​Publishing An Independent Middle Grade Book in 22 Easy Steps Part 1 by Julie Anne Grasso

Hi I'm Julie Anne Grasso, an emerging author with Creative Kids Tales. I have independently published seven middle grade books in science fiction and mystery, for ages 8-12.

I'm often asked what is in involved in independent publication.

The short answer is with blood, sweat, tears, time, money and determination, but who am I kidding? 22 Easy Steps! There is nothing easy about independent publication.

Join me for a summary of my process. Please note everyone's journey is different. I hope this will give you a taste of what's instore, if you decide on independent publication.

NB. This is for a middle grade fiction with illustrations. The process for picture books is considerably different. Note for links to who I use for each service, drop by my website and check out useful links.

Step One: Start somewhere:

In a former life I was a paediatric nurse.I spent an awful lot of time with kids and I got to see how they tick. I believe that helped me to understand how to write for them. I was wrong!

I began to read widely on the topic and found a few resources I really enjoyed.

  • 1.Become A Children's Book Writer: Insider Secrets Ebook by Jill McDougal 2008
  • 2.Writing Bestselling Children's Books 52 brilliant ideas for inspiring young readers, by Alexander Gordan Smith
  • 3.Writing Children's Books For Dummies by Lisa Rojany Buccieri and Peter Economy
  • 4. The Nuts and Bolts of Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman

Two universal pieces of advice were continually reiterated in these books.

1. Become consumed with books in the genre you want to write.I won't quote the number of works they suggested you read. I expect I may reach one hundred years and never actually read all the books that I want to in my area of interest. I suggest joining the library, and or begin reviewing books for sites like Creative Kids Tales. It is a great way to get your hands on the latest of what is being published without endless monetary outlay.While you are reviewing, study the books cover to cover, what makes them work, what makes them not work and absorb.

2. Write what you know, what you are passionate, what you care about.

I did just that.My first manuscript took me about 2 years to pen and it came in at about 70K.

Step Two: Manuscript Assessment:

After the first draft, I decided on having a manuscript assessment. Be willing to part with some significant money here. (Between $500-$1000 for a middle grade book at around 70 thousand words.) I used the http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/ but every state in Australia has a writers association that offers assessments.

Picture books will obviously cost a lot less to assess, but whatever the cost, it will be the best money you will ever spend.

With a 6 week turn around, I received a 6 page document, detailing various issues, strengths weaknesses, things to work on and examples of where I had missed the mark. It was sobering and heart breaking and incredibly educational.

I re-wrote my entire book and trimmed it down to 50K.

Step Three: Engage some beta readers:

Preferably in your target audience. Try to have a couple of adults and a couple of children read it.

If you want true feedback, give them some questions to answer. Ask them to comment on your plot, characters, beginning, middle and end and anything that didn't make sense.

The tricky part is separating the opinion from the problem. A general rule is if more than one person points out that your unicorns died in the first scene then popped up again in chapter two, there is a problem you need to fix.

Step Four: Revise, Revise, Revise.

Print it out and read it aloud.

I use those little coloured post it notes to mark where changes need to be made. Don't be surprised if your manuscript looks like a porcupine at the end.

Be prepared for some hard criticism from your beta readers. They are fresh eyes and will point out what doesn't make sense, or needs further fleshing out.

However, with all that feedback, I suggest that you never lose sight of the fact that it is your book to write and only you can do it.

Step Five: Editing:

Engage an editing service. This doesn't mean your aunts, cousins, fathers, brother in law. This should be a paid service. You will have to part with more money and the cost will depend on your word length.

Expect anything from $100-$2000 dollars. Each editor is different, so be sure to ask how they will alter your copy.

Freelance editors will often ask for a writing sample from you to determine how much editing you will require, and if you are even ready for editing.

Most editors use Track Changes in Word and it will take a couple of months. You will receive your document with more track changes than you thought humanly possible.

Don't lose heart. Absorb it, learn from it. Try to do it better next time, but every book that has ever been properly edited in the history of mankind, comes back with thousands of changes.

Step Six: Proof reading:

Print your book out, preferably whilst it's in double spaced format, and read it aloud… again.

Engage a proofing service, which will cost anything from $100-$500 dollars.

Step Seven: Formatting:

One manuscript does not fit all formats, including paperback.

I personally pay a formatter to produce a PDF for print option and an electronic file for ebook formats.

Most formatters will be able to provide you with a few different versions to suit the uploading systems.It will cost you anything from $100-$300 depending if you want print and ebook.

I personally wait until my print proof is error free, before I provide the file to my formatter for ebook. This is because it is simpler to alter a print file, than it is to alter an ebook file as the formatting will change.


Keep a look out for Part 2 of this three part series - An Independent Middle Grade Book in 22 Easy Steps by Julie Anne Grasso.

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Thursday, 15 April 2021

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