Self publishing, is it worth it ? An illustrator´s point of view 2 – To print or not to print…on demand…

I take it that you already read part one of this rambling of mine on my other initial post… right ? 😉
So… self publishing your book, is it worth it or not ?
Well, the short answer is, not.
But there´s a positive catch here.

In my opinion, it´s not worth it if you go purely – Print on demand.
Let me rephrase that… it may not be worth if you go purely – Print on demand.


The big question that many people ask is does print and demand work ?
Yes and no.
Why ? Because although print on demand is really easy to set up and it´s mostly free to get your own online shop, not only you will have a ton of work uploading your material into several of your pod-online stores but you will be so frustrating by the lack of initial visits and zero sales for months ( sometimes years ) on end that you´ll simply quit on everything. Many times convinced that your own work is totally crap when it´s not.
So this type of more immediate – self publish – solution can really become the death of your dream because you may come out of the experience thinking your work is no good or nobody is interested on what  your dream project is.
You set up your store, you upload your book, everything looks awesome and then you spend the next six or ten months looking at it while you´re the only visitor there most of the time. And then you quit, without realizing you´re really quitting before you even begun.

I bet you´re already confused.
Once again, self publishing your book, is it worth it or not ?

It all depends on what your goal is.
More… it all depends on what your expectations are when you start your self publish project.
If you´re one of those authors that are absolutely convinced your book is naturally awesome and therefore it will be easy to earn a lot of money by sailing it all over the world through the internet because everyone will be interested in it (after all we´re talking about selling in the entire world), think again.
Think again if you think – print on demand – is going to do that for you when you choose this more popular method of self publish.


Another popular question tends to be, is print on demand saturated ?
Well, how big is the internet online market ? Does anyone know ?
Because, the first catch of  print on demand is revenue. Income generated by your sales.

No matter what cover price you choose for your self published book, the company where you are selling it and where you have your online store set up, will always take the larger chunk of your hard earned money.
Therefore, to get… let´s say, -rich- by being a self published author; or even for you to quit your day job, your book really, really, REALLY needs to become an overnight sensation all over the web and sell thousands of copies monthly, even better…weekly.
Even then if you become that successful remember that the print on demand company will be seven, eight or nine times richer than you, despite you´re being the one spending money to market your book.
Because print on demand companies won´t publicize your book for free, unless you´re getting amazing sales. And in that case, they are the ones who will have all the advantage in making your work known and increase sales because in the end they are the ones who will really profit from your talent. Come to think…not that much difference from real established mainstream publishers…but that is another topic for another time…

Is print on demand profitable then ?
Right now with your work, no matter if you self publish your book on amazon KDP, at LULU or in any of all the options out there, if you charge $15 for your book, with luck you´ll get about $1 or $2 per sale…and this is when the companies don´t also deduct “expenses” or have some other “fee” on top of your earnings for the “free” self publishing service they are providing to you. It´s true they have their printing costs associated and they give you the online space, etc…but we cannot avoid to think something is not right when it comes to what an author gets in the end.
But in the end you have to deal with it. If you go the print on demand route you need to accept the rules of the system.

For example on my own -“self publish”- metallic print shop at Displate, each time I sell a $39 print with my work , I get about $2 out of that sale.


Which brings me to the second catch with the print on demand “free” option.
You have to spend money to make money.
Ok, this is true in every other business but it´s a lot more troublesome if you´re getting into self publishing for the first time, you have no budget for marketing but you managed to invest a few Dollar$ or €uros into web adds, either on Facebook, Add Words or whatever.
What usually happens with self publishing in print on demand, is that if you want to get some results out of it and generate sales, you actually spend more money on publicity than the money you make out of your sales.
This is particularly true if you´re one of those authors who cannot afford to spend a lot of money each month just on advertising your print on demand store.
So you´ll be spending your money to publicize the print on demand company more than you actually end up publicizing your own work at the end.

So, is print on demand a waste of time ?
If you have a ton of money for publicity and you are ok with the print on demand company getting most of your revenue out of all your efforts, you can at the same time end up selling a huge amount of books and actually in the end get a good income out of everything.
But I´m talking insane investments in publicity.
I know of a couple of self published authors who invest a minimum of 3K to 5K a month just on online adds. Yes, there are self publishing authors out there than can afford to invest $5000 a month just on that.
The good side of it is that they actually get results and those $5000 a month invested in publicity end up generating between more than $15.000 and sometimes a lot higher numbers in sales of their self published print on demand books.


Over the web many successful (?) self published authors claim that they don´t need to spend more than about $100 per month on adds to get really good sales and some even claim that spend zero on adds and just use social media to promote their books and even then manage to get around $3000 minimum in book sales each month.
I have no idea if this is really like this or not. Maybe if you have excellent contacts and your social media is really targeting people that are interested in your books. That I can see working.
On the other hand, in my experience I never came across a self published author that besides having a budget to pay for my artwork did not had another just for publicity.
This is actually an answer to the question… how much does print on demand cost … It costs what you are willing to spend on publicity and that´s about it.

Recently I´ve started to notice a trend for about two years or so.
Like I already said on another post, most of my illustration work used to be done for mainstream clients, but over the last couple of years, I´ve been approached by more and more self publish authors too ; ( along with indie-companies which are now -real- mainstream publishers when they initially started as self publish efforts that really worked )  so I guess all that negativism which we read all over the internet surrounding the self publish option may end up having two sides after all and the failure and success of each project in the end rests on the quality of each offer vs how each well each author can spread the word around.

Just go to the Kindle store for example. You have awesome success cases of people who started in self publishing there who actually right now only work on their e-books for a living.
As a good example of this let´s take the success of my favorite supernatural and horror author of recent years, AMY CROSS. If you never heard about her and you love scary novels, you need to check this lady´s work at the Kindle store.


Amy Cross is everything naysayers argue that cannot happen at all if you are going the self publishing route. She´s one of the great success stories that started in Amazon´s KDP so like I said before, there´s more to this self publish your book or self publish your novel thing that many detractors out there argue there is not.

Check this bit of interview with Amy Cross from another site on the web.

“Amy’s foray into the writing arena wasn’t easy. But it wasn’t as challenging as she expected. Because Amy was always writing short stories, mostly for fun, she eventually decided to take a chance by sending a few chapters to traditional publishers for consideration.

Not one ever got back to her, and Amy Cross would have been happy to forget about publishing at that point in time, content in the fact that she had given it her all.
But then Amy discovered self-publishing and realized that she did not need the help of a traditional publisher to pursue her writing dreams.

And once she discovered Amazon KDP, there was no turning back. She knew that she could produce as many stories as wanted without the irritating oversight of a traditional publisher.

Amy Cross doesn’t hold a hostile view towards traditional publishers. She just doesn’t think she could thrive in such a world. Self-publishing allows her to control the technical and financial aspects of her work.

I´m a huge fan of Amy Cross stories and I have my Kindle filled up with her books which I cannot recommend enough if you´re into paranormal imaginative stuff.
This connects to the same trend I´ve been noticing when it comes to children books regarding my work experience of the last couple of years as a children´s book illustrator available for hire out there.
Not only I´m doing now more than 50% of my work in each year for indie clients or self publishing authors but it also has become more common for many of the books which I did for self published authors to actually start generating enough sales for people to come back for sequels; so I guess someone must be doing something right without going broke paying for online adds; although at this point I cannot comment further on this with an honest opinion.
And by the way, this is also starting to be true for independent board game companies or board game authors too as many of the recent popular hit games on the board game market also started as self published/financed products that then took of in popularity either on personal websites or at KickStarter; “Exploding Kittens” comes to mind.

So, yet once again…self publishing your book, is it worth it or not ?

If you don´t expect to get rich or quit your job overnight.
If you don´t simply give up trying ( it´s very important to never stop publishing books and fill your store up with a lot of titles ).
If you don´t mind not getting much money out of your book sales when the print on demand company gets most of your price cover ; (go Kindle if you want to increase your margin by a lot).
If you are here to stay and first and above all you want to make yourself and your work noticed out there.
If you take it as a hobby that can potentially become something a lot more interesting.
If you can spend a bit of money in self marketing ( helps a lot ).
If you don´t want to have your dreams forever stuck inside your drawer.

8x10_BW_60-COVER - book1

I don´t think there´s any harm in the world for you to get into self publishing.
Even starting with this not exactly -fair- print on demand option.
Once again get into it, knowing what you´re getting yourself into and I doubt you´ll be disappointed.
Who knows what can happen. Go out there and learn to self publish a children´s book if you have one in your imagination.
If you don´t do it you´ll never know. 😉

Just make sure you put a really professional looking book out there, like I mentioned on my last post. The way you present your book can be the best or the worst thing ever. Make sure you´re not arriving with a $25 spread page children´s book that actually screams $25 in production value.
But beware… make sure you´re not going broke in the process either.
Beware of the internet traps out there who tend to promise the world to brand new authors…And this brings me once again to – vanity press – companies which is a topic that will have to stay for another post later.

For now, go create your book and I´ll see you on my next post. 🙂




If you are searching for how to hire a children´s book illustrator or concept artist take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do together.








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Self publishing, is it worth it ? An illustrator´s point of view.

The most professional, best looking amateur ever ignored !

Self publishing, is it worth it ? Well, if you search the internet about this topic there´s a million different opinions out there. Most of them really negative on how self publishing ca be a waste of time or how self publishing keeps being a bad idea.
I have read a lot of things but I never read any article or opinion, from a professional illustrator point of view. This is where I think I can contribute to the discussion and bring a little beam of positive light into this so much trashed idea about self publishing your books.


One popular understanding out there is that self published authors spend more time just trying to do their own marketing and stressing about it, than actually being writers and enjoying what they do.
Self published authors end up spending 90% of their time doing marketing and sometimes even less than 10% actually creating something.
And this is when people still pursue their dream and don´t just simply quit after the first couple of months with zero sales and zero visibility. Mostly because  like me, they have zero talent for online self marketing, or many times, (also like me), have absolutely no time to do it properly…and that is where the 90% marketing argument comes in.
Very true.

Particularly true if you, as a self published author expect to get rich or instantly make a career in writing or think you´re going to become an overnight superstar sensation on the web.
For every success story you read online and some really are true, there´s about a billion self publish failures out there.
And I speak for myself too. Trust me, I´m guilty of everything I see mentioned as a negative thing about self publish you see on the web also. Like everyone I made a ton of mistakes on my first attempts.
Working full time in illustration I hardly have the time to illustrate for clients, let alone do something for me that requires hours a day. The fact this blog has been on halt for almost a year now is proof of that too.
In short, if you don´t do your marketing right, chances are you will not become a popular author.


If you think about it, that is true for everything.
And the first step to avoid that fate, if you want to have any chance of ever achieving something with your book, is to put yourself out there.

Handwriting Text Publish. Concept Meaning Make Information Avail

Don´t be afraid to put your work out in the world. Just do it as a hobby.
Do it for fun.
But do it really well !
In the specific world of children book authors , if you can invest some money in creating a really good looking , well produced book go for it as that is the way to arrive.
Rule number one, if you put yourself out there , if you´re looking to understand how to self publish your children´s book, your work needs to look as professional as possible.

Because in self publishing the risk number 1 is not investing a bunch of money on a project and then not recover your investment. Risk number 1 is arriving at the scene looking immediately like an amateur.
And don´t think because you´re self publishing,  therefore you´re not being that noticed, you won´t be immediately labeled as a stinky amateur. Sometimes by someone that matters and could really take your book to a different level.
Being labeled as an amateur should be your number 1 fear.
And why ?

Because self publish despite all the negative connotation that keeps having in many opinion circles, has a fantastic positive thing that in fact should be your number 1 goal right from the first go.
Self publishing can do for your book, with your name attached the same the initial free illustration web galleries did for illustrators like me when we started to arrive at the online illustration field many years ago, circa 1999.
Back then when I started to experiment with online job search on illustration it was the fact that sites like the classic Elfwood already existed that brought me my first commissions.
Online galleries that allowed us to post our illustration work for free ; sites like that which later evolved into stuff like the now popular Deviant art; which allowed us to spread our work around and get noticed.
That is why nowadays as an illustrator I also sell my own fantasy and science fiction illustrations on stores like Displate or as downloadable prints at my brand new Etsy store.
I´m not trying to get rich or even be a successful entrepreneur at we-commerce. I´m doing it for exposure because, many illustration commissions already came from clients that bought posters at my Displate shop.


So, keep this in your mind when it comes to self publishing and before you get too depressed with the standard negativism out there from many articles.
Without you ever noticing it , your work can be seen.
Not only by amateurs but also by “invisible eyes” connected either to illustration agencies, publishing companies or when it comes to children books , if yours is really good , get the attention of some major mainstream publisher.
We never know who´s looking at our work online.
And you don´t need 1000 visits.
You only need 1.
The right one.
The one person who´s actually connected to an established spot within the art/publishing or media industry.
The one person that notices your work and recognizes your value and potential.
The one person that contacts you based on your “simple” online presence and which can take your name and your work to the next level creating new opportunities for you.



I´m now an online full time illustrator because of this mindset.
I spent years “failing” and “self publishing” my artwork all over the place. And I failed so much and so many times that one day things started to work for me.
So it can happen to you , either if you´re an artist or an independent children´s book author you too can follow the same steps that many times contribute to establishment of indie companies like New Paige Press which is my favorite independent publisher to work with.
But that will never happen if your book looks totally amateur at first glance.
In just one second you can be totally forgotten.
So you should not go for 1000 visits or 1000 “LIKES”.
You should go for – that one second – of attention from someone , the 1 visit that really matters.

After spending 28 years in illustration, with about 10 years working full time online and in which 5 of those ten were also dedicated to create illustration work for a lot of independent and self publishing authors, at least from my point of view and personal life experience I can guarantee you that 90% of those people that really fail in self publishing , may not being failing just on the marketing side. There´s more to failure than the corporate reasons stated on my anti-self publishing articles out there.
It won´t matter if your marketing skills are awesome, if you´re the king and queen of social media in your own neighborhood or if you spend thousands of $ or € on Facebook adds or Add Words.
If you have really ugly book, which totally screams amateur up front there´s no reason to blame anything else. You can even have the greatest children book story ever told. You have an ugly amateur book, you´re gone.


The main thing that negative articles about self publish usually don´t mention, or don´t give much attention to, is the fact that probably 99% of the self published children books out there fail because they are really amateur and really , really badly produced when it comes to illustration.
I see that happening all the time in children´s book Facebook groups, Instagram and all over the place.
Many people think their book is so awesome that they are convinced they don´t even need to invest on professional artwork, professional editing or professional design.

As an illustrator, I see that all the time.
As an illustrator I see people in forums asking themselves how come their book is not selling when many times the answer is right there visually ! And don´t even try to explain to them what is happening with their book.
I´ve made that mistake once trying to help an author and let´s just say it, from now on if a person don´t ask for my opinion as an illustrator I won´t be the one to comment.

If you´re a children book author and you are serious about it, although self publish is mostly free out there, that does not mean you should not have a good initial budget when it comes to producing your book.
I´ve seen people in forums with incredible amateur books ( the ones which are only loved by mum and friends ), but because they are loved by their mum and friends ( yes, that is an actual real argument for quality in more than one project that I knew ), the author is convinced he does not need to spend money on professional artwork.
In one example that I know, the author did not wanted to spend more than $25 per spread page because he found – an artist – on a known crowdsource site that did the entire book for less than $150.

Let´s just say, that you don´t want to arrive on the children book scene with a $25 spread page book. Not even on print on demand.
No matter how your mum and friends will say it´s great ( and you got it cheap too!! )
You really end up getting what you payed for. And this is not a compliment.

If you don´t know how to hire a children´s book illustrator for your project, do not make the mistake of thinking because , oh , you´re just self publishing , it´s your first try, you don´t have any money to invest on it and so it does not matter that much who you get.
It does matter.
Wait a bit, gather some cash and create your book well.
Don´t be one of those “self published” authors that contribute for the extremely negative numbers the self publishing scene presents from the mainstream side of things. It´s those self publish “authors” that totally justify the bad reputation self publish still has.

Don´t expect to get rich, but if you do it well, trust me; you will recover your art investment money and you can expect some surprises along the way. You never know who´s looking at your work online. You only need 1 person. 😉
Present yourself well, put a real quality book out there and make sure you´re the most professional best looking amateur that was ever ignored !

But beware of Vanity Press scams
Vanity press

More on this later. 😉




If you are searching for how to hire a children´s book illustrator or concept artist take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do togheter.










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IcreateWorlds Art – My NEW ETSY STORE!

IcreateWorlds Art – My NEW ETSY STORE!

Are you an artist ? Have you ever thought of making some money with your drawings ? Have you tried selling your images online ?
If the answer is no, maybe you should look into what Etsy has to offer.
After years of looking at the site, I finally decided to open my own ETSY SHOP. I have so many illustrations scattered around that I thought now is the time to put them to use and so after some research I noticed that one of the most popular products there are, downloadable digital prints; which is something I never expected and which is something that is perfect for my type of images and artwork.


Another thing I noticed is that children room wall decoration or kids room poster artwork is something that seems to be in demand over there so to start with, I decided to give it a go at that.

From what I read and from the videos I´ve been watching online it seems that it can take a while for a brand new shop to be noticed and even make a first sale but I´m now following the drip-by-drip approach many established Etsy sellers recommend and I´m at the initial stage of just filling my shop with products to gather some traction within the internal Etsy search engine and maybe Google.


What you see above is actually my best selling image at Displate and so I´m curious to see if it catches on with the ETSY audience also.

One of the great thing with Etsy for my type of art and product is that we can actually create downloadable art prints and an artist like me does not have to sell an actual physical product. I don´t need to manufacture or print my own images. Instead we just sell the high resolution images for people to print as they wish.
In my case, plenty of my children book type illustrations are perfect to decorate children rooms for example and so my downloadable art prints end up being a really cool way of creating home decor products without much difficulty.


If you have some skills with image editing software like Photoshop , Krita or whatever maybe you should also start to think about what you can do with that.
I used to be a real disbeliever on these type of sites that sell our stuff because they take high commission fees and we are left with not much at the end for each sell. But… in reality, if you think about it… we the artists already have the images done, we don´t need to do any extra work and the only trouble we have to go to is upload the material into the sites. You don´t need to stick with only one of these Etsy type sites and you can monetize your digital paintings anywhere on the web.


Drip by drip sales eventually will start to happen. I used to not believe in that at all, but last year I uploaded a couple of my paintings and after a few months of nothing happening my metallic poster prints at Displate started to sell and I haven´t spent a dime in online publicity. Sales just happened.
Although the artists don´t make much money out of each sale, nevertheless it´s money that comes in based on paintings and material we already have around.
The fact that my Displate store seems to be getting some attention in the last couple of months made me want to try and get into ETSY now too.


So, if you´re an illustrator and you don´t have a clue about this online selling stuff, if you have some pics lying around wasted, I totally suggest you try places like Displate and Etsy for sure.

My ETSY SHOP is brand new so I have zero sales and almost no visitors yet but I´ll keep everyone posted on how I will be doing in the future if something happens with it and I´ll try to help everyone who´s in the same level as we go along.




If you are a potential illustration client, if you are looking for an affordable children book artist , concept illustrator or need a freelance artist to work on a pod project ( I do not descriminate print on demand material for sure; I love it ); do not forget to take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) and I´m always available to discuss future work.
If you have a dream, no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do.