I've realized that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to self-publishing. I can't even begin to tell you how many resources there are on self-publishing a book, and honestly, it was pretty overwhelming. In addition, I have a different problem than most people, because I'm selling my book with a product, and I couldn't find a single resource out there to help with that.
After doing copious amounts of research, I chose to go with Ingram Spark for my publishing company for many reasons. Ingram Spark has a worldwide distribution for their books, and you'll still get your book listed on Amazon, their site, and many other popular book store websites. They also offered a promo code for a free upload to their site if you did an eBook and the printed copy all at once. That was nice and very unexpected!
This journey has taken longer than I expected with M A N Y learning curves. The team I've assembled to make The Bristle Whistle is made up of extremely talented people, but for many of them, this was their first children's book. This means there were a lot of ideas that didn't make the final draft, a lot of late nights working with my manufacturer, and a lot of patience and time required.
Because my book also includes a product, I needed to find a manufacturer that could print and assemble everything I needed (magnetic closure box, the whistle, the book, and a thin sheet of plastic to protect the items inside, shipping materials, certificates, and the list goes on). I'll go more in depth on the manufacturing side of the process in a future post, but I will say that Alibaba has been a game changer for me.
I 100% recommend hiring a graphic designer to do all of your layouts and everything. There are too many intricacies in creating books and exporting file types, etc, that would give the normal person a run for their money. You have to have some knowledge in Illustrator, InDesign, and the Adobe Suite of products in order to be successful, and I don't have enough knowledge to do it well. With that being said, the publishing part was the easiest for me, because all I had to do was upload the file. Now, that wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, either. There were a lot of times that the file types didn't work for one reason or another which is a lot of *fun* (and I'll leave that there ;)).
I'm looking forward to getting to share more of my experience with self-publishing a book with a product, and I'm happy you're along for the ride.