There’s a sort of stigma around writing children’s books that I’ll never really understand. When people hear that you’re writing a children’s book, they’ll often react as if you’re not writing a “real” novel. Even YA writers face this reaction sometimes. No one seems to know you can make money from children’s books?
But, obviously, children’s books are real books. They’re important, they’re not ‘easier’ than adult fiction, and you can make a living writing children’s books just like you could writing for adults!
How much money are we talking, exactly? Well, it depends on a lot of factors.
Writing isn’t a great get-rich-quick strategy, regardless of any genre, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a living off writing. Whatever genre you write and whatever your target demographic, your financial success is going to depend a lot on your business sense. In other words, the most important factor in money-making is your launch.
The most lucrative genre right now is romance, but that doesn’t guarantee success for your romance novel. A writer who fails to market their book will still flop. Likewise, if you’re writing a children’s book, you can make a ton of money if you know how to market and sell!
But that’s all a little vague, and we can get more specific about what to expect from writing children’s books full time.
Can You Make Full-Time Living From Children’s Books?
Absolutely! Multitudes of authors make money from children’s books.
Like I said, you can make a living off writing in any genre if you play your cards right. The book launch is the most important factor in whether your book sells and continues to sell–it’s true that some books are slow burns and get huge by word of mouth, but it’s a lot to stake on chance, especially if you’re self-publishing.
Let’s take a closer look at how self-publishing your novel can impact your up-front costs, as well as how self-publishing a children’s book can be profitable in the long haul.
Self-Publishing Children’s Books
The biggest drawback to self-publishing, without a doubt, is the up-front cost. You’re footing the bill for your editor, your cover design, your formatting, all of it, and that can add up. This is enough to scare people away from the idea of self-publishing, but it isn’t the whole story. If you want to make money from children’s books it would be wise not to shortcut this process.
Self-publishing also lets you have creative control over each of these decisions. You get to pick your own book cover, which is one of your greatest tools in marketing (especially when it comes to children’s books, which are extremely graphics-heavy). You get to pick an illustrator, you get to work with an editor, and so on.
Self-publishing children’s books might seem like it can’t turn a profit, but giving yourself creative control over these vital marketing factors is actually a great way to ensure success!
Publishing yourself is also going to give you a huge advantage when it comes to book sales. When you publish traditionally, it’s true that you don’t have to pay for your cover design or your editor. But it means you’re getting paid with royalties, and this is where it gets really limiting. A huge part of how you will make money from children’s books has to do with creative and visual elements. Your audience is very discerning in this regard.
Traditional publishing might seem appealing because you get an advance, or money upfront, for your book. But you won’t make any money on your book until you’ve sold enough copies to equal your advance, and you, the author, are only making a tiny fraction of the total sale.
Self-publishing means you get a bigger cut of the total sale. Sure, you don’t get an advance, but since you’re on your own marketing either way, you’ll see more cash in the long run if you’re smart about self-publishing.
You can check out this helpful book royalties calculator from SelfPublishing.com that helps you see the difference if you publish traditionally or if you self-publish your children’s book.
How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Children’s Book?
Okay, so you’re ready to self-publish a children’s book. Exactly how much is this gonna cost? I hate to sound like a broken record, but again, it really does depend. If you want to make money from your book, you will need to spend money. There really is no shortcut to quality design/illustration and finishes/formats.
That being said, we can still give you an estimate. For your children’s book, you’ll need an illustrator, an editor, a formatter, and a cover designer. If you illustrate yourself, just knock that price off the total estimate. And, again, I want to stress that these are estimates: you’ll want to do your own research to see which editors are right for your project and see how much they charge.
That being said, let’s estimate.
You might decide to go for a budget cover–people will make one for you on Fivvr for five bucks. You might also decide to hire a professional, which would run you about seven hundred dollars.
There’s also formatting to consider. A lot of times, cover design artists will package formatting with their cover design, so let’s say about $600 for the total–that’s ebook and paperback cover design and formatting.
Now let’s add on your editor–again, it depends, but somewhere around $500 is a safe, conservative bet. And you’ll need to find an illustrator. An illustrator really depends on who you hire and whether they charge per illustration, per hour, or per project, but we can ballpark it anywhere from $1-2,000. Typically, you can expect to find a cover designer who can also do your full illustrations to keep them the same.
So, to sum it up:
Cover Design + Formatting: $600
TOTAL: $1,100 – 3,100
Can you publish for cheaper?
Sometimes, yes. It truly depends on where you find your editor and illustrator. The good news is that children’s books are typically shorter, and require less editing, so it’s cheaper. The bad news is that illustrations can be expensive, especially for good ones.
If you become a Self-Publishing School student of the Children’s Book School, they help you find high-quality work for less, including exclusive deals with certified artists. Not to mention how they help you become successful, so you actually sell more copies.
Typically, when you self-publish a children’s book, it can get expensive pretty quickly. But here’s the thing: you want to be paying for the best possible services to make the best possible product. You want it to sell! It might cost a little more for a really good cover design artist, but you’ll see a world of difference in sales between a cover you tried to make yourself on Canva and a cover made by a pro.
That being said: your own financial well-being comes first, and spending every last penny you have on self-publishing isn’t going to guarantee that your children’s book is the next Peter Rabbit.
I just mention this to say that if you want to make a living writing children’s books, it’s totally possible! You just need to invest in it and do your best in the runup to your book launch.
Want to know more about writing and publishing a successful children’s book? Check out our free training!