Tuesday, November 3, 2020

A Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze #1 New Release!

This morning I have an exciting announcement:

The Kindle version of A Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze is a #1 New Release book on Amazon!!!



Check out that little banner under my name!! I am SUPER excited!!!

While I'm talking about A Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze, here's a little update:

I sent out digital versions of the book to all my backers on Kickstarter about a month ago. The hardcovers should be arriving in a few weeks, and I'll list them on Amazon as well. In the meantime, I decided that now is the perfect time to make digital versions available for everyone! You can buy a Kindle version on Amazon, a PDF or Powerpoint version on Turtle Trails Publishing, and you can pre-order the hardcovers on Turtle Trails Publishing.

I will leave you with a few things I learned about "making" a Kindle book:

1- Kindle Kids Book Creator is super user friendly! Before you start, you want to have completed illustrations and text for every page. You can't change the order of the pages after you add them, so just add everything in the right order, and make your text popups as you go. You can actually go back through and edit the popups in any order, but you can't rearrange the pages.
2- The cover that displays on Amazon is the cover I uploaded when I went to the Kindle Bookshelf and added my book to Kindle, not the one I uploaded in Kindle Kids Book Creator. (Which is totally fine, I just wondered before I did it, so now I know. 🙂 )
3- According to my research (which included several "expert" blog posts and interviews), the keywords will be mixed and matched by Amazon. So if I put "Dinosaur Books" for one keyword and "Children's Story" for another keyword, my book should show up (when it gets a little rank juice, lol!) in searches for "Dinosaur Story." Those are obviously super competitive terms, so I'm not holding my breath for them...I do think I show up pretty quickly if you search for "A Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze." 😉
4- It's important to make the age and grade ranges line up with each other. So, in case you're wondering, 1st grade is generally 6-7 years old. 🙂
5- The fees that Amazon collects for your book are based on your book file's size. The good news is that Amazon seems to compress this when you upload it. So, when I saved my mobi file in Kindle Book Kids Creator, the file was 10 mb. When I uploaded it into Kindle, it was compressed to 4.9 mb.
6- Because of #5 I thought that I could cleverly save space by reducing my image sizes. Apparently, my technical skills were not good enough for this. 😉 I shrunk each image from about 3500 pixels wide down to 1280 pixels (a "high" resolution "web image"). This was too small, and made a white "border" appear around each page. This frustrated me so much that I went back to the full size, and moved on with life. 🙂
I have been conflicted about KDP Select. At the moment, I'm not using it because I would need *at least* 113 people to read all the way through the book on KU to make the same amount as one person buying it on my website. I hesitate to encourage people not to use it, though, because our family has KU and quite enjoy reading books for "free." 😉

Thursday, September 3, 2020

How to Make a Book Mock-Up!

How do you make a cool book mock-up? You know...those pictures that show what a book would look like with your cover on it? Maybe with a cool background? Something like this...


Or maybe a hardcover and kindle, like this...



Anyway, I've seen a lot of people asking about how to make these mock-ups, so I thought I'd share some useful information!

The fact is, if you know your way around Photoshop or another similar photo editor, you can make them yourself pretty easily.

But if you don't, there are a lot of websites that can help you do it -- some for free and some for a fee. Here are my two favorites:

DIY Book Covers has over a dozen templates that you can use for free and a program that will help you turn them into mockups.

Media Modifier has a TON of beautiful mockups that are extremely easy to use, but you have to buy a subscription. They do have a 1-day subscription, which make the process very quick, easy, and affordable.

I hope this helps you!

-- Carla Mae Jansen


Thursday, February 27, 2020

2020: the Year I Started a Publishing Company

Ten years ago, literally, I wrote, "I should write books for children and someone should publish them" right here on this blog.

The funny thing about someone needing to do something is that it never gets done, because everyone assumes that someone else will do it.

Beverly Cleary, perhaps one of the most famous children's authors of the last century, once said, "If you don't see the book you want on the shelf, write it."

So I finally decided to be the somebody who did something about some missing books on my shelf: I am writing them!

During the last 10 years, I've done a lot! I've started an online business, developed several websites/blogs, created thousands of pages of educational resources, earned a MA degree in teaching science, taught science in Texas, decided to homeschool my children, moved to the Washington, D.C. area, and so much more. I have five children now.  I am a very different person today than I was ten years ago.

But a few months ago, something started nagging at me. There was still a hole on my bookshelf where a book that I started over a decade ago should be. So I went back to that manuscript. Honestly, I was a little surprised that I was still able to find it after all these years!  I pulled out my proverbial "red pen" (actually I copied the file into a new Google doc...), and got to work!  That manuscript went from over 1200 words to under 560. No wonder the publishers I sent it to 10 years ago didn't want it!

There is still a huge need for it. I haven't found anything like it in last decade--not in bookstores, science shelves, or (the new and amazing) Amazon! It is a science story that introduces the rock cycle in a playful, silly, and fun way.

I edited more.  I hired someone else to edit even more. I called beta readers.  By the time I finally got the story to a place where it was truly publish-able I realized something: I didn't want to give it away to a publishing house!

So I began a new adventure. I am now the proud owner of a very small publishing company (that has, as of today, not quite published anything)!  My manuscript is now in the hands of a very talented artist (whew, was it ever a lot of work finding and choosing her!), and when she finishes I will begin the final publishing process. My little company will have one title.

Days after I sent my story to my illustrator, my just-turned-7-year old threw a small tantrum because she had read everything that she liked in our house. She refused to read again, unless I found more books for her that she liked. "Well," I wondered, "What are the essentials in a good book for you?"

She gave me quite the list, and I knew there were very few books that existed that met all her criteria. In fact, she had read all the books that I knew of that met her expectations!  I told her I would write her such a book. 

The creation of my next book deserves its own little blog post, so I won't finish that story here tonight...give me a few days.  ;)  The end result is, however, a fantastic little book that truly meets a need: it is a comic-book style entertaining story for early readers.  There isn't really a message, moral, or purpose--besides to provide a fun story for my beginning reader!  And it definitely does that! I actually got two thumbs up and lots of great feedback.  I am currently illustrating this one myself.  The comic-book style illustrations embody an art style that I love and am hoping to strengthen my skills in.  Like I said, I will share more details about that very soon.

The reason I bring up this second project is that it is very likely that it will be done before my first one.  My tiny publishing company doesn't have funds to print both books. In fact, I'm going to do a crowdfunding fundraiser on Kickstarter in May to pay for printing the rock cycle book.  The early reader is probably just going to be available as an ebook and possibly a paperback through Amazon. We will see what the next few weeks and months bring in that department.

So, here's to 2020! Here's to filling the holes in my bookshelf with dreams and ideas that first sprouted ten years ago!  Here's to making big things happen in new ways!!  Here's to writing books!!!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Publishers Accepting Submissions for Children's Science Books

Sometimes I find a publisher and I think to myself, I want to remember their contact information! I decided to make a list here, so I will be adding to it in the future as well!

These publishers are accepting submissions AND publish children's books that include science. They each have other requirements, but they only made this list if they are accept submissions from authors (as of September 2019) and publish children's books that include science:

Arbordale Publishing: wants fiction books that include math or science

Holiday House: publishes a huge variety of material

Albert Whitman & Co: publishes a huge variety of both fiction and nonfiction

Charlesbridge: publishes a large variety of material, especially nonfiction. Prefers "snail mail" submissions.

Kane Miller: publishes a huge variety of fiction, nonfiction, and science.

Tilbury House: focuses on nonfiction picture books.

Annick Press: huge variety, especially fiction

Andrews McMeel: huge variety, more fiction than science, but science too, responds to all submissions

Chronicle Books: publishes a variety of subjects, requires "snail mail" submissions.

Eerdman's Books: publishes a variety of subjects, requires "snail mail" submissions.

Flying Eye Books: publishes a variety with awesome science books

Laurence King: publishes nonfiction children books (including science), no fiction

Matthew Price: lots of educational books, rarely rhyming

Peter Pauper Press: picture books, novelty books, gifts, requires "snail mail" submissions

Imagine That: publishes a huge variety of children's books, including interactive books













Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Get Your Writing Off Your Computer (Fun Writing Contests and More!)

The best way to improve your writing is to write...and write and write and write!  At some point, however, you need to practice submitting your writing.  Today, I'll share four fun places to do just that!  First, I have a little personal announcement:


I entered the MeeGenius Author Challenge and would love your votes!  The challenge is to write a picture book.  Finalists are chosen by votes and the MeeGenius team.  You can read my entry and vote here!

Now, four fun writing contests that are happening right now!!  And, none of them have an entry fee!  


1 - NaNoWriMo First Line Contest.  You finished your novel, right?  Well, you certainly finished one line!  This fun, not NaNoWriMo-affiliated contest ends December 4th.  All you need is the first line of your new novel.

2 - NaNoWriMo First Chapter Contest.  Yes, two NaNo-related contests...tis the season!  To enter, you need your first NaNo chapter--other projects don't count. Do it soon--the deadline is today!  Visit Scribophile for more details!

3 - Holiday Story Contest.  Hosted by the brilliant Susanna Leonard Hill, this holiday contest hits the blogosphere December 19-22.  Honestly, I'm most excited about this one!  Check out the details here (scroll down past the Thanksgiving Story finalists!).


4 - GE Appliance Giveaway.  Put your blogging skills to the test to win a $5000 appliance from GE!  Your entry is a submitted blog post on one of their five topics.  Visit GE for details before December 30th!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a wonderful week with your family and friends!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Define Crazy

Crazy is...

A.  A state of mind.

B.  A chemical imbalance.

C.  An imaginary place to go when reality is too difficult.

D.  Participating in some of these November writing-themed challenges.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Picture Books For Young Children

November is a fabulous time to get to know some picture books about Thanksgiving.  These seem particularly appropriate for younger children.  They are listed in no particular order.

1.  I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie by Allison Jackson and illustrated by Judy Schachner

2.  Ten Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston

3.  The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern and illustrated by Elroy Freem

4.  Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon

5.  The Pilgrims and Me by Judy Donnelly and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

6.  Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock and illustrated by Doris Ettlinger

7.  The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi

8.  Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markus and illustrated by Doris Barrette

9.  Ankle Soup by Maureen Sullivan and Alison Josephs

What do you like to read in November?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fun for Children's Writers

This is a fun time of year for children's book writers!  There is so much going on that you might feel like some of these events are birds flocking past you before you before you get a really good look at them!  Here's a few things coming up:

1.  Picture Book Idea Month: November 2011.  PiBoIdMo: 30 picture book ideas in 30 days...sign up before November 3rd!  http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/piboidmo-official-sign-up-starts-today-right-here-right-now/

2.  National Novel Writing Month: November 2011.  NaNoWriMo: Write a novel in a month...get that first draft DONE!  Sign up now!  http://www.nanowrimo.org/

3.  Poetry or Verse Story Writing Contest for Children.  300 words or less.  Deadline: October 31st.  http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/am557/

4.  MeeGenius Author's Challenge.  Deadline: November 1st.  http://www.meegenius.com/challenge/welcome/

5.  Halloweensie Contest hosted by children's author Susanna Leonard Hill on her blog on Halloween!  Check it out at http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2011/10/would-you-read-it-wednesday-13th-pitch.html 

What do you think?  Talk about a busy time of year!  I'm planning on all of these except NaNoWriMo...this year is simply not the time for me!  I hope you have time to check out at least one of them!  Have I missed anything else fun and exciting, especially for picture book writers? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Different Goal Question

About a year ago, I ran across a question on Rachelle Gardner's blog.  I still find myself thinking about it, so I thought I'd throw it out here for some more perspectives!

The question is pretty simple.  Would you rather be (1) an author who publishes relatively frequently, receives mediocre reviews, and still makes a comfortable living writing or (2) an author who can only afford to write part-time but whose work receives fabulous reviews and awards?

I usually find myself leaning towards #2.  I want to produce the most amazing material that everybody loves, and if that means I can't make a living by writing...well, I'm okay with that.  But then there's this magical allure: the idea that I could possibly even make money doing something that I love.  It's hard to shake, and does it really matter whether or not everybody else loves me?

I'm trying to polish off a couple manuscripts right now, so this question keeps floating in front of my eyes while I try to focus on the computer screen.  What do you think--which would you prefer?