Have you been sitting on an idea for a book you want to write but just don’t know where or how to start?
It isn’t as daunting as you may think, Keisha Cameron shares her experience of writing two children’s books.
Cameron, a first-time mother, decided to chronicle the experiences of teaching her son, Ayedin life lessons as she watched him take on and apply the lessons she taught him.
“As a mommy, you try to teach your child certain things like how to say thank you, I’m sorry and how to share. You teach them how to do little things around the house that you know will eventually become big habits for them,” Duncan shared with Loop News.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, with the job market upended, Cameron decided to turn those experiences into books. She wanted to share what she had learnt from parenthood with other parents but to earn some well-needed passive income.
“I’m not really one to do a lot of investments and all those kinds of stuff. I like to be a little more active. Then the idea came to me to write the book, but I couldn’t figure out what I would write the book about. But then I thought of the experiences I had written down,” she said of her decision to monetize the journal entries she had made.
Through the books, Duncan hopes to encourage other parents to impart life lessons to their children as early as possible.
“You don’t have to wait until your child is a certain age to teach them certain things. It’s important that they learn responsibility, to be kind, to share, and about things like investments and saving,” she said noting the storyline and the lessons contained in the books.
Of the process of bringing her dreams to life, Duncan said she invested her savings into the project but later learnt this may not have been a wise move.
“When you are doing things of this nature, it’s better for you to seek donations or sponsorship, especially, during a time like COVID-19, you [don’t] want to use your savings on projects,” she advised.
Between getting your manuscript illustrated, formatted and published, one can expect to spend roughly US$2,000 to bring a book to market, she shared.
“The first step is writing the manuscript. You have to determine what you’re going to be writing about and then determine how your book will be different from the others. It is also important to research whether there are other books with the same title to avoid copyright issues,” she said.
The cost to illustrate a book could cost upwards of US$700, she shared with sites such as Instagram and Fiverr being useful tools to scout professional illustrators.
“But you have to be careful about how the contract is structured because you don’t want to send your manuscript to someone and then they steal your idea…,” she warned.
Other areas to look out for are whether you are paying for the right to own or just use the illustrations for the book.
“If I only got the right to use the images, I [couldn’t] put it on cups, T-shirts or a pencil and then sell these items to make additional money and I [couldn’t use them as a marketing tool,” she shared.
This next step is to find someone to format the manuscript with the illustrations, this could cost around US$50.
Cameron said she opted to self-publish on Amazon to reduce her overhead costs.
Another trick she said she learnt is that giving up the greater portion of sales revenue through Amazon’s payment-sharing plan may result in greater market reach and sales by volume.
Amazon offers a 60/40 payment share option, but giving the online platform 60 per cent of the proceeds means your book will be available to Amazon’s worldwide customer base.
“It’s almost like you are paying them to have access to their client database,” she said.
Her story is, however, not without challenges.
“One of the setbacks I experienced while writing the book was that it was hard to find persons who were willing to walk through the process with me and share the information on the steps,” she recounted.
“A lot of persons that I asked – who are Jamaican best sellers, who have made their name in the book industry, just redirected me to someone else. I got little to no help from these people,” she said, noting the reluctance to help aspiring authors.
Eventually, she got help from one individual in the industry as well as from a YouTube tutorial.
However, she advises budding authors not to be daunted in their quest because “you can be self-sufficient.”
“A lot of times, as entrepreneurs, we rely on someone else to give us the information, and most people don’t succeed because of this. When we don’t get the information it’s very disheartening, and we just give up. But it is more satisfying when you realise that ‘I did the hard work mostly by myself,'” she said.
The books, under her series Ayedin Learns, are targeted at children between the ages of two and eight years.
By Tameka Gordon