Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do you know about the FREE Children’s Story Magic writing course?

New session begins February 1st!

Here's what you'll get, in 30 days:

  • Character - creating heroes and villains that we'll love
  • Wonderful words - choosing and using the best nouns, verbs, adjective and more
  • Dialogue - tools to put words in your characters' mouths
  • Plot - crafting a story that keeps us on our toes

Each day's email is a tasty, bite-sized 100 words long.  That’s super-short, because I know you’re super-busy. 

Every day, you’ll be challenged, through examples and exercises, to think about successful kids’ books… and about your own.  Let’s get YOUR book off your hard drive and into kids’ hands sooner than you could ever have dreamed.

Fed up with Kindle Kids’ Book Creator? Try this free, easy 5-step alternative.


Scared to try doing Kindle books because you’re no techie?  Or have you decided that the Kindle Kids’ Book Creator isn’t the software for you (Here are 5 reasons why it isn’t.) but don’t know what to use instead? 


Seriously, there is an alternative.  And it’s easy, free, and doesn’t need much more than a working knowledge of Microsoft Word.  It may even be easier than the KDP Kids’ Book Creator software itself.  (Besides being waaaay more flexible.)

These days, for many of my ebooks, I’m using two simple tools:  Microsoft Word and a free ebook conversion program called Calibre

I’ve been using Calibre for years and never realized it could not only open and save ebooks but also help create them.

NOTE:  I’m talking about picture books here.  For longer-format and nonfiction ebooks, you should probably do them entirely in Scrivener ($40, Literature & Latte).  (Here’s a post about how I use Scrivener.)

I’m going to walk you through my process, in 5 steps I think you can handle and maybe actually enjoy, with a little practice.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Building an author mailing list: PART 2, Calls to action.


You know you want one.  You know you NEED one.  But how do you GET one in the first place?

(If you’re not convinced yet, go back and read Part 1 of this 3-part series to find out why you need an author mailing list.  And then take a look at Part 3, which takes you through the (super-easy) steps to get started.)

The best way to build your mailing list is… to let readers know it exists.

Sounds simple, right?

But are you doing it?  The way to do it right is with a call to action at the back of your book.  Calls to action are known as CTA in the marketing business, so that’s what I’m going to call them here.

Notice I said marketing business.  Lots of writers feel kind of slimy when they think about marketing.  If you do, that’s something you’ll have to get over.

A back-of-book CTA should be super-simple.  This is a two-step format that every reader will recognize:

Friday, January 16, 2015

The disappointment: 5 reasons I’m not using Kindle Kids’ Book Creator software anymore


Remember how excited I was when Amazon/Kindle released their Kids’ Book Creator software

And hey, no wonder!  The thing is relatively fast and easy to use, and can turn any book in PDF form into a Kindle ebook with a snap of your fingers.  So many of us lack the technical skills to transform our books that this software totally seemed like magic at first.

Unfortunately, the magic died pretty quickly.  You can get a sense of that even from the comments on my original post. 

I did use the Kids Book Creator to convert a few of my print books to ebook form.  But I’m doing things differently now (more on that later), and will be changing over the ones I did using the Kindle Kids Book Creator as I have a chance.

Here are, not one, but FIVE great big ugly reasons why I won’t be using Kindle Kids’ Book Creator anymore. And maybe you shouldn't, either.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pricing your self-published kids’ books: are you doing it wrong? (5 essential guidelines)


Did you ever have a garage sale or yard sale?

I have, and one of the toughest parts was figuring out how to price the stuff I was selling.  You want it to go, but you want to make something.  Your stuff is valuable – at least to you – plus, you want to get paid for your time and trouble in setting everything up.

It’s sort of like that when you’re selling your own books.

How much will YOUR book cost?  Have you decided yet?

It’s a ton of pressure.  How do you know you’re not doing it wrong?  If you price your book too high, it won’t sell. 

Cheap isn’t always the answer, either.  Price your book too low, and people may decide it’s worthless and give it a pass.  It’s your book – it’s your baby.  Pricing our books fairly is a challenge all of us face, not just once, but every single day we hang out our shingle as indie, self-published writers.

Keep yourself on the right track with these 5 handy guidelines.  Use them to help pick your price point and you may find your way to financial success as a children’s-book writer after all.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Building an author mailing list: PART 1, Do you need one?


Do you need an author mailing list?  Yes, you do.

Seriously.  You need a mailing list, period.

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series that will convince you that you do.  And prove that it’s super-easy to get started.  Part 2 will show you how to get readers to sign up, and Part 3 is the nitty-gritty how-to (but don’t worry, it’s easy to get started).

If things were different, if Amazon and other sites told you who was buying your stuff, or gave you access to their information, then I might not think you need a mailing list at all.  Then again, do you want those sites to control your relationship with readers?

Didn’t think so.

Amazon is not your friend.  Amazon wants to suck your buyers in, then grab their info so they can sell them other writers’ books. 

Pretty nasty, huh?  So that means you’ve got to look out for yourself.  (Not to mention that you may want to sell through other sites, besides Amazon.)

Still, you might not understand exactly why you need a mailing list.  Maybe one of these sounds like you…

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The dark evil flipside of freebies: BAD reviews.


There are lots of reasons you might want to offer your books for free.  But there are some reasons you DON’T want to as well.


Here’s the thing about human nature:  most of us have this built-in complaint reflex.  As long as things are going okay… then okay!  We coast along, enjoying our lives.

But when something comes along that we don’t love – that’s when it kicks in.

What that means, practically speaking, is that you could buy and read 100 books and not write a single review.  But then, along comes one that rubs you the wrong way and – “Oh, boy, get out of my way… I need to review this thing NOW before anyone else buys this book!”

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Best of the Indie Children’s Book Covers – new contest for 2015!




When it comes to marketing your self-published book, your cover is everything.  It’s a flyer, a billboard, a trailer, all rolled into one… and it has to be just as compelling in its teeny tiny thumbnail version.

I was so excited about my Top 19 indie kids’ book covers that I decided to do it even bigger and better for 2015.  Watch this space for details in the months to come.  Literally, this space.  Bookmark it and come back, as I will be updating this post once I know more.

To make this more about “great design” and less about “my opinion,” I’m bringing 3 other people on board to help judge the entries.  I’ll also figure out a couple of great prizes (beyond exposure), for books we all absolutely love – probably the Top 5 entries. 

(I will present the Top 20 entries on my site, with judges’ comments and links.)

Who’s Judging?

What are the prizes???

This is my first year doing this – hopefully, the first of many! – so I’m still rustling up some great prize ideas.  I hope they’ll include a blog tour (on relevant blogs) and book-related services.  Be sure to check back soon for more details!

Contest entry rules: 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Why give your books away for free?


How do you feel about freebies?

When I posted  about how I use KDP Freebies, I got some very intense reactions.  Some people were angry that readers have come to expect freebies, others mystified – wondering why writers would bother to offer them.  One response was sort of a cross between the two:  angry AND mystified.

Nothing's free in this world, so why should our product be free?

That’s what this person asked, and in a way, I totally agree with what I think she’s trying to say.  We work hard to write our stuff.  And we want to make money writing.  So how does it help us to give it away for free?