Archive for April, 2012

Key components of a successful children’s book

Audrey announced today that she didn’t like Whooossshh because of its reference to “scary legs”. Children of today are so ungrateful. Remind me next time to name a star after her or something equally as unoriginal. Actually i think it’s quite tricky finding a book which resonates with both children and parent. The contemporary books which really work for me by authors such as Oliver Jeffers and Catherine Rayner are really cool, succinct and void of drama. Yet, Audrey loves the old school fairy tales such as Alice in Wonderland and the Snow Queen.Myself and both my kids have found common reading ground though with the rhyming books such as those by Julia Donaldson or Eric Carle. Any book where a child can recite the words is doing their job. And that’s why Julia Donaldson, Eric Carle and not forgetting Michael Rosen (Bear Hunt) are genius.They are mostly based on rhythm, rhyme and repetition and with those 3Rs comes familiarity and the recognition of words. Let’s face it Kylie Minogue would still be working as a mechanic in Neighbours if it wasn’t for rhythm, rhyme and repetition. Here’s hoping the concept brings Whooosshh as much success.

How to self-publish a children’s book checklist

God this is taking forever. It’s a bit like waiting for someone to propose to you (speaking from personal experience) . Admittedly Helen has got the tougher gig. She has to translate my insane ramblings into images of beauty and then take constructive criticism on top of that. Suffice to say she knows I think she’s exceptionally talented but everything has to be perfect. So I’ve compiled a list of things for me to do while waiting for the illustrations. Incidentally I am being guided by this fab website I’ve found. It’s an American website but it’s all relevant to a British market or for absolutely everything you need to know on the children’s book industry buy “Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2012”
Create a website/publishing house:
This is really important especially when considering writing more books. Also it looks far more professional having a publishing house contact the press, rather than myself (even though it’s technically me contacting but they don’t have to tell them that).
Pen out a press release:
Aha, the beauty of being a journo is knowing what will or won’t land in the delete file of the publication’s computer. Press releases need to be ready to send to all relevant magazines (have a look in the Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2012 for a comprehensive list of magazine titles)
Press Releases need to be really succinct but promote the book simultaneously. So keep to the 5 Ws. WHO you are, WHAT is the book about, WHY did you write it or WHY the public should buy it, WHEN is it available in the shops and WHERE can it be purchased. Try to write two press releases – one for the local press (go for the local angle) and one for the nationals. The title needs to be really catchy and convey your unique selling point in no more than 4 words. Tricky but do-able. There should also be a quotation from yourself, expressing your feelings and pride for your book.

Visit a book shop (preferably a chain)
Start at A and go through every single title until you exhaust yourself at Z. Create a pile based on the following:
Likeable fonts: Different fonts suit different stories
Type of paper: Do you prefer a thicker or thinner page? What finish do you want?
Get some ideas for inner pages: have a look at the layout of the dedication page and publisher details page.
I allocated myself two hours for this and seriously underestimated the task. By the end of it I realised several things:
) My blood sugar levels had reached an all-time low and I was manic
) I’d found a lovely shade of coral for a chair I was having upholstered
) Major book stores are oversaturated and I can’t understand how anyone finds the time to choose a suitable children’s book, especially with your kids using your leg as a fireman’s pole.
) There are some terrible children’s books out there
Apart from that, it was a really useful exercise

Create a buzz
I despise the word networking but that’s exactly what you have to do. You need to become a familiar face in all the local places where you want to sell your book. Ideally we are aiming for one shop in most family populated villages/town to stock the book – that way you can go for the “exclusivity” angle when approaching shops.

Social Networking
I said I would rather eat my own toenails then go on facebook but where Whoooossshh is concerned, I would sell my soul to the devil. For all its negatives, when used properly ie for promoting your business, social networking can be one of your strongest allies and really is the biggest reason why this is the perfect time to self-publish. I’ve just found a really easy to understand website on how to promote your business on facebook. Even Barnaby could manage this. Right off to find my husband to set me up on this thing.