Self-Publishing Tween and Teen Fiction

Dear Roxyanne…

Reality check: You won’t sell your ebook directly to kids. They may be your readers, and they may read more ebooks every year, but they aren’t your direct customers. COPPA prevents you from engaging kids online, and since your primary promo tool will be social media, you’re selling to parents and adult readers of MG/YA. Reality check #2: Easy uploading doesn’t mean easy sales. Promoting an ebook is more than “Buy my book!” tweets. I’ve interviewed bestselling self-published authors—all engage their audience extensively through social media, reviewers, and bloggers, forming relationships that lead to sales. If you can’t commit to that, you’re just making your efiles available to family and friends and I don’t see that as a comparable alternative to traditional publishing. Like publishers, self-pubbers should aim to sell past break-even and grow a fanbase that returns for more. Reality check #3: Self-publication only impresses publishers if sales reach tens of thousands—and not at $.99 or free.

The Editor


  1. Excellent question and thoughtful reply! Would add that those who choose to self-publish are wise to enlist skilled editing, design, and marketing/publicity support to 1) help the work shine and 2) help get the word out in ways that count, which means drawing attention, sparking dialogue, and ringing up sales.

  2. All very good info. Also, beware of vanity presses that charge you money and indie presses that offer books at a very high price, making them non-competitive against the market. (Who’s going to buy a $30 novel?) Good luck, Roxyanne! 🙂

  3. Basically, self-publishing is your chance to run your own publishing company. Great product (crafted writing and story), great packaging (interior and cover design), and great marketing (a fully developed and realistically executable plan) are your most likely path to strong sales. Do what you can on your own, contract out what you’re not trained to do or able to learn to do at a professional-quality level.

  4. Please, for the love of all that is holy, if you do self-publish, hire yourself a good editor before going to press, so to speak. I’ve had so many wanna-be authors come to me as a freelance editor, gasp at the cost of editing a book (and my rates run toward the lower end of the spectrum), and go forward without investing in what it takes to polish the manuscript. The number of poorly written e-books is depressingly large, and growing every day.

    • Children’s book writers have an extra hurdle in the fact that we can’t easily engage with our readers. It’s easy to forget that in the initial self-publishing decision because writers are understandably focused at that moment on creating the story and then getting it designed and packaged for uploading. This hurdle needs to be considered and strategized out the outset so you can make your best choices.

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