up and wants to follow her (and her parent's) interests and be a writer, and you put it on Createspace or give this book an ISBN as part of the process, their sales now are going to be forever linked to their name. A 18 or 21-year-old writer isn't going to be so thrilled that agents keep finding the book they wrote when they were 9.

Consider using a penname unique to your parent-daughter collab project.

Creating a digital PDF of the book and selling it on your own website, or a site like Gumroad, in digital only would be a nice way to avoid needing an ISBN.

Honestly, having lived through a similar situation as a child, this type of thing makes me very uncomfortable. Minors cannot sign publishing agreements without a guardian, they can't directly receive funds and have to rely on responsible parents (and trustworthy publishers) looking after the money, and 'promotional' things such as photos for social media and local papers are tiring and stressful for a kid. Kids are easy targets for predatory business practises, and so are parents. Also, children aren't always good at indicating stress and fatigue: I used to run myself ragged signing thousands of books at a time because hey, it made my parents happy to get it all done quickly.

Emily Winslow
02-03-2016, 09:57 PM
Can you share a little more about your experience, EMaree? What kind of books did you write and how old were you? Do you literally mean "thousands"?

EMaree
02-04-2016, 01:38 PM
Emily, I tried to write a reply but I still have a lot of strong feelings tied up in my past and it felt like I was derailing the thread, so I'll be brief.

I was 13, so more aware and sensitive to damage from events that OP's five-year-old, and it was more than a decade ago and a very different time in publishing. I met a lot of other young teen and tween authors, and it was not an easy time for any of us. Technology has changed, but I still strongly advocate against "properly" publishing the work of a minor who cannot consent to publication and to people seeing their fledgling efforts. Predatory business practices targeting parents and children are still prevalent.

Making stapled-together books, Staples/Cinkos pamphlets, that's all still fun and I really do encourage it to get young people interested in writing books. Blurb.com sounds great, too, and digital PDF options for oversees relatives. But creating a "proper" (publicly available to all, with or without an ISBN) self-published novel opens up a lot of complications.

Emily Winslow
02-04-2016, 02:59 PM
Thank you for sharing. It does sound emotionally complicated. Also very interesting to me (as a parent and a writer and a former child who was ambitious) but I understand that you don't wish to say more.

Wishing you all the best for your work now :-)