Writing and Publishing Children’s Books with Miriam Laundry

Episode 197 Writing and Publishing Children's Books

Today my guest is child author and publisher Miriam Laundry.  Miriam wanted to teach her children her beliefs when they were younger and she thought the best way to do it was through stories.  So she started writing.  Fast forward in time and Miriam has not only authored 5 books, but she now helps others do the same. 

In this episode we will cover:

  • The role of a publisher
  • Different types of publishers
  • Illustrations – rights and ownership


You can learn more about Miriam Laundry on her website.  Her free blueprint detailing how to write a children’s book can be found here.

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Episode 197: Writing and Publishing Children’s Books with Miriam Laundry Transcript

Andrea: 0:03

Welcome to the Legalpreneur Podcast. I’m your host, Andrea Sager, founder and CEO of Legalpreneur, Inc. As a serial entrepreneur and someone that works exclusively with small business owners legally protecting their business, I’m dedicated to covering common legal issues faced by business owners, providing you with the business knowledge you need to catapult your businesses growth and showing you just how some of the world’s most elite entrepreneurs have handled these legal and business issues themselves in true attorney fashion. The information in this episode is not legal advice. This is for informational purposes only, and you should always consult with your attorney before implementing any of the information in the show. Hello. Welcome back to another episode of the Legalpreneur podcast. Today’s guest is a children’s book author, one of my very good friends, Miriam Landry of Miriam Laundry Publishing. She has published many children’s books. She helps many people do that as well. So I’m really, really excited for you to hear from her today. Miriam, thank you so much for being here today.

Miriam: 1:09

Thank you for having me. Andrea, how are you?

Andrea: 1:12

I’m having a great day. I’m so pumped to cover this because I the more I the more time I spend with my kids, the more that I just love things for kids. So I’m really excited to hear about you and your journey. So go ahead and take the wheel. Like how to tell us about your past. Tell us how you got to where you are today in publishing children’s books.

Miriam: 1:33

Yes. Okay. I’m going to take you back ten years because I just ten years ago is when I wrote my first draft to my first book. And I have four children at the time, three were grade school and one was a baby, a newborn. This summer, during this time, I was at an event at a conference where Jack Canfield was teaching all about goal setting and positivity and about letting go of living, limiting beliefs, all of those great things. And I just kept thinking, Wow, this is amazing, this is great, but where would my life be had I learned this when I was younger, when I was a child? So on the flight home, I thought, I want to go home and teach my kids one thing from what I’ve learned. But I thought, I can’t just come home and dump this information on them. I better write it in a story. I better put it in a story. So that’s what I did. I wrote my first draft to I Can Believe in Myself on my flight back from Arizona ten years ago. Yes. Yes. And I mean, when I started, I obviously didn’t know anything. I had never thought of becoming an author prior to this. I just really felt like there were so messages, so many messages that weren’t communicated with children. Right. For me, I love positivity. I love all of that. I love learning how to think, how to let go of those words like the word can’t. And I thought, I can’t just be telling my kids all the time how to do this. I’m going to sneak it into a cute little story where they’re going to understand and get the message for themselves. So that’s how things started back in 2012.

Andrea: 3:15

Oh, my gosh. So you wrote that initial first draft in 2012, and where did you do it on your own? Did you publish on your own how to tell it? Take us through that process of the first book.

Miriam: 3:28

Yes. So I did I self publish the book and during that time I remember googling and looking for help because I didn’t know how to do it. I knew that I didn’t want to go the traditional publishing route. I had one friend who had who had a book traditionally published and I asked him a lot of questions like How long did it take? And it took him three years to publish his book. I just didn’t have the time. I didn’t want to wait around so long. So I decided I was going to self publish and I did it through trial and error. I spent way too much time, too much money making mistakes. I remember looking for a coach and not being able to find 110 years ago, somebody that would help me. So I figured it out on my own and I did it. I have self published three books and then also have two books traditionally published, so I know about both now and through the years. People have always asked me, okay, you’ve written a book, can I send you my story? Can you give me feedback? Can I pick your brain? Can you know they’re looking for information just like I was ten years ago. So a couple of years ago I decided I’m going to actually make a business out of this. I was spending a lot of free time at coffee shops letting people pick my brain. Right. I like sharing. I like helping. But my husband said to me one day, you know, that’s a business. If a lot of people are asking you the same thing, you’ve got a business. So I opened a publishing company and that’s what I focus on now. On helping aspiring children’s book authors not go through all the mistakes I went through. Not wonder, how do I do this or that? So I provide that support for them and help them and teach them through the process.

Andrea: 5:21

Oh, my gosh, that’s incredible. And you so what were you doing before you started the publishing company? You are helping people on the side. But what what was your thing before then?

Miriam: 5:33

Yes, well, before I started the publishing company, I started two years ago. So from 2012 till two years ago, I was writing books, my five children’s books, and I was going into school. So I spent years going into. Of schools reading my book to children, doing workshops at the schools. And that part is so rewarding. I mean, at first it was a little scary, right, to be able to get up in front of hundreds of children and share your story. But once you got once I got used to it, it was it was so rewarding. It was so much fun because you’re able to see firsthand how children feel about your book and about your story. And they’re so honest.

Andrea: 6:14

There’s so I love the honesty of my kids. They’re like, they just say it how it is. I was like, You’re right. You are absolutely right. Thank you for that.

Miriam: 6:24

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So that part was fun. I prior to that, prior to writing children’s books, I had a business for seven years. I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I love all things entrepreneurship, marketing, being creative. But when I found children’s books, it just everything aligned because I had my children at home. I had enough inspiration to write many, many books. But here’s the reality. Even though I wanted to write so many books and share so many of my messages with children, self publishing or traditionally publishing a book takes time. It takes about a year. It takes nine months to a year to self publish a book. My traditional my book that I traditionally publish took me five years. So it takes time. And I figured that at the most I could do one a year, maybe one every two years, but I can reach more children if I help other authors publish their books. That was always my intention. How can I empower a lot of children? So now I’m I’m really doing it. I love that. Yeah. We’ve published 31 books so far, so we’re reaching even more children, which is the end goal.

Andrea: 7:39

So you have actually helped 31 other authors. Well, maybe just 31 books, maybe less than 31 authors. But those are what have been published under Miriam Laundry. Publishing. Yes, that’s incredible. That’s awesome. Oh, my God.

Miriam: 7:55

And it’s it’s so much fun because when people come to me so I have a course that I teach people how to do it on their own. And there’s, you know, there’s more than that. But then I have another program where I work with them for a full year and I publish their book at the end. So so far we have 31 books. By the end of the year, we’ll be at 50.

Andrea: 8:16

Oh, my gosh. This is a big year for you.

Miriam: 8:18

It is. It is. But what I want to say is that I love the process of somebody coming in with sometimes people have had a dream of publishing a book. I have one author. She’s so lovely. She wanted she’s had the dream since she was nine years old to be an author. Her name is Laurie Parks. And when I met her, she said to me, I remember the day I stood in front of my classroom when I was nine years old, and I told the whole classroom that I was going to be an author. She loved to write. She had won some awards at school, but she said life got in the way. I grew up, had a family, had my children, went through a lot of things and she said, Now I’m ready for it. Now I have to do it. She said, This is a has been a lifelong dream. I have to actually do it. So I helped her and at 59 she published her book.

Andrea: 9:12

Oh, I just got goosebumps. Oh, my.Gosh. Oh, that’s incredible. Oh, my gosh.

Miriam: 9:20

Yes. And it’s also you know, it’s a process whenever we do something new, the person she came, the person that started 12 months before was not the same person that left 12 months later. Because you grow so much in the process, your confidence, your self esteem at any age can improve right when you’re doing something that you truly, truly love. And to be able to accomplish that, that dream for her, I will never forget her story because it impacted me also. It impacted me knowing that I could help somebody. And some people come, you know, they’ve had the dream for only ten years or five years. Whatever it is, it’s always special and it’s it’s always something that they want to do. So it’s a pleasure for me to be able to help them accomplish that.

Andrea: 10:04

Oh, that’s incredible. Oh, my gosh. That’s like I seriously I just have the chills. So can we talk a little bit about. The publishing side of it, like the business side of running a publishing company, because now it is very easy these days to self publish a book. I’m self publishing. I have a ghostwriter, so I’m not I’m not going to say I’m completely hands off, but I’m not the one actually in the grind writing every single word. And that’s a whole goes. I know ghostwriting is a whole another ballgame, but can we talk about the publishing side of it? Like, what is it that you do as a publisher? Because I don’t even know. Like, what does a publisher do?

Miriam: 10:47

Yes. So I work as a hybrid publisher. So we are we are the best of both worlds. Right. You have traditional publishing, which which is a goal for a lot of authors. The reality is that it takes a lot of time in publishing. Companies only publish several a couple of books a year. So to be able to get a traditional deal right off the bat is very, very difficult. And then you have self publishing where you do it all on your own, do the writing, the end, and you hire the people to help you along the way, right? Like you always have to get experts. If you’re self publishing, you’re hiring an editor or a ghostwriter to look over your story because you want to have a quality product. Then you’re hiring an illustrator, then you’re hiring a book designer. So you are the one. It’s your little business, right? You’re hiring the people to help you. You’re hiring your team. A hybrid publisher comes alongside you and supports you with their team. So within my team we do all of the editing, we don’t do the illustrations, but we help our authors hire an illustrator and negotiate a contract, which thank you very much. I still use the contract you put together for me. We help. We have a book designer on our team, so we put all of the we are the team for the author. So that’s what I do as a hybrid publisher. And then we help launch the book, right? The marketing is the same for everybody. Whether you traditionally publish a book self publish hybrid publishing, you are the one as the author that is always marketing your book. You’re the one that always has to share that your book is out. You have to share about the benefits of the book, right? So that doesn’t stop. And I don’t think that’s you get it more with one way more one way than the other. You always have to be marketing your book.

Andrea: 12:38

I love that. Oh, my gosh. I can. Now you have me just thinking of books because I, I mean, my biggest thing with my kids is I want them to see and grow up in a world where they see obviously more women that are CEOs. They’re the bosses. They’re the ones that are the breadwinners. Just because obviously it’s been tilted one way for so long. But I want them to see firsthand, like, hey, it’s not always. The dad or the guy that’s the breadwinner, the CEO, the one that’s always traveling for work. It can be the mom. And I like for me more than anything. Like I want my daughter to not just believe that she can do it, but to see it being done. Because for me, it was always my parent because people have asked me like, how like how have you done what you’ve done so far? Because my parents, I mean, they’re very blue collar. They retired from the post office. And to be doing what I’m doing, people have always asked me like, where does that come from? And I’m like, I just believed my parents when they said I could do anything. And not everybody believes when somebody tells them that. And so I want people to see it, and especially my daughter and my son. But my daughter, I want her to see, hey, like mommy does it like this is what I’m going to do. I mean, if you want not that I want to push her to do it, but I can just see I’m like brainstorming all these book ideas. So, Miriam, I may be coming to talk about like if I come to come to you and I’m like, Hey, Miriam, I want to publish this book. What am I looking at? Timeline wise? Cost wise, what? Let’s talk about what goes into it.

Miriam: 14:18

Yeah, I’m going to answer that question, but I also share that a lot of times authors want to write books because of that reason that you just said. We want to see more books that represent us or that represent the beliefs that we have. Right. And and children learn so much from books like they I mean, whatever message you have has to be hidden in within an entertaining story. So that’s those are the types of books that I see a lot of authors wanting to write, the types of books that they want to see more of in the world. And I think of another one of my authors, her name is Cindy Crosby. She was in the playground and that’s where she got inspired to write her book. Her son wanted to play with this little boy, but he the other little boy did not speak English. So that was there was a language barrier. And that day when they went home, she she thought, okay, I’m going to teach you how to say hello in different languages. She was looking for a book on how to say hello in different languages and she could not find one. So she decided to write one. And she has a nonfiction book and it shows just children from different parts of the world saying hello, learning a little bit about their culture. Basically what I’m saying to Andrea is that she wrote the book she wanted for her son. So that’s that’s. I hope that that’s inspiration for people. If you feel like I want to find a book that teaches this, but I cannot find it. You’re the person to write that book. But going back to your question, the timeline or what is the process? The first the first thing I would always suggest is finding a community of writers, finding a mentor. There’s no reason or you should not have to reinvent the wheel or figure out everything on your own. We’re just too busy for that. Just find somebody that knows how to do it that will help you, teach you how to do it or support you in some way. So when you start with that, start with your message, you write your story. Of course, there’s some things that should be in children’s books, some that shouldn’t. You don’t want to make it too lengthy. You want to make it entertaining. You don’t want to be too preachy in your story, even though I’m talking about the message in your book. There are ways to hide that in into your story and you want to make sure that it’s an entertaining book. From there, you will need an editor to help the process. For me, it takes me nine months from the moment I write a book until I can hold it in my hands. Some people will do it faster and some people will take a long time. Again, I’ll suggest finding a mentor that will keep you accountable. If not, you could be years before you see your book, right? I would imprint.

Andrea: 17:02

Well, I’m curious. Like working with you, what do people expect to spend? Because I know you have a course then working with you one on one. What goes I guess what goes into both.

Miriam: 17:11

Yes. So I have two things that I offer. I have a ten week course where I teach you how to write a children’s book, how to self-publish it, and how to launch and market your book. And that is $2,000 for the course. And you have lifetime access, you learn everything and you can go back and rewatch it whenever, whenever you need to. For your second book. For your third book. And then I have a mentorship program that’s a year long, and we come alongside you and provide my team to support you in every step of the way. That runs about 9000. Publishing on your own will cost that or more because again, you’re hiring all the people to do those things for you. I want to say that if you have a dream of empowering children, of writing children’s books, just take the next step. Of course, I have a free blueprint on how to write a children’s book, something that will take your audience through the idea to actually writing a children’s book. And there’s a lot of free resources out there. So I don’t want to I want to make sure that the price tag doesn’t scare people. If you’re serious about having a mentor, then then I would suggest going that route. But you can also do it on your own. You can also do it on your own. Just find find the resources. Find the communities.

Andrea: 18:34

Amazing. Yeah. And that blueprint, I’m going to go get that because I’m going to figure out, okay, do I want to go the DIY route or actually hire you? Because I, I really, really think I want to write this book now just after talking to you. So you see, we will see. Now, one thing I want to touch on really quickly is the legal stuff, because you have actually taken care of the legal stuff. We work together, I think it was a couple of years ago. And can you take us through that? Why? I mean, I think you just knew from the beginning, like, hey, I have to get this legal stuff taken care of. So take us through your, I guess, what you’re thinking around that because some people are just like, oh, wait for the legal stuff. Why did you take care of these things at the beginning?

Miriam: 19:18

Yes. Well, when hiring people, you always have to make sure to have an agreement. So you’re hiring a team, right? You helped me with my illustrator agreement, my illustrator contract. You need to know right from the beginning, the most important thing to me was what are our timelines? You want to stipulate that in an agreement? When will I see the sketches for the book? What happens if I don’t like this illustration? How many times can I ask for it to be changed? And the other thing, probably the most important part is at the end of the work, who owns the copyright to the illustrations?

Andrea: 19:54

Yes, that’s the big one.

Miriam: 19:57

That’s the big one. And one that I did not know. Like I said ten years ago, I knew nothing about publishing and I just jumped in. So when I hired my illustrator, at the time, I signed her contract and in it she owns the copyright to my illustrations. I paid a lot of money for the work and in the end I didn’t own it. I hired her for three books, which was great. I was happy with the work that she was doing, but then my first book got picked up by a traditional publisher and we could not use those same illustrations because the illustrator owned them. So either we had to pay the rights to them, we would have had to pay a lot. Of money, which I let the traditional publisher know. And they said, You know what, for that price, let’s just go and hire a new illustrator and let’s own the copyright to the new illustrations. Had I known that, had I met you ten years ago we would have saved ourselves a lot of money. So that’s one of the biggest things that I talked to my my authors about. Hire an illustrator for work for hire, where you’re the one that owns the copyright. And if the illustrator does not agree, then negotiate that or let it be like that. It’s fine. But you just have to be aware and it has to be in a contract somewhere. A lot of times. Also, some of the authors will come to me and will say, Oh my, my adult child is an illustrator, or I’m going to hire my niece to do this. And I always remind them, make sure to have a contract, and they’ll say, But why do I need one? It’s just family. And Andrea, I have a specific reason why, even more so. So that’s definitely you have to make sure that everything is covered. And when I’m and you want to be able to give people the right answers, right. So support them like that.

Andrea: 21:49

And so I’m curious, I’ve never worked with an illustrator, so I’m curious what? I know the rates vary greatly, but I’m curious what have you seen rates to be for you to for you as the publisher to own the rights or as the author to own the rights and then other do they charge royalties or and what’s the daily charge royalties if they only license it or. I’m very, very curious. Like what what are these numbers?

Miriam: 22:19

Yes, and you’re right, the cost of illustrations vary greatly, just like everything else. For myself, I paid 10,000, close to 10,000 for my first three books. She did a beautiful job, but I feel like had I had a coach or had I had somebody talking, helping me through it, I wouldn’t have hired somebody for so much money. Now, the authors that that we help, they’re finding illustrators about 3000 to 6000. If you are on a tight, tight budget, you can go to a local college and find really qualified. I mean, really good illustrators. They may not have experience, but there’s a lot of young people that want to get their feet wet and get their first job also. So that’s a that’s a thought. And for that price, they’re owning the illustrations. If an illustrator knows right from the beginning that this is what you’re requiring, that they own the copyright, that the author owns the copyright, I have not come across a lot of them that will say no to that. Yeah. It’s work for hire.

Andrea: 23:25

Yeah, it’s work for hire. And I mean, you’re going to pay for it. You’re going to pay more if you the author wants to own the rights, which is perfectly. Right? Rightfully so.

Miriam: 23:36

Mm hmm.

Andrea: 23:37

So, yeah, that that’s incredible. I I’m very curious. Is the illustration, is that one of the larger costs in the publishing and children’s book.

Miriam: 23:49

Yes, it would be. It is. I mean, there are a lot of steps, right? Like there there’s the editing phase. And I would suggest that everybody find an editor, a developmental editor, somebody that’s going to give you an analysis of your story, not just somebody that’s going to go in and and correct the grammar or punctuation spelling, because especially for children’s books, we only have if we’re talking about a children’s picture book, we have anywhere from 600 to 1000 words to work with. You want to make sure that every word matters and every word is important, and it’s taking you to the conclusion of the story. So if you’re just looking for if you hire an editor that’s just going to do a copy edit, they’re not going to provide any feedback. It’s important to get an analysis of the story by a professional children’s book editor that’s going to give you feedback. And that’s how we learn. We learn through real feedback, right? And then you go back to your story and you rewrite it. You work on your manuscript. It took me 17 different edits for my first book. So it takes work. But. But you learn the process. I didn’t hire somebody 17 times. I would say three times. Working with an editor is is a good amount of time.

Andrea: 25:04

I love that. Oh, my gosh. Okay. So before we wrap up, I ask everybody the same question. What is your number one business tip? It doesn’t have to even be related to publishing. Just if somebody came off, came up to you off the street and was like, Miriam, I’m about to go out of business. What’s your number one tip for me or I’m just getting started in business. What’s your number one tip for me?

Miriam: 25:28

I keep thinking about this. For me, I’ve been able to grow as as a businesswoman every time I put myself in the room with other people doing the same things. So you and I met. Actually, I heard about you through a mastermind, and now we are in a mastermind together. So being in the room with people that have elevated thoughts, that are working on their own businesses, working on their own lives, then that inspires me because I think they’re doing that. I can do that too. I’m not paving the way. There’s many people and if I have a question, I can reach out to somebody. So that would be my number one tip. Put yourself in the room and find a mentor. People that are doing similar things, not the same business, but similar. Right? It’s all the same.

Andrea: 26:18

Yeah. I mean, we’re all going through the same struggles, the same experiences. Even though we may be selling different things, we’re all going through the same thing.

Miriam: 26:26

Yes. Yes.

Andrea: 26:28

I love it. Miriam, thank you so, so much for joining us. Tell everybody where we can find out more about you and you guys. That link for the blueprint will be in the show notes. Run, don’t walk to go get that thing.

Miriam: 26:40

Thank you. Yes I’m Miriamlaundry.com and go to www.miriamlaundry.com/blueprint and you’ll get the blueprint to writing your own children’s book for free.

Andrea: 26:58

Perfect. Amazing. Thank you. Thank you so much. This has been wonderful.

Miriam: 27:03

And we’ll see you guys. Thank you, Andrea.

Andrea: 27:10

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Episode 197 Writing and Publishing Children's Books