How important is a book cover?

Your picture book cover will either make or break your book sales.

You’ve spent many months if not years working on your book. Rewriting it over and over until every word is perfect. But customers will not buy your perfect book if they do not find the cover appealing. I can’t stress how important a book cover is to sales and promotion of a book.

Most books are purchased in bookstores and online. The only way a customer can choose a book is by looking at the cover and reading the limited text on the back cover. When you promote your book, what will customers see first? That’s right, it’s the cover. A book cover is not the place to save money. Using an unskilled illustrator or designer on the cover will doom your book no matter how skillfully it is written.

Worst covers4-18

  1. Customers will not purchase a book online with a bad or unreadable book cover.
  2.  Reviewers will not consent to review a book with a bad book cover.
  3.  Bookstores will not take you seriously. Forget about being asked to do a book signing.
  4.  Libraries will not want your book on their shelves.
  5.  You will be at a disadvantage when attending author events.
  6.  Magazine editors will say no to featuring your book on their pages.
  7.  You will not even have success by hiring a publicist. Even they can’t overcome the problem of a bad book cover.

What is the difference?

  1. Professional book covers are easier to read at a reduced size because the title is designed by a graphic designer.
  2. They look professional because they are designed by someone who is trained to work with illustration and text.
  3. Magazines and newspapers love to review them and show them on their pages.
  4.  Customers in bookstores snatch them up.
  5.  Reviewers are can’t wait to review them.
  6.  Amazon shoppers are attracted to them and pop them into their shopping cart.
  7.  Marketing these professionally designed and illustrated books is easier because the cover sells the book.

Which type of cover do you want for your book?

When I illustrate a picture book, I usually illustrate and design the complete book. Below are a few of the picture book covers I have designed for self-publishing authors.

 

If you want to talk about your picture book contact me below:

 

 

 

Children’s Book Week is Coming!

Children’s Book Week celebration is ready to kick off. From April 30 to May 6, bookstores, libraries, and schools across the country will take part in a busy week-long event, as they commemorate children’s books and the joy of reading.

What can you do? Read to your children and take them to local
Children’s Book Week Events. Check what is available in your area.

Mark your calendar! The St. Louis County Public library will be celebrating Children’s Book Week during April 30-May 6. Activities include a visit from Curious George, book-inspired crafts & more! Get the full schedule of events here:http://ow.ly/V3P330j6zC1

Reading aloud is the best advertisement because it works. It allows a child to sample the delights of reading and conditions him to believe that reading is a pleasureful experience, not a painful or boring one.”—Jim Trelease

Don’t forget to read the picture books in all the character voices. When I was a kid, that’s what I liked the best. Make every book special for your children.


If you are thinking about writing your own picture book for children and will be needing illustrations, contact me. I love to talk pictures books with self-publishing authors.

Spring is a time of new beginnings.

Spring is a time of rebirth and celebration. Easter celebrates the resurrection or rebirth of Jesus Christ and Passover celebrates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The ancients celebrated the return of the sun after a long dark winter.

What does spring mean to our children? Spring means a time of growth and new beginnings. Spring means more daylight hours to play in the sun. Spring and religious holidays can also mean a time to reconnect with family. Getting together with cousins and seeing grandparents again. Family connections are important to children. Children thrive on the feeling of belonging.

Spring growing illo

When children receive love and support in a warm family environment early on, they are better able to take on the childhood tasks of exploring their world and learning new skills. They learn from their family environment how to connect and interact with other people and build healthy relationships. These experiences help them establish more positive peer friendships and teaches them how to interact with other adults.

Reading together is the perfect way to form close bonds with young children. A time should be set apart for snuggling and reading out loud. Even children that have learned to read on their own enjoy being read to during story time with their family.

Have you written a special story for your children or grandchildren and have thought about turning it into a picture book? I love to talk to children’s book writers about the different paths to publishing. Traditional publishing to self-publishing there are a lot of choices to make and a lot of decisions. Fill in the form below with your questions.

 

How a parent’s affection shapes a child’s happiness for life

I hope we all can learn something from this blog post by Parent.co

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 10.17.18 AMby Parent.co  photo Elizabeth Cannon

We all live busy, stressful lives and have endless concerns as parents, but it is clear that one of the most important things we need to do is to stop and give our kids a big loving squeeze.
Research over the past decade highlights the link between affection in childhood and health and happiness in the future.
Science supports the idea that warmth and affection expressed by parents to their children results in life-long positive outcomes for those children, according to Child Trends, the leading nonprofit research organization in the United States focused on improving the lives and prospects of children, youth, and their families.
Higher self-esteem, improved academic performance, better parent-child communication, and fewer psychological and behavior problems have been linked to this type of affection.
On the other hand, children who do not have affectionate parents tend to have lower self-esteem and to feel more alienated, hostile, aggressive, and antisocial.
There have been a number of recent studies that highlight the relationship between parental affection and children’s happiness and success.

More about how a parent’s affection shapes a child’s life and happiness, read the entire blog post here: Parent.co


If you have an idea for a picture book and are confused about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing or are looking for an illustrator for your book I can answer your questions.

Never Too Old: Embracing Picture Books To Teach Older Students

This is a re-blog from School Library Journal.
Please use the link below the excerpt to read the entire article.

Students in Scio, NY, discuss illustrators’ choices.
Photo courtesy of Scio Central School District

Mary Zdrojewski was in for a surprise. Not long ago, the librarian in the Scio (NY) Central School District had been assigned a class of teens at her K–12 school. Zdrojewski asked the students what they wanted from their library class, expecting to hear requests for coding, robotics, or hands-on projects. “They just wanted me to read aloud to them,” Zdrojewski recalls. “I tried short stories, including the ‘Guys Read’ series, because I thought they would be ‘cool.’” But she soon discovered that “the students really wanted pictures to look at.”

Read the whole article here: https://www.slj.com/2018/02/books-media/never-old-embracing-picture-books-teach-older-students/

Teaching kids to be creative

If trends continue, most jobs in the future will be taken over by robots. Robots perform repetitious jobs very well. They can even be programmed to perform complicated tasks that require much learning and skill. Workers that repair and code robots will be needed. But many people will be out of jobs.

The future will belong to the creative thinkers.

What type of workers will be the most valuable? People who do jobs that are impossible for robots to do.  The most important jobs will be reserved for very creative people who are able to come up with totally new ideas and concepts. The inventors, innovators, and designers will rule.

Picture book about creating

“Creatrilogy” by Peter H. Reynolds

How do we prepare our kids for this future?

Young children need to be taught to think beyond what is available in typical school books. Children need to learn to open their imaginations very early in their lives. They will need to train their brains to imagine the unimaginable. To question established designs and ways of doing things.

Imaginative picture books with open-ended questions can help young children develop their creative side. Books that show unique ways to solve problems or interesting ways to look at the world. I have featured just a few of the many imaginative picture books that are available. It’s important to read to your children and ask, “What would you do?” or “how would you feel?” “Is there a better way of doing this?” You might be surprised by their answers.

 

Picture book, "What to do with a Box"

By Jane Yolen and Chris Sheban

 

Picture book about imagination and creativity

“It Came in the Mail” by Ben Clanton

There's a Mouse on My Head Children's Picture Book

By Donna Warwick, illustrated by Dayne Sislen

A picture book about a girl's imagination

“Journey” by Aaron Becker

I illustrate picture books for children’s book authors. If you have a book you would like illustrated, contact me. I love to talk picture books.

 

Post-Storystorm Thoughts: Adam Lehrhaupt’s IDEA JAR

I have been following Storystorm for the last month plus a few days. I have come up with over 30 new ideas for picture books. I love the idea of Adam’s IDEA JAR. Sort of like a job jar only much better and more fun. Dayne

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Adam Lehrhaupt

This is my idea jar. I keep all my story ideas in it.

You know the ones.

The same ideas we spend all of Storystorm coming up with.

Our brilliant, wonderful, genius ideas.

The ideas we will turn into fantastic manuscripts. Manuscripts that will, some day, become beautiful books.
So yes. This is my idea jar.

When I need a jumpstart, I reach inside and pull out one of my ideas. Then, it’s time to play.

You need to play with your ideas. You know that, right? If you don’t, they get rowdy. When ideas get rowdy…oh, my! The trouble they can cause…

Anyway, now I get to play with my idea. I can do all kinds of things with it:

  • Draw it.
  • Talk it out.
  • Sculpt it.
  • Fancy needle point thing it.
  • I can even write it.

Well, I’d probably write it over any of those…

View original post 185 more words

Message to self-publishing picture book authors

Are you having a hard time finding a good professional children’s book illustrator who’s willing to work with you on your book?

Why would illustrators turn you down, when you’re giving them an opportunity to illustrate your fantastic book, that’s probably going to be a best seller? Why are they not clamoring to work for you? Why are they not returning your emails?

I am afraid, some illustrators have very good reasons to turn down self-publishing authors as opposed to a publishing house. As a professional illustrator, I get emails from self-publishing authors all the time. They love my illustrations and want me to illustrate their book. They want me to quote a price by return email. But they don’t tell me if it’s a picture book, chapter book or middle grade or how many illustrated pages they need. Occasionally an author will say I don’t need a big fancy book, I only want a small book. How much will that be? These questions put me in an awkward position. I don’t have enough information to give them a price.

Mouse artists working together

They want me to just “sketch-up” something fast. They say, “Don’t spend any time.” But they want the main character to look like their niece at four years old wearing the dress they gave her for her birthday. The little boy character to look like the boy on that program on TV (they can’t remember the name of) only change his hair to blond. The house in the background should look just like their Aunt Ethel’s house, they don’t have a picture, but it has shutters. AND of course, the dog should look like their deceased dog Blackie (they do have pictures).  –Yes, people have asked me to do all of these things. None of this is fast or easy for me at all.

I can pretty quickly tell when an author will take up a lot of my time and will not value my experience or expertise. Do I give them a ballpark figure that covers all kinds of books and situations, or do I probe for more details? Probing takes my time away from other jobs.

Here are some hints about how to find and work with an illustrator:

• Do your research, search Google, Yahoo or Bing for  “children’s book illustrators.” Read their websites and blogs. Go to organization websites for illustrators such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators SCBWI.org or ChildrensIllustrators.com

• When you find an illustrator you want to work with be nice when you contact them. Nice goes a long way.

• When contacting the illustrator to get pricing, give all the details they will need to decide how long your book will take to illustrate. What kind of book for children is it? What age child is the book for. Give them an idea of the length of the book (word count),  how many characters, how detailed do you want the backgrounds, do you want spreads or single pages, cover and back cover. Will the illustrator also be designing and digitally assembling the book for printing or is someone else doing that job?

I usually respond by telling them:

Most picture books are 32-pages with approx 12-14 spreads and one or two single pages illustrated. They also will need a cover, back cover and a title page. If the author also needs the cover and interior pages designed with the text in place that requires more time and costs more. I highly suggest using a designer or an illustrator who specializes in design.  Even if your book is well illustrated and well-written, poor design can undermine the entire look and quality of the book.

If it’s a chapter book you will need a color cover, back cover and at least one illustration (color or black and white) per chapter.

Middle-grade books have a color cover and several or no black and white inside illustrations.

I also absolutely positively need to read your manuscript before I decide to illustrate your book and give you a firm price.  I want to know if my style fits the story? Is there enough action in the book to illustrate? Has the author done their homework in preparing the manuscript? Are the illustrator notes too confining?

I fully immerse myself in the current book I am illustrating. The illustrations will make up one-half of the content of the book and I take this responsibility very seriously. A picture book takes me 4 to 8 months to illustrate depending on how complicated the book is and how organized the author is. This is a business for me, it is a full-time job.  Be sure to set aside enough in your budget to do your book justice. Don’t ask a professional illustrator to spend 4 to 8 months illustrating your book for fun or exposure. This is why most illustrators will not work with self-publishing authors. Professional illustrators do not illustrate self-published books for royalties, they have no way of knowing how many books are selling or even if you will try to sell the books. Illustrators are paid, usually in one-third increments. One third to start, the second third when roughs are approved and the balance right before the approved files are turned over to the printer or publisher.

Remember, in the marketplace (bookstore or Amazon), your book will first be judged by its cover.  Do you want your book judged solely by amateurish illustrations and an awkward cover design?

Why am I willing to work with self-publishing authors when other illustrators aren’t?

Occasionally I find an author who values my time, talent and expertise. When I read their manuscript I can tell it has been carefully edited for content and as well as grammar. They belong to an experienced SCBWI critique group or they have used a professional children’s book editor. They have taken the time to learn about writing for children and their manuscript clearly shows it. The language and word count are perfect for the age group for which they are writing.

I think children’s book authors are some of the most talented and clever people on earth. I enjoy getting to know them during the months we work together on their book. Contact me below if you want to talk to me about your children’s book.

Visit my website to see if I’m the perfect illustrator to bring your picture book or chapter book to life.

 

The Magic of Storytelling

Today I have re-blogged Norah Colvin’s blog because it perfectly follows up with the idea of my blog Monday about increasing the attention span of children by reading to them. Nora is an outstanding teacher and talented writer from Australia. Check out her website www.readilearn.com.au


Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 4.09.29 PM

“The Magic of Storytelling

Telling stories to and with young children has many benefits. Including other things, it helps to develop:

  • relationships with the storyteller and other listeners
  • language – vocabulary, language structure, imagery
  • understanding of narrative structure as it applies to fiction and non-fiction accounts
  • curiosity about one’s family, the immediate environment, and other places
  • empathy for others
  • interest in books and reading
  • imagination”

Continue reading Norah’s blog:  .via The magic of storytelling

How to extend the attention span of your children.

Kids today are bombarded with video games as well as fast action cartoons and movies. Picture book publishers are requesting shorter and shorter picture books for young children. No wonder our children have problems keeping their minds focused on one thing for very long.

What can you do to help your kids have a longer attention span? My advice is not some new technical invention or app for your phone or tablet, but something easy and inexpensive that you can do in your own home.

SCBWI_Postcard_sm_sq_WP

You can extend your children’s attention span by reading to them.

What better way to show them you love them and help them at the same time. Kids love getting attention from their parents and grandparents. This one-on-one time without any distractions from phones or TV is important. Children can later illustrate the stories you read together so you have a visual reminder of the time you have spent together.

Reading books to your children:

  1. Helps their creative imagination to develop.
  2. Expands their vocabularies
  3. Instills a future love of reading on their own
  4. Gives children time to slow down and unwind
  5. Creates a bond between the child and the reader
  6. Gives you an opportunity to teach life lessons through discussions of the stories
  7. Improve reading comprehension so they get better grades in school
  8. Opens the doorway to creative writing
  9. Is not expensive

For older kids who are able to read on their own, establish a family reading night when parents and children each read their own books. TV and cell phones are off-limits during this time. When children see their parents reading they know how important it is.

See the thought balloon in the top right corner for comments and replies.

If you have written a children’s picture book and would like to discuss it with an illustrator, contact me below.

 

 

Happy New Year, Picture Book Lovers!

 

Snow-nose

Ghillis says, “Is “Snow-Nose” catching??”

Every year I make New Year’s resolutions. I always plan to keep them but, reality steps in and they fall by the wayside. This year I am repeating a few resolutions I have listed before.

    1. I will keep up with my blog posts. I will try to provide more information for new children’s book illustrators and authors who want to know more about working with a professional illustrator.
    2.  I will continue working on writing and illustrating my own picture books. I tend to put my own work aside when I get a new commission to illustrate a book for an author.
    3. I will continue to send out my picture book dummies to agents. I know there is a perfect match for me out there.
    4. I will stay active in the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and my local SCBWI critique group. There are many workshops, critiques, conferences I can attend to keep up with the publishing business.
    5. I will continue to stay active. I love walking my dog four brisk miles every morning with a group of friends and dogs, even when it’s 12 degrees. It was 8 degrees this morning and we passed.
    6. I will leave plenty of time to enjoy my husband, my family, and my life. Life is more than work alone.

    If you want to discuss your picture book illustration needs with me, fill out the form below. I’m always happy to talk picture books.

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End of Year Countdown

Less than a month to go.

Why does everything have to be done at the end of the year? Finishing up illustrations jobs for picture books, personal property taxes, real estate taxes, sales taxes for business, holiday cards, changing the batteries in the smoke detectors, raking up the leaves, turning-off the outside water and bringing in the hoses, sending holiday cards, decorating for holidays, then taking down holiday decorations, holiday parties and family get-togethers, baking cookies, end-of-year thank-you gifts for newspaper delivery person, trash person, postal workers, beauticians and barbers. Not to mention buying and wrapping gifts for everyone else on my list.

Then in January, we start a brand new year with renewed enthusiasm and a whole new list of things to accomplish.

Thank you for following my blog. If you need to discuss your picture book with me use the form below.

 

It’s about time.

I try to write a blog post or reblog a post every few weeks but that doesn’t always happen. In the last month, I had two major events. I gave a presentation to the Missouri Writer’s Guild and University of Missouri’s ShowMe Writers Masterclass and attended an SCBWI conference.

There were about 140 people total at the ShowMe Masterclass in Columbia Missouri. There were many presenters. My presentation for writers was about finding and working with a children’s book illustrator on a self-published children’s book. The members of the group that came for my presentation were all interested in self-publishing children’s books. I hope I helped to direct them on a route to success. I discussed the types of publishing, how to stay away from predatory publishers, how to find an illustrator in your budget and how to work with the illustrator you choose to get the best results. A lot of these subjects are covered in my past blogs so you can search my archives to learn everything I talked about. (See below)

I also attended an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference in Kansas City. This is always a time of seeing friends who share my interests and renewing my love of children’s books. Publishers and agents from major traditional publishing houses come together to give presentations and critique our work. It’s nice to be able to connect faces and personalities to the big names in publishing.

I am now working to perfect two picture book dummies that have been in the works for a while. These are books I have written and illustrated. I will be sending them out to the publishing world very soon. I got some feedback during my critique with an art director from a major publisher, hopefully, I can make them even better.