Social Media, Uncategorized

Basic Tips for Setting up an Author Website

In the twenty-first century it’s almost impossible to succeed as an author without a website. You probably won’t sell many books there, but that’s not why people will come. Readers will come to your website because they’re curious about you as a person after reading your book.

It’s true. Even if you’re sitting there thinking “Oh, no one will ever care about my website,” think of the last time you looked up the author of a book.

Woman hands typing in a laptop in a coffee shop

Woman hands typing in a laptop in a coffee shop

Maybe it was a book you just finished and you wanted to know when the next one would be out. Maybe it was because it was really good, and you wanted to know more. Or maybe because the author said something in his or her book to drive you to that website.

Websites work. They give your readers a place to congregate, to get in touch with you, and to get news about you and your books direct from the source. Even if you pay someone to manage a site for you, there are some basic things you should pay attention to.

Learn what some of those things are in the post Basic Tips for Setting Up an Author Website from Archway Publishing.

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Marketing

The Three Phases of a Marketing Plan

You’ve written your book. You’ve published your book. And now you’re waiting, quietly, at home for the sales to start rolling in. Isn’t that a wonderful dream? Unfortunately it’s just that.

ThinkstockPhotos-166669458A dream.

If you’re going to build sales of your self-published book you’re going to have to put some effort into marketing that book. You need a plan to do that marketing, and in the post The Three Phases of a Marketing Plan, Archway Publishing will offer you three things you do to help build that plan.

Whether it’s asking the right questions, gathering resources, or insuring you’ll be ready to follow-through on your plan, this post will offer valuable advice.

Read The Three Phases of a Marketing Plan now! >>

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Q&A with Betsy Sleath, Author of “Pelican Island Pharmacy”

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Betsy Sleath, author of “Pelican Island Pharmacy”.  For more info, visit her blog.  Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

What inspired you to write Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I always wanted to write a book set in a pharmacy with a soda fountain that had characters that drew you into the story.  My mom worked in an independent pharmacy with a soda fountain when I was growing up in the small New England town of Durham, Connecticut.  I have always loved the feeling of community and belonging in small town pharmacies.

I go to Carolina Beach, North Carolina to relax and write.  I regularly walk down to the docks where the fishing charters come into with the pelicans following not far behind.  One day I had the idea to create a novel inspired by the town of Carolina Beach with one small change-I added a pharmacy on the canal where the fishing boats pull in.

I decided to make this a positive yet suspenseful story of a single mom leaving a domestic violence situation who finds friendship and support in a small beach town as she rebuilds her life.  Having been a victim of domestic violence and knowing many women who also have been, I wanted to create a compelling yet fun story focusing on an issue that is often difficult to talk about publically.

What research did you do before writing Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I have experience working as a pharmacist which helped when writing the book.  Since many of the scenes in the book occur at a soda fountain, I visited pharmacies that still have soda fountains when traveling.  I also went to the North Carolina Museum of History and the Museum of East Tennessee History to do research. Both have excellent displays of old fashioned pharmacies with soda fountains.  I spent time in the exhibits imagining Norma behind the soda fountain being sassy to her customers. Hanging out in these places helped the story and characters come alive in my head.

When it came to creating a military romance, it helped that I live in North Carolina where there are several bases and that my partner was active military when I met him.  I have interacted with many of his colleagues and friends across the world.  I have visited several military bases and have even been to two military balls.  These experiences helped me create the character of Tom and the realistic intersection of soldiers visiting North Carolina beaches.  I learned about deep sea fishing by regularly watching the fishermen on the docks and by reading all of the pamphlets they had out at the docks.  Someday I want to go deep sea fishing myself!

What do you hope readers will get from reading Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I want people to enjoy reading the book.  I strove to create a good story about resilience and hope.  I have always been told “Write a book like the ones you like to read.” So that is what I did.  There are many men and women functioning as single parents who are attempting to rebuild their lives after difficult divorces like Jessie.  As the novel unfolds, readers watch Jessie struggle with learning to love and trust again.  I love the saying “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger.”  I tried to create characters that exhibited strength that resulted from challenging life situations.

Why did you chose to self-publish and why with Archway?

9781480821590_COVER.inddBefore I decided to self-publish, I did send out two query letters to agents.  One agent responded that Pelican Island Pharmacy was not a genre they were focusing on and the other nicely told me that the beginning of the book did not draw her in fast enough.  So I rewrote the beginning of the book to grab the reader’s attention immediately.  I have a very busy job as a professor and division chair at UNC-Chapel Hill so I decided to self-publish because I did not have a lot of time to write query letters.  When I do have free time, I like to focus it on writing.

I chose Archway because they had everything that I needed in the booksellers package–cover design, editing, Goodreads giveaways, and worldwide distribution through IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, and all the major book retailers.

What has been the most satisfying thing about publishing Pelican Island Pharmacy?

To be honest, I published under the pen name Betsy Hess Sleath because I thought I better separate my life as a professor from my life as a fiction writer. I was not sure how my university colleagues would react. However, I am amazed at how much those in my university life have enjoyed the book and have encouraged me to write more.  They can’t wait for the sequel. That has been the most satisfying part of writing and publishing Pelican Island Pharmacy. The UNC-Chapel Hill student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, even featured an article about the book.

What tips would you give to aspiring writers?

First, I would join your state or local writing organization.  The North Carolina Writer’s Network has been a huge support in my writing experience.  Second, take as many writing classes as you can.  I took fiction writing classes at UNC-Chapel Hill and learned tons.  In the advanced fiction writing class with Rich Krawiec I wrote the first eighty pages of Pelican Island Pharmacy.  Rich is an amazing teacher and his encouragement kept me going even after the class was over.  Finally, figure out your writing pace. I strove to write five pages a week because that is all I had time to do each week.  The strategy worked because I finished the book in a year!

Betsy Hess Sleath (Betsy Sleath, PhD) is distinguished professor and chair of the division of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She lives in Chapel Hill and spends as much time as she can on Carolina Beach, North Carolina.  She has published over 127 scientific articles and this is her first work of fiction.  Her second book, The Soda Jerks, which is set in Connecticut in the 1960s, will be completed by December 2016.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Q&A with Moustafa El-Guindy, Author of “Beyond Love”

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Dr Moustafa El-Guindy , author of “Beyond Love“. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

  1. What inspired you to write your book?

Many facts and many people inspired the story and it wasn’t all at the same time and they weren’t all linked with each other. Things happen or you meet people and the writer stores it in his memory, then the creativity join the facts, creates others, recovers the characters, crafts others and builds the story that will take you to new places, some of them are happy, others are devastatingly sad, but all of them stretch their bounds in our dreams and fantasies. That was the story with Beyond Love.

  1. You have published books in multiple languages and in a variety of genres, tell what prompted you to write this book.

9781480822832_COVER.inddMy passion always had been writing, romances, short stories, poems, my real passion is writing, but I can’t deny that I love to write long and very emotional stories of love. The romance that gains its strength from its bounds with the reality, then grows with the imagination navigating in a new world build by our creativity and inventiveness, just like a tree its roots go deep in the soil and its branches go everywhere in the sky.

  1. What do you hope readers will get from reading the book?

I wish the reader learns that the great meaning of life is loving. Loving is the bird flying, the music playing and the little child smiling. Love is the river cutting its way through the rocks, the drop of the water touching the sky and coming back to the earth. Love is the dream of living, the pleasure of giving, and the happiness to be able to do that. Love is the hands extending, the smile shining, and the deep desire to have the lover in the heart forever.

  1. Why did you chose to self-publish and why with Archway?

I searched many companies, I was looking for quality. The effort and hard work employed in the production of the manuscript deserve a qualified publisher to produce the book, of course with an affordable price. That is why Archway Publishing.

  1. What has been the most satisfying thing about publishing a book?

Two moments are very special for me. First, when I received the first copy in  my hand. It was like listening to the first scream of  a newborn. The second moment was when someone approached and asked me something about the book. The moment when I felt that somebody shared the same feeling and my passion.

  1. What tips would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing, be persistent, go forward, don’t be intimidated by rebuffs or rejections. Keep writing, and publish, don’t keep your writing for yourself. Writing is only alive when you share with others, so the great tips are keep writing and publish.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Marketing

How to Best Choose Your Book’s Marketing Plan: Part 2

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Sharoq AlMalki, author of “A Tale of Two Beehives”. For more info about her, check out her website, Twitter and Instagram. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Read part 1 of How to Best Choose Your Book’s Marketing Plan here.

  1. Segmentation

Decide who your target audience is. We all want the world to read what we’ve written, but the truth is that there will be sections of society who are much more likely to buy your book. Your marketing activity should all be directed at that narrow section.

  1. Get yourself a website

SKU-001061073No matter how much you may not want to go down that route, you need to have a website. And it needs to be your website about you. Some people build it around the name of the book, but that is never going to work as well, be as powerful or engaging, or have the flexibility or longevity of a site about the author. Don’t worry if you have barely learned to use Word. Getting your own site is cheap – or free, and is a straightforward process. Off the shelf ones are good and slick, and if you do need help, there are many companies offering cheap packages to get you online.

There is no need for the site to be too flashy. It is just a door that you want people to go through to learn more about you and your book. Have an “about me” section, anything else that you think is relevant, such as short stories you have written, but don’t fill it up with stuff that is not relevant to your main aim – selling you and your book.  The other thing you need to have on your site is a

  1. Blog

Writing a blog is a great way of engaging with your potential readers. You have done something that many people have done themselves, just as many are struggling to do, and many, many more will never do in their life. As mentioned in number 2, this is a good thing to do while you are still writing your book. If you do it well, and are lucky, you will have a number of customers waiting with bated breath for your book to hit the shelves. One thing you need to be aware of when writing the blog, is that you are showcasing your talents as a writer, so write well.

  1. Email

It may come as a surprise, but email is probably the most powerful marketing tool available to you. Building up your email list is essential. Do this by offering newsletters, free stories, offers on your book etcetc, anything that means people sign up. Then use it wisely. Like your blog, whenever you send anything to someone, you need to make sure you are giving them something of value. It needs to contain something that will entertain them, offer useful insight, or just plainly be of monetary value to them.

  1. ReviewsSharoq-27MAR2016-017

These are essential if you are to get people outside your immediate sphere of influence to buy your book. They are especially important at the beginning of your books life. Aim for between 8 and 12 to ensure your book is easily discoverable on Amazon. There is nothing wrong with getting family and friends to leave a review, and ask those on your email list, or anyone who has received a free book from any competitions you have run to kindly leave a review. The other way, and probably the most beneficial is to go directly to one of Amazon’s reviewers. Find ones that review books in your genre, and email them (their details are provided in their bio), being polite and attaching a copy of your book.

  1. Pricing

This is the trickiest one. How much do you charge people for your book? Here opinions differ wildly, and it is very much down to your own preference. Me, I feel that when buying a book, it is as much an investment of my time, as it is of my finances. If I find a book I like the look of, whether it’s 99p, or 2.99 isn’t going to make much difference to my decision to buy it. It is very easy to think that simply by reducing the price it will increase your sales. In reality that probably isn’t going to be the case, and if you have done everything else well, the price should and does, almost become an irrelevance.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at theArchway Publishing Facebook page.

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Marketing

How to Best Choose Your Book’s Marketing Plan: Part 1

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Sharoq AlMalki, author of “A Tale of Two Beehives”. For more info about her, check out her website, Twitter and Instagram. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

So, you’ve finally finished that book that’s been inside you all those years. The sacrifices you’ve made; the hours spent staring at the blinking cursor and the mocking empty white page; the endless rewrites and edits – have all been worth it. You’ve finished. The End. Unfortunately for the vast majority of writers, that is where the real work begins. Because, unless the only people you want to read your magnum opus are your long suffering partner and parents, you need to get it out there into the big wide world.

SKU-001061073 This is the bit where a lot of people come unstuck. They are writers, not marketers or PR professionals. This isn’t why they picked up that pen or started banging away on that keyboard all those weeks, months and years ago. At first it can appear to be a minefield, and you are going to have to quickly learn new skills, embrace new techniques and more than likely spend a lot of time outside your comfort zone.But there is help out there.

The methods and techniques below are predominantly designed for those going down the self-publishing route. However even those who have been fortunate enough to get a publisher on board, the reality is that in today’s publishing world the majority of the effort still has to be undertaken by the author themselves, albeit from a considerably better position.

The first thing that will strike you – well it certainly did me – when you start to dip your toe into the world of promoting your book is just how many people out there who have done the exact same thing. Hidden away in your dark room, bleary eyed from the artificial light and caffeine, it is easy to think that you are, maybe not unique, but certainly in a small club of like-minded individuals pouring your heart, soul and very being into your book, for an eagerly waiting public, desperate to devour your words.

Sadly this isn’t the case. The fact that now everyone has a computer, and that it has never been easier to get your book published is very much a double edged sword for the writer. Yes it makes the process so much easier, with the route to the potentially massive marketplaces such as Amazon relatively simple – and free. But that comes with the obvious drawback. The world and his wife (and very often his pet cat too) have gone down that route as well. Suddenly it becomes a case of those staples of every marketing textbook – differentiation and promotion. And that, my friends is where the problems begin. But rest assured here are the best techniques for you to market your book.

  1. It’s not all about the book

Though the ultimate aim is to get as many people to see and then buy your book as possible, you need to start thinking of yourself as a marketable product too. This is easier for some people than others, but more often than not it is easier for people to buy into us and who we are than a random book. So you need to create a presence for yourself. Don’t forget, this is going to be a presence that you are going to have to maintain for the foreseeable future. Plus, once things are on the internet it is very hard for them not to be on the internet. So, despite the temptation to make yourself out to be some uber smart, buzzy, personality with your finger on every pulse and trend out there, resist it. Be yourself. It will be much easier to maintain, and at the end of the day, you’ve finished a book – you have things to say, you have achieved something millions couldn’t. You have a story to tell, and not just the one in your latest (soon to be!) blockbuster.Sharoq-27MAR2016-017

  1. Start before the end

You can never start too early to build up your profile, and raise the awareness of this fresh new author on the block and their book. It can often take a while to go from zero presence to one where you can do some damage, so if you are able to start while writing your book, you will be in position to go when you complete the manuscript.

You can even use your progress in your book as a method to get followers and their attention. Problems you are facing and how you overcome them are something that are common among writers, and everyone is always keen to know how others cope with those issues.

You could even run competitions or polls on how your novel should progress, or on the names of characters etc. Any way to get people to engage is a massive plus point.

 

Read Part 2 of this blog here>>>

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Marketing

Meet Max!: Marketing My Book

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Elizabeth Rosso, author of “Meet Max”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Welcome back!  So far you’ve stuck with me (thanks!) through coming up with the idea for “Meet Max!,” shaping that idea into a manuscript, editing my bookfinding illustrations, and deciding to self-publish.  Success!  Right?  Well, not so fast… I mean, yes, I have a book, and yes, I love Max, but I’m just one person.  Now it’s time to tell the world about Max and his adventures!  Which led me back to my recurring question: how do I do that?

Through pure dumb luck, I started out by identifying my audience.  At its most basic, my audience is children.  But it’s also adults with children in their lives, and children with dogs, and people of all ages who love dogs, and people who love reading.

SKU-001051763Next I started to think about ways to reach those audiences.  Bookstores seemed to be the most obvious choice, but I also thought that any store with a connection to any of my audience segments, or with a focus on local products, might be a good target.  So, I started cold-calling all those types of places.  One of my sales calls took me to a national retailer with fairly detailed requirements for requesting that they carry my book.  One of those requirements was to submit a marketing plan.

I hadn’t realized it (I don’t have any business training or experience), but building my marketing plan was exactly what I had been doing.  I sat down to write out a more formal plan, and it became obvious that bookstores needed to be my primary target.  All those other outlets were fine if an opportunity presented itself, but they wouldn’t give me the kind of return on my effort that I had been looking for.

Okay, lesson learned the hard way!  But while I had been expending a lot of effort for small (but exciting!) returns, I was also using some of the marketing services available through Archway.  Currently I’m at the beginning of my social media campaign, setting up a web site, a Twitter account , and a Facebook page.  Some of that technology is new to me, so there’s a bit of a learning curve, but I recently doubled my Twitter followers, and am working to get the web site and Facebook page to take off as well.

It’s been a lot of work and I’m still hoping for my “big breakthrough,” but the small successes have been energizing and I’m definitely learning a lot along the way.  I hope that you’ve been able to learn something from my experiences too.  And if you need a great children’s book about a curious dog with a bushy tail, I know just the one!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Self-Publishing My Children’s Book

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Caryn Umetsu, author of “Little Liar”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

my mom sis and II was 4-years-old when I left my birth country of Japan, my parents divorced and that’s how I came to live with my new father in Hawaii. My mom often played a song about a little blue-eyed blond doll made of celluloid who was leaving America to go to Japan.  The doll was homesick and wondered if she would make friends. By the tone of the latter half of the song, we know that although she left her home country, she made fast friends in her new country. That is how I felt, I was sad for the divorce but thankful for my new life and the new me. I renamed myself Caryn which means “one of the seven stars of the constellation Orion.”

I don’t remember much of Japan but I do remember saying good bye to my aunt and uncle as we pulled out of the train station.  Nothing is more romantic and forlorn, the way a train leaves ever so slowly then faster and faster leaving behind your loved ones who grow smaller and smaller like figurines in a dollhouse. My aunt and uncle gave me a book to remember them by, a Chinese folktale called “The Magic Brush”.

For most of my life, books have always played a significant role in shaping who I am. First grade was the first time that I ever set foot in school.  I didn’t know how to speak, read, or write English in my new country; my mom said I cried every day for two weeks. My dad was the one who patiently sat with me under the lamp on the edge of the couch on a nightly basis to read with me “A Pig Can Jig.”

julian and nicholasEvery Saturday, my dad took my sister and I to the library where we could borrow as many books as we wanted, we felt like Hansel and Gretel at the Gingerbread House.  In no time, I was out of the ELL class and devouring whatever I could get my hands on, I moved beyond the picture books to the chapter books.  I moved up quickly in reading level from the very bottom to the very top; my teachers were amazed and so proud of me.  Later in college years, my sister and I said that we would become sister writers, I would be Emily and she would be Charlotte Bronte.

My latest children’s book “Little Liar” is based on my oldest son “Bobby”. When he was four and my middle son “Mitch” was two, we wrote the “Little Liar” book together and after many nights, we finally finished and stapled it together with pride. Although we went to the library twice a week, that was their favorite book. Even with all the dinosaur and construction books we borrowed and reborrowed, it continued to be their favorite bedtime story. I still have the purple tattered and torn copy of the original  book which I used to create “Little Liar.”

The most powerful tool about self-publishing that I have come to find out is that we are able to, as authors, be in full command of how the book turns out. For me, the illustrations were truly important. I liked the cartoonish style of illustrating, similar to a “Peanuts” comic book. It was beyond words, the feeling that we three experienced, bringing our once beloved and nearly forgotten book that we had created so long ago when I was a housewife, to life.  “Bobby” and “Mitch” are now 23 and 21, a fireman and a marine. My youngest son who is introduced on the last page of the book is 14.3 sons

I have so many books that I am currently working on and I hope to continue publishing.  It has been so amazing working with Archway Publishing. I feel that every day brings me closer to my dream. Just like Marie Lelay  in the movie “Hereafter,” I will one day become an author proudly sitting at a book signing.

Thank you Archway, I believe what you do is phenomenal. Check out my new website carynyumetsu.com. I am also making a plushie of Bobby by Budsies and another Bobby doll by Ginta from ParisJavaDoll from Etsy. What I have in mind is that eventually my book will be popular enough and in demand so I can order many plushies to sell with my book.  I am also preparing for a book launch with SCBWI. If you want to email me, I am at carynyayoi@yahoo.com. I am a high school 11th grade English teacher so I have summers and many holidays off to work on my books. Let’s network and help each other make our dreams a reality. I would love to hear and learn from you!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Meet Max!: Finding an Illustrator

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Elizabeth Rosso, author of “Meet Max”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

If you’re just joining me, my first two posts were about how I came up with the idea for Meet Max!, and how I turned that idea into a manuscript.  At that point came the big question: now what?  How do I turn this into a real book?img1

Initially I thought traditional publishing was my only option.  I knew it would take time and that I’d likely collect a lot of rejection letters before finally succeeding…if I succeeded.  Nonetheless, I began to mull over the things I’d need to learn, like how to pitch my idea, whether I needed to hire an agent, et cetera.  As I began the process of learning just how much I didn’t know, I happened upon a story on the radio about self-publishing.  Interesting.  No need to get a publishing house to buy into my idea.  Retain creative control over the final product.  Keep more of the royalties.  And, if the book sells well, maybe attract the attention of a traditional publisher anyway.

That all sounded good, but I still felt like I didn’t know which choice was best.  So, I turned to the one place I know I can always find answers, or at least pass a pleasant afternoon: the bookstore!  Off I went, and lo and behold, there was a book that set out the basics of not only traditional publishing and self-publishing, but also of starting your own publishing company.  I bought it.  I devoured it.  It gave me so much to think about!  In the end, though, (and as you’ve probably already guessed), I went with self-publishing.  It seemed like the best way to get the end product I wanted, on my timeline, without having to prove beforehand that my idea was a good one.  Plus if I decided to go the more traditional route later, I’d already have a prototype, so to speak, of what I had in mind, and hopefully the sales data to back it up.img2

I still had the problem of illustrations, though.  My book definitely needed them, and I definitely do not have that kind of artistic skill.  What’s more, most of the self-publishing companies I identified were geared towards more traditional, black-and-white chapter books, not short children’s stories heavy on artwork.  It seemed like there were three options.  I could learn to draw, I could hire an artist, or I could keep shopping for companies that could help me get the illustrations so crucial to my concept.

Learning to draw was almost certainly out of the question.  Even my stick figures need a little help.  Could I hire an artist?  Where would I look?  How would I communicate what I wanted?  And how would I know if I was getting a good rate?  As luck would have it, I have some friends who are either artists themselves, or who routinely hire artists as part of their work.  They were able to give me some great guidance and point me towards some fantastic resources, but I still felt like I was in over my head.  And then I discovered Archway.img3

Archway was one of only two self-publishing companies I identified that had artists on staff.  What’s more, it’s the only company I found that provided enough information on its web site for me to educate myself and focus my questions prior to contacting them.  Then, when I did make contact, they answered my questions and provided even more information without using a “hard sell” approach or making me feel pressure to make a decision right away.  They were able to explain the self-publishing process to me and go into detail about how the illustrations portion of the process would work.  And they were willing to answer any additional questions I might have along the way.  It was just what I needed!  At last I felt like I had to the tools to finally bring Max to life.  The only thing left would be getting the rest of the world to love Max as much as I do (i.e., buy the book) – more on that next time!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.   

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Author Feature, Publishing

Self-Publishing Children’s Books with Archway

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Jan Gimlin, author of “The Adventures of Franz and Jethro: Ants in the Pants”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.  

My storytelling days began with my own two children. I read a lot of stories too, but their favorites seemed to be the stories I just made up for them. They used to beg me to make up stories, the wilder and crazier the better. They were the perfect captive audience!

SKU-001060594Anyway, I love animals, and especially love how different their personalities can be, much like humans. So, with our two dogs, I always make up sayings/words based on what I THINK they would say if they could talk. My husband and I would tell our black lab (Jethro) that he had ants in his pants, because from the time we got him (adopted at about 5 months) he’d have a crazy burst of energy (OFTEN) and be ready to play fetch or catch; then just fizzle out.

So one day the story just came to me and I wrote it down on the computer. That was last summer. On a whim, I emailed the story to my daughter and asked for her impressions. She loved the story and told me I should try to get it published.

Next, I went to the library and checked out about a dozen children’s books, read them, and wrote down the publishers names. Then I researched the publishers of the books I liked best, looking for the self-publishing branch of each. I thought Archway sounded reasonable, contacted them and someone called me back.

Now, discussions began with my publishing consultant about the direction of my book. I had to make a decision: how to illustrate it. I am an artist, mostly a painter, but NOT a cartoonist. As a creative person, I kept thinking there must be something that I could do myself. So the consultant asked me if I’d thought about collage, or something else. Over the course of a weekend I decided to do a drawing, a collage, and a model magic figurine; then attached pictures of all three in an email to the consultant. This consultant was intrigued by the model magic figurine because he could think of no other children’s book on the market with this type of illustration for its characters. I liked the sound of having a unique book, bought more colors of model magic and began to create the characters in various poses.

As an art teacher my favorite modeling compound for elementary students was Model Magic, a crayola product, and I LOVED creating dogs or other animals with them. But with this product or even clay, one problem I had was creating a large dog with stick-thin legs. The weight of the main body collapsed the legs! So I had to create a “skeleton” for the walking poses with the black lab. For the dachshund, I just made squattier legs and left it at that. But I had to show the difference in proportion between the two dogs (100 lbs. vs. 12 lbs.), and realized it would just look weird for the lab to have thick squatty legs! So, my husband helped me make the skeleton out of wire and hot glue, which I then covered with pieces of model magic.JanGimlin

Next, the publishing consultant gave me the idea of a diorama for the background. After googling “diorama”, I came up with a few ideas. I used foam core as a base, and for the indoor scene I covered it with two types of shelf paper. For the outdoor scene, I used three different types of textured mediums that I use in painting: coarse pumice gel for the ant bed, coarse modeling paste to simulate sandy red dirt, and fiber paste to simulate grass. Then I painted over all of these. The outdoor background was painted on a 11×14 canvas board. The bushes were clumps of reindeer moss. The furniture and plant for the indoor scene were dollhouse furniture.

Next, my publishing consultant told me that the picture resolution had to be at least 300 DPI, so I tried taking pictures with my cellphone but when he checked the resolution, he said the pictures were blurry and just wouldn’t work. I already had a tripod, so used it along with our digital camera to take all my pictures.

Then when the story and pictures were finalized, I was transferred to a check-in coordinator, where my patience with technology was tested time after time! Next came the design team, where the cover and interior were planned. After several revisions with the layout, my project was done!

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