How To Self-Publish A Children's Book and How Much You Can Expect To Make

spoiler: you will make very little lol

I self-published a children’s book about clinical trials called “If You Give A Mouse Metformin”. You can buy it on Amazon here.

A peek behind the curtain of self-publishing if anyone is curious. I was actually surprised by how easy this was, and Amazon now makes it even easier

I had the idea in January 2020, wrote all the lines + description of scenes of each page over the course of a few weeks. Then I turned to Upwork to find an illustrator that could actually bring it to life.

Finding an illustrator was super hard! Pro-tip, if you're going to look for a contractor on a platform be VERY specific about skill level, budget, etc. I had to go through 200+ profiles that applied before I saw one I really liked.

I finally found my illustrator and she was awesome - you can check out her other stuff here and highly recommend her. The cost was about $1300 to do watercolor for a 20 page book.

From rough sketch, to full colored pages, to copy editing took about 3 month. From there you can choose which self-publishing platform to go to.

The main considerations are:

  • Hardcover or softcover
  • Print on-demand or bulk inventory
  • Quality of paper
  • Fulfillment + shipping

Amazon was the best route IMO because even though you can only do soft cover, the print on-demand + fulfillment was critical. I didn't want to buy 1000 copies of the book in advance before knowing how many I could sell.

Economics are: (Sale price - printing cost) and then 60% of that go to me which comes out to about ~$6. This means I have to sell about 200 of these to break even. As of 5/16/2021 the sale numbers have been 739, not bad! 

This is not a good plan to actually make me money, BUT it's a good strategy for marketing my other stuff. I actually send copies of the book to a bunch of biotech venture studios to try and convince them to get it for their portfolio companies, but it hasn’t quite worked out yet lol.

The hardest part of self-publishing is distribution. You have to go do it yourself, and it helped that I've built on audience on twitter, etc. plus have enough friends I can force to guilt buy it (just kidding obvi, but if you don't I'm never hanging out with you again)

Anyway - I learned a lot about self-publishing through this and understand how easy it is. You can literally upload a word doc to amazon and they'll publish it as a book lmao, so any self-published book should be taken with a grain of salt.

Hope you all enjoy! If you do buy it, definitely tweet me a picture of your kids looking at it because that really makes my day.

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