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7 Things That Helped Me Self-Publish Children’s Picture Books

Updated: Apr 29


As someone who has experienced speaking on radio before - from my early 20s hosting a weekly show on community radio - I was surprised by how nervous I was to speak with Greg Cary on 4BC Brisbane recently. It was that hand-trembling kind of nervousness... A mix of excitement to be talking about The Money Lessons Series, but also intense fear that I’d eat my words and stuff the interview up completely! 

Thankfully the latter didn’t happen, and I had a great time being on-air (just like riding a bike)! Greg was so easy to speak with, and extremely generous for giving local writers a chance to promote their books, and he asked some great questions that, after our chat, got me thinking more about my journey to publishing children’s picture books.

I described it on-air as a rollercoaster ride because there have been many ups and downs! What I’ve been remembering most in looking back though, are the people and things that have helped me get my book ideas from concept to reality, and I wanted to share those with you today.

So if you’re interested in the behind the scenes of book publishing, or have an idea for a book yourself that’s bubbling away inside, here’s an author’s view of 7 things that can help you get your book published too. 

1. Finding time to write

I never used to appreciate the saying, “the early bird gets the worm.” Especially with two young kids, and juggling all the ‘ings’ of life: mother-ing, wife-ing, friend-ing, work-ing… finding time to write each day and work on my book ideas seemed impossible. But then one day I heard Glennon Doyle on the Big Magic podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert. She was sharing how during the years when she was “dripping with babies”, she would wake up at 4:30am every morning to hide inside her wardrobe and write. Now, waking up before the sun may not be your gig. Maybe you’re more of a night owl, or a write-when-the-kids-are-day-napping type of person. 


The time of day when you write doesn’t really matter. I found that simply writing each day, even if it was only 10 minutes, made a huge difference. When I showed up and made time for my writing, it was amazing how my confidence started to grow, and momentum for my children’s books started to build. Turns out, the early bird does get the worm! And yes, I am now also a fellow 4:30am riser 😅

2. You can trust the process

I won’t sugarcoat it. The process involved in creating and launching children’s picture books is a lengthy one, and at times, it can feel daunting. Whether it’s allowing the crappy first drafts of your manuscripts to exist - to fall out of your mind and onto the page - without judging your words too harshly, or figuring out which publishing route is best to take  - to pitch or not to pitch? That is the question 😅… Learning the ropes, weighing up your options, making decisions, and continuing to be creative all takes time.

Many times I’ve felt frustrated and disheartened, and some days wanted to quit and give up altogether. But then I realised: This is it! This IS the process... This is all part of it!

There will be days when everything goes well, and other days when you’ll question what on earth you’re doing?!! It’s all normal, okay, and part of the process. The most important thing, when those times happen, is to hang in there. Keep showing up for your ideas, taking action, and doing the work. Allow everything else to be, and trust the process - because it is leading you somewhere amazing. You’ve just gotta hang in there to see 😉    Here are some snaps from my writing and publishing process... From 4:30am starts (rocking my robe!), writing rituals, and things that help me create. To getting my debut book into a bookstore, developing my confidence and skills as a writer, and gaining momentum to publish additional books ⬇️

3. You don’t have to do it alone - mentors are magic!

Even though you only see the author and illustrator names on the cover of a children’s picture book, often there will be many other people behind the scenes who helped bring that book to life. My editor, Amy Molloy, was one of those incredible people for me. Originally she was my teacher (I participated in her online course for aspiring authors, The Book Writing Remedy - which was amazing!) and later she became my editor and mentor.

Knowing you’re not alone on your journey, and that there are people you can reach out to - whether that’s a local writing group, or a mentor who can share their experiences and offer guidance - it makes a difference. Connecting with others helps you stay on track, lightens the loads, and brings some fun and magic into the mix! Life is always brighter when awesome people are around.  

4. Do the thing that scares you…

Because it’s often the exact thing that will lead you to where you need to go next. I’ve found this to be the case over and over again in my journey to becoming an author, especially when it came time to find an illustrator who could bring my words to life.

I was absolutely terrified (like seriously, a ball of nerves and stress) when I first reached out to Paridhi P. Apte to see if she’d be interested in illustrating my books. I was intimidated by her talent (she’s brilliant at what she does), and so scared that she’d say no. My fear of rejection was extreme. But thankfully, Elanor Roosevelt’s quote came to mind and overrode the fearful thoughts that were trying to hold me back…

“Do one thing everyday that scares you. Those small things that make us uncomfortable help us build courage to do the work we do.”

So, keep taking yourself on and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Be bold, brave, and bigger than your biggest concerns. And do the things that scare you… because fantastic things do happen when you do 🥰

5. Surround yourself with support and structures

My family and friends have been phenomenal in supporting me on my writing journey - they are my biggest cheerleaders. But I’ve also found having supports outside of my immediate circle hugely beneficial too.

An accountability buddy when you’re on a mission to publish your own books is gold! Someone who you can share your goals with, who’ll call you out when you’re being a chicken, and who will keep you on track is extremely valuable. My weekly check-ins with my amazing buddy Samina keep me focused, plus feeling supported and capable.

Daily structures like blocking out time to write, or booking meetings to collaborate with partners is key. Structures that encourage you to develop yourself: like participating in one-on-one coaching, engaging a therapist, joining masterminds, networking groups, or seminars is crucial too. For me, I love my weekly Landmark Worldwide seminars - their programs make a massive difference to my life and work. If your supports and structures may look different to mine, no probs! Whatever makes you feel continually encouraged and empowered, go for it! 

6. You can find solutions after setbacks. Considered self-publishing a book?

After spending hours preparing pitches and sending proposals off to big publishing houses for consideration for book deals, I was gutted each time that I didn’t receive a response. Being ghosted on pitches is common practice in the publishing world (they receive so many after all), but it doesn't make the rejection any less brutal for the old self-esteem. 

Following months of pitching and hearing crickets, and with my confidence at an all time low, again I thought about throwing in the towel. Without a book deal, how was I meant to fund the production of eight children’s picture books? And how was I going to get them into the hands of young readers without a publisher's help? Thankfully, a setback isn’t a sign to stop. It’s an opportunity to find another way. When the prospects of getting my books published weren’t looking so great, I turned to self-publishing and discovered a bunch of different ways that other authors publish their books, plus how they go about funding them too (spoiler: there are so many options!)

I met authors who ran successful crowdfunding and kickstarter campaigns, made applications for grants, sourced sponsorship opportunities, funded their books with their own savings, and used print-on-demand services over traditional printing firms. It may have taken them a little longer, but they did it. And even after setbacks, you can too. 

7. Something special happens when you share…

Which brings me to how I turned my rejected pitches into beautifully self-published children’s picture books. My not-so-secret secret to getting these books off the ground, and sourcing funding for producig them, was through the simple act of sharing.

Yep, you read that right… sharing.

As scary as it was initially, when I started sharing my vision for The Money Lessons series with others, I discovered people who share my vision for teaching kids about money too. Who knew there were so many people looking for fun financial education for kids?! 😄 And it was through that sharing that something special happened… One of the businesses that I shared with said that they wanted to join this project and become a series sponsor.

Cue the confetti!

I will forever be grateful to Leanne Pon and Savvy Home Loans for saying yes to supporting these books! Not only an amazing business that helps their clients secure great finance options, but now a business that’s instrumental in ensuring kids are financially savvy too! I still pinch myself that sponsorship came about as a result of sharing, but I’m also not surprised. There is so much power in sharing what’s important to you, especially when you share from the heart.

So thankful to our sponsors Savvy Home Loans

So if you find yourself stuck and unsure what to do next, share. If you’re confronted, start off by sharing with one person, and build your sharing muscle. Then share with another person, and another. Never give up, don’t take no for an answer, and become a sharing machine. Your sharing will lead to something special. 

That’s how my interview with Greg Cary came about. I didn’t chase after that radio time, the opportunity arose when my Uncle was listening to 4BC and heard the invitation for authors to call and plug their books. If I hadn’t shared, my uncle wouldn’t have known my books existed and I wouldn't have told me to ring.

So share, share, and share some more... It can be scary, but oh so worth it!!

Until next time, happy sharing!

Jaleesa x

PS - If you’d like to check out my on-air chat with Greg on 4BC Brisbane, click here and fast forward to the 16 minute mark of the recording.

PPS - Or if you want to see where we are up to with the Money Lessons Series, find our latest books and learn all about our bundles here.


Interested in other resources to boost your kids financial literacy?

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