The Fi & Books self-publishing top-tips!
We know that bringing your book to life and self-publishing can seem like a confusing business... so we've put together our top tips on editing manuscripts, working with illustrators, self-publishing and promoting your book! Get a cup of tea (and a notepad if you plan on taking notes!) and enjoy:
Our latest news...
Virtual author readings...
No school assemblies, sort out your virtual author visit!
FAQs when using Fi and Books.
How would I be able to sell this book and would I have the rights to sell this book anywhere I wished?
You have the FULL rights to this book. We don’t take a percentage, nor does the illustrator. You own the book and keep all the profits of the book. Once you take stock of the book its all yours to sell!
Would you advertise the book at all?
We will have your book on our Amazon listings (if you want that), on our website and we are always promoting the books on our various social media pages
If I were to use one of your illustrators, how much input would I have on the final pieces?
LOTS! It's your book!
We brief the illustrator using your manuscript and ideas. The illustrator then creates rough ideas for you to approve or amend. Once those are approved they then create the colour versions. It’s a really, really fun process.
Do you offer hardback or soft back?
All our books are paper back. Hard back are very expensive to produce in small quantities in the UK. But we use thick paper stock so it feels good quality
Do you print the Author and title on the spine of the book?
As long as the book is 20 pages it has a spine, title and author. It needs to be minimum of 20 pages to have a spine.
Would I retain the rights to the book?
Would it be possible to see the final copy of the book prior to deciding on quantity at all?
All the artwork we send via email for approval etc. Depening upon the package you order we print ‘tester’ copies – these are the books we use to approve the main 1000 or 100 print runs.
What is your turnaround time?
Usually it takes approx. 10 days for editing. 3-4 weeks illustration. 2 weeks printing. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower... all depends usually upon the detail of illustration required.
Is this royalty based? If so, what is this rate please?
Nope, you keep all the profit!
Why are you not in the 'Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2021' book?
We are only new (18months old) and at the moment happy with the amount of authors we have submitting and creating books. Plus we are going down the more contemporary route of social media!
Virtual author book readings are the way forward during COVID-19!
- Published Jan 2021 by Fi and Books -
We usually recommend that once your book is all published and professionally printed it's time to start promoting your book far and wide... usually school author visits are a brilliant way to sell high quantities of your book and promote it at the same time.
Making an impact during lockdown and COVID-19.
Grab your phone, download a video making app and video yourself reading your book. Think of things that will make it fun and interactive for any child watching...
Upload this to your website alongside your worksheets, to make it as easy for a parent or teacher to download and use.
We're giving away FREE book illustrations and editing with our Mad March Book Submission!
- Published March 2020 by Fi and Books -
We LOVE getting new pictures books out into the world. So... this month we've decided to give away FREE book illustrations and editing to ONE lucky aspiring author - the only thing you'd pay for is the publishing and printing!
If you've been umming and ahhhing about turning your story into a real book... or feeling nervous about pressing GO on your self-publishing dream then this could be the moment you've been waiting for!
We will choose one lucky person to win:
- FREE 10 colour illustrations by our super-talented illustrator Lucie (normally worth £650)
- FREE editing (normally worth £100)
We're only giving this wonderful offer away to ONE person who submits their book idea and signs up to print 10 or 1000 books (prices are below!). You need to enter before the 20th March to be in with a chance of being chosen as our Mad March Book Submission winner!
Good luck, we can't wait to see your submissions!
Your book is printed...hooray! Now what? SCHOOLS.
- Published February 2020 by Fi and Books -
Once your book is all published and professionally printed it's time to start promoting your book far and wide... and hopefully make some money too. We understand that many authors publish their books for the love of writing... but we also know that you need to earn a bit of money from your talents as well!
You can sell your book via booksellers, bookshops or on your own website (read our other article about marketing your book online) ... but school author visits are a brilliant way to sell high quantities of your book and promote it at the same time.
Fi started doing school visits back in 2010 and she's gone on to sell 10,000+ copies of her books, mainly via school visits. All it takes is a little hard work, the right people to contact and LOTS OF ENTHUSIASM!
Comment from our self-publishing guru Fi:
"Truth be told, I was way more excited about my first delivery of printed books than I was about actually selling them... that bit made me nervous at first! Then I realised that I could sell my books in a way that made me feel excited and happy - doing author visits to schools and inspiring kids with my stories!"
A true fact: the first few author visits are scary. You haven't a clue what you are doing, you are completely winging it and children can smell weakness (ha, no really they can). However, we promise that after you've done a few school visits you will realise which age group suits your book, what the children love hearing, what gets the kids really excited, what your key messages are, which learning points to focus on... oh and you'll realise that you REALLY SELL BOOKS!
We've got loads more information about how to plan your school visits, what to expect beforehand, the essential paperwork (DBS checks) on our School Visits page. If you want to get a birds-eye view of Fi doing a school visit you can also watch our video! Good luck book people!
How to market your book... online!
- Published January 2020 by Fi and Books -
The truth is... people need to know your book exists so they can buy it! Marketing means exposure. You need exposure to find new readers and generate your book sales. A super easy (and low cost) way to get exposure is to market your book online.
PROMOTE YOUR BOOK BEFORE RELEASING IT
It might feel daunting to begin with, but you really should create a website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Think about your posts (the wording and the images... or videos!) - they should be interesting, genuine and as professional (in a friendly and engaging way!) as possible. Try posting on all these different channels... some will work for you, and some might not. It's handy to find out where your future readers are engaging with you. For Fi, it's been all of them!
The sooner you start, the better. The longer you build up your profiles and follower base, more people you can tell about your book when it launches! Try adding snippets of book illustrations, photos of you writing your book, or extracts from the story... you want to tell people about the inner workings of your self-publishing book journey. The longer you have to drip-feed your book to an audience, the nearer you are to a future purchase!
Facebook worked for Fi's self-publishing journey because it feels like a little community. Our Fi & Books Facebook page supports our illustrators, tells people about our future authors and informs everyone about self-publishing topics, hints and tips.
People like to buy directly from Facebook (yes, really they do!), so make sure you have a PayPal account so people can easily arrange payment. You can also reply to Direct Messages letting people know they can pay using PayPal when your book is ready. Fi has sold hundreds of her Once-Upon-A-Slime books from her Facebook page. Although it doesn't help with your Amazon ranking (which is also important)... you can always direct people to Amazon and ask them to review you! High rankings are great on Amazon.
If you are not sure about how your profile should look or what you should be posting about, do some research. Find some other authors who are similar to you and see what they have posted about. People are naturally interested (and nosey!) so if someone clicks on your profile they'll probably have a quick look over your last few posts too. Think about having a spring clean too and deleting any old posts that no longer fit with your author profile!
Hashtags are amazing for Twitter and Instagram. If you go to the search bar and type in #selfpublished #illustratorofinstagram or #childrensbooks you will find lots of interesting content. Try replying to those people, follow them and start finding new people to follow and interact with! Don't be afraid to start your own hashtag too, for example #fiandbooks or #onceuponaslime.
It's all about building a nice online community for your profile so don't feel self-conscious! We always respond to comments or followers with a little wave, or a "thank you for following!" and we tag people in our posts too. In fact... always remember to tag! If your comment is about someone else, or you're replying to a specific person then make sure you're tagging them in your post. Tags often lead to shares or retweets which is all good for your exposure!
Last but not least... Fi has always made a lot of book sales via school visits. Adding content to your social media about your upcoming school visits, or sharing photos from your latest school visit all helps teachers to find your profile. Although remember you can't show faces on your social posts without permission so it's better to take photos of you signing your book or doing your presentation rather than any photos of the school or children.
A random hint... weekends are good! Many businesses don't post on social media at the weekend but we get loads of weekend interaction! Our audience must spend their weekends faffing on social media :)
If you have a website it's good to write blogs. You can also offer to write a guest blog post on someone else's website! Blogs help your website with its Google ranking and they're a nice place to share your latest news or self-publishing tips. If you add a new blog post then share the link on your social media to drive the traffic to your website (clever hey). Oooo and don't forget to add lots of nice relevant keywords into your blog post aka children's picture book, self-publishing, author, illustrator... this helps with your Google ranking too.
If your book is printed and ready to go (hurrah!) then you can try and get it listed on some bookshop websites. Getting your books listed on other websites is key for online visibility. So... make sure you have some nice photos of your book front cover for you to send to the bookshop, that makes their jobs easier and keeps your brand looking consistent.
It's always a good idea to contact your local newspaper and magazines to tell them about your book and your self-publishing journey. Lots of newspapers like running local interest news stories and you never know when they might decide to feature you! If you do contact the paper then make sure you have some good photographs of you holding your book cover (ideally professional headshots!) to send to the paper as that makes it even easier for them to run the story. Also make sure you mention how people can find you or buy your book... give your website address or your account name on social media!
REMEMBER... ALL OF THIS IS NOT WASTING YOUR TIME!
It took YEARS for us to accept that the time we spent on social media wasn't just faffing and wasting time. We know that it feels a bit un-worklike sitting on your sofa posting images - but it isn't! This is your FREE way of communicating with all your future customers! Try and embrace social media, get some lovely images, create some smart graphics (ask a local designer to help if you are clueless, our sister business Fi & Becs does this all the time for businesses!) and have a go!
Good luck fellow book-publishing people!
We predict that 2020 is going to be a GOOD year!
- Published January 2020 by Fi and Books -
To say we are excited about 2020 is a slight understatement... we are SO giddy to see what this year brings for our growing little business. Some things we're excited about:
- We are already in the process of editing the winning Become-An-Author 2019 Competition manuscript.
- One of our talented illustrators is working on a front cover design for an aspiring author shortlisted in our Become-An-Author 2019 Competition.
- We have had so many enquiries into our affordable and super-easy Become-An-Author Package!
Good times ahead!
Bookmarks and advertising opportunities.
- Published August 2019 by Fi and Books -
Bookmarks are a perfect way to promote your book and they make a brilliant give-away at events/school visits! You can even sell advertising space on the back to your favourite local businesses. This helps you pay for the bookmarks, and can even make you money if you get more than one advertiser.
If you need any help, we can design and print your bespoke bookmark designed and printed alongside your branding and illustrations.
The Fi & Books illustration process and choosing an illustrator:
- Published July 2019 by Fi and Books -
Once you've sorted the wording for your story it's time for a very exciting part to begin... the illustration process! It is absolutely crucial that you pick the perfect illustrations for your book - these are the pictures that will bring your story to life, make it jump off the shelf and capture the imaginations of your readers.
However, and this does sound stupid - once you have selected your illustrator - as you LOVE their work and that's the style you would like, they will illustrate in the style you see. If you ask for a dog on a skateboard, that is what they will draw - a dog on a skateboard in their style. This is what you should expect!
This is where you match your wordings to future drawings. Using an A4 sheet of paper or a Word document, you copy the wording you want on that page, alongside a quick sketch, or description on what you want the drawing to portray. The more information you give, the better the brief for your illustrator.
You do this for page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4... you get the picture!
You pay a 25% deposit to make sure that you are commited to the project and makes sure our illustrator doesn't get burnt - which happens a lot in the industry. The Illustrator then goes away and illustrates your first page. This is to make sure they are on the right track to creating what you had in mind.
You get it sent via email with your wording added to the page. Oooo so exciting! If you love it, great! The illustrator continues with the other pages. If it isn't quite right, you email what you do, and don't like about the drawing and the illustrator will revise the picture.
Once this is approved the illustrator continues with the rest of the book, alongside the working on the page. Once finished this gets emailed to you for approval. And that's it - your story artwork is complete and it is ready for printing!
We have an amazing batch of illustrator that have been chosen for their talents (and the gorgeousness of their work!), we've found a real mixture of emerging and established illustrators who offer a variety of styles and illustration approaches. From watercolour paintings to pencil drawings, sketches and computer graphics - you can pick the style that suits the essence of your story!
We've also pre-agreed clear, simple and exclusive pricing with all of our illustrators so you know in advance what everything will cost. And you OWN the drawings, after all you have paid for them!
Our top tips for promoting and selling your book:
- Published 16th July 2019 by Fi and Books -
So you've got your book all ready, published, printed, real and ready to go... hurrah well done to you! You've done the really hard part. Now it's time to get your book out into the world so lots of people can enjoy reading it.
Got a plan? If you're not sure what to do next then fret not - we can help! Our self-publishing guru Fi has been there and done that (she's even sold 10,000+ copies of her books!) so here's our top tips on what to do now:
Idea 1: Make appointments with independent bookshop managers to introduce yourself and discuss if they would like to stock your book. Remember that you need to make it super easy to work with you. You already have your RRP, the price customers buy your book for - usually printed on the back of the book by your ISBN number, so you can work out your trade price - the price you will sell to the bookshop. Set up an invoice on your computer with your bank details on. Having all this info ready to go is professional and makes you much more credible.
Idea 2: Create social media accounts under your author name (or the name of your book series) to build your brand and allow your readers to follow and engage with you online. Think about channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter... or even YouTube!
Idea 3: Build relationships with your local schools. Ring and ask to talk to the Literacy Lead, who can arrange for you to come in and do a school visit. You can explain that you are a local author and would like to come and chat to the kids about your story. If you explain that it is for free, but you would like them to mention it in their school newsletter and send out forms asking the parents to buy your signed book, this is how you can earn quite a lot of money via school visits!
Idea 4: Create a website where people find out more about you, read about your book and buy your book online. (By the way - Fi & Becs Design & Wording can help with this bit!)
Idea 5: Set up a Sellers Account on Amazon.
Idea 6: Get a professional author headshot taken... aka some photographs of you in your natural habitat with YOUR BOOK! These are so useful for your social media and for promoting you, and your book at any events.
Good luck! Remember that your book is YOUR baby and your audience (whether you're at a school visit or posting on social media) will WANT to hear all about you, your journey and your book. Don't be afraid to sell yourself and stay confident - you've got a gorgeous product in your hands and people will want to read it!
Fi & Books has arrived... hooray!
- Published 30th June 2019 by Fi and Books -
A few weeks ago I (Fi Woodhead) had a meeting with Authors 2 Schools, the company who arrange my Once-Upon-A-Slime school author visits. After an inspiring chat with Roger over a cup of tea, I drove home and I had an idea about the way I ran Once-Upon-A-Slime... I decided to re-brand it and set up a new concept to help other people with self-publishing! Introducing:
Fi & Books - publishing the self-published.
Alongside my Once-Upon-A-Slime children's picture books I also run a small boutique design and copywriting business called Fi & Becs Design & Wording with my sister Becs Jeffery.
My idea was to merge my two skill sets as a graphic designer plus a self-published author. Offering new authors the opportunity to take self-publishing into their own hands, but offer support such as illustration, editing and printing along the way! I also wanted to give aspiring authors the ability to pay the book printing prices normally only available to bigger companies. Essentially combining lots of helpful self-publishing services all under one roof!
After chattering to Becs (who also loved the idea)... two weeks later, following lots of excited website creating and a Facebook / Instagram hunt for new illustrators... ta dah, we have our new brand.
Don't worry the Once-Upon-A-Slime books are still available to buy! You can follow our journey over on our Facebook page.
We are also SO excited that Fi & Books is working in partnership with school author event specialists Authors 2 Schools! Fi started doing school visits back in 2010 and she's gone on to sell 10,000+ copies of her books, mainly via visits arranged in partnership with Authors 2 Schools.
Authors 2 Schools work with leading book publishers to bring popular children's authors to schools all over the UK. Excitingly, they wanted to partner with us to help more self-published authors visit schools! So if you really want to make money from your book, Authors 2 Schools help you on that journey.
Of course, you can sell your book via booksellers, bookshops or on your own website... but school author visits are a brilliant way to sell high quantities of your book and promote it at the same time.
Eeeee we are just SO excited to start helping aspiring authors get that story out of their heads and into a book. Take a look around our website and just get in touch if you have any questions for us!