Daniel Jude Miller jumped into self-publishing after doing no research.
“Not really a wise plan,” says Miller, who spent the last 15 years developing children's stories and illustrations while working as a cartoonist. “I figured, what was the worst thing that could happen?”
And while he had never pursued a traditional publishing deal, Miller had a plan: he would build his reader base by releasing his first two projects as e-books, thus saving money for his third book, Monsters in Manhattan, which will be released as a hardcover and e-book this Christmas. Publishers Weekly recently said of his second book, Earclaw and Eddie, which is based on the author’s struggle with an undiagnosed medical condition, “Miller’s message, one of accepting the difficulties life presents, can be grasped by readers of any age.”
Miller wishes he had been more realistic about how difficult and time-consuming it is to market a children's book: “I was pretty naive as to how long it would take and how many different channels I would need to explore just to scratch the surface of sales. Also, I wasted time and money on someone to help convert the images into an e-book. It didn't work out and I realized that I could do it myself.”
We asked Miller for some tips for aspiring indie authors and artists.
Make Good Art
"Every project has a market and is definitely going to need to be marketed. That's a given. But first and foremost the work needs to be really good. Never get caught up in how the project needs to be "positioned" or "sold.” Remember that you are creating art and not product. Once you have truly amazing images and stories, then the audience will come to you."
Market, Market, Market
"There are two distinct facets to this process. Once you have fantastic art, then it's time to tell people. Market everywhere and don't fall into the trap that social media alone can sell your book. Facebook should be only a small part of your plan. Book shows, postcards, local contacts, t-shirts, and school visits are all good [marketing tools]."
Believe in Yourself
"The only reason to work in this field is for the love of the craft. Having the chance to be a storyteller or an illustrator is an amazing opportunity. It's often pointed out how competitive this business is, but it really isn't. Obviously, there's tons of really great work out there but none of it is really competition. Pour your heart into your work and believe that it will succeed. And it will."