Mar 23

Why Do You Want to Write a Children’s Book?

The why in writing your book.

I don’t know the exact statistic or if there is an accurate one, but from what I read, around 80% of people want to write a book.

Well, I’m not sure if that many want to actually write a book, but around that many want to be the author of a book.

So, what’s the allure?

Why do YOU want to write a book?

Based on my clients, the main reason they want to write a book is to bring a story to children.

Whether it’s about an historical event, a childhood incident, a disability, a locale, or other specific event, they all want to share it with a child.

There are others who want to help a child deal with difficulties they may encounter growing up. Others want to enlighten a child, spark a child’s imagination, or just give them a fun read.

There are also some authors who have less than altruistic motives. I’ve had a couple of clients who wanted a book that would become a Disney movie or one that would become a best seller.

I obviously had to explain to those clients that there are no guarantees on a book’s success.

I’ve also had clients who used a children’s book as part of their marketing strategy for a business endeavor.

While there’s no right or wrong reason to want to write a book, there are some facts that you should be aware of when thinking of writing a children’s book or any book for that matter.

1. If you’re looking to become rich by writing a children’s book, don’t hold your breath.

If you’re traditionally publishing and publish with a large company you may get a $2000 – $8000 advance. But that’s split with the illustrator if you have a picture book.

That advance needs to be paid off before you get any additional money in the form of royalties.

This means your book must generate enough sales for the publishing house to get their advance back.

Unfortunately, a lot of books go out of print after 5000 or 10,000 copies. Usually, the advance is never met.

If you publish with a small publisher, you won’t get an advance.

If you self-publish, most authors don’t make back their publishing expenses.

The reason for this is the majority of authors need help with editing, formatting, and uploading to an aggregator (IngramSpark) and/or retailer (Amazon).

Feeling overwhelmed, they end up investing in a service that will do it for them.

If you’ve written a picture book of even a chapter book, you’ll have the additional cost of illustrations.

Then there’s the book cover.

In addition to all this, for either publishing path, if you use a ghostwriter, that’s another fee.

2. You want to become famous. Again, don’t hold your breath.

A Publisher’s Weekly article notes that 1.68 million books were self-published in 2018. That includes ebooks and print books.

And, each year the numbers rise.

The chances of becoming famous by publishing a children’s book are slim.
The competition is stiff.

Now, this is not to say it can’t happen.

There’s always time and chance … some authors do make it.

My philosophy is nothing ventured, nothing gained. But, please don’t bet the farm on it.

So, which category do you fall under?

It’s important to know why you want to write a book. Knowing and writing your reasons why will help you realize that dream.

Get started writing your children’s story today.

Children's ghostwriter

If you’ve been thinking about writing a children’s book (with help), now might be a good time.

Just email me at kcioffiventrice@gmail or give me a call at 347—834—6700 to discuss your project.

Mar 09

Self-Publishing a Book – You’re at the Finish Line

Self-publishing tips.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been writing about my process of self-publishing a book. This is the third and final article in the series.

While I’ve ghostwritten a lot of children’s books, I haven’t follow the process after that.

I have done some illustration reviews, but usually I just hand the polished manuscript to my client with a list of illustrators and formatters and that’s it.

But I realize that figuring out what to do after that can be a bit overwhelming. I wanted to be able to provide more information to my clients to help them with the next step, so decided to revise a book I had published a few years ago.

When I first wrote the book, I paid someone on Fiverr to take my Word doc manuscript, format it, design a cover, and actually upload it to Kindle and CreateSpace. I had no involvement whatsoever aside from writing the manuscript.

What I learned from that experience is that you should really hire someone or a service who knows what they’re doing. While sometimes going the cheap route can work out, sometimes it doesn’t. So, buyer beware.

Okay, back on track.

In the first article of this series, I talked about getting the cover and back cover designed by 100 Covers. They did an amazing job.

Once the cover was ready to go, I sent my fully edited manuscript along with the cover image to the book formatter. I used Book Formatters.

The book I’m publishing is nonfiction, so all I needed to do was send the manuscript in a Word doc along with the cover. They’ll design the interior and create a PDF of the book (a print-ready file) which they’ll send to me for review.

Once I okay the PDF, the formatter will move on to building the ebook which are ePub and MOBI files. They’ll also create print version files if I want, which I do.

You will need to let the formatter know which selling platform or aggregator you’ll upload your book to, like KDP (Retailer) or Smashwords (Aggregator) or Ingram Spark (Aggregator) or other. I’m guessing there are different formats for different publishing platforms.

Most of Book Formatters clients use KDP and IngramSpark. That’s what I’ll be using.

So, right now I’m waiting for the PDF to review.

In case you’re not sure what an aggregator does, this service distributes your book. In other words, they make it available for sale in a number of places, like Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and so on.

Not all aggregators have the same distribution network. IngramSpark has an extensive network with over 39,000 retailers including libraries.

An overview of how it works:

After your manuscript is complete and fully edited:

  1. You hire an illustrator or book cover service to create the front cover, the back cover, and the spine for your book.
  2. The manuscript and cover go to the book formatter.
  3. The formatting is done and you get print-ready files to upload to retailers and aggregators (like KDP and IngramSpark)

With 100 Covers, you’re also given a 3D/social image and print cover. I’m not sure if other designers do this also.

What Is The Process For A Picture Book?

I asked Book Formatters what their process is and it’s pretty straight forward:

The steps to get your picture book formatted:

  1. You submit your finalized cover.
  2. You submit your fully edited manuscript in MS Word format.
  3. You submit your images in a separate file. The images must be a minimum of 300 DPI. Your illustrator should know this, but just in case, you can change the DPI of images at
  4. Provide clear instructions on where the images are to go. Also provide a description or illustration of the image and text layout.

Let’s backtrack just a bit.

You will need a quality and fully edited manuscript no matter what type of book you’re publishing.

If it’s a picture book or chapter book with illustrations, you’ll need to hire a ‘good’ illustrator.

Try to find a children’s illustrator who does the text layout in the illustrations and does book covers. Some of them will provide you with a PDF of the book that you can hand over to the book formatter.

It’s important to work with an illustrator who knows what she’s doing.

Things you might add to your manuscript before getting it formatted:

  1. The dedication page. You could ask the formatter where to put it or send it to them to add it in for you.

(The book formatter will add the title page and copyright page.)

  1. The author page. This is a brief ‘about you.’ It lets the reader know who you are. This goes at the end of your story. You can simply include it at the end of the manuscript.

One thing I didn’t mention is the backcover copy.

This copy is an enticing description of the book. It should motivate the reader to actually BUY your book. Just be sure not to give the ending away.

You’ll give the backcover copy to the illustrator who is doing your book cover.

All in all, it’s not a crazy troublesome process.

Once you have a fully edited manuscript and book cover, you give it to a book formatter to turn into the print-ready files you’ll need for an ebook and a print book.

That’s it.

Then you create an account at Amazon, IngramSpark, or any other retailer or aggregator service you want.

Next, take the print-ready files and upload them to the services you chose.

Making Your Book Searchable and Findable

The retailers and aggregators will need information about your book, like a powerful description, keywords, category, price, and so on.

Read the questions and information they ask for carefully and complete everything carefully. It’s this information that will help sell your books. It allows the distribution service to categorize your book and make it available for relevant search queries.

Once you upload your book, it can take 24-72 hours before your ebook and print book will be available for sale.

Like anything else, take it one step at a time. Knowing what to do makes is so much easier!

One Final Note

If you really, really don’t think you can handle this process, there are self-publishing services that will put it together and publish it for you. You do need to be careful though. There are a lot of unscrupulous services out there.

You might look into and

Keep in mind that these services will offer you all kinds of services, like editing, illustrations, covers, marketing, and so on.

The last I looked, Lulu was $1200 for this and BookBaby was $1800 just for book formatting, publishing, and distribution.

Please be careful if you are thinking about using their services for editing, illustrations, and marketing. I’ve seen very poor-quality work from some self-publishing services.

I don’t know about Lulu or BookBaby, but do be careful.

I now take care of this process for clients who are interested. If you’d like me to give you a quote, send me an email.

I know this is a lot of information and I’ve tried to make it as clear and understandable as possible. If you have any questions, or I’ve missed the mark, please let me know.

You might find the first two articles in this series helpful also:

Self-Publishing a Book – Formatting (Part 1)

Self-Publishing a Book – The ISBN, the Barcode, and the LCCN (Part 2)
Self-publishing a book may seem overwhelming, but if you get it done in steps, it won’t feel daunting. This article discusses the ISBN, the barcode, and the LCCN. All things you’ll need for your book.

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!

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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Nov 10

One Last Edit – Rethink Before Submitting

One last edit

Contributed by Linda Wilson

Can you look through your completed book without making any changes?

I tried it after thinking I had finished up the basic editing and even the polishing. There couldn’t possibly be anything more to “fix,” thought me. Wrong. I found more changes, important changes, many changes.

Throwing caution to the wind, I gave up all notions of completion and continued, alternating between rummaging through additional passes as the need occurred to me with my pinpoint-sharpened #2, and then laying my book down to rest for short periods of time. My conclusion? The persistent question: When will I ever be done?

What do I need to re-think?

While in the throes of this quest I decided, what the heck, what’s one more pass? I came up with: What do I need to re-think?

It turned out to be the most revealing edit of all. It resulted in a title change, removal of a subplot (that was BIG, but I had to do it), addition of a character (that was fun), rearranging some of the scenes and re-checking the arcs, making sure someone or something didn’t fall off the face of the page. Each character arc, including arcs in each character’s dialogue, and each event, had to be followed from beginning to end. If I hadn’t done that particular check, pearls of the necklace I had begun to string would have fallen off before the clasp could have been attached. Nightmares could have resulted. I could have wound up with another fire-engine red I, another school daze Incomplete, only this time from an editor and not my teacher (if I should be so lucky!)

Take One More Look

  • Go back to the theme card you prepared before or during the writing. Make sure the main theme shines through and ask yourself, Do the minor themes bolster the main theme?
  • Check the structure one more time. Is it solid?
  • Does each character have an arc? Each story part introduced have follow-through to the end? Follow each one all the way through to make sure.
  • Is your main character’s flaw/need evident in the beginning and satisfied/solved from what she’s learned by the end?
  • Have you done a scene check to make sure there isn’t any section that might work better elsewhere?
    Is there any character or scene that doesn’t move the story forward?
  • Is there anything to add to strengthen any part, or any weak part to delete which will strengthen the story?
  • Is description kept at a minimum (in a children’s story)? Is the story told through dialogue and action?
  • If it is a mystery, make a list of the clues, red herrings and reveal to make sure everything is covered.

Do one last fact check.

If you grow weary of so many revisions, give your story a rest and come back to it later. One of my writing instructors once told me, you don’t write a book, you re-write a book.

When at first I thought I was done, I had to disengage from disappointment when finding so many glaring errors. This must be the armor people talk about that writers must grow and wear, and perhaps why people admire authors so much. For the fortitude and single-mindedness it takes to do the seat-time, on and on, until we are finally satisfied with the finished product, whatever it takes.

Being sure of your work is a must if a writer wants to produce a sparkling, page-turning, humdinger of a book!

This article was originally published at:

Author Linda Wilson

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter, and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need editing, rewriting, or ghostwriting, let me take a look a 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, FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN.

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May 05

Book Synopsis, Book Description, Book Review – What’s the Difference?

Book Synopsis, Book Description, Book Review

The book synopsis, description, and review are three book marketing tools that your books will absolutely need.

But, when do you need these marketing elements and how do you use them?

Let’s look at each one in the order you would use them.

The Book Synopsis

You’ve written an amazing story – it’s traditional publishing ready … and worthy.

You do your research and find literary agents and/or publishing houses that accept your book’s genre. And, a few of the publishing houses accept unagented and unsolicited submissions. Yea!

Along with a cover letter and the first 10 pages of your manuscript, the agent or publisher will probably want a synopsis of your story. (The number of pages may vary from company to company, and you’ll send the full manuscript if you’ve written a picture book.)

So, what exactly is a synopsis?

According to an article at Writer’s Digest, “A synopsis conveys the narrative arc, an explanation of the problem or plot, the characters, and how the book or novel ends. It ensures character actions and motivations are realistic and make sense. It summarizes what happens and who changes from beginning to end of the story.” (1)

The synopsis will be part of your submissions journey. And yes, it gives away the ending.

Your synopsis should be one-two pages, depending on the length of your book. You don’t want to overload it with details, but you want to give enough information to whet the reader’s appetite.

Just summarize your story and be sure to include the ending.

An agent or publisher will want to know exactly what happens in the story and how it ends up.

Along with the number of pages requested from your manuscript, the synopsis will help determine whether the agent or publisher will want to see more.

The Book Description

Next up on your writing journey is the book’s description. This may be similar to the synopsis, but there’s a BIG difference: You don’t give away the ending or any other surprises in the story.

The description is a book marketing tool that helps sell your book. It explains what your story is about in a way that makes the reader want to read the book. It’s a hook.

If you’ve written a book and went to the trouble of submitting it to agents and/or publishers, or you’re self-publishing, you want to sell that book.

The short version of the book’s description (backcover copy) and the longer version for marketing and publicity purposes are pitches to the reader. These descriptions should be enticing enough to motivate the reader to buy your book.

The description could make or break the purchasing decision.

In fact, I can’t remember where I read it, but the #1 selling factor of a book is the cover. The #2 factor is the backcover copy.

The Book Review

As soon as you have a completed manuscript that’s about to be published or has just been published, whether traditionally published or self-published, you will need reviews of your book.

In an article at Jane, the author says that “book reviews build symbolic capital.” (2) This is what you need for book sales.

Okay, so what is symbolic capital?

Well, you may think your book is amazing, but the purchaser wants more evidence than your opinion. They want to know that others have read your book and loved it. “You need (positive) independent assessment to convince readers to spend money and time.” (2)

This is where book reviews come in.

Think of an author in one of the big five publishing houses. Think of an author on the NYTimes Best Seller list, multiple times. Think of ‘heavy hitters’ like James Patterson, Stephen King, Danielle Steel, and Nora Roberts.

This is symbolic capital.

While most authors won’t be in the category above, having lots of positive book reviews is another form of symbolic capital.

Book reviews are extremely important if you’re a self-published author. You won’t have any momentum behind you, so you need to create your own with book reviews.

You might consider giving the book away for free to get some word-of-mouth started. Ask if the readers will post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book sites.

Once you start getting positive reviews, you can use them in your marketing. Keep building on them.

Why are Book Reviews SO Powerful?

In an article at, it states, “In a recent study, data revealed that 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews.” (3)

It seems, salespeople and marketers are trusted only 3% compared to 2% for car salesmen and politicians. (3)

That’s powerful information.

Hope this helps you as you get your book out there.



Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at it. 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!

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Aug 19

Should You Really Write That Book?

I read an interesting article at The Outline. It starts off by demolishing two diehard myths:

1. Everyone has a book in them.
2. Any story can be turned into a book.

We have to keep in mind though that there are two very different publishing models or paths.

Let’s go over myth #1.

The author of the article, literary agent Kate McKean, explained that just because you may have an interesting story that your family and friends love, it doesn’t mean an agent or publishing house will want to take the time and money to turn it into a book. It doesn’t mean that anyone outside your personal realm will pay money to buy the book.

But, what if people you know tell you that your story is book worthy?

Still, they’re most likely not professionals in the book industry. A lot goes into creating a published book. And, “those well-meaning and supportive people rarely know how a story becomes printed words on a page.” (1)

A look at the self-publishing side.

According to a NY Times article, “81 percent of Americans feel they have a book in them — and that they should write it.” (2)

The author of that article notes, “I wonder if the reason so many people think they can write a book is that so many third-rate books are published nowadays.”

This makes creating a book seem easy.

Yes, self-publishing has given those people who want to write a book the opportunity to do so, but should those books be written. Will the finished product be a book that will add value and quality to the self-publishing arena and to the reader?

Unfortunately, in a lot of instances, this isn’t the case.

Let’s go over myth #2.

Can any story be turned into a book?

This depends on which publishing path you take and whether you believe quality matters?

Good writers can usually take any story / topic and weave their magic to turn it into an engaging and publishable book. But, these writers have taken the time to learn their craft – they’re professionals.

According to McKean, “writing a book that people will pay money for or take a trip to the library to read, requires an awareness few storytellers have.”

Along with this, while writing itself is a solitary thing, creating the book for others to read isn’t. When writing, you need to have your reader in mind.

Writing a book is kind of like hosting a dinner party. You do the cooking in the hopes that your guests will love the meal. If you take care to cook a good meal, chances are your guests will enjoy it and even asks for more.

If you don’t follow a recipe, use inferior ingredients, don’t cook it long enough, and so on, chances are your guests won’t enjoy it. In fact, they may be annoyed that you’d serve them something so awful. In this case, do you think they’d ever come back for another of your dinner parties?

With traditional publishing, agents and publishers are the gatekeepers. They ensure value and quality. They decide if your story will sell. While books are considered art, the traditional publishing system needs readers to buy those books in order for them to make a profit.

In the self-publishing realm, it’s another story. It’s a free-for-all. Any story can be turned into book. But, should it?

If you have a story you believe in and want to take the self-publishing route, go for it. But, PLEASE, take the time and care to create a good story, even if it means hiring a ghostwriter to write it for you. And, invest in a professional book design and cover.

If you’re self-publishing a children’s picture book, invest in quality illustrations also.



Children's ghostwriterLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn your story into a publishable book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Let’s get your story in publishable shape today!

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Dec 17

3 Reasons Why Editing Should Come Before Self-Publishing

Edit before you self-publish

Self-publishing is an amazing beast. It has brought the world of publishing into the hands of you, Joe, Beth, and everyone and anyone who wants to write a book. It has brought writing power and freedom to all.

But, with writing power and freedom comes responsibility.

This means that while it’s true that self-publishing has opened a tremendous amount of doors and anyone can now write and publish a book, it doesn’t mean you can slap anything together and self-publish? You need to produce quality (edited) content for three reasons.

There are at least three reasons you should edit your manuscript before you self-publish:

Reason number one: You have an obligation to your reader.

You want to give the reader her money’s worth. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, you want to create a book that will engage the reader. You don’t want the reader to stumble over grammatical and content errors while reading.

One of the drawbacks to the ease of self-publishing is those new to the arena don’t realize they should hone their craft before actually publishing a book. This means taking the time to learn about writing and self-editing, and realizing the importance of hiring a professional editor to edit the book before giving it to the world.

Reason number two: You have an obligation to other writers.

Part of the problem today is the ‘I want it now’ syndrome that self-publishing lends itself to. Authors don’t want to take the longer ‘proven’ road. But, learning the ropes really does matter.

Once your book is ‘out there,’ it becomes another element in the determining factor as to whether self-published books are of the same quality as traditionally published books. This is where your obligation to other writers comes into play. It’s not fair to diminish the value of self-published books.

Reason number three: Self-editing is a good book marketing move.

In book marketing 101, the first step is to create a quality product.

In a webinar, pro marketers Daniel Hall and Jason Fladlien discussed the importance of ‘the offer’ (your product) compared to the sales copy. By far, a quality product is much more important.

If your intent is to only publish one book, then quality may not matter from a marketing perspective. The saying goes, ‘if you fool me once, shame on me.’ If this is the scenario, then you don’t have to worry about readers/purchasers buying more from you. But, you’ll need to be careful here, because word-of-mouth is lightning fast in the internet world. This could easily stop your one-time purchasers also.

On the flip side, let’s assume you love writing and have decided to earn an income from it. Then, self-editing will play a huge part in your book marketing success. If you produce a sub-standard product (book), it will discourage a customer from buying your future books.

Remember, a great product will not only sell itself, it will usually write its own copy. Editing before publishing helps create a quality product.

Here are two links to help you with the editing process:

Writing a Book – 6 Tips to Hiring a Freelance Editor
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors

Be a children's writerBeing a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.

Check out my 200 page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

Feb 26

The Front Matter – Before the Story Text Begins

Your book's front matterI get lots of questions from my clients as to what comes after the story is written.

While a lot of the questions are about illustrations, what’s been coming up more and more is about the pages that come before the story text begins. The pages before the story are called the front matter.

Just this week, someone asked me about a Dedication Page.

So, here is a list (in order of appearance) of the pages that will or may come before the first page of your story. Some examples are included.

1. Half title page – this is a page at the very beginning of the book that has ONLY the title of the book. It’s usually only used if pages are needed to thicken the book.

2. Frontispiece – this is a page that is an informative or decorative illustration that faces the book’s title page. It appears on the opposite page of the title page. This page is optional.

3. Title page – this is the page that lists the title, subtitle, author, and publisher. I may include the publisher’s location, year of publication, a description of the book, and either the cover illustration or other illustration.

4. Copyright page – this is the page that lists the copyright notice and the “All rights reserved” warning. It should also include the publisher’s name and address; printing details; the edition of the book; and the ISBN(s).

It may also include ordering information, your website URL, disclaimers, and the CIP Data Block from the Library of Congress.

In regard to the CIP Data Block, explains:

The Library of Congress issues a CIP data block to you. It is not something you can create for yourself. However, if you’re a self-publisher, you are not even eligible to have a CIP data issued to you by the Library of Congress.

You can, however, pay to have a P-CIP (Publisher’s Catalog-in-Publication) data block generated for you, if you truly desire. Having P-CIP data can make your book look more professional. It costs anywhere from $60-$100, and can be done by Quality Books, Inc. or (1)

5. Dedication – this is a page that explains the author’s source of inspiration and/or who she is dedication the book to. It can be a single name or it can be a paragraph or two. This page is optional.

6. Epigraph – this is a page that includes a quotation, sentence, or poem. It can face the Table of Contents or the first page of the text.

I’m currently working on a 10 book series that will have an epigraph in each book.

Epigraphs can also be used at the beginning of chapters, on the same page the chapter begins or on a separate page opposite the beginning of each chapter.

According to

An epigraph can serve different purposes such as it can be used as a summary, introduction, an example, or an association with some famous literary works, so as to draw comparison or to generate a specific context to be presented in the piece. (2)

This page is optional.

7. Contents Page, also known as the Table of Contents – this page lists each section and/or chapters within the book. It helps the reader navigate the book in longer works, like middle grade and young adult stories.

You would not use a Contents Page in a picture book.

8. Foreword – this page has a short piece written by someone other than the author. Its purpose is to introduce the author and the book. It most often includes the writer’s name and signature.

Usually, the writer of the foreword is noteworthy.

This page is optional.

9. Preface – this page is written by the author and usually tells about how and why the book came to be and the process. It may also include what the book is about and why you think it’s important. This page is optional.

10. Acknowledgments – this page lists the people or entities the author is grateful to for help in the creation of the book. This page is optional.

11. Introduction – this page discusses the purpose and goals of the book. This page is optional.

12. Prologue – this page sets the scene for the fiction story. It can include backstory and should be told in the protagonist’s voice. This page is optional.

13. Second half title – this page helps set off or end an extensive front matter. As the name implies, it’s identical to the first half title page and is added before the beginning of the story text. It is used when needed.

Other pages in the front matter that you may find in some books are: List of Figures and List of Tables. But, for the majority of authors self-publishing children’s books they aren’t needed.

I just want to note here that most of the front matter isn’t necessary until after the story is written. And, if you have a picture book, it won’t be needed until after the illustrations are done.

You’ll need it when you’re ready to upload your book to sites like CreateSpace or when you’re ready to hand it over to them to upload it for publication for you.

That’s about it for the front matter of your book. The story itself is considered the ‘body of the book.’ When I get the time, I’ll write about the ‘back matter’ of your book.

Hope this is helpful in your self-publishing journey.



Additional Sources:


10 Tips to Hiring a Children’s Ghostwriter
5 Top Fiction Writing No-Nos
Writing a Book – To Traditionally Publish or To Self-Publish

Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

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

Nov 20

Book Marketing – The Foundation

Book marketing starts with a quality productEvery author has thought it, said it, and heard it: promotion is the roll-up-your-sleeves and dig-in part of writing. It’s the much more difficult and time consuming aspect of writing that every author needs to become involved with . . . if she wants to sell her books.

To actually sell a book, you need to have a quality product. This is the bare-bottom, first rung of book promotion . . . the foundation.

The Foundation – Create a Quality Product

The very first step in book promotion is to create a quality product. Hopefully, you noticed I said create a quality product, not just a good story. What this means is that all aspects of your book need to be top notch.

A. The Story

To start at the very beginning, the first factor to be dealt with is to be sure your story has all the essential elements. According to Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, there are five major elements of a story: characters, setting, plot, point of view, and theme.

All the elements of a story should complement each other, should move each other forward, draw the reader in, and end with a satisfying conclusion. They should work together to create a story that will be remembered.

Suppose your story is action packed and plot driven, but it lacks believable and sympathetic characters – it will fall short. The same holds true if you have a believable and sympathetic character, but the story lacks movement. Again, it will be lacking.

As with all things in life balance is necessary, the same holds true when writing a story.

Here are four articles that will help you in this area:

Being a Writer – Learn the Craft of Writing
10 Rules for Writing Children’s Stories    
Writing for Children – Character Believability and Conflict
How to Write a Story

B. Join a Critique Group

Yes, this is part of creating a quality story.

Even experienced authors depend on the unique perspective and extra eyes that each critique member provides. They will help find: grammatical errors, holes in your story, unclear sentences and paragraphs, overuse of particular words, and weak verbs, among other elements.

They will also provide guidance and suggestions.

C. Editing

Yes, again, this is a necessary step to take to ensure your manuscript is in the best shape possible before it becomes a book.

Look for an experienced and qualified editor to help tweak your manuscript. But, before you send it off to be edited, self-edit it first.

There are a number of articles out there in cyberspace on self-editing. Take the time and read a few, then go over your manuscript.

D. Cover and Design

This step is more relevant to those who decide to self-publish or use a Print-on-Demand (POD).

The cover (including the back cover) is the first impression a reader will usually have of your book, next is the interior design. These aspects are just as important as the story itself.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the expression that you only get one shot at making a good first impression. Well, you can relate that to your book cover.

Don’t skimp on time, effort, or money when coming up with your book’s cover and design.

Tip: If you are writing a children’s book, do not do your own illustrations unless you’re a professional illustrator.


Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your story into a publishable and saleable book.

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

Sep 11

Writing with Focus

Why is focus so important?

You have a wonderful idea for a story. Maybe it’s a mystery novel, a children’s middle grade story, or a picture book. Maybe it’s a young adult. You know what you want to say, or convey, and you start typing away. This is the beginning of every story.

But, we should backtrack a moment and go back to the idea. The idea: your protagonist has a problem or conflict. Delving a little deeper, you can see how each chapter or section will be worked out.

You are sure you can bring your idea to full fruition—without the use of an outline. Okay, that’s fine. Many writers use the by-the-seat-of-your-pants (pantser) writing method. So, off your mind and fingers fly . . . creating something from nothing . . . well, not exactly from nothing, from an idea.

This is the beginning.

You type a draft of your story. How long this process will take depends on how long your manuscript will be—whether a novel, short story, or children’s story. Take note though . . . even if your story is as short as a children’s picture book, you still need focus in your writing.

Writing Focus

Focus is the path from point A to point B. It’s the path from beginning to end that keeps the story together and wraps it neatly up.

An example might be an ice skater whose goal is to become good enough to get into the Olympics. His focus will be to train vigorously to accomplish his goal.

Another example might be that of a school bus on its route to pick up children and bring them to school. The shop is where the bus begins, point A; it will end up at the school, point B. But, between point A and point B, the bus must deviate from the direct path to pick up each child.

The same holds true for your story. There is a path the story needs to follow to accomplish its goal. If you deviate too much from this path your story becomes diluted or weak. This is not to say you cannot have subplots, it means everything needs to be tied together moving forward on the same path toward the same end.

Using an outline can often help with maintaining focus, even with a short story. It’s kind of a writing GPS that guides you from point A to point B. It allows you to stray here and there with the comfort of knowing that you need to be at certain points throughout the manuscript. It’s a reminder to keep you focused.


Check out my 200+ page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent and marketing your books.

Write a children's book


Writing to Get Published – 5 Power Tips
The Author Website – Keep It Simple and to the Point
Writing a Book – To Traditionally Publish or To Self-Publish