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How to Start a Children's Book Publishing Business

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Whether you’re looking to self-publish or are interested in a business opportunity, going into book publishing is relatively straightforward, with low start-up costs. Focusing on children’s books gives you a market, and while you might wish to expand later, focusing on one market is a good idea for a new publisher. Being a publisher is really just putting up the money to publish a book. The physical printing can be handled by another company.

Think about the market. Where would you look to find a good children’s book? What would you want in a children’s book? These are things you need to have a clear idea of to go into the publishing business. You need to know what sells and where it sells. Your goal is to get a return on your investment, and to do that, you need to amass knowledge about children’s books. If you are not specifically interested in children’s books, it may be a better idea to specialize in an area you are more comfortable with. To compete with the big publishers, you have to offer something which they don’t. They have size and money, so you should try to take the edge in specific expertise.

Save money. According to Ron Pramschufer's article for Publishing Basics, "How Much Does it Cost to Publish an Illustrated Children's book," depending on how particular you are about various elements, you could publish 3,000 copies of a children's book for as little as $5,400. Around $8,000 could be a more accurate figure, assuming that you might require additional edits, a more expensive illustrator or art editing. The cost can go as high as $10,000, but that is largely associated with hiring a highly skilled illustrator. Do some research and gauge the cost of hiring editors and illustrators. If money is tight, you may have to take a hit in quality, or get talented friends and family to help out. Pramschufer's website, Self Publishing, has a lot of information on publishing and a database of affordable illustrators.

Get registered. This involves determining the legal structure of your company, choosing and registering a name, getting a Federal Tax ID and finally registering with your state’s revenue agency, which will explain state and local tax registration requirements. You need to make sure your business name includes “Books” or “Publishing” so people know what your company does.

Buy some ISBNs. An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is an international system for identifying books. Having ISBN numbers on your books ensures that they can be found in book searches and it officially registers your company’s titles. Unfortunately, these do cost money, but they are a vital part of getting your publishing business on the map.

Advertise for manuscripts. You need books if you’re going to be a publisher. If you’re going to self-publish, this is not a concern. However, for anyone just going into the business, you need to receive a steady supply of manuscripts. This can be hard work, and you should place as many advertisements as you can to gain name recognition. Choosing the right manuscript also is an important process, and hiring an experienced professional to give submissions a read-through may be worthwhile.


Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.