About the BookTitle: Goodnight, Sleep Tight: What a Wonderful Flight | Author: Louise Lintvelt | Illustrator: Do Thai Thanh | Publication Date: April 16, 2014 | Publisher: eBookPartnership.com | Number of pages: 30 | Recommended age: 3 to 8 Summary: After an exciting flight, it is time to say goodnight. The tired sun sets overhead. Sleepy aircraft get ready for bed. They slow their propellers and park their wings. Time to snuggle up and tuck in...Goodnight, Sleep Tight. The charming illustrations and sweet rhyming text are sure to be a delight for sleepy aircraft enthusiasts.
Writing Picture Books for Children
Tips From an Independently Published Author
I do not profess to have the magic formula that will make your children’s book a runaway success. Infact after reading many, many incredibly successful children’s books, I am still no closer to understanding why some good books are more successful than others.
I love picture books and since having my daughter I have spent a lot more time enjoying children’s books. Having read a number of popular and not-so-popular children’s books I have come to find that children love simple stories, written with rhythm/meter using colourful illustrations which are simplistic yet understatedly detailed. In early 2013 I dived in head first so to speak and immersed myself in the wonderful world of writing and designing picture books. I have independently published six picture books over the last year and have two new projects which will be published later this year.
Looking back on the year that has passed, I can definitely say that, when I first started I had absolutely no idea what I was letting myself in for! There are so many things that need to be considered when publishing a picture book and I was initially quite overwhelmed. I learnt a lot along the way and made many mistakes but the experience has been exceptionally rewarding. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when my first book was published only to find that I had not considered one of the most crucial aspects at all – marketing. I have only just started to get a handle on this aspect of the publishing business which is proving to be quite a challenge, but one that I most certainly look forward to. Publishing is after all exactly that – a business.
Publishing books independently is most certainly not for the faint hearted, it requires a lot of time, attention to detail and a very thick skin. This post aims to give a summary of things to consider when independently publishing a picture book.
Do lots of research
If you want to write books for children a great starting point is to read lots and lots and lots of children’s books. It is important to learn as much as possible about writing picture books. There are many things to consider and the list below outlines some of things you will need to research for your picture book.
If you plan on publishing independently, it is advisable to spend time finding a fantastic illustrator. You will need to know what style of illustration you are aiming for before you start looking for an illustrator.
Layout for text and images
Through my picture book self-publishing journey over the last year, I have come to realise that layout is very, very important! Picture books generally have 250 – 1000 words and come in 3 standard lengths namely, 24 pages, 32 pages and 42pages (32 page picture books are by far the most common). When working with your illustrator it is important to know the trim size for your book, whether illustrations are single spread or double spread and whether or not your illustrations are full bleed or not. You need to decide all of this before doing the illustrations as this will determine the number and size of illustrations for your book.
I would also advise that you go through a storyboarding process on the rough pencil sketches before your illustrator proceeds with working on the full colour illustrations. During the storyboarding process you need to make sure that there is enough space to place your text and you need to ensure that important details in the illustrations are not lost or obscured in the centre fold of the book.
This is obviously the most important and should be considered quite carefully. Choosing your story is the starting point and more often than not you will find that there are many published books that are similar or related to the story you want to publish. When an idea for a new book pops into my head, the first thing I do is hit the amazon search function and look for similar books using key words and tags that best describe the book I want to write. I read the descriptions and use the look inside function to get an idea of the storyline, concept and illustration style, to make sure that I am not simply producing another version of a book that already exists.
Target age group
Choosing a target age group before you write your book is quite important, because the target age group will influence both word choice and illustration style. Knowing that the book is aimed at 3-5 year olds rather than 6-8 year olds would mean that you would opt for simpler words and sentences with illustrations that appeal to toddlers.
This can make or break a picture book. Picture books are all about visual storytelling and the illustrations need to strongly support and enhance the text.
Produce a quality product
I can’t say this enough, quality is everything! There are many independently published books on the market today with varying quality. Some of the books are absolutely terrible with glaringly obvious grammar mistakes, spelling errors, inferior illustrations and poorly considered layouts. While others are superbly crafted with mesmerizing illustrations and layouts that would rival that of any traditionally published book.
It is important that you aim for your independently published books to be of the highest quality. Producing a quality book often requires a lot more time and not as much money as you think. My tips to ensure that you produce a good quality product are as follows:
Engage the services of an editor. Another great resource is to make use of a Beta reading service such as the one offered on the Mother and Daughter book reviews website
Look for a great up and coming illustrator that charges reasonable rates on sites like Behance and Freelanced.
Spend time doing storyboards to perfect your layout
If you wish to publish a picture book as an eBook, have it converted to a fixed layout format. I used a company called eBook Partnership and I was very happy with the service and end result.
Include fun activities to go with your book
A lot of children get introduced to reading at school. Picture books are a very popular means of introducing early readers to books and are used quite often in classrooms around the world. It is always nice for teachers and children to have a classroom activity to go with a book. In addition to being useful in classrooms, these activities will also be welcomed by Mom’s who encourage crafting and other fun activities at home. I have started compiling some activities to go with my books on my website. Some activities for you to consider are:
Illustrations from the book that can be used for colouring-in activities.
Paper plate animal craft activities. I have compiled a make your own paper plate giraffe/ladybird for my book, How Andrew Got His Spots.
A story wheel template that can be used in classrooms to help children retell a story. I have created a story wheel template for my book, How Andrew Got His Spots.
Craft activities based on a theme in your book such as the make your own clothespin airplane
Audio narration, videos and songs.
Marketing an independently published book is a lot more challenging than I had initially anticipated. It is very difficult to sell books when you are a new author, especially when you do not have a large publishing house to assist with marketing efforts. Selling your books is all about discoverability and creating a brand. You need to establish a presence in the author community, bring your books to the attention of readers and ensure that you have sufficient brand credibility so that readers will consider buying your product.
Blogging on Goodreads
Goodreads giveaways to obtain book exposure, this is not really a way to dramatically increase sales but it does create a lot of book shelving on too read lists.
Book tours with companies that specialize in your Genre. For children’s books this is most important as many book tour companies do not really specialize in children’s books.
Create a website and upload useful blog content such as activities that go with your book or read along versions of your book on YouTube.
Offer free content
Interact with your readers
Your readers need to be able to find you and your books. The age of the internet has brought about a multitude of platforms on which to interact with readers. It is important to establish an online presence to that your readers are easily able to interact with you. It is also important to consider the platforms carefully so as to select those that you will easily be able to update and interact on. Having a non-active profile is probably worse than not having one at all. That being said it is important to remember that good old fashioned face to face interaction is just as important so don’t forget to interact with your readers in real life too!
Amazon author profile page
Author websiteFacebook page
Face to Face Interaction
About the Author: Louise LintveltI am from South Africa and I live in a city called Pretoria. I am a Chemical Engineer by day and a children’s book writer by night. I am married to a wonderful man and we have a beautiful two year old daughter called Allegra. I love writing stories for my daughter, who is a constant inspiration. I have always loved reading. My childhood was filled with books and you would often find me crouched the corner of my room devouring the pages of my favourite book. I lived for Tuesday mornings as this would bring with it the excitement of a trip to the local library for story hour and the opportunity to take home a new book. I was the local librarian’s worst nightmare. I would arrive a few minutes early to check that she had not mistakenly chosen a book that had already been read in story hour. I was a very bossy three year old with an insatiable appetite for books! This has not really changed much in the last twenty seven years. Dr. Seuss was my absolute favourite and to say that my copy of One, Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish was well read would be an understatement. When it comes to writing, my daughter is my biggest inspiration. I love seeing her face light up with excitement when we sit down to read a book before bedtime. My daughter was fascinated by giraffes after we went on a safari trip in late 2012. This planted the seed for my picture book called How Andrew Got His Spots which is a rhyming adaptation of a story I originally wrote in the third grade. My daughter has since grown into a healthy two year old with a passion for aircraft which was the inspiration for writing Goodnight, Sleep tight, What a Wonderful Flight. I am sure that there are many parents in the world (myself included), who are quite decidedly sick and tired of reading the same favourite picture book night after night. I believe that the words of Oscar Wilde best describe how children should feel about picture books when he said, If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. Happy Reading!
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