“There’s a Mouse On my Head! is officially on sale today!

delivery of books

My puppy Ghillis is “helping.”

Today is P-Day or publishing day for us. Our book, There’s a Mouse on My Head! is finally able to ship. Amazon listed it earlier, but held up shipping until today. My front hall is filled with books for Donna Warwick and me to sign. My puppy Ghillis “helped” with the unwrapping.

Right now the only way to get a signed book is directly from one of us. Hard cover books are $14.99, Soft Cover books are $9.99.

MOYH 3d_BookCoverWe did a lot of running around like crazy people at the last minute. I have to admit the website site is not quite up. The author Donna Warwick has a few more things to write and finalize. I have posted activities pages and coloring sheets for parents and teachers to download for their kids. We will be setting up school visits and library visits for this Fall and Spring. Hopefully the website will be up and running by Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Contact us directly: DonnaWarwickAuthor(at)gmail.com or Dayne.Design(at)gmail.com 

 Here is the website link, be sure to wait until August 19th to visit:  www.DonnaWarwickAuthor.com

The Amazon listing for our book & the B&N.com listing. “There’s a Mouse on My Head” is also available by special order from your local independent store book.

I’m so excited! Self-published books have arrived.

MOYH_coversOur self-published picture books (sample run) have arrived!!! They look great and I’m so excited! IngramSpark prints a very quality book.

OK, I keep telling myself to act like the “cool girl.” You know the one who doesn’t show she is excited, who is cool and collected and blasé about something like this happening. The girl who doesn’t use exclamation points after every sentence when she does something like this!!! Well, I never was that girl (now woman) and I will never will be that sophisticated cool girl, because I’m really, really excited about this!!!!

I have illustrated many children’s books for other authors, but never been as closely involved in the whole process. Donna Warwick, the author of There’s a Mouse on My Head! is a good friend. She is also a member of my SCBWI picture book critique group here in St. Louis. When I first read her poem, which was very much shorter than this book, I was hooked. I loved the idea of the clever boy who doesn’t want to eat his veggies and comes up with a way to win over his grandmother. Donna listened when our critique group advised her to lengthen the story and bring more action and characters into the mix. I loved this story so much I suggested we work together to bring this book to the world.

The books, a 8 1/2 by 10 1/2″ hardcover version $14.99  and a soft cover version at the same size for $9.99 will be distributed through IngramSpark to independent bookstores and Barnes & Noble’s online store. They will be available for special order from Barnes & Noble brick and mortar stores. They will also be printed by CreateSpace for distribution on Amazon.com at a 8″ x 10″ size. There is a good reason for the two printers, I will go into later. I did quite a lot of research and had a lot to learn about this whole process.

Our publication date is set for August 17th. We are setting up a website right now, where we should soon be able to  take pre-orders and eventually sell the books.  We are planning free activity sheets and lesson plans available to teachers and homeschoolers.  We are scheduling school visits, library visits and even senior center visits for this Fall. We also are presenting our book at a Jewish Book Festival luncheon in St. Louis this October and the Jewish Book Festival Book Store in November. So much to do, so little time.

Yes, I’m having fun!!!

Pre-orders at Amazon.com, just search for “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” WordPress won’t let me put links to Amazon on this site. B&N.com will have our book by August 17th.

Reviews are the  lifeblood of authors and illustrators, please leave honest reviews on Amazon, B&N and GoodReads.

 

 

7 Steps for Marketing a Children’s Picture Book

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Back Cover, There’s a Mouse on My Head!

Everything I’ve read says it’s a lot of work to market any book, much less a self-published children’s picture book. Donna Warwick the author of “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” and I, as the illustrator, are starting down this long road to what we hope is success.

The first copies of the book have been printed and shipped. They haven’t arrived yet. We need to make sure everything is perfect before we release them to the public. Publication date is set for August 10. Our book will be available on Amazon, B&N, and other Internet bookstores. Brick and mortar book stores can special order it for you directly from Ingrams. “There’s a Mouse on My Head” will also be available at the Jewish Book Festival Book Store this November. We are making hardcover books as well as soft cover books. Later we plan an e-book.

1. We are working on an author’s website. I am setting it up and doing the graphics, Donna will write all the text.

2. A Facebook fan page is in the process of being set up.

3. A Twitter account needs to be started.

4. We are also working on teacher materials, and activity sheets for parents to download from the website for their kids.

5. Donna is working on a trailer to promote the book

6. She is also working on the presentation we will give at the Jewish Book Festival luncheon in October.

7. In the Fall, both Donna and I will be setting up grade school, pre school and library visits.

So much work and so little time. Wish us luck and abundant creativity.

Proofs today for “There’s a Mouse on My Head”

Theres a Mouse on My Head!_proofIt’s so exciting to finally see this long-awaited project coming together. I have been working on the illustrations for 5 months. Today we saw the proofs for the first time from IngramSpark our printer. Donna Warwick, the author of the book “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” and I, as the illustrator, have formed a Publishing Company called Glass Pen Press. I am still working on the logo for Glass Pen Press so I can’t let you see it yet.

Starting a business is a lot of work, but it is so exciting. This is the fun part, the setting up and the creation. The real work will come later when we must do the marketing and promote the book. We are planning a presentation for a luncheon sponsored by the Book Club for the Jewish Book Festival in St. Louis. This will be in October. Before that we are working on a video presentation for the luncheon, a trailer for YouTube and a song. We will be selling the book at the bookstore at the Jewish Book Festival in November in the Missouri’s Own section.

We also plan to do School and library visits this Fall. I am working on a website for the author, where you can buy the book and find games and study guides for classrooms. I will be posting my progress on all these projects.

Are we having FUN yet? YES!!!

There’s a Mouse on My Head!

As I sit here illustrating, There is a Mouse on My Head!.. there actually is a mouse on my head. It’s an illustrated one because I’m designing a promotional bookmark we will be giving away for the release of the book. The bookmark will feature a large cartoon mouse suitable to place on your head. The book in hardcover and soft cover will be printed by August 3, 2015. We will later have an e-book available.

MOYH 3d_BookCover

The author Donna Warwick and I will be presenting our book at a Tea in October, sponsored by the Book Club for the Jewish Book Festival in St. Louis . We will also have the books available for sale at the “Missouri’s Own” section of the Jewish Book Festival bookstore in November. I have my good friend Ray Wenneker to thank for this wonderful opportunity.

The book is a fun, bedtime picture book for 2-8 year olds, featuring a grandmother as caregiver who builds a bond with her grandchildren. This charming book explores how a resourceful and creative boy uses his incredible imagination to convince Grandma that his toy mouse wants to eat his peas. Little sister, not wanting to be left out of his dinnertime game, gleefully jumps in. As their fun fantasy runs wild, their understanding grandmother is delighted to play along with the children as they brush the mouse’s teeth and put him to bed.

This joint project between author and illustrator has been an adventure. We are striking out into new territory. Ingram Spark will be publishing and distributing the books. We will be doing all of our own marketing and publicity. We have planned school and library visits as well as senior center visits where we hope to appeal to the grandmothers in the crowd. Being a part of the Jewish Book Festival is an important event for us. We have a wonderful program planned with music and a video along with our talk. Both of us can hardly wait to start visiting schools. Donna Warwick, the author works with children all the time and is very entertaining. I’ll let everyone know when the books are available. We can start taking preorders by late July.

My Entry for #PBPitch on Twitter

Today is my chance to pitch one of my picture books to a large group of picture book agents at once. All pitching authors use the #PBPitch hashtag on their 140 word pitch on Twitter. As an author/illustrator, I may post one image from my book with my pitch. What I didn’t realize was adding this image would cut down on the number of characters I had to work with by 10. Coming up short by ten characters is huge, when you only have 140 characters to start with.

Penelope_cover

I enjoy reading picture books written and illustrated by the same talented person, so I want to join their ranks.  I want to become a children’s book author and illustrator. I continue to work diligently on my writing skills when I can find the time between illustration assignments for other authors.  I take SCBWI workshops and writing classes, read books and listen to all the podcasts I can find on the subject. I also belong to a great children’s book critique group. The picture book I am pitching has been through dozens of rewrites. My critique group has seen so many revisions, they probably know the story word for word by now. Thanks to my critique group for being nurturing and honest to help me grow.

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My entry for the SCBWI illustrator challenge for June “Bounce”

Bounce_Dayne_SislenThe theme is Bounce–
This my entry in the SCBWI’s illustrator challenge for June . The prompt is the word BOUNCE. I am so lucky that I was already working on this illustration for the new picture book I am illustrating for Donna Warwick, called “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” I guess I could say, “There’s a Mouse on my Bread!” ‪#‎scbwidrawthis‬

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrating a Rhyming Picture Book

There's a Mouse on my Head! illus. by Dayne Sislen

 

There's a Mouse on My Head! illustration by Dayne Sislen

I’m having a great time illustrating this funny rhyming picture book. The story is so cute, it’s about a little boy who doesn’t want to eat his peas and cheese. But does want to eat his cherry pie. It’s called, “There’s a Mouse on my Head!” written by Donna Warwick. This book soon to be as a picture book and an e-book. To see more of Dayne Sislen’s illustrations visit this website, or this portfolio site.

6 ways a professional children’s book illustrator can help self-publishing authors

Whiff_dragon_420Having a professional children’s book illustrator create custom illustrations for your self-published children’s book can help your book compete with traditionally published books. I love to help authors bring their words alive on the page with illustrations.

How can a professional illustrator make so much difference?

1. Books are judged by their covers. It’s a fact. In a bookstore or on an Internet site like Amazon, the only thing a buyer sees is your cover. There are thousands of books that your book is competing against for buyers. It’s important to present your book professionally. Having an inexperienced illustrator illustrate your book makes your book look amateurish. That’s not the image you want to project.

Book covers are very important!
Never ever let the image that sells you book look amateurish or lackluster. In many cases the cover is all a customer sees before deciding to purchase your book. Your cover image and typography are what customers use to judge the value of your book.

Below is a list  of the main points for a cover:

  • Be eye-catching
  • Look professional
  • Be easy to read
  • Communicate the message of the book correctly
  • Work well at a small size for Internet sales, catalogs and e-books
  • Fit-in, or stand out in a positive way in the marketplace for the specific genre

The perfect book cover design should hit the mark on all these points. Do people really judge a book by its cover? You bet they do.

2. A professional Children’s book illustrator will actually read your book ( yes, we do) and help decide which pages need illustrations.  Authors, are sometimes too close to their stories to make  the best choice about what parts of the story need illustrations. Professional illustrators have the experience to help the author decide where page breaks and illustrations work best to best move the story forward and create suspense.

3. A professional illustrator with work one-on-one with you to develop character studies for all the unique characters in your book. Generic stock characters you can buy online are unworthy of all the hard work you did to write your original story.

4. A professional Illustrator knows about file types, resolution, bleed and sizes necessary to make sure your illustrations look great in your book.

5. A professional children’s book illustrator will make sure you have the correct size images  for cover image marketing views on Amazon and any additional promotional materials you may need. An illustrator who also has design experience like I do, can also design posters, bookmarks, business cards and other publicity and marketing materials to match your book’s brand.

6. Most importantly, a professional illustrator will work with your printer to make sure your book looks the best possible when printed. Each printer has their own specifications to ensure quality reproduction.

Read the other pages on this blog to learn how we can work together to create the best-illustrated book possible for your story. I also have an illustrator’s website with a lot more information and a portfolio site on Behance

I would be happy to assist you with your book. I love to develop unique characters and fun backgrounds to fit each story. I work very closely with authors to make sure their voice is heard. To contact me, use the form below.

Rejected Postcard Design

This was my entry into the SCBWI PAL postcard illustration contest. It was not chosen. There were a lot of wonderful illustrations in the running. The judges were agents Lori Kilkelly & Paul Rodeen & author/illustrator Lauren Castillo (Caldecott Honor winner for NANA IN THE CITY)

I like this character, she might find a place in a chapter book I am writing.SCBWI_Postcard_good_rgb

The Caldecott Award This Year Goes to Dan Santat!

ZFor his book BEEKLE!!

This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle.

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one’s place in the world.

Congratulations Dan, I love this book!

Getting very close to finish line.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 2.15.07 PMI can’t believe it, I am finally getting very, very close to finishing a picture book I have been illustrating for a self-publishing author off and on for over two 1/2 years. It’s a darling book about a cute little “round” girl who wants to be the ballerina butterfly in her school play. You might call Olivia chubby, but she is beautiful inside and just needs to learn to bring out her joy and dance with all her heart.

It usually takes me between 3 to 6 months to finish all the illustrations for a picture book. It’s a long detailed process to make sure I illustrate just what the story needs. I have written on this blog about this particular book in the past, I thought it would be finished last year, but it just wasn’t ready. This self-publishing author wanted everything just right and took her time deciding on each step. I think this book will be worth the long wait.

I worked on and finished several other picture books during this long process, so I wasn’t sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I will be starting to illustrate a new e-book right after this book is completed that I am very excited about. The e-book should hopefully take me only 3 months.

If you have any question about the process of having your self-published picture book illustrated, contact me below.

Does Social Media bring in business?

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.43.32 PMfacebook-64twitter-64behanceScreen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.41.38 PMgoogle-64wordpress-64

I’m an illustrator, but I spend a huge amount of time on social media. In fact sometimes, I think I spend more time online, than I do illustrating. It’s important for me to keep in touch with what’s going on in the children’s publishing business. I like to keep up with my illustrator friends and heroes. I also like to keep my name out there so self-publishing authors and traditional publishers know what I am doing and that I am available to take on projects.

LinkedIn has been the best social media choice for me. I have gotten two jobs illustrating children’s books from my contacts on that site in the last year. I also receive about 10 inquiries a month from authors asking me to read their manuscripts and asking about my pricing. I like LinkedIn because it is more professional than other social media sites. I like to answer questions and help first time children’s book authors to navigate the experience of bringing their book to market.

I also have a personal FaceBook account and a fan page for my Illustration. Facebook just doesn’t seem as professional to me, maybe I don’t use it correctly. I don’t many followers on my Illustrator page and my personal page are mostly friends. Twitter is another avenue I like. I use it to keep up with what’s happening in the publishing business. I can get very up to date information very quickly. Also, people in the children’s book publishing business seem to use it a lot. I do find it very impersonal, since everyone can read everything you post. I often get replies from people I don’t know. I also don’t understand –retweeting, when something mundane can be retweeted and these tweets retweeted for ever and ever amen.

Another favorite is Behance.com, this is where I have a portfolio of my work. I like Behance a lot, it’s perfect for illustrators. Everytime I post a new images I get a lot of feedback from all over the world. I have never gotten a job directly from Behance, but authors who have contacted me have looked at my Behance page. Pinterest is another site that is perfect for an illustrator. What could be better than trading pictures of your work, when pictures are what you do? I post new work there when I remember. Then there is Google+ which I use sometimes and can’t really figure out yet.

Of course What kind of illustrator would I be without a website to show my work. Every illustrator has to have a website. I am lucky, that I am web savvy and can build and upkeep my own webpage.  And last of all my WordPress blog which you are reading right now. Can you see where all my times goes?

And … then there are the emails to keep up with.