Tuesday, August 9, 2022

August 2022 Update!

Summer is ending, so I decided to say a great big "Hi!" with a fun update about what I'm working on! Spoiler alert: There is A LOT!!

#1: A Dinosaur Made Me Spill: A Water Cycle Adventure is scheduled to release in October! We are hoping to get copies out to all our Kickstarter supporters at the beginning of September, but I am waiting on shipping news to get a final date out! This has become a two-year project, so I am particularly excited about seeing it finally available!

#2: I am a Dinosaur is the first book in a new early reader series...and it is delightful! Beta readers have told us they love the characters, the story, and the artwork, and we are working feverishly behind the scenes to get it ready to release. Hopefully, it will be available in time for Christmas!

#3: A Very Yeti Pumpkin Pie is in the middle of layout and design! Everyone's favorite yetis are back to bring you a Thanksgiving/Halloween/Fall themed story, and it is also getting rave reviews from our beta readers! Problem-solving, pumpkins, STEM, and a quick rhyming story are all part of its irresistible charm! It should be available in paperback by September!

#4: Do You Have a Heart is my newest non-fiction science book! It is perfect for new readers, preschoolers, and anyone who loves a little animal science! It is a supplemental part of my growing Kindergarten science curriculum, and it is now available on Amazon!

Right now, I am pausing a lot of projects as we get ready to start school this week! This is me sending you and your families lots of excited back-to-school energy for the year!

💖 Carla

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Books by Carla Mae Jansen

Books by Carla Mae Jansen:

"A Dinosaur Made Me" Books:


"Little Fingers Big Science" Books:


Yeti Books:

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

2022 -- A New Year!

 {What is your plan?}

I see a lot of posts in writing groups where people ask something similar to "How do I get started?" or "What do I do next?"

I've been thinking about this a lot because... well, it's January, and I have a lot of New Year ideas floating around. January is a great time of year to look at where you've beenwhere you're going, and what your plan is to get there. I've been working on this myself, and I thought I'd share in case it is helpful to anyone. I'd love to see your plans too--share it to make yourself accountable and help others with ideas!

Where I've been:
2020A year of learning. I learned SO much! I started my little publishing company, hired an illustrator, ran a month-long Kickstarter, and published A Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze, the first in a fun Earth science meets fiction series. My books arrived the last few weeks of the year.
2021Try everything! I learned SO much more this year! I think bulk printing on off-set printers is the best way to publish, but I wanted to know what everyone was talking about with KDP. So I started a nonfiction series for preschoolers and published When Will Cicada Sing? and Who Needs a Volcano? as paperbacks and ebooks on KDP. I prepared A Dinosaur Made Me Spill and ran a 2-week Kickstarter for it (my Kickstarter backers should get it this spring and it will probably be released to the public in the fall). My girls pushed me to publish Ten Very Merry Yetis in December (and we sold out of it at the one Christmas event I did)! I did school visits, street fairs, and festivals...and I LOVED it!! I sold about 1800 books this year, and actually made a profit!

Where I'm Going:
2022(Keep Trying New Things!) and Scaling UP! I want to sell more, reach more people, and keep making books! I have at least one more dino book coming, several more nonfiction preschool books, and a new decodable series for early readers. I want to work with more people and other publishers. I want to learn everything (yes, everything, lol!), try new things, and grow my little business!

My Plan: This is clearly the abbreviated, goal-oriented version. ðŸ˜‰
=> Finish setting up A+ content for my KDP books.
=> Figure out how to make higher return ads on KDP.
=> Finish up A Dinosaur Made Me Spill and release it in an epic, exciting launch.
=> Finish writing the next dino book.
=> Write two more nonfiction preschool books.
=> Outline the rest of the nonfiction preschool series.
=> Write a kindergarten science curriculum based on the nonfiction preschool series.
=> Have an epic, nation-wide launch for my new early readers.
=> Grow FB & IG.
=> Do more school visits, festivals, street fairs, and other events!

Soooo... what's your plan?! What are you working on?!

Monday, December 6, 2021

A Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze Awards

I have been delighted by the awards and recognition we've had for A Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze! I decided to make a small list of them here...feel free to celebrate with us!

** 2021 Outstanding Illustrated Fiction Winner -- The IAN Book of the Year Awards

** 2021 Eric Hoffer Award Finalist

** 2021 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Winner

** Dino Dad Stomp of Approval

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!