Guest post: Self-publishing a children’s book by Sarahjane Funnell

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of self-publishing her children’s book, is brought to you by children’s author, intervieweespotlight and guest blogger Sarahjane Funnell.

The launch of a Self-Published book – Phillipa Knickerbocker Glory and the Ice Cream Castle

It’s been a few months since my last post on Morgen’s blog so it is wonderful to have this opportunity again. The article featured my debut short story, the YA fantasy eBook ‘Blake’, which is my only YA story to-date, as my main fictional forte is writing children’s picture books for the 3-6 age range. I also mentioned in my last post that I was in the process of publishing my debut children’s picture book Phillipa Knickerbocker Glory and the Ice Cream Castle – a story about a young girl name Phillipa who encounters a deliciously-exciting adventure and, accompanied by her fluffy white cat Little Miss Whiskers, finds the Ice Cream Castle.

Publishing my own book has been an exciting journey and I am very pleased that I have a book I can call my own. From the initial process of finding a publisher, which happened by chance; my best friend met another Children’s Author named Claire Carpenter at a Toast Masters speaking event, they got talking and the author gave her business card for my friend to then to give to me. I contacted the author Claire and she recommended her publisher Gibson Publishing. I then looked up the company and found them to be very friendly with a personal approach. After an enquiry they sent me some samples of books that they had produced, including Claire’s children’s picture book Something Odd and immediately I knew I wanted to publish my books with them.

I’d briefly seen complicated adverts for various self-publishing companies in writer’s magazines and found it all to be very confusing. With Gibson the approach is completely personal and your book, your project, is treated exactly how it should be – a project of its own that meets your requirements. If my friend had never met Claire Carpenter, I probably would still be worrying which company to approach and how to get my book into print.

One of the main benefits to self-publishing your own work, despite having to outlay your own money, is you have the ability to decide exactly how your finished book will be, and your book literally becomes a business of your own.  From the initial consultation with the publisher and the illustrator, to seeing the finished product at printed proof stage, everything is completed to match your vision.

As an author when I write my books I see everything as a complete picture from start to finish from the smallest details to the colours, to the shapes, to the finished layout. It’s very important for me and how I work in a way where I have complete control over what the images look like and how the text sits on page.  The self-publishing process allows the author, if the author wishes, to take complete charge over how they envisage the images and my illustrator Amie, has been great at working with all my ideas, inspiration boards and instructions (of which there were many) that detailed everything from the colours of the walls in Phillipa’s bedroom, to the shape of the ice cream machine and the textures and mixed media quality to the illustrations – and, along with her illustrations skills and interpretations with my directions and lots of to-ing and fro-ing with the printers and the binding to ensure everything was perfect, the book is exactly how I pictured it would be. Even with the Twinkle Sprinkles ice cream toppings I have named for the ice cream sprinkles on the walls inside the Ice Cream Castle.

Regarding author promotion, working in full time in Beauty PR, I know how to promote my book within the media but, if someone doesn’t have a lot of skills in this area, the most important thing to do is to get to grips with social media. With Twitter and Facebook the world is your oyster. I’ve managed to find parent bloggers in all areas of the globe from America, Malaysia and the UK which means I can instantly widen my readership and promote my book to people in all corners of the globe from the click of a button on my mobile phone, on the way to work in the mornings.

As a self-published author, this venture takes dedication, drive and persistence. I spend my lunch hours from work in Starbucks with a cup of Earl Grey Tea and my diary where I call the media, arrange things such as branded stationary and call bookstores to arrange book signings. Doing this I’ve managed to organise 10 book signings with Waterstone’s, The National Trust and within Independent bookstores throughout the country. I’ve also registered the name Phillipa as a Trademark with the Intellectual Property Office and aim make the Phillipa brand a successful licensing option for toys, clothing brands and food products. When you have a business, however small, with determination and ambition the sky really is the limit. Even if you don’t have money or cannot get a loan, you can take small steps right away by righting down your ideas, building a contact list and researching bookstores whilst you save money or find a way to print your books if self-publishing is the route you choose.

I knew I believed in my idea and that people, parents and children would believe in it too. I also knew that ice cream was going to be a major trend this Spring / Summer and if I’d tried to get a publishing deal, if I was too be successful it would more than likely take a very long time, and by then, someone else could have filled the gap I spotted within the market as to my knowledge there aren’t really any other children’s books focused around ice cream.

With so many ideas for further books in the Phillipa series, myself, Amie and Russell are going to be working together on these next books. In July we start the illustrations for the second book – Phillipa Fairy Cake – and we already have a third book lined up which we will work on immediately after the second is completed. This means, by next August 2013, I am aiming to have all three Phillipa books on sale. Following that, all being well, the next ones will then be in progress and, hopefully so will other Phillipa related lines.

Like the success of Charlie and Lola, I hope Phillipa and all the next books following on from Phillipa Knickerbocker Glory and the Ice Cream Castle will be unique to the world of publishing and self-publishing, changing the stereotypes that sometimes surround the world of self-published works and, most of all, create a buzz within the world of children’s fiction as something incredibly imaginative, fun and inspiring. I want Phillipa books to be the type of stories that children want to read again and again.

See for downloadable colouring-in pages, more information and to purchase the first in the series. It is also available from Waterstone’s, WH Smith and Amazon. For more information on self-publishing please visit Gibson Publishing.

Thank you Sarahjane, lovely to have you back and good luck with the rest of the series!

Sarahjane Funnell is the Regional PR Officer for LUSH Cosmetics and a newly published children’s fiction author. Predominantly she writes young children’s picture books and middle grade stories set in magical places and enchanted lands. You can find out more about Sarahjane via Twitter and her Blog.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with crime and mystery author Jochem Vandersteen – the three hundred and twenty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. And I have a new forum at

4 thoughts on “Guest post: Self-publishing a children’s book by Sarahjane Funnell

  1. Sandra McLeod Humphrey says:

    WOW, I’m impressed, Sarahjane! Your enthusiasm is palpable and your dedication to your craft most admirable. You’re obviously in it for the long haul and I’m looking forward to following you and your books as your journey progresses.


  2. williamdoonan says:

    Interesting post! I’d always imagined that self-publishing wasn’t the way to go for children’s books. I’ve read a lot of columns suggesting that because most self-published work is sold online or through Amazon, and because children’s books don’t sell quite so well online, that this would be a bad fit. But you’re giving me hope here. Maybe it might be time to bust out my Pincecone P.I. and see if he can solve some kid-friendly crimes throughout the tree!

    William Doonan


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