Graphic artist Bailey Fort’s first foray into self-publishing was her debut picture book, The Bewundering World of Bewilderbeests, which Publishers Weekly praised, saying “there’s plenty of amusement to be found in these pages.” As she began her self-publishing journey, Fort quickly realized that although researching blogs and articles is important, most of them don't focus on picture books. And, in the rapidly evolving publishing landscape, she says it's important to make sure you're finding up-to-date information: “When I first looked into e-publication, fixed-format layout was not yet an option, so I held off on publishing my picture book...it didn’t take too long for the technology to catch up and make e-publication a viable possibility.”
Fort touts Promote Your Book by Patricia Fry as a helpful marketing tool, but wishes she had understood the importance of pre-sales before she self-published. She was also surprised by how much information about the popularity of picture e-books was misleading. “I was quickly reminded that when it comes to picture books, people still place more value on having a physical book and want the interactive experience of turning ‘real’ pages.” Fort recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a print run of The Bewundering World of Bewilderbeests.
We asked Fort what advice she would offer other self-publishers:
“Don’t expect any part of the process to be quick or yield instant results. Creating your work is labor intensive and time consuming, but ultimately a labor of love. The countless steps involved in self-publishing are also labor intensive and time consuming, but can be a less enjoyable part of the process; over time, it may become a bit more difficult to stay committed to this side of things—but stay committed, anyway!”
Do Your Research
“Before you publish, do your research and learn everything you can about your options. As a self-published author, you need to develop your own plan for handling things like distribution, printing and production, international finances, taxes, obtaining an ISBN and barcode, drafting your copyright statement, [and] developing a website. As you’re preparing to publish, develop and deploy a comprehensive marketing strategy and web presence. After you’ve published, while working on your next project, keep marketing your previous project.”
“I was concerned about becoming overwhelmed by the logistics involved in both e-publication and print publication, or missing critical steps when trying to navigate the process. After all, in a publishing house the various aspects of publication would be handled by a number of different departments and individuals. Be patient with yourself and with the process—it’s a lot for one person to handle, especially while juggling other work/life obligations.”