80 Books in 4 Years: Sally Huss
Today, I'd like to present a case study on an indie children's book author-illustrator-publisher. Sally Huss has an amazing career that includes tennis, art and a successful career writing and illustrating children's books.
As a child, Sally was always interested in art and painting. But she took a break from art to pursue a career in tennis. She won U.S. and Wimbledon Junior Championships and was a semi-finalist in the Women's division at Wimbledon; later in life, she was a top senior player. Following that career, she and her husband opened several art galleries, where she painted and sold art. Her galleries were eventually closed because of changes in the economy and Sally found herself needing a new career.
Beginning in 2012, she started illustrating and publishing her own children's books. Focusing on happy stories that center on developing social skills/emotional skills, she illustrated with a simple, loose style that perfectly suits the stories. Sally said that she also does a daily panel for newspapers with an inspirational quote that she's done for years. She always wrote stories and just stuffed them into a drawer.
She's drawn on this vast catalog of stories and art to create her stories. She includes only one illustration per page, which allows her to easily create ebooks in Kindle Kid's Creator Program. Books also became paperback books through Createspace.
Her strategy from the first has been to publish exclusively with KDP Select. At first, KDP paid authors on the number of books read. Huss participated in the KDP program that allowed her to give her ebooks away "free" (for a period of time) to gain followers and encourage sales.
Then KDP changed its method of paying, not for the actual sales, but for borrowed books. This payment was no longer on each loaned book, but on the number of pages read. Huss, along with many other children’s book authors, no doubt, objected loud and clear, and was probably part of the reason that Amazon started paying a bonus to “All-Star” children’s independent book authors/publishers who had stellar sales. Now, she consistently gets those bonus payments for her books.
Her business strategy of relying on KDP Select has paid off in a surprising way. Huss is now getting requests to sell her books to schools. Presently, she’s working to putting the books into hardcover for that market through IngramSpark. Huss is moving slowly through her list because it takes time to convert files to meet the specs of printing hardcovers.