May 02

Children’s Author – 5 Must-Haves for a Successful Book

There are a number of elements and strategies an author needs to write and publish a successful children’s book. This article covers five of them.

While success can mean different things to different people, to me a successful book is one that kids will love to read and hopefully learn from. A book that subtly leaves a lingering message which is considered the take-away-value. And, just as important, the book meets the standard industry guidelines.

A successful book is one that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Let’s go over the five children’s author must-haves.

  1. A quality children’s book.

Very first think is to write a quality book. But, how do you do you do this?

Anything worthwhile doing is worth doing right. So, to write a quality book, you should take the time to learn how to write a story.

There’s enough information online information, courses, and workshops to learn the process.

The basics are to be sure it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have engaging characters. The protagonist should grow in some way. And, it should have a take-away-value.

There’s also editing and proofreading. You can self-edit and proofread and/or you get it professionally done to make sure what you missed gets found and corrected.

One of the best ways to know if you’re on the right track is to read recently published books major publishers and in your genre. Dissect them. Figure out why they work.

Another aspect of a quality book is to have if professionally formatted.

  1. A great book cover.

The first thing a reader will see is the cover of your book, and it’s usually the cover that will draw the reader to the book. Along with this, it’s usually the cover that will motivate the reader to buy the book.

Don’t skimp in this area. Get a professional cover. It’s definitely worth the investment.

If your budget allows, look for a professional illustrator or designer. A professional cover can be anywhere from $200 to $450, possibly more.

There are also a number of publishing services that offer book cover templates and if this is all your budget allows, be sure you can tweak it to make it unique.

You don’t want the same cover that thousands of other books have.

If you’re traditionally publishing, you won’t need to worry about a book cover.

  1. Professional illustrations.

Have you seen self-published picture books and wondered how the author could use substandard illustrations? This goes for picture books, chapter books, and any other genre that you’ll have illustrations.

You can have an awesome story, but if the illustrations stink, you’ve degraded your book.

Ask around for qualified illustrators or do an online search. Be sure to look at samples and pay attention to the people.

I give my clients a list of illustrators who my other clients have vetted.

What I’m noticing lately is some illustrators are great at inanimate objects and animals, and even fantasy characters, but their people characters are poor quality.

They have the same positions or facial expressions with very minor tweaks. Or, the people characters will lack movement.

Be careful. Do your research and find a professional illustrator.

Good illustrations can run from $90 to $350 per interior illustration – sometimes more.

And, be sure you own the rights to the illustrations.

  1. The ISBN

You should have an ISBN if you intend to sell your book through retailers.

The International Standard Book Number is needed for print books and identifies your book. It’s required by most retailers.

It provides the retailers with the edition, the publisher, the format, and metadata for your book. This all helps readers find your book.

The 13-digit number is unique to each book and is placed on the back of your book by the book designer. It will be in the form of a barcode.

  1. The LCCN.

The Library of Congress Control Number allows libraries all over the U.S. to categorized your book, if they’re interested in it.

Having your book in the library system is a big deal, and getting a number is free. It’s kind of a no-brainer.

  1. An author website.

It seems a lot of new authors don’t think they need an author website.

Truth is, you do.

Think of it as your online personal address. Social media pages are not the same.

It’s where you’ll bring traffic to, and it’s where you’ll build your email subscriber list to help sell your books.

You can even sell your books through your author website.

To find out why the author website is so important, check this out:
The Author Website – Do You Really Need One?

There are other important must-haves for a successful book, but these are some of the basics.

And always remember to add metadata (descriptions, keywords, categories) where ever you can. Always think marketing.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with children’s ghostwriting or rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.
Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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Mar 01

Self-Publishing a Book – The ISBN, the Barcode, and the LCCN

Self-Publishing Tips

Last week, I went over ways to get your self-published book formatted. I also touched on the cover illustration and design.

Once you’ve chosen a book formatter and have had your front cover done, it’s time to think about the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), the barcode, and the Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN).


According to, the ISBN “identifies a book’s specific format, edition, and publisher. It’s the “global standard for book identification and is required by most retailers.” It also provides metadata for your book which helps readers find your book. This 13-digit number is essential for paper books, but can also be used for digital formats.

Once an ISBN is assigned to a book, it cannot be used for any other version of that book or any other book.

There are a number of reasons you will need to give your book a new ISBN, including:

  • Each version (format) of your book must have its own number.
  • If you change the content within the book significantly, making it a new version or edition, you need a new ISBN. This includes adding a forward or a new chapter or content.
  • If you change the cover of your book, you need a new ISBN.
  • If you have a single book and then write another, you will need a third ISBN if you put Book1 and Book2 together in another book.

The ISBN goes on the backcover of your book – the book cover designer will include it on the cover in the form of a barcode. The information within it provides the price.

To find out more about the ISBN, go to:

Something new authors should be aware of:

If you use a self-publishing service/company to get your book out there, most likely they will provide the ISBN for you.

Sounds convenient, right?

Well, whoever gets the ISBN will be listed as the publisher of the book.

Do you really want a vanity press, if that’s who you’re using, or a book formatter being listed as the publisher of your book?

Whether you’re publishing one book or ten books, get your own ISBNs.

Browker’s MyIdentifiers is where to go. As of the writing of this article, the cost is $125 for one ISBN and $295 for ten.

I bought a pack of ten in 2017 – they never expire!


Your PRINTED book MUST have a barcode in order to be listed in major book stores and libraries.

If you don’t intend to try to get your book/s into the major stores or libraries then you won’t need a barcode. But the fee is nominal so it’d be wise to get it anyway. You never know – you may have a change of heart down the road.

According to MyIdentifiers, “A barcode is a graphical representation of your printed book’s ISBN and price – and buying a barcode is a low-cost investment in your book’s success.”

Below is an example of the barcode from MyIdentifiers:

You should get your barcode from the service you get the ISBN. It may be free if you get it when you purchase the ISBN.

You can check out:

If you didn’t think of it when you bought your ISBN, there are services that will convert the ISBN into a barcode for free. Check out:


The Library of Congress (in Washington D.C.) allows you to record your book in their system. Libraries all over the U.S. use this system to determine how to categorize your book, if they are interested in it.

It’s free to get an LCCN and could take one-two weeks, but I got mine in two days.

According to the Library of Congress, the “catalog control number is a unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. Librarians use it to locate a specific Library of Congress catalog record in the national databases and to order catalog cards from the Library of Congress or from commercial suppliers.”

In the event your book isn’t published yet, but you want the LCCN for the copyright page of your book, you can get a Preassigned Control Number (PNC). This enables “the Library of Congress to assign a control number in advance of publication to those titles that may be added to the Library’s collections.”

Once your book is published, you will need to send them a copy of the paper book to make the number official.

All mainstream books have an LCCN, so take the time to get one for your book/s.

What you need to apply for an LCCN:

  1. the name of the author
  2. the name of the publisher
  3. an image of the book cover
  4. a description of the book.

I think that was about it. It’s a painless and quick process.

About #2 above, have the name you’ll be using as ‘publisher’ in hand. Think about it carefully. This will be the name listed as publisher for the ISBN and the LCCN. It’s what will appear as publisher in your book.

And, if you’ll have multiple books, you’ll want the same publishing name. It should be part of your branding.


This is just restating that you’ll need a good description of your book when you purchase your ISBN and when you get your LCCN. You’ll be asked to fill in information about your book. Make that information effective. It’s what will help get your book found. This could very well lead to sales.

Any information you’re asked to provide for your book, think about it carefully … think marketing.

Hope this helps you on your self-publishing journey!

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: (please put Children’s Ghostwriter in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Let’s get your story in publishable shape today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN.

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Mar 17

Your Self-Published Book and the ISBN

Selling to libraries and book sellersBeing a children’s ghostwriter, I get a lot of clients who self-publish. Many of them use companies that will do the work for them, actually format and publish and distribute the book, like Amazon does.

If you self-publish a physical book or ebook and intend to sell it online, in bookstores, or pretty much anywhere else, you will need an ISBN.

What Does ISBN Stand for?

It stands for International Standard Book Number and every book must have one to be sold.

According to,

The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition, allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors.

Each format or binding must have a separate ISBN (i.e. hardcover, paperbound, VHS video, laserdisc, e-book format, etc). A new ISBN is required for a revised edition. Once assigned, an ISBN can never be reused. An ISBN is printed on the lower portion of the back cover of a book above the bar code and on the copyright page.

The ISBN’s purpose is to create a unique identity for your book so you can sell it. This is essential for book dealers, libraries, and other sources to be able to find and identify specific books.

Where Do You Get an ISBN?

If you’re using a self-publishing service, like CreateSpace,,,, Smashwords, Lulu, or similar entities, you don’t need to get your own ISBN, the service will give you one for FREE.

This may seem like a great deal. Who doesn’t like free?


If you use a free ISBN from a self-publishing service, they’ll be listed as the Publisher of your book.

In addition to this, according to Self-Publishing School, there’s another problem, “Most of the time, you can only use those free ISBNs with the channels those companies distribute through.” (1)

Because of these reasons, I strongly advice my clients to get their own ISBN.

Where Can You Get Your Own ISBN?

If you’ve thought about it and decided you don’t want the self-publishing company to be listed as the publisher of your book, you can get an ISBN through Bowker at

One number costs $125, but you can get 10 for $295 (these fees are as of the last time I researched them).

Unless you intend to be a one-book-wonder with only one version of your book, you might want to go for the 10 pack.

Sometimes you can buy an ISBN from the publishing company you’re using. At the time this article was written, you could get one from CreateSpace for $99.

What Name Should You Choose for Your Publishing Company

You can choose whatever publishing name you want to use. I made mine Writers on The Move.

You might use your name or a family member’s name. It can literally be anything.

For a lot more on the ISBN, check out:


Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

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