How to Start a Children’s Book Business

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How to Start a Children’s Book Business

Children’s books are a big business, even more so than adult books.  If you are a writer, or even if you’re not, you could start a children’s book publishing business and make a great living.  There are many highly successful children’s book businesses in the world today.

Business Overview

A children’s book business receives manuscripts and illustrations from children’s book authors and publishes them to sell to consumers.  Some provide illustration services as well. If illustrations aren’t your strongest suit, Fiverr or Upwork are great ways to find an illustrator to help with the pictures, layout, and book design.

A big question that comes up is whether to self-publish or use a traditional publisher? The self-editing process has several upsides like being able to sell as soon as the book is done, complete control of the story, and low costs. The upsides are great for someone with book marketing acumen, however, with a publisher, you already have distribution lined out, and you have someone with the guidance of the publishing process.

Finding a publisher isn’t going to be easy, and the larger ones receive thousands of submissions each year, but if you can break through and get the attention of a publisher, be sure to realize that royalties are negotiable. The first offer presented will often be one that they know will be profitable to their company. It will be intimidating, but don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Be sure to not overwrite for your audience. The length of the book should vary depending on the age group you want to write for. Also, be sure to consider whether you would write a series or a single book. Series are great for kids because selling the others in the series is easier if the first book is a hit.

Industry Summary

According to IBIS World, in 2020, children’s book sales reached $2 billion and is expected to grow 2.6% in 2021.  It has grown steadily at 0.8% for the last five years.

Related Industries

Bookstore
Freelance Writer

Industry Trends

There will always be a sizable market for kid’s books, both for recreational reading and educational purposes.  The industry is sensitive to economic fluctuations because children’s book purchases are discretionary spending.  It is important to keep up with what topics are currently in demand for children’s books.

Target Market

Your target market will be children of all ages and their parents.

Skills, Experience, and Education Useful in Running a Children’s Book Business

There are several specific skills that you will need to open a children’s book business.

  • Experience.  Experience in the publishing industry would be extremely valuable.
  • Business knowledge and experience.  You will need to have at least some basic knowledge of marketing, finance/accounting, and human resources.
  • People skills. You’ll need to build rapport with your readers so they will keep reading as new books are reached.

Checklist for Starting a Children’s Book Business

If you’re thinking about starting your own children’s book business, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here is a checklist of the essentials to get started.

Step 1: Write your Business Plan

After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your children’s book business should be to write a business plan.  The business plan will make you focus on some important aspects of the business, such as who your customers are, how you plan to reach them, projecting sales and expenses, your value proposition to use for marketing, and more. You’ll also need to do some research to calculate exactly what your start-up expenses will be and what your ongoing expenses will be.

Not only will a bank require you to have a business plan if you need financing, but multiple studies have shown that having a good business plan increases the odds of starting a successful business. Writing the plan helps you to think through all the aspects of the business and then serves as a guide as you begin.

Related: How to write a business plan

Step 2: Name the Business

Finding the perfect children’s book business name can be challenging. Not only does the name have to reflect what you do and be appealing to customers, but it also has to be available to use. You can check your state’s website to see if the name is available and register your name.  Your name should make you stand out, reflect your brand, and tell potential customers exactly what you do.

Step 3: Form a Business Entity

A business entity refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business entities to choose from, which include the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Each type of entity has its own pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.

When deciding on which business entity is best for a children’s book business, it normally comes down to the sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company.

A partnership opens the owners up to unnecessary personal liability because if a partner does something to get the business sued, or runs off with cash from the business, the other partners are personally liable to repay. The corporation can be a good choice because it separates the business assets from the owner’s assets. If the corporation is sued or certain business debts can’t be paid back, the owners aren’t personally responsible to repay them. The downside to the corporation is that it is more complicated than all the other entities and requires more administration than the LLC. If you plan on raising a lot of investment though, the corporation is usually the better choice.

That leaves the sole proprietorship and LLC.

The sole proprietorship is the least expensive and easiest entity to start which is appealing. The downside is the owner is personally liable should anything happen to the business, which is an important consideration. The LLC offers the ability to operate as a sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation. Depending on the state, the cost to form an LLC runs from $40 – $500, which is pretty inexpensive for protecting the owners from business-related lawsuits and certain debts.

Related: 3 steps to forming your LLC
 

Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.


Some popular LLC formation services include:


IncFile - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

IncAuthority - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent the first year!

ZenBusiness - $49 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

Step 4: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

There are no licenses specific to book publishers, however, there are general business registrations such as a sales tax permit and an Employer Identification Number.

Related: Common business licenses, permits, and registrations by state

Step 5: Find Financing

Financing for a book publisher isn’t going to be common unless the publisher has already had a successful book. The main reason is that the funding for this type of business is going to be for working capital, which is essentially the cash to allow the author to pay their bills. Since there are no guarantees the book will be successful, the likelihood of getting financing is very low, meaning the author must create the books on the side, build up adequate savings, or have investors.

Step 6: Open a Business Bank Account

Keeping your business and personal finances in separate business bank and credit card accounts makes it easier to track the income and expenses of the business.

Step 7: Get your Marketing Plan in Place

Marketing efforts for a printed book versus an ebook may be different as it’s a lot easier to give away a lot of ebooks to get reviews on book platforms like Amazon.

A good marketing strategy to engage a local community is through contacting bookstores and librarians and offering signings and book readings and attending book fairs.

Some common marketing techniques for a children’s book business include social media platforms and Facebook groups, in addition to online advertising. Developing a website can be a significant expense, but it can also give your children’s book business greater visibility online.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

One important task while working on the marketing is developing an online presence. A website developer may be out of the budget, but Wix makes it easy for non-technical people to get a website running quickly and affordably.

Step 8: Set up an Accounting System

Setting up an accounting system for your children’s book business is critical to the long-term success of your business.

Staying on top of taxes not only keeps the business out of trouble with the government but the numbers can be used to track and monitor trends and cash flow in the business and maximize profits.

Related: Setting up the accounting for your business

The thought of accounting can be intimidating for a lot of new entrepreneurs. There are a number of ways of handling bookkeeping, from DIY to hiring a bookkeeper. These include:

- Pen and paper - Low expense, but difficult to track.
- Spreadsheet - Low expense, but easy to make errors.
- Accounting software - Medium expense, but owner typically inputs expenses. Some great accounting software programs include Freshbooks or Wave Accounting.
- Hire a bookkeeper - Higher expense, though very affordable at $100-$200 per month in most cases. A dedicated bookkeeper will probably save money because, in addition to handling all of the bookkeeping (so you can focus on the business), they also provide personalized tax advice and ensure the business is in compliance.

Find bookkeepers in your local area or use a service like 800Accountant.

How much does it cost to start a children’s book business?

Here are the typical costs you will face when you open a children’s book business.

– Website setup $100–$200 for a basic, do it yourself website, $1,000 – $2,000 for a professional site
– Cost to print your first run of a book $4,000-$6,000 for 3,000 copies
– Illustration services $2,000-$3,000

How profitable is a children’s book business?

Revenues will vary.  A single successful book can easily bring in well into the six figures.   Successful children’s book companies can make millions.

Are there grants to start a children’s book business?

It’s extremely rare to find a grant to start a children’s book business. If you search for business grants, you will come across a lot of scams and misinformation. Occasionally an organization will offer grants to start a business, however, be skeptical and don’t provide any sensitive personal information or pay money to get more information.

Legitimate federal grants can be found at Grants.gov and you can check on your state’s economic development office to see if they have any grants available.

What is the NAICS code for a children’s book business?

The NAICS code for a children’s book business is 511130 which is classified under Book Publishers.

The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.

Related: What is a NAICS code and how to find yours

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