Episode 31 – Writing for Children with Jeff Kennon

In Book Covers, Children's, Marketing by Simon Whistler2 Comments

Writing for children with Jeff Kennon

Writing for children with Jeff Kennon

In this episode of the RSP podcast, I finally respond to some listener demand and get a children’s author on the show! Jeff gives us the run down on writing for children, telling us about his book, ‘The Day I Learned to Fly.’ We go through some of the challenges that Jeff has faced in getting his book on the market, and what sort of work in general goes into such a complicated project like this.

Links:

UPDATE: Here is a blog post Jeff made about doing one of the authors days that we talked about in the show. LINK.

The Day I Learned to Fly

Amazon Profile

Jeff’s Website – Some further info about writing for children.

Facebook

Mentions:

Elizabeth Love – Jeff’s girlfriend who happens to be a writer and life coach. She was heavily involved with the editing. Click here to visit Elizabeth’s site.

CreateSpace – the platform Jeff published through – $750 package, putting the text and illustrations together. It included 20 hard copies of the book. One of the examples of how, if you are writing for children, things can get pretty expensive.

Print Safari – Where Jeff went for bookmarks customized for his book.

Zazzle – Where he went for other merchandise.

Show notes:

Writing for Children Means Hiring an Illustrator

Started looking locally at the start, it was a slow process as Jeff was working a full time job as well as being a single father. Had a few experiences with early illustrators that didn’t go anywhere, but 2013 was the year when it all took off. His first illustrator wasn’t really what he was after, the second one was a bit flaky and was too slow on delivery.

For the first illustrator he paid for the samples up front, but he later found that this wasn’t typical for the industry. Usually you only pay if you are happy with the samples they have produced. For the second illustrator he took this route and when it didn’t work out Jeff didn’t pay and there were no hard feelings as that was the agreement.

The final illustrator completed 5 slides at no cost, but once Jeff decided he liked them, he paid them for them and kept them. From then on he paid for each image as it came across.
There are some illustrators who will work for a percentage of the royalties, but for the most part it is a paid for production deal, with an amount up front.

Talking to other children’s authors is a great way to find an illustrator; you’ll find them very helpful. KBoards could be a good place to start.

Update May 2014: I talked to another author writing for children, Darcy Pattison, who recommended some specific marketplaces.

Money

48 images cost Jeff around $450. This included some images that he did not use. Jeff called this a ‘sweetheart deal’ that was not typical of the industry. Writing for children (below a certain age) almost always requires some form of costly illustration. He saw rates up to $50 per image, which clearly would work out as a lot more. Jeff’s goal was to spend less than $1000 a he knew that he was not going to make a lot of money from the book.

Take a look at one of these below:

Writing for children with Jeff Kennon

The cover:

Writing for children with Jeff Kennon

Author Days

Making money isn’t easy when you are writing for children. Jeff heard about ‘author days’ where an author can come to speak in a school about their book. When he applied to do one, to his surprise they asked “How much do you charge?” Jeff really thought it was something you did for free, but this seems to actually be a great way to make money as a children’s author. The school will often purchase books in advance as well, so a double win for the author. Jeff’s research shows that authors charge between $500 and $700 for the day.

Apparently this is a popular business model for authors writing for children.

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

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Simon WhistlerEpisode 31 – Writing for Children with Jeff Kennon
  • The standard children’s book is 32 pages. The standard illustration rate is roughly $75 and up an hour. As an aspiring picture book author and illustrator who has been seeking publication since 2009 ours is one of the most saturated markets in publishing. Self publishing is a great way to jump the impossible queue in front of you. As I have said to many a friend, seeking publication in picture books is like auditioning for X-Factor naked. You can be the greatest singer in the world, you are naked and this is TV. Congrats to Jeff Kennon on getting his work out there and best of luck in the future.

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks for the comment and great info Joy. I often get questions about where to/how to print affordable. Have you come across anything particularly good for childrens’ books in your journey so far?