Celebrate and Self-Publish a Book

I’m so excited to announce my new kids ebook will be released Oct 2, 2015! It’s called Dinosaur Boogie and it is a fun picture book designed to get young readers moving like mosasaurs and grooving like gigantosaurs. This project to self-publish a book was truly a collaborative effort so read on to find out about my talented illustrator, my mind-reading designer, and the cool features I utilized when creating my ebook.

self-publish a book

All the cool dinos dance!

This is my third children’s book. If you’ve ever wanted to try and self-publish a book, children’s or otherwise, get in touch and let’s talk about your idea. I can offer great suggestions on how to formulate a vision of your finished product and guide you through the steps to make your idea a reality.

Sketching the Idea

Even though the book has around 100 words of main text and some brief back matter, I’ve been working on the text for Dinosaur Boogie for quite a long time. I wrote the first draft in 2013. If you read that first draft now it wouldn’t sound anything like the finished product. For one thing, the song I had in mind is completely different now and the word count is a lot lower.

With that first draft in hand I went illustrator hunting. I know from experience that to self-publish a book doesn’t mean subjecting people to my awful artistic attempts. Early in 2014, I found an amazing illustrator thanks to writer’s group networking. If you haven’t visited Felix Eddy‘s website, you must! At this point in the project, my vision was to create a simple print book. Then it morphed into an app that would include a song and active dancing dinosaurs. I explored partnerships with local musicians and app developers, but I couldn’t get a license to use my original song idea. The cost and time required to turn this into an app was more than I could invest.

I shelved the project for a bit, but it gnawed at me. It felt lodged in my creative gullet and when Amazon launched it’s Kindle Kids Book Creator software in 2015, I felt like this was a way to bring my dancing dino story to life and free my brain up to move on with other projects.

While I had gorgeous full color illustrations and a sparkly new revised text, I knew I would only do an OK job with final layout and design. So I called up my friends at Word Association Publishers, where I edit manuscripts, and was paired with a creative and talented graphic designer named Gina. She whipped my collection of words and Felix’s art into a cohesive and colorful layout that I love.

New Tech Helps Prehistoric Text

With my brand-new pdf file in my virtual hands, I headed over to learn about Kindle Kids Book Creator. There was a small learning curve, but nothing a few googled questions didn’t answer. Soon I had my file uploaded and I learned how to add the very interesting pop-up text feature. I always hoped readers would dance as they read my story, but this feature made it possible for me to add prompts into the pop-ups that encourage kids to feel the fossil beat.

After a few more software downloads and updates, I previewed my book and sent it off to Amazon’s digital library. You can pre-order a copy of Dinosaur Boogie now!

After I Self-Publish a Book, Things Happen

So many times the successful completion and implementation of one project or idea helps me pour full energy into other projects and this was no exception. After Dinosaur Boogie hatched, I found myself highly motivated to complete some other outstanding creative projects. Early in September I made the final revisions on my middle grade contemporary novel manuscript and send it out to a handful of select agents. Later on that same week, I completed four non-fiction queries that had been languishing on my computer. Now they are winging their way off to editors.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch and talk about your children’s book idea! It’s not as difficult to self-publish a book as it may seem.

So now my new ebook is ready and waiting to be devoured by readers. I’m so excited I could ROAR!

Kids Ebooks Project

kids ebooks dinosaurs

Kids roar for dinosaurs

I’m working on a new kids ebook project and it’s part bucket-list, part platform builder. I’ve created kids ebooks before, but for this project I felt it was important that the ebook exist as a standalone app and not get buried in an e-reader. I’ve also always wanted to create an app and I’ve had several simple ideas but I don’t have the skills needed to program an app. To be honest, I also didn’t want to spend the time to learn how to program an app using even the simple toolkits available online – and there are some good ones! I’d much rather learn the steps overall process but have people really skilled in certain areas complete the tasks and pay attention to details I would overlook.

So, here are the steps I’ve taken in creating my new kids ebook project.

 1. Identified the topic. I’m working with dinosaurs because my oldest has loved them since he was a baby and because lots and lots of boys and girls throughout the world love dinosaurs. I like kids ebooks that utilize take a familiar children’s song or tune, so I started there and added a dinosaur element. I brainstormed three ideas and then started doing some research on artists, copyright law, musicians, and app developers.

2. Commissioned the artwork. Finding the artist came quickly. I’m working with artist Felix Eddy and her unique creations are both reasonably priced and beautifully done. She created the initial seven images I asked for to start the book. Right now she is on hold while we decide file formats and how many additional images I need to complete the project.

3. Learned about copyright law. So, my first ebook idea is had to be taken off the list. I can’t do a work based on the Hokey Pokey because that song is owned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing and the idea I had was a derivative work, not a parody. Big publishing houses have the resources to use copyrighted material in kids ebooks, but not self-publishers like me. So I’m exploring options two and three which I think are also strong.

4. Find a musician. Thanks to a conversation with my friend Shawn, I was connected with Scott Imblum, who owns a music school and also worked with the Pittsburgh Technology Council. He is ready to help me with the audio portion of the ebook as soon as I get to that stage. And he also helped an incredible amount with finding a developer!

5. Developers are tough to find. They are out there, but this is a small project and not likely to earn a lot of money, so I’m looking for the perfect combination of a developer who’s willing to work on kids ebooks for a rather small amount of money but still has the skills I need to create a really great user interface. So far I’ve talked with two sets of people who connect me with developers and I have a phone call with a third person this coming week.

In a future update, I’ll share some of the simple app development toolkits that developers have shared with me and talk about the Kindle Kids Book creator program. I’ll probably use that to release a version of this book and see how easy or hard the process is.

What projects are on your bucket list?

How to Edit Your Writing

a pen and a journal

Write, Read, Revise

Are you working on a novel, like I am, and need to edit your writing? It’s not easy but there are a few tricks that writers use, like starting at the back and reading forward, setting the writing aside for a few days and coming back to it, and reading it aloud. Each of those techniques is helpful but I recently discovered another resource that has made a powerful impact on my revision process called Readers Aloud.

Listen Carefully

When you join Readers Aloud, you have the opportunity to ask other members to read your writing out loud and record it. They then send you the file, you listen to the playback and make changes as necessary.

I was incredibly lucky to have Nicolas Frantela read my work. He is a professional narrator! You’ve got to check out his blog The Eternal Loop. His voice was liquid, smooth, like sonic honey. My characters sprung into life at the sound of his voice. Just recently, The Healings, a book narrated by Nicolas went on sale at Amazon. I will get it just to hear him read it.

Hearing your work read aloud in someone else’s voice is clarifying and incredibly valuable. I could tell right away what parts needed to be changed so they sounded fluid and natural. I was also proud when I heard certain sections flow right off my reader’s tongue. It feels so good to know something I wrote sounds wonderful.

It’s never going to be easy to edit your writing. There will be phrases that are dear to you, that took you forever to construct. But if they don’t sound right when read by someone else, it’s a problem. You need to be ready to chop, rewrite, and add until it’s crystal clear.

All writers should check out Readers Aloud and Studio 30, another great online community for writers. And don’t forget to be generous with your own time and read someone else’s work!

 

Recipe for Success: Studio 30

I’m a big fan of accountability when it comes to writing. Daily or weekly prompts in my inbox trigger my instinct to check a task off my list. So I write more and love the feeling of accomplishing a goal. If you want to increase your blogging, business writing or personal writing, I highly suggest visiting Studio30 and becoming a member.

I’m a member and have had valuable discussions about promoting my writing on social media, pushing myself to write beyond my comfort zone, and learned about querying and publishing.

Grumpy Kid? Angry Kid? You’re Not Alone

I’m a mom of a grumpy kid. Like other moms, I was looking for ways to help my grumpy kid not be so grumpy. In the search for a way to help understand that he could choose to be grumpy or choose to be happy during his days, I told him a little story.

What started as a story just for my son Dylan turned into the children’s book The Bumpy Grumpy Road. And now other moms are telling me it’s helping their grumpy kids, too.

After I wrote it and read it to Dylan, I mentioned the story to a few close friends. They shared it with their kids and told me the idea helped them, too. So, I wrote an essay about our family’s struggle and slow road to success and sent it to one of my favorite magazines,Family Fun It was a delight to learn they also enjoyed the story and published it in their April 2012 issue.

Not long after the issue came out, I received notes from other moms who said reading my essay felt like they were reading about their own families. I received emails, Facebook messages, even a handwritten note from a mom!  It was a relief  for all of us to know we’re not alone, and that’s something I try to remind my own children – they are never alone when they feel sad, angry or frustrated. We’re always there to help them find their way back to the smooth, fast road.

“Steering Clear of Grumpiness” (page 1)
“Steering Clear of Grumpiness” (page 2)

Recipe for Success: Self-Publishing

Jennifer Bright Reich is the author of six books – all self-published- including the very popular Mommy MD Guides and owner of Momosa Publishing Company. Here she offers her recipe for success and reminds us that it takes time to bring any big project to life.

Is self-publishing right for you?

Why did you choose to self-publish? My coauthor, Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, and I decided to start our own publishing company so we would have creative control over our books and so that we could create a team of talented writers, editors, designers, and indexers and help to support their businesses as well.

How long did you work on this project from idea conception to print reality? It took us nine months to create The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth from start to receiving printed books—just like a “real” baby.” We stretched our schedule to 11 months for The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years, and The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great, which is “due” September 2013, to give us a bit more wriggle room.

Was there a mistake you made/almost made that taught you something significant about self-publishing?  Our nine-month schedule for The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth was achievable, but challenging. So that’s why we gave ourselves more time for our other books.