I get a lot of queries from people who want to write a book but don't know how to get started. Since I send this information out so often, I thought I would just write it all down here.
If you are interested in writing a book, go for it! That is my first bit of advice. It doesn't do any good to have the manuscript and/or illustrations sitting in your file cabinet forever. No one can read it there.
* There are many ways to go forward. You can send your manuscript to a big-time publisher(s) and wait and see and hope for the best. If you are frustrated and want to get going on your project, then try a self-publishing company. There are many of them out there to choose from. I use Createspace, and I have been very happy with them. Because I do my own writing and illustrations and know how to do layout, then I can upload the print-ready files myself. They also have a-la-carte items like illustrators, editors, reviewers, etc. that you can pay for that can help you publish your book. The initial upload is free but the rest costs money.
* Once you get all these details ironed out, now you have the book on- line and you think, now what? To sit back and wait for millions of copies to be sold on Amazon most likely won't happen. This is where you need to give a little blood and sweat to get the ball rolling.
* Some of the things you can do are library readings, school readings, mailings, a gnarly web site, etc. Libraries love to promote local authors and will do everything they can to help you. It doesn't hurt to give a copy or two of your book to the library.
* If you do mailings, I suggest Vistaprint. They are inexpensive, very professional, and you can either upload your own files or choose from many selections on their web site. I have made postcards, posters, banners, t-shirts, hats, mugs, business cards, flyers, and more from them.
* Invest in a nice web site. This promotes your books and if it is clean and easy to read and fun, it is a great way to get the word out. You can design a web site on your own. I use Register.com, and I am very happy with them. But there are many of them out there to choose from.
* If you want to copyright your book, you can find the Washington, DC Copyright office on Google, and it only costs about $30, and you just send them 2 copies and the form.
* Submit your book to various award submissions. There are a ton of them out there, and the Caldecott is not the only one! Once you get on a few mailing lists, you will be plugged in.
* I think this sums it up. Good luck. It is very satisfying and gets it off your coffee table.
Btw, I do not accept manuscripts, I only write/illustrate my own books.