Episode # 48 – Making Money with Children’s Books

In Children's, Marketing, Marketing Tools by Julius S9 Comments

Darcy Pattison cover

This week Darcy Pattison and I discuss how to publish a children’s book, and more importantly, how you can make money self publishing children’s books. We look at what you need to bear in mind when writing for children and what your options are when it comes to publishing a children’s book. Writing for children has its own set of complexities, we talk about these, and how you can actually turn it into a profitable business.

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The Journey of Oliver K Woodman

Amazon Profile



Jeff Kennon interviewAnother children’s author who I talked to on the show about how to publish a children’s book.

How to Write a Children’s Picture Book – Darcy’s guide about how to write and how to publish a children’s book.

Picture book artist directories

Picture Book


Mims House – Her publishing company that she puts her books through.

Show notes:

Here is a picture of the wooden man, the subject of Darcy’s fiction book:


Darcy has published both children’s fiction and non-fiction, she started as a non-fiction author and then moved into what has become her passion, children’s literature.


Darcy has been involved with conferences as a speaker and this has been an excellent opportunity for her to network and meet other writers.

Transitioning from Trad to Self

Darcy entered a competition with a short story she had written and she won $3000 worth of illustrations for it. It was quite a learning curve but she realised eventually that she was able to put out a quality product without having to have a publishers help. This was for her first self-published book: 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph.

Wisdom the Midway Albatross was her second children’s book and she self-published it in 2009. At the same time she was shopping it around for a traditional deal, but with no luck. She was doing this because in just back in 2009 self-publishing was not like it is today, especially for children’s fiction.

Illustrated fiction is typical for ages 0-12. Beyond that you can still have images, but they tend to be photographs. It breaks down as follows:

Note: How to publish a children’s book for self publishers is different to the traditional world. These are the age groups for those self publishing.

0-2 years – Board books – Not really possible for self-publishing as you can’t print them on demand. As of this interview (mid 2014) those are off the table.

2-5 – Picture books – You can do ebooks of these on color devices and print them on demand. These must be less than 500 words or the parents just won’t read them to the child.

5-8 – Picture books – You can make them longer at this point, but less than 500 words still works well. Up to 1000 is feasible.

8-12 – Short chapter books – The ones with a few black and white illustrations. Much more focus on the story. These can be short novels and novellas, up to 10,000 words.

12+ – Young Adult.

Don’t feel that as a first timer one of these is a better starting place, it really depends more on what you want to do.


The Wisdom book was created on a partnership basis with her illustrator which meant she didn’t have to shell out a fortune for quality illustrations, which are very expensive (the $3000 prize is evidence of this).

Every section of the book has to have something that can be illustrated on it.

She is currently working on two books with an illustrator who she is paying up front. When you are finding an illustrator, make sure that you work out how much you expect to make from the book, so you can work out how much you can spend in order to break even and eventually break even.

Darcy pay’s her illustrator 25% up front, 25% when the initial sketches are done, and then the remaining 50% when the final art is delivered.

If you want to you can try and persuade an illustrator to do a revenue split deal with you. To find an illustrator, have a look at the two sites mentioned and linked to above.


Children’s books are a great opportunity to get across a message which is education, but doing it through story telling. You should make sure that the story comes first though.

Word Usage / Subject Matter

Darcy says that there are word lists which you can use in order to make sure that the material is understandable by the targeted age group. However she chooses not to use these, opting for some words that the children won’t understand so they can learn something new. In most situation where the book is being read there will be a parent or teacher who can explain the meaning of the word.

The Future

Right now digital distribution isn’t really a big deal, but Darcy expects that this will change and tablets become more available for children. They are just too expensive right now. How to publish a children’s book is going to change dramatically over the next few years.


Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

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Julius SEpisode # 48 – Making Money with Children’s Books
  • Hi – I work in a secondary school and I’m told by the librarian that here in the UK, Amazon won’t let school libraries loan Kindle devices, so my school library is investing in Kobo.

    • SimonRSP

      Interesting Mikey, thanks for sharing.

  • FYI the link to “website” isn’t working. Thanks for highlighting a children’s author!

    • SimonRSP

      Fixed 🙂

  • I’ve had a chance to listen to the podcast by now and it was fabulous. Darcy really knows what she’s talking about. I’ve been a member of SCBWI as well (not quite as long!) and her advice is spot on. I thought her name sounded familiar – turns out I’ve wanted to attend her novel workshop for years but it just hasn’t happened yet – I didn’t know that Kirby Larson worked on Hattie Big Sky at her workshop, but it is one of the best Newbery winners in years.

    The only advice I would disagree with is that as a parent, I would really like picture books to be over 500 words – otherwise I have to make up more words per to keep the kids interested. But, she is right that’s what traditional publishers require, so if you still need those reviews etc., then you may still have to bow to traditional publishing in that way.

    I was aware that the children’s ebook market is different than the adult market, but she touched on some points I hadn’t thought about. I found her information on school library distribution really interesting. Something to think about.

    In case Simon doesn’t have a chance to fix her website link, it’s http://www.darcypattison.com/

    • SimonRSP

      Glad you liked it! About the 500 words: Another way that self-publishing rocks, no need to stick to a word count if you don’t need a publisher :).

      Thanks for the website link, I’ve updated the show notes!

  • Pingback: Episode 31 - Writing for Children with Jeff Kennon()

  • In the episode, Darcy mentioned it took 6 months of waiting before she could publish a book because she had submitted it to a “children’s book review”. Do you know what that “children book review” was? Is there a link to it? I was interested in reading more about it… how you submit to it and who subscribes to the reviews. Thanks for the great episode!

    • SimonRSP

      Ha – ah I didn’t see the update and just dropped Darcy an email ;). Glad that you got the info you needed though Steve 🙂