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Hello From...Home on the Range

Started by sirleebob, February 06, 2024, 07:19 PM

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In the summertime, as a teenager, I used to go with friends to a nearby reservoir and bridge-jump. It was a long way down to the water and the only way I could get myself to do it is if I turned my brain off and just went for it.

I am feeling the same way right now. I just finished writing and illustrating my first children's story. It took several years to complete. Now that it is done, I am terrified. Terrified to reach out to people I have never met, and terrified to show them what I have done. I don't know what is scarier-the thought of the book succeeding, or the thought of it failing miserably. I have an MFA in fine art. With a painting or a lithograph I could hide behind postmodern concepts such as existentialism or the metaphysical. Everything could be a riddle. But with the simplicity a children's story, I feel very vulnerable!

I am here to succeed. I want to succeed. I love the how the heart and mind of a child works. I have a full time job in telecommunications, but eventually I would love to be more involved with writing and illustrating. More than just something to do in the evenings and weekends when I have time.

Let me share with you my first project. I made it into a YouTube video to make it easy to share with others:

I want to ask for input and advice. But first a little background.

I know that I am new and have a lot to learn. I am viewing this first story as a means of learning the ropes. I have tried my best to make the text, illustrations, and publishing files look as professional as possible. In 2017 I came to the realization that my chances of getting this picked up by an agent or real-time publishing company was slim, so I decided to self-publish.

I finished the illustrations a year ago, and spent the past 12 months learning and preparing the files for printing . I have most of the leg work done and have a hardcover and softcover proof made. Later this year I was going to pull the trigger and place a small order of the books and setup print-on-demand services. But now that I am ready to move forward, I am hesitating.

So here are my questions:

1. Is self-publishing a valid avenue?
2. Before I self-publish, should I try sending out queries again to see if anyone bites?
3. One of the reasons I joined the SCBWI was because I heard that members had access to a publication called "The Book" that has resources for potential agents and publishers that I could try reaching out to. Since I have joined SCBWI, I have not been able to find this book in the member bookstore, and online in general the most recent copy I saw was from 2015. Is "The Book" still in publication? Where can I find it?
4. Do you have any other advice for me in general?

David Wright

Hey Lee

It's a great story.

1) Self-publishing is always an avenue. And there are a lot of resources both here and elsewhere.

2) If you are referring to the youtube story, I think it's too late for that. You've already published this story--just not in print form. Publishers seldom want to publish a story already available.

3) The latest copy of of The Book is 2023. Once you login into go to Publications (top right) and select ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO PUBLISHING FOR CHILDREN

4) Network. Find other writers to bounce ideas off and share feedback. The hardest part of writing is seeing your own work with fresh eyes. Debbie Ohi and Josh Funk are great at conferences if you get a chance to see them.


Your illustrations are so fun!

I think you are locked into self publishing on this book, as you have already published it online on YouTube. But everything you have learned so far is useful for future books.

David gave you a link to The Book; you can also search online for who the agents are for other writer-illustrators publishing to the same audience you are. Most publishers are agent-only, but there are some that may still take queries directly from writers.

Yes, self publishing is also a viable option; it's essentially publishing with a small publisher (where you ARE that publisher). Whether you go through Amazon or Ingram or both, you'll want to check a proof copy before releasing it to the wide world (which will then be POD, so unless you really want to, you aren't required to stock thousands of the things in your garage in advance. People just pay directly for the copy they are ordering, it's printed, and then shipped). If you just do Amazon, I think you can use their free ISBN, but then you are locked into only Amazon. Not terrible, as most sales are there, but it's something to consider. Yes, you can print author copies from them and sell them directly as well, but you can't sell through Ingram or Barnes and Noble, etc. Or, you can buy your own ISBN and simultaneously push the button on both Ingram and Amazon, which lets you publish it anywhere. In any case, it is all very doable. The bigger issue is marketing, as you will have to do a lot (children who read picture books aren't the direct buyers). But people do that as well, there are beautiful self published picture books out there. And your YouTube channel could possibly be part of your marketing arm.

The person to follow for information about self publishing children's books is Darcy Pattison. She has a website ( with a ton of great information.


You've already gotten great advice from Dave and Olmue, so I'll just add welcome! :welcome2
Learning to Swear in America, 2016
What Goes Up, 2017
The Constitution Decoded, 2020
The Presidents Decoded, 2023
Hearts on Thin Ice, 2024

Debbie Vilardi

I just want to clarify: If the video goes viral, publishers may reach out to you about a book version, but that's a long shot. So self publishing is the key for that project. But you can self publish one project and seek a traditional publisher, with or without an agent, for the next.
Twitter: @dvilardi1


What a delightful story and illustrations, Lee! I really enjoyed your work.

I self-published one picture book seven years ago through Amazon (with my own ISBN), but I suspect lots of things have changed since then, so I'll leave the advice giving to these other authors here, who have done a good job.

Best wishes to you!


Thank you, everyone, for the responses, and for helping me feel welcome.

This helps put my mind at ease. This is the path that I carved out to walk several years ago.

The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children looks awesome! I am seeing some really helpful advice about POD and ISBNs that, from what I am seeing, may help me avoid some potential pitfalls that I may have stepped into. But I will save that discussion for a relevant forum.

Thanks again everyone! I am excited to get to interact with like minded people!


Welcome, and I'm glad to see you've gotten some excellent advice. Don't give up and do pursue your dream!
Tori :palmtree :pizza :books3
PB CALVIN'S LAST WORD, Tilbury House 2020
PB LITTLE CALABASH, Island Heritage 2020
and 28 more


Welcome Sirlee! Everyone has given you great advice. I just want you to know your concerns are valid. Publishing a children's book can be tough and overwhelming. But at the same time it's incredibly fun! The best thing you can do is keep asking questions and keep writing.

Best of luck!

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