Thursday, April 30, 2015

Reader Feedback – why you need it, and how it helps


Have you heard the expression, "a camel is a horse designed by a committee?"  It's because they're lumpy and bumpy and funny-looking and inefficient, and, well, you get the picture.

One thing that's NOT meant to be "designed by committee" is a children's picture book. 

But I sort of went and did it anyway.  I created a page using Google Forms to help me collect feedback from pre-readers about a Jewish children's picture book I wrote.


And you know what?  It really helped. 

Here’s the biggest thing I learned:

Even the greatest book in the world is still written only from your perspective.  Other people’s views can make it much broader.

Your book reflects you and YOUR world and YOUR point of view.  By opening it up to feedback, though, you let other people behind the scenes, into your creative process… and sometimes, their ideas and their perspective, are exactly what you need to broaden your book and make it more universally appealing.

Sure, some of the feedback I got wasn't helpful at all, like one person, who suggested I rewrite the whole thing in verse because she likes rhymes. But some really was, and it helped me figure out what the first draft of the book had been missing.

When you're asking for feedback, be specific.  Don’t say “did you like the book?”  Use questions that are specifically targeted to things that are within your power to change about the book.

For example, one of my questions was

Sunday, April 26, 2015

How to be a bolder, more confident writer (hint: don’t baby your book!)


Once upon a time (don’t worry; this is a true story), when my older kids were little, my dad took them out to the park.  I came along after a while and saw he was pushing my son alarmingly high on the swing. 

“Daddy,” I said, completely on edge, “that’s WAY too high.”

“That’s okay,” he said.  “You can always make more.”

In that moment, a) I knew he was going to ruin my son’s life by pushing him too high, and b) my father knew it was perfectly safe and I was being a silly first-time mom (albeit one with two kids, but it was still early days).

(The fact that I did indeed go on to make two more kids is irrelevant.  My father knew nothing bad would happen.)

That’s how it is with your first book, too.

Getting over the apprehension

You need to get over it.  Just as I did with my new-mom apprehension.

When I put out my first children’s book, I really cared about every aspect of it.  I laid it out as well as I knew how at the time.  I threw myself entirely into editing and the cover.  (Those things are as it should be.  I hope you do them as well.)


Thursday, April 23, 2015

How to write an author bio that will sell children’s books


Have you ever READ an author bio?

Probably you have.  That’s because you’re a writer, so you’re interested in other writers.  At least, I know I am.

Here’s the thing:  you’re not a kid.  Let’s be honest:  it’s not kids who will be reading your author bio.

Most kids couldn’t care less about who wrote the book, unless they’ve finished one and are looking for more of the same.  So it’s probably parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians who will be reading the author bio. 

There are two kinds of people who are reading your author bio:

  1. People who aren’t sure whether they should buy your book
  2. People who have read your book and want to know more about you

In both cases, a little honesty can go a long way.  In both cases, you want to make a connection that is friendly and personal (not commercial!).  You want them to trust you and – maybe, just maybe – to like you.

Let’s look at ways we can make the bio as appealing as possible without being crass.  What you don’t want is for your bio to sound like marketing copy.

Here’s the trick:  you want your bio to be relatable, which means not too weird.  But you also don’t want it to be so tedious that you are ultimately forgettable.

What should you call yourself?

For some writers, the hardest part of creating an author bio is describing themselves in the third person.  As tempting as it may be to say “I’m a mom of 4, a SCUBA diver and a cat lover,” resist. 

Suck it up, and keep yourself in the third person.  It just looks and sounds better.

The best advice I can give you is to read 5-10 bios of well-known children’s authors before you sit down to write your own.  I think it’ll inspire you, offering hints as to voice and how to streamline your message effectively.

Go long or stay short?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


DIY Classic Kids' Book Covers FREE with Write Kids' Books Cover Template

Around here, the weather is finally losing its chill (yeah, it gets chilly here in the land of sun, surf and palm trees!) and I just felt like celebrating.  We’re in that blessed period between “too cold” and “too hot,” and I feel great. 

Hope you do, too.

You probably know already that a great bookcover has the ability to move me.  You, too, right? 

That’s how we choose books, though sometimes we don’t like to admit it.  That’s also why I’ve put together the Indie Children’s-Book Cover Contest for independently-published books.  (Don’t forget to submit if you’ve published anything since November!)

So what does that have to do with celebrating???

It’s new – and it’s FREE

To help you really get into a party mood, I’ve created another FREE TEMPLATE – this time, to help you create compelling book covers.  You can use this template for any standard 32-page, 8.5" x 8.5" children's book.  And just to help smooth the process along, I’ve thrown in a 10-page help guide to creating dynamic, compelling covers.

Here's an idea of the kind of book covers you can create with this FREE template:

Sample children's book cover created FREE with Write Kids' Books Cover Template

Sample children's book cover created FREE with Write Kids' Books Cover Template