Self-Publishing a Children’s Picture Book 19: Reflecting on Our First Christmas Selling Season

Self-Publishing a Children’s Picture Book 19: Reflecting on Our First Christmas Selling Season

Ahhhh….Christmas is over. We’ve taken a break from marketing our book, and it’s time to sit back and reflect on what we accomplished during the past couple months.

I’ll start by saying that our book wasn’t in print until the end of October, which resulted in a  late start for the 2013 Christmas selling season. This did limit our options. Nonetheless, we sold hundreds of books in that short time period — not bad for a couple of novices!

We started by going to a book show in Colorado. You can read about our experience in this blog post.

It is very exciting to walk into a bookstore and see The Great PJ Elf Chase on the shelf, as it is in this picture taken at “The Tattered Cover” bookstore in Denver.

cropped pj elf book on shelf at tattered cover (2)

Having our own website set up ahead of time was definitely a plus for sales. Not only could interested persons go to the website to buy the book, but they could also find more information about the authors and the process of self-publishing a children’s picture book. Many of the sales on our website came from family, friends and word of mouth. The support was overwhelming, and we are thankful. Our publisher, CreateSpace (CS), also sets up a web page for its authors, but since they don’t sell hardcover versions of books, we needed to focus our energy on our own website. is the only place online where customers can buy a hardcover version of the book. We do all the packing, shipping and invoicing.

We sold a respectable amount of paperbacks on Amazon as well. It was exciting to see books being sold every day on Amazon; however, it was frustrating not knowing who bought them! The only information we received is whether the purchaser lived in the U.S., England or another country. Yes, we did get a handful of orders from other countries. The major advantage to selling on Amazon is that they do all the work — packing, mailing, receipts, and so on. We just go to our CS link to see how many books we’ve sold each day. The royalties are paid on a monthly basis.

We contacted book stores in Colorado, Utah and Nevada, and were pleased that our book landed on the shelves of ten stores. We are in the process of following up to see how well they fared. In some cases, we sold the books to the store owners outright. In others instances, we placed the books in the store on a consignment basis. Each venue had its own preference and guidelines. Although this wasn’t as profitable as other methods, we felt the bookstore exposure was an asset.

Our book was reviewed online a few times. You can read some of those reviews here. We also purchased a promotional spot on the LeRue Press radio show, “Book Hound,” in Reno, NV. For $35, we received 6 book “mentions” on air. Additionally, articles about our book appeared in a nationally-syndicated column and in two newspapers. The Great PJ Elf Chase will also be mentioned in our universities’ correspondence to their alumni members. We plan to expand our reach next season, as it’s great to get cheap or free advertisements!

The recurring theme of this self-publishing journey is that we learn something new every step of the way. Writing the book is only half the battle. Marketing is the other half. We are pleased with our results this year, but we’re going to use the knowledge we’ve gained to make bigger, better strides for Christmas, 2014.

If you are someone who now has The Great PJ Elf Chase: A Christmas Eve Tradition on your bookshelf, we appreciate your support.




  1. If the hardcover cost over $13.00, how did you go about selling the books to book stores and make a profit? What did the book retail at?

    • We decided to sell the hardcover book primarily on our website. We have sold it to a few bookstores…some on consignment, some for a set price beforehand. Frankly, we don’t make much profit selling to stores…they make more than we do. We only make a couple dollars per book. But we figure the exposure is worth it. They, of course, sell the book for more money….usually in the $20 to $25 range.

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