Showing posts with label self-publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-publishing. Show all posts

Ten Reasons Why You Shouldn't Shortchange Self-Publishing

                      Ten Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Shortchange Self-Publishing 

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning 
HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers




I have been Sinatra’s proverbial “prince, pauper” and a number of other things when it comes to publishing—meaning that I have tried publishing every almost every way imaginable and am here to tell you there is no one right way to do it. It can depend on your personality (are you super independent?), your pocketbook, the nature of your title, the time window you have and more. Because the term self-publishing is so often misunderstood, it is important to tell you what true self-publishing is and is not.

1.      It is frugal—or not—depending on the choices you make. It is flexible. You do everything yourself which is very frugal—very nearly free—with everything but you time. Or you hire the skills you know you should (like book cover design) and some skills you don’t want to take on (perhaps like formatting) when your pocketbook allows. And when you chose to ignore those guidelines for skills everyone adamantly recommends you avoid because you are too frugal or just plain stubborn (like editing), you tackle learning as much about it as you possibly can with the vengeance of becoming a professional and plan on doing double duty when it comes to getting help from beta readers as suggested in my The Frugal Editor.

2.      As suggested above (but bears repeating), you can publish with no upfront costs.

3.      You make all the net profit from your book. If you don’t, then it’s not really self-publishing. In fact it may be an indicator that it is vanity publishing which carries problems of its own. (By the way, I don’t like the “vanity” term because it negates the value of creativity of any book.)

4.      That you can’t use your own ISBN number is a myth. You must pay for your ISBN if you want one that carries no hidden code for a press that isn’t your own, but they can come free with some like Amazon and others like the dreaded vanity presses you have probably heard about. Most readers won’t know the difference.

5.      You keep all the rights to your work and, yes, though it isn’t easy, you can change your mind later.

6.      You make all the net profit from your book. If you don’t, then it’s not really self-publishing.

7.      You can (but won’t always!) publish more quickly. There are some very good reasons to want to do this. Your book’s topic may be time sensitive. You are aware that you may not live forever. You may simply have other stories (or books) waiting for their own time in the sun.

8.      You make all the profit net profit from your book. If you don’t, then it’s not really self-publishing. A better net profit is about making earnings for your efforts, but they also give you more room to play with like offering your book at a discount at book fairs and still make a profit for yourself (albeit a smaller one).

9.      Make no mistake, the likelihood of your self-published book of becoming a true bestseller or of seeing it on the shelves of bookstores everywhere is far less than if you snag a huge (read that “Big New York Five” as an example) contract. But if you’re publishing only to get huge sales (or profits), it is a long shot in cany case. Publish—traditionally, self, or somewhere in between—for other good reasons. There are plenty great reasons for each scenario.

10.   If you have another business, you can self-publish a book that will impart your professional credibility to your customers and attract new ones. (To say nothing of producing a little extra income stream).

Note: Your book may lead to other creative income streams like audio books, CDs, toys, and suggest other free promotions for the good of your book or other pursuits.

More About the Author



Carolyn Howard-Johnson started what she considers her “real writing” career when most are thinking of retiring. She brings her experience as publicist, journalist, marketer, editor, retailer, and the author of those books published almost every way possible including traditionally, to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program including a class on editing for self-publishers. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes  The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. Her self-published How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically launched to rave reviews from Karen Cioffi, writer and publisher.

 

Karen says, “I’m an author, content writer, and online marketing instructor. Reading Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s The Frugal Editor has given me lots and lots of tips and reminders on how to write right, whether I’m writing fiction, nonfiction, blogging, or marketing. It’s a writing tool I’ll refer to over and over again.”

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.

The Writing Juggling Act

 

By Karen Cioffi

Writing a story is time consuming… at least to write a good story.

I’m sure there are writers who sit down and write a story in a day, but I’m talking about doing it right.

This is especially true of writing for children.

It’s so important to know the rules. Know what the standard industry guidelines are and adhere to them.

There’s a lot that goes into writing. And if you want it to be publishing and marketing worthy, again, you want to do it right.

But what happens when you finish your manuscript. You revised it, edited, and proofed it, and possibly even had a professional writer look at it.

Your manuscript, your baby, is ready to fly.

You enter the traditional submitting phase. You’ve done your research and have found literary agents and book publishers in your genre. The submitting process is in full gear.

This process can easily take longer than the writing process, but you need to persevere.

In the meantime…

Should you just sit around and wait for a bite from an agent or publisher?

Should you sit around and gather dust on your keyboard?

Absolutely not!

You need to move onto another story as soon as you start the submitting process on your first book. Once book two is being submitted, it’s onto book three, and so on.

This goes even more so for articles.

According to writing coach Suzanne Lieurance you should have around 12 articles out circulating to magazine editors.

This is how you get work.

It’s the writing juggling act.

Keep the stories or articles moving.

Once you finish one story, get started on the next.

Another aspect of the writing juggling act: Book Marketing.

While you do need to keep writing those stories and getting them published, you also need to work on marketing you and your writing.

Marketing is a part of every author’s writing life, if you expect to sell your books.

-The first step of marketing is to create a quality book.
-The next step is to submit your work – this is pitching your work.
-If you’re self-publishing, you will need to publish it and distribute it so it’s available for sale.

Once the book finds a home, it’s about creating visibility. If people don’t know it exists, you won’t sell it.

The marketing and visibility process is ongoing.

If you’re wondering if having to promote your books is a must, even major publishers expect their authors to have an online author platform. They also expect the author to be able to help sell their books through that platform.

And, small publishers expect you to do all the marketing.

Marketing is that important.

So, what are the basics of an author online platform?

-The first step is to have a website and keep it current.

-Next is to post to social media to bring awareness about you, your books, articles, or services.

This will take up any spare writing time you may have.

So, if you’re a writer, there is no such thing as downtime. It’s all about the writing juggling act.

This article was first published at:
https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2021/08/15/the-writing-juggling-act/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter, editor, and coach with clients worldwide.

Karen also offers DIY How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book and
Writers on the Move Press (Self-publishing help for children's authors.)







 

Trusting Your Own Instincts: Rules Vs. Passion


Trusting Your Own Instincts: Reaching for Your Star

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the
multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers


Advice divvied out to authors by fellow authors often makes me uncomfortable It is, after all advice. Really. Advice almost never applies to all authors, all genres. Even what we think of as “zero-tolerance” disciplines like punctuation and grammar “rules” offer style choices and exceptions. I don’t blame the authors. Many are operating on what they learned decades ago. The things is, the publishing industry is always morphing and that’s especially so in the age of the internet.  And language itself?  It’s a living entity. Shakespeare himself probably knew that the rules for sonnets he followed (or made) would one day be different. He also may not have realized that one day they would be considered sacrosanct.

For instance, nonfiction authors—well respected nonfiction authors—suggest that authors research the need for a topic among their presumed audience, that they check out competitive titles, agents who are looking for a specific topic, and on and on.  Some of it is pretty good advice. What it overlooks is passion. And the joy that passion brings to what we do.

I feel lucky that I hadn’t read this advice when I started my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. So here’s my story. I hope it gives a few authors the confidence to follow their dreams. I start this story backwards because the original going-against-advice started back in early 2004 and you, dear reader-author, may not put much stock in anything based on ancient history.  

So, this is 2021.  My series for writers has been prospering since 2004. I started thinking my books had outgrown their own britches—or I had outgrown mine. So, there was a nice person I had worked with way back then partnering with a writer-oriented organization. I had been vaguely aware he was publishing and because Dr. Bob Rich and Diana Raab, two of my online friends, had published with him. One morning when I felt overworked and underappreciated, I picked up the phone and called Victor Volkman, publisher of Modern History Press. No research. No book proposal. Yes, I knew doing it went against all publishing tradition, all common sense. I really expected a no after I gasped, “Do you remember me? We worked together on a podcast some time ago.”

“Yes, he said. And he kept saying “yes.”

The upshot was that he published a full book under his Modern History Press imprint and a slender booklet (a kind of nonfiction chapbook) in less than six months. So, he deserves credit for following…well, his instincts if not his passion. He went by the seat of his pants, here, too.  Two books, both with a September first release date? Really? And both books had been published before. Well, that was gutsy. No matter what you’ve heard about the possibilities of getting a traditional publisher for a self-published book, it is rare. That path is loaded with all kinds of dangers and I am the first one to warn a client of what she might be up against if that is her hope (all the while urging her to follow her star if the book is already published or there are other well-meaning no-nos pointing in the direction of her book, style, or whatever.).

Returning to the early days of The Frugal Book Promoter, I came to realize I had just mirrored an earlier foolish move I made when I first started writing again. It was early-internet days. E-books were just beginning. And the craziest stuff –some of it outrageously unethical—was going around the net in what we called Yahoo writers’ groups and other places. I felt I should be letting people know, maybe teaching, but knew that I didn’t have the graduate degrees necessary. But a friend at a party told me that the world-renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program valued practical experience above graduate degrees so…well, I just pitched them a new course based on avoiding the potholes I had just experienced publishing my first fiction effort. Again, no hesitation. “Yes.” And I had a class to teach that fall with no book or e-books written specifically for authors available to use as a text!

That series of books now includes six of them and hundreds of how-to articles. The joy flows. One of the most joyful aspected is helping new writers avoid the same potholes I fell into and maybe rope in successes they would never have had if they hadn’t ignored the rule-makers, the nay-sayers. We have instincts and passions that can work for us. We can be cautious about using them, but we should never ignore them.

Publishing is in big part about trusting our instincts. Publishing is intense. That means writers must learn to take care of themselves. That includes learning more so we become more confident in our own choices, can take better care of our own needs.

Because of my desire to help other authors avoid the pitfalls I had experienced with my novel, I dropped my fiction to write that text. I used a new concept—a chatty text. And I am still chatting through my nonfiction books (gasp!)—and finding some time for fiction and poetry, too. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love more than just one thing in their lives. That’s why we have hobbies—and some of us have one or more children.

And it happened because I didn’t let advice—and fear—deter me. It happened because I did what people should always do when they start something new, I asked for a whole lot of help from my friends. The publishing industry is very traditional but there are a lot of plucky souls in it. Most the authors I know are risk-takers. The authors who aren’t in that category still have manuscripts stowed at the bottom of drawers or the bowels of their computers.

Suggestion for Friends and Writers

Gifts for Writers
Everyone is a writer these days. The ones who aren’t may find my advice to write about what is bothering them helpful for their stress level. Maybe my multi award-winning The Frugal Editor  will help give them the confidence to actually send what they write to the power brokers of the world! Especially when they find that a whole lot of the rules that stifle our creativity aren’t rules at all, that we get to make style choices. Emphasis on the word choices.

The Great First Impression Book Proposal is one of the books my published by my new publisher, this one its second edition.  And now it’s an audiobook, too. I’m including it because it makes the point that sometimes doing something the easy way is the best way. (The subtitle suggests you can learn all you need to know on the topic in thirty minutes or less using this booklet.) A new book on how to make Twitter work for authors is in the planning stages. Watch for it on The Frugal Book Promoter page at Modern History Press or follow me on my Amazon author page at https://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile page for automatic notifications of new books in the series.

 




Gift for Readers
I’m including my newest nonfiction book of poetry because I am making a point that we needn’t give up one passion to pursue another. Imperfect Echoes won a Writer’s Digest honorable mention award. Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Wisconsin Bookwatch says, “[Carolyn Howard-Johnson is] an exceptionally skilled wordsmith, her poetry will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections . . .” Find Imperfect Echoes . And, yes, some of the poems in it are a bit risky.



Cover art by Richard Conway Jackson who is serving twenty-five years to life in a California State prison for receiving stolen property.



 

 


4 Reasons Self-Publishing Your Children’s Book May Be Your Best Option


 

 To traditionally publish or self-publish?

That's a question just about every author thinks about. Well, if you're a children's writer, self-publishing may be a good choice.

Here are the reasons why.

1. You know it’s getting more and more difficult to get signed on with a traditional publishing house or literary agent.

Publishers are businesses. They want as sure a thing as possible to ensure a profit on their investment. Unagented authors or authors without a huge social following don’t stand a chance.

In an article at Huffington Post, the author noted, “Nowadays, most publishing houses only read manuscripts submitted by agents. Finding a literary agent is as difficult as finding a publisher, unless you are a celebrity, of course.” (1)

You know the odds – they’re super-slim. So, instead of spending lots of time and effort on research and submissions that could go on for years without any results, you’d rather invest in you.

If you believe in your story, go for it.

Keep in mind here, although you’re bypassing the gatekeepers of traditional publishing, you still need a quality story. Self-publishing isn’t a free pass.

2. You really, really, really, want to be author of a children’s book.

If this is what you really want, then go for it.
There are a couple of things to do first though:

A. Have a GOOD story. This means the story, structure, grammar, punctuation, formatting, and so on.
Please take the time to do it right, even if you have to get it ghostwritten.

B. Have GOOD illustrations. If it’s for a picture book or chapter book, get decent illustrations. Don’t self-publish a substandard book. Be proud to be the author of that book.

You don’t have to break the bank, but you will need to make an investment for quality. I know illustrators who do good work and charge $80-$100 per interior illustration.

Know what your expenses will be before jumping in. If you’re budget’s willing, go for it.

3. You know the chances of becoming rich or famous are slim to none.

In an article at Jane Friedman.com, author Brent Hartinger said, “I actually think it’s easier to land a traditional deal right now, especially in children’s books, than it is to successfully self-publish.” (2)

Going into something realistically helps you avoid major let down. The market is oversaturated, so keep your expectations in check.

If your purpose for a book is to share something or say something then by all means go for it. But again, keep your expectations in check.

If your purpose is to write a story for the children in your life, go for it.

Maybe there’s a story in your family that’s been passed down from your great grandfather and you want to get it in a book. Again, go for it.

There are lots of reasons people may want to write a children’s book and not expect it to be more than they intended.

Whatever your purpose, if you’re going to write and publish a children’s book or any book for that matter, please create a quality product. Don’t add to the inferior books that are being self-published. Publish a book you’ll be proud of.

4. You have a middle grade or young adult story.

Middle grade and young adult stories done usually include illustrations, although middle grade might have a sketch at the beginning of each chapter. Because of this, they’re less expensive to self-publish.

As with any type of book, you do want a quality book cover and back cover. And, you want the interior design done right. You can get this done with self-publishing services.

Helpful sites to get your story published:

Services that will take your Word document or PDF and format it for upload to sites like Amazon, Createspace, Smashwords, Ingram Spark, and so on, include:

– Digital2Digital.com
– FormattingExperts.com
– Word-2-Kindle
– EbookLaunch.com

Some of these services will format your manuscript and upload it for publication and distribution. Some will only format it. Some only do ebooks. You’ll have to review their services.

You can also do some research for self-publishing services over at:
https://selfpublishingadvice.org/allis-self-publishing-service-directory/self-publishing-service-reviews/

If you want a bigger pond to fish from, you might do some research and hire someone on Upwork or Fiverr to design and format your book for uploading.

If you have experience self-publishing a children’s book, it’d be great if you’d share some tidbits of advice or services you found helpful.

References:
(1) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/sue-shanahan/four-reasons-to-selfpubli_b_6757278.html
(2) https://www.janefriedman.com/childrens-book-self-publishing/

This article was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2018/08/12/self-publishing-childrens-book-best-option/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach with clients worldwide. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Karen’s children’s books include Walking Through Walls and The Case of the Stranded Bear. She also has a DIY book, How to Write Children’s Fiction Books. You can check them out at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/karens-books/. If you need help with your children’s story, visit: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

 

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Self-Publishing a Children’s Book - 4 Realities


I self-published a children’s picture book back in 2008 when self-publishing wasn’t like it is today. And, as a newbie to self-publishing, I made a couple of mistakes. The first of which was that I didn’t hire an illustrator – I did the illustrations and cover for the book myself. 

I can hear all the gasps. It's okay though, I did correct this super-major error about four years later. 

But I didn’t self-publish to become rich or famous as some new authors aspire to. My book was created from a lullaby I wrote when my first child wouldn’t sleep. I’d walk the hallway every night with my daughter in my arms and sing the lullaby … and pray for her to go to sleep. 

 It became a family lullaby and my children thought it’d be a great idea to make it into a bedtime story. At the time, I thought self-publishing was the way to go. 

Back then, I used Booksurge which became CreateSpace which is now Amazon, and I was very pleased with the support and results. 

Then a few years ago, I self-published a nonfiction book on writing for children: Fiction Writing for Children. Although I knew a lot more than I did when I self-published my first book, but I still made a few of mistakes: 

1. I hired someone from Fiverr.com to format and upload my book to Kindle and Createspace. And, I hit the ‘publish’ button without previewing the book first. The margins were off. 

 2. I wasn't crazy about the title I created, but used it anyway. 

 3. I wasn't crazy about the book cover, but used it anyway. I used someone on Fiverr for that also. 

 4. I didn’t give it to Beta readers or an editor before publishing. 

But, again, my purpose for the book wasn’t to make money. It was to provide answers to questions I keep getting about writing for children. It ended up being over 170 pages of all information – no illustrations – no fluff. 

This year, I took the time to revise, update, and add more content to the original book and titled it How to Write a Fiction Children's Book. I also made sure to avoid the same mistakes.

So, let’s go back to the title question: Is self-publishing a young children’s book the way to go? 

 Well, based on an information-packed article at Jane Friedman’s site, you should think twice and even three times before deciding to jump in. 

Why Self-Publishing a Children’s Book May Not Be Right For You

 It seems everyone is self-publishing today. And, there’s nothing wrong with that if your expectations are in check. 

Here are a 4 reality-check reasons you may want to stop and think before self-publishing: 

1. The stigma. 

While it’s better than before, there is still some stigma attached to self-published books. The reason for this is there are NO gatekeepers for self-publishing. If you have an idea, write it down, get a book cover, and get it formatted for publishing, you have a book.

- Don’t know how to write? Doesn’t matter.
- Didn’t bother with editing or proofing? Doesn’t matter.
- Didn’t bother with a professional cover? Doesn’t matter.
- Didn’t bother to hire a good illustrator? Doesn't matter.

Self-publishing does open the arena to everyone and makes the playing field more even, but it also allows for a lot of less than professional and less than quality books. This is why there’s still a stigma attached to self-published books.

2. You’ve got to do it right.

As mentioned in #1, anyone can self-publish a book.

But YOU don’t want to be anyone; you want to do it right and that takes work especially if you’re publishing a book for young children.

- Do you know that the story must be told from one point-of-view?    
- Do you know that there should be only one protagonist?
- Do you know the proper format and punctuation for dialogue?
- Do you know about present tense and past tense?
- Do you know about showing vs. telling?
- More and more and more.

If you don’t want to learn how to write for children, then you definitely shouldn’t be self-publishing a children’s book. Or, you should hire a children’s ghostwriter to do it for you.

In the article at Jane Friedman's site, Brent Hartinger noted that “the Gold Rush is definitely over. There is now an absolute deluge of content, and the market has become extremely competitive. Your idea needs to be really, really marketable, or your book needs to be really, really good, and preferably both.” 

3. It can be very expensive.

Illustrations - If you’re self-publishing a children’s picture book (or even a chapter book with illustrations), you’ll need to hire an illustrator. If you want a good one, s/he won’t come cheap.

One of my clients hired someone for over $12,000 USD a book. This included is the interior illustrations, design, text layout, front cover, and back cover. And, this client did a six-book series.

Another client hired a subsidiary self-publishing company of a major publishing house. He paid $10,000 for illustrations and to have it designed and formatted for published. AND, at least half the illustrations stunk! He had the service do them over and over.

Granted most authors can’t afford these kind of fees, but if you want someone who WON’T make your book look like a total amateur job, then you’re looking at spending around $100 to $200 per interior illustration.

And, you’ll need around 12-14 interior illustrations. The front cover is usually more money unless you use one of the interior illustrations for the cover. And, then there’s the backcover design.

Publishing service – Once you have your story complete, with illustrations and text layout, you’ll need a service to format it and upload it to distributors like BookBaby, 1106 Designs, Smashwords, etc. This is an additional fee.

Some of these companies can be worth their cost, but be super-careful. Most of them will try to sell you everything and anything: editing, rewriting, illustrations, design, layout, formatting, distribution, and marketing.

Keep in mind they make their money from you and only you.

4. You’re one author in an ocean teeming with authors.

The market is swamped. If you’re looking to reach lots of people, become famous, or make a boat load of money, don’t hold your breath.

Most self-published children’s authors don’t recoup their publishing investment.

While there are exceptions to the rule, they are far and few between.

5. You’re not willing to actively market your book.

Okay, even if you know how to write and have the money to hire a pretty good illustrator, if you don’t actively market your book, you most probably won’t sell any.

Before you even get to the publishing decision, create a marketing plan and include an author website in those plans.

With thousands and thousands of books vying for a reader’s attention, you’ll need all the help you can get.

One note here: Most self-publishing services offer marketing as part of a package deal or separately. Don’t waste your money. These companies don’t bother with effective, ongoing marketing.

I’ve seen the results of marketing from these services numerous times. Again, don’t waste your money.

Ask around. Do research. Ask exactly what you'll get for your money. Make sure you're working with a professional company. 

The original title to this article was: Is Self-Publishing a Children’s Book the Way to Go? 4 Realities


Karen Cioffi
is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

You can connect with Karen at:
LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Pinterest  http://pinterest.com/KarenCioffi/

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Lexile Reading Levels for Self and Small Publishers of Children’s Books

 Lexile Reading Levels for Self-published and Small Publishers of Children’s Books

Did you know children’s books should be “leveled” for reading classes? Yes, most teachers and libraries check the Lexile level of books before purchasing. Why is that? A Lexile level is an approximate reading level for a student, which may vary from the grade level.  You have probably seen statements such as, “This book is recommended for children ages 6-8.” Publishers find age information is by having the Lexile level (https://lexile.com/) determined to include this information in their book listings for authors on sites such as Amazon. It is easily found where the page numbers, IBNs, and so on are found on book sales pages. Self-published and smaller publishing houses may also take advantage of reading levels assessed by the Lexile Framework for Reading. Authors may have to add Lexile levels to Amazon and other online book descriptions themselves.

Lexile Reading Levels for Self and Small Publishers of Children’s Books

Lexile.com is a rather extensive site and so here is an explanation of the different site sections. A parent page, educator page, education companies & publishers, and the departments of education page can be found using the menu. Also, books may be looked up in the find a book area. Lexile level grade-level charts, an analyzer, growth planner, Lexile career database, Wordlists, and a Measures manager are included. Listening levels are a new feature on the site. Spanish book levels are also available on the site.

Many States Have Memberships for Their Residents

Because reading levels are critical to student understanding and success, many states have already joined the site. I live in Minnesota, and my membership is free. A teacher friend of mine lives in New York and also has a free membership. The annual cost is only about $18 if an author lives in a state without a membership. Even with a free membership, though, the site offers an extensive amount of information.

The reasons authors should be aware of this site while writing includes the following:

1.     An author may copy then paste up to 1000 words in the analyzer to determine the Lexile level. Full sentences should be entered before clicking the analyze button. A Lexile level range will be given, although not certified and is only an estimate. The overview column will list the longest sentence and recommended books at the same level. The indicators column will include decoding, vocabulary, and patterns. The vocabulary column will select up to ten words from the text that can help inform instruction. See this page for more information. (https://hub.lexile.com/analyzer)

2.     Leveled word lists may be downloaded from the site and used to inform authors as they write.

3.     If an author creates curriculum or teacher resources for his or her book, the teacher assistant area provides state standards. I can look up Minnesota state standards. I have written two math storybooks and created student work pages for them, so I check the math standards information.

4.     Lexile Tools for Find a Book allow searching by author, keyword, ISBN, grade level (easy, just right, and challenging), or by measure (a number) or a Lexile Range.

5.     When looking for comp titles to submit a manuscript, this site is also beneficial for finding such titles.

6.     Book level labels may be downloaded for books placed on “my shelf” and printed, if interested.

The Most Important Reasons to Consider Using Lexile Measures

However, an important reason for an author or small publisher to use this site is to get their books leveled. I did so and received levels for about $35 a book. For another $10, a vocabulary list is provided. At the beginning of each book sales page description, I added the Lexile Level number so teachers will see that first. Many teachers and librarians will look for Lexile levels first thing.

The second important reason for authors or small publishers to seek Lexile Levels is because the books are searchable online and in school and library catalogs. A member may make a bookshelf on the site and add books. I  put the books I authored on my bookshelf, although they may be searched by individual title. Links may be shared in blog posts, social media, and press releases.

I hope you found this information useful!

Thank you for reading, Carolyn Wilhelm

Author and Owner of The Wise Owl Factory

Carolyn Wilhelm is the curriculum writer and sole owner of 
The Wise Owl Factory site and blog. She has a BS in Elementary Education, an MS in Gifted Education, and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction K-12. As a retired teacher of 28 years, she now makes mostly free educational resources for teachers and parents. Her course about Self-Publishing from the Very, Very Beginning is available on UDEMY. Her children’s books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel sites.

Your Book's Front Matter - Before the Story Begins



I get lots of questions from my clients as to what comes after the story is written.

While a lot of the questions are about illustrations, what’s been coming up more and more is about the pages that come before the story text begins. The pages before the story are called the front matter.

Just this week, someone asked me about a Dedication Page.

So, here is a list (in order of appearance) of the pages that will or may come before the first page of your story. Some examples are included.

1. Half title page – this is a page at the very beginning of the book that has ONLY the title of the book. It’s usually only used if pages are needed to thicken the book.

2. Frontispiece – this is a page that is an informative or decorative illustration that faces the book’s title page. It appears on the opposite page of the title page. This page is optional.

3. Title page – this is the page that lists the title, subtitle, author, and publisher. I may include the publisher’s location, year of publication, a description of the book, and either the cover illustration or other illustration.

4. Copyright page – this is the page that lists the copyright notice and the “All rights reserved” warning. It should also include the publisher’s name and address; printing details; the edition of the book; and the ISBN(s).

It may also include ordering information, your website URL, disclaimers, and the CIP Data Block from the Library of Congress.

In regard to the CIP Data Block, Kindlepreneur.com explains:

"The Library of Congress issues a CIP data block to you. It is not something you can create for yourself. However, if you’re a self-publisher, you are not even eligible to have a CIP data issued to you by the Library of Congress.

"You can, however, pay to have a P-CIP (Publisher’s Catalog-in-Publication) data block generated for you, if you truly desire. Having P-CIP data can make your book look more professional. It costs anywhere from $60-$100, and can be done by Quality Books, Inc. or CIPblock.com." (1)

5. Dedication – this is a page that explains the author’s source of inspiration and/or who she is dedication the book to. It can be a single name or it can be a paragraph or two. This page is optional.

6. Epigraph – this is a page that includes a quotation, sentence, or poem. It can face the Table of Contents or the first page of the text.

I had ghosted a book series had an epigraph in each book.

Epigraphs can also be used at the beginning of chapters, on the same page the chapter begins or on a separate page opposite the beginning of each chapter.

According to LiteraryDevices.com:

"An epigraph can serve different purposes such as it can be used as a summary, introduction, an example, or an association with some famous literary works, so as to draw comparison or to generate a specific context to be presented in the piece." (2)

This page is optional.

7. Contents Page, also known as the Table of Contents – this page lists each section and/or chapters within the book. It helps the reader navigate the book in longer works, like middle grade and young adult stories.

You would not use a Contents Page in a picture book.

8. Foreword – this page has a short piece written by someone other than the author. Its purpose is to introduce the author and the book. It most often includes the writer’s name and signature.

Usually, the writer of the foreword is noteworthy.

This page is optional.

9. Preface – this page is written by the author and usually tells about how and why the book came to be and the process. It may also include what the book is about and why you think it’s important. This page is optional.

10. Acknowledgments – this page lists the people or entities the author is grateful to for help in the creation of the book. This page is optional.

11. Introduction – this page discusses the purpose and goals of the book. This page is optional.

12. Prologue – this page sets the scene for the fiction story. It can include backstory and should be told in the protagonist’s voice. This page is optional.

13. Second half title – this page helps set off or end an extensive front matter. As the name implies, it’s identical to the first half title page and is added before the beginning of the story text. It is used when needed.

Other pages in the front matter that you may find in some books are: List of Figures and List of Tables. But, for the majority of authors self-publishing children’s books they aren’t needed.

I just want to note here that most of the front matter isn’t necessary until after the story is written. And, if you have a picture book, it won’t be needed until after the illustrations are done.

You’ll need it when you’re ready to get your book formatted to upload your book to sites like IngramSpark and Amazon KDP or when you’re ready to hand it over to a service to upload it for you.

That’s about it for the front matter of your book. The story itself is considered the ‘body of the book.’ I have an article on the 'back matter' of your book. I'll post it here next month.

Hope this is helpful in your self-publishing journey.

Sources:


https://wikipedia.com
https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/02/self-publishing-basics-how-to-organize-your-books-front-matter/
https://www.scribendi.com/advice/how_to_write_a_preface_and_a_foreword.en.html
https://www.scribendi.com/advice/front_matter.en.html

This book was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2017/02/26/front-matter-before-the-story-text-begins/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and a working children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children. Check out the DIY Page!

And, check out Karen's new picture book: The Case of the Plastic Rings – The Adventures of Planetman



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To Traditionally Publish or Self-Publish



Whether to publish traditionally or self-publish is the question I get most from my ghosting clients. Most new to the writing arena don’t understand what’s involved with either path. This article will helpfully shed some light on the topic.

Traditional Publishing

With traditional publishing, you submit your EDITED manuscript to publishing houses and/or literary agents.

To submit to publishers means finding ones that accept submissions in your genre. To do this, you’ll need to write a query letter. It’s the query letter that you first submit. And, until you find a publisher who’s interested in your manuscript, you have to keep submitting.

It’s the same process for both publishers and literary agents.

There’s no way to determine how long it can take to find a publisher or agent who will offer you a contract. It could happen quickly (not the norm) or it can take a year, two years, or more. There are no guarantees it will happen.

As an example, it took Chicken Soup for the Soul 144 rejections before finally getting a publishing contract. They put a lot of time and effort into their publishing quest.

The traditional process takes perseverance and commitment. You need to research publishers and agents. For this process, I recommend getting “Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Marketing [current year].” It has hundreds of listings.

If you’re not a children’s author, you can use “Writer’s Market [current year].”

Assuming you do get a contract, it usually takes about two years before your book will actually be available for sale.

Again, there are no guarantees with the traditional publishing route.

But, with all that said, there is still a level of 'status' and credibility with books that are traditionally published. And, you never know if you'll get a contract quicker than expected. An added bonus if you’re writing a children’s picture book, you won't have to find an illustrator or pay for illustrations and a book cover.

Self-Publishing

With self-publishing you’re in control.

You write your story or hire a ghostwriter to write it for you. Just make sure the story is edited and proofed before moving onto the next step.

Once that’s done, you’re off to find an illustrator – this is if you’re creating a picture book or even a chapter book / middle grade that will include some illustrations.

You can find children’s book illustrators at:

http://fiverr.com

http://upwork.com

http://www.childrensillustrators.com

http://blueberryillustrations.com/childrens-book-illustrations/

You can also do an online search.

While you can find some ‘cheap’ illustrators out there, be sure of their skills. Be sure they understand what you’re looking for. And, be sure they proof their own work. You MUST also check the illustrations to the text – make sure the illustrations are relevant to the content on that page. You’ll also need to check for accuracy and consistency within the illustrations.

I’ve coordinated illustrations to text for clients and have found a number of errors from missing parts of feet to inconsistent furnishings from scene to scene.

After you have a fully edited and proofed manuscript and if it's a children's book, the illustrations and text combined, you will need to prepare your book (have it formatted) and upload it for distribution (for sale). For this, you can use services like Amazon KDP (for ebooks and print books).

If you want a wider distribution of your book, you might consider aggregators, like IngramSpark, Smashwords, or Lulu. (Be advised that Smashwords does not distribute books to Amazon.)

An aggregator distributes your book, making it available for sale at a number of retailers.


NOTE: Before you upload your book to an aggregator or a retailer (like Amazon or Barnes & Noble), the book needs to be formatted into print-ready files. You can use services like FormattedBooks.com for this process.

If the thought of having to find someone to format your book and then upload your work is still too intimidating, you can simply use a service like Lulu.com, Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords), or BookBaby.com for help in this area.

Note: While Smashwords has a large distribution network, it does not distribute to Amazon. 

Warning: Services you pay to format and upload your book for publishing will probably offer lots of other services: cover design, editing, illustrations, and so on. They can be expensive and I’m not sure of the quality of, say their editing services. So, have the book already to go. All you should need them for is actual publishing and distribution.

Summing it Up

Whether to self-publish or go the traditional route depends on your time frame, finances, and commitment to submitting your work. And, if you choose the traditional path, you’ll need to have patience and perseverance.

Reference:
Self-Publish Your Book

For an in depth 3-part series on what to do when your book is fully edited and ready for formatting, check out:

Self-Publishing a Book (1) - Formatting


Self-Publishing a Book (2) – The ISBN, the Barcode, and the LCCN


Self-Publishing a Book (3) – You're at the Finish Line

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and successful children’s ghostwriter/rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and as well as an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you’d like more writing tips or help with your children’s story, check out: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

And, you can follow Karen at:
LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter  http://twitter.com/KarenCV


IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE ASK IN THE COMMENTS.

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The Three Most Important Components for Publishing Ebooks

Three Neglected E-Book Considerations 

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.

A website owner was asked what the “three most important components are for publishing a professionally produced e-book” and he referred the question to me. As long as I was figuring out the answer to this all-important question, I figured I’d pass it along to you but publishing an e-book is harder than reading one so I thought it better to simplify a bit. I took the liberty of qualifying it with an introductory clause and here it is. 

A self-publisher must be a jack-of-all publishing trades and many readers are still not comfortable with e-books I want to tackle the question with those considerations in mind. I also believe in frugal publishing and e-books are ideal for that. So, the three most important components of publishing an e-book are:

1. The cover. Visuals are powerful tools. A great book cover may be even more important for an e-book (even though it's virtual) than for a paper book. It will probably be the only visual a reader will have to connect the reader to the author's (and publisher's) credibility. Self-published authors can do a pretty good job of producing a decent cover using the free app provided by Createspace/KDP on the website. 

2. Great editing. Too many authors and e-book publishers think that great editing is merely the process of eradicating typos, but it's a lot more. It's grammar. It's the conventions of writing (like punctuating dialogue correctly). It's even the formatting. And it’s knowing about the things that your English teacher may have considered correct, but they’re things that tick publishing professionals like agents and publishers off! If an author can’t afford (or won’t!) spend the money for a full-service editor, read The Frugal Editormake corrections as you go and then get a few extra pairs of eyes to give you additional input. 

3. Formatting. I list this last because most e-book services like Amazon, Createspace, BookBaby etc.  make it clear that formatting is essential and provide guidelines for getting it right.  I included expanded step-by-step instructions for formatting your book for Kindle in the Appendix of my multi award-winning book on editing, The Frugal Editor

Note:You should know that when a reader buys your e-book on Amazon, he or she gets to choose what reader format they prefer for his or her preferred device after clicking the buy button. When you use Createspace/KDP, you reach most everyone short of those who refuse to buy from Amazon and you save accounting time tracking different online e-book distributors. You will also saves time reformatting from a print version to an e-book and get distribution and marketing benefits when you use them exclusively. 

PS: The fourth most important component of e-books is marketing. No e-book—no book!—is truly published if it hasn’t been marketed. It’s part of the publisher’s job no matter how it is published or who the publisher is. And if it is self-published, marketing is as much the author’s job as the writing of the book. Everything you need to know to market your book the way a professional would if you had the money to hire her is in The Frugal Book Promoter 

MORE ABOUT THE BLOGGER


Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter (where she talks more about choosing and the advantages of winning contests and how to use those honors)  and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more about her and her books on her Amazon profile pagehttp://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfileGreat Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and, another booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. In addition to this blog, she helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor Visit Carolyn at http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com



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