Feedback for “The Artist”

So one of my old friends recently bought a book (Yaayyyy!!) and emailed me the other day with this:

“We have been really enjoying reading it at bedtime and any other time momma’s hands are dry!  I love the art and the note to your readers at the end especially,  it made us feel like you, as the author, actually cared and you weren’t just some distant random person out to make a buck! God bless you on your adventures.”

Thanks so much, Gwyn!!

Review for “The Artist and the Clay”

This almost made me cry. One of my friends shared “The Artist” with her daycare students, ages 5-9, and asked them what they thought. “Awesomest book ever!” “Total epicness” “She is one of the bestest writers ever!” “I liked her letter to us at the end.” Diana said, “It has already become a favorite for them and we tied it to the scripture too.” -Diana Herzog and the God’s Giants class of All God’s Children Childcare.

This made my day and my night and probably my week, too. 😀 That’s why we do it.

P.S. I got my first book signing!!!! In Nampa, ID, at Pearson’s Twice Sold Tales, on Saturday, Aug 15, from 10am-2pm!!!! 😀

Why I Wrote the Book

Before and during college, I struggled a lot with what I was supposed to do, career-wise. Though prayer and Bible reading, I came to this conclusion: God creates people different from each other, with unique gifts and talents. He did that for a reason, and it’s a good thing. Throughout the Bible, God talks about forming us like a Potter forms clay, and compares us to a body, with different parts with different purposes.

So I thought this idea was worth sharing. But how would I explain this concept to my little niece or nephew? Ergo, the story was born. I was (and still am) exploring my artistic talent, so I started drawing pictures to go with the story, just for the joy of creating beautiful spaces. Matt encouraged me, and I came up with something decent.

I’ve gotten some amazing encouragement from people who read the story, and now the book is printed and available on Amazon.com or from me personally. All proceeds will go towards my next book and a new project called the Genesis! game that my husband and I are working on.

The-Artist_looking-around_stained-glass

Tired of Meaningless Phone Games? Try This One

Genesis-Start-ScreenDANA POINT, CA – Matt Hass, a professional programmer, is raising money to finish off a mobile RPG based in Biblical post-flood earth. Genesis! is a Minecraft-style, open-world, first-person RPG that boasts features that rival any popular secular game, including the ability to build your own house any way you want, anywhere you want, and in a realistic setting.

Hass, the head programmer, says he’s “done his time,” working and developing mindless games, and has found his passion in combining his two loves: quality games and God. While developing professionally, he noticed that many games lacked creativity. Many were re-skinned versions of each other, simply created to make money. They lacked the passion and inspiration that goes into a good, unique game. Even in the Christian realm, most games lacked the funds or creativity to actually create a quality product. Hass aims to make a creative, revolutionary game that anyone, Christian or not, can become addicted to.

Set in post-Flood earth, Genesis! players will be able to witness events like the Tower of Babel, meet Biblical figures like Abraham, build on the ruins of Sodom, gather clay from the banks of the Nile, and learn all about what life was like in a time few of us understand now.

Oh, but watch out! A key aspect of this game is the “sin meter.” Players will have the ability to steal or cheat, but at the expense of their sin meter. If, after being warned, a player continues to break laws, their sin meter will go up, bringing on plagues, bad weather, bandits, and, if they don’t take care of it, death. Just like in the OT, players will sacrifice animals to make up for wrong-doing. This will help show why we needed Jesus as our Savior.

“As a kid, I loved playing videogames, and I wanted to make one that I would have loved to play, but that also has real value, that isn’t a waste of time,” says Hass. To support this effort, you can head over to their Kickstarter campaign and help by funding or sharing!

Genesis-Characters Genesis_Mockup3 Genesis-Map_Final_Final

Little Drops

Sometimes I feel so small. Like nothing we could ever do could make any difference. Like we’re just a tiny little drop trying to change the color of the ocean. And even if we make the biggest splash possible for a little drop, not much actually changes.

But my heart was lifted today. We met a bunch of other little drops the same color as us, all marching along valiantly.

We’re not alone. And even if we only change the color of a handful of drops, those drops will go out and keep up the fight, even after the original drops fly to heaven.

Join hands, together we can change the world for the better.

Genesis! Mobile RPG

WE JUST LAUNCHED OUR KICKSTARTER FOR THE GAME!!! The Genesis! game is a brand-new RPG where you can build cities, explore new lands, and learn all about the newly-formed planet called Earth! If you’re a parent who cares about what your child plays, as far as video games, this is a great investment for you!! Not only is it clean and incorporates moral standards, it also helps kids learn about life after Noah’s flood, around the time Abram was alive.

Genesis-Map_Final_Final

For more information, here’s the Kickstarter page. Here’s the basic information page on our website, and below is the video! Please consider helping fund the game so we can get it launched!

How to Format and Publish a Children’s Picture Book for Kindle

Pay someone to do it, or follow these steps:

Note: I’m assuming you already have the print version of the book in InDesign, or at least PDF or JPEG. I’m also assuming you have basic web navigation/filling out blanks skills.

1) Download the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator from this page. That’s right, it’s not the normal Kindle book creator. I spent hours trying to make the normal Kindle book creator work, and it’s just not meant for children’s books. I’m a blonde, I should have figured they wouldn’t make it THAT hard. But they don’t make this fact very obvious at all. So there IS a special formatting program for both children’s books and textbooks as opposed to normal trade books.

2) Once you’ve installed the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator, followed the directions to importing your book, and created the text call-outs, you’ll be able to save for publishing. You’ll end up with a .mobi file. Note: I customized my pages, text sizes, and change layouts to make it better for Kindle. So if you have an interior designer, don’t shut them off once the print version is done! You might need them to help you with the Kindle version. I changed page size to more closely match the Kindle reader size. Also, since quite a bit of my book was in full, two-page spreads, I had to make it look good displaying as a single page (i.e. I put the text on one side and the artwork on the other, or split up the artwork between the two pages). This took a lot of time but was worth it, in the end, to see the beauty of the book in the finished form.

3) Head over to the Kindle Direct Publishing section of Amazon. Sign in or follow the steps to creating an account. I’ve been messing with this for years, so I really don’t remember if I had to add on much for my Kindle publisher’s account or if it’s just my normal Amazon account. Head to the dashboard, where you will see all the buttons and links for creating a new title. Follow the instructions.

4) 35% or 70% royalty? I spent a lot of time looking and comparing the differences between the two. Why would I ask for a lower royalty if I could have 70%?!?! Basically it comes down to rights, pricing, and availability. If you don’t have the full rights to the book (if you’ve already given rights to a publisher, you aren’t the original author, etc), or you can only sell it in certain countries, you might not be able to get 70% royalties. If the book is primarily public domain work(s), you can’t get 70% royalties.

You are limited to a $2.99 – $9.99 price range with 70% royalties, whereas you have a range of $0.99 – $200 for 35% royalties (although size also factors into this one). For the full specs on pricing and royalties, click here.

The other factor is delivery cost. With 70% royalties, you also get charged the delivery cost of the book ($0.15/MB). When calculating, remember that your final Kindle book will be even fewer MB than the .mobi file you’ve come up with. I chose 70% royalties, because I can, set the list price at $3.50, and will be getting $1.89 per sale, because it’s a very art-heavy book.

Note: Among other things, before you publish you might have to fill out tax and bank info for your earnings.

Hope my hours of figuring this out helps someone! Let me know if you have any questions!

Why Most Self Published Books Suck

Self published books suck. The majority of them are a waste of a good tree. Lately I’ve been editing books for a vanity publisher, and only one has been any good.

But I’m self publishing. Why? Because I am persuaded that it’s a good way to go for someone who is able to learn new things and has the resources and time to take on the massive marketing and learning it takes to do everything yourself.

So why are so many self-published books so bad?

Criticism. The biggest problem with self-publishing is the lack of critics that stand in someone’s way of getting published. In the traditional publishing industry, you have to be polished and have your game together, along with marketing ideas, to even get noticed by an editor. And then it goes through revision after revision before it ever gets in print.

This makes it hard to get noticed, but it also weeds out a lot of junk. It makes writers take a second and third look at their manuscript before sending it off. It forces potential authors to refine their craft and their word choices and structure. Yes, there are also books that get in just because of a marketing scheme or a well-written query. But I know from experience that when you know you can get rejected, you put a LOT of thought into whatever you send.

Criticism is tough to take. Each rejection letter is a blow to a shaky self-confidence. But that’s the only way you ever get good at anything. I’m not very qualified to write this, I’m just learning to take criticism. With my first books, instead of rewriting, I just wrote new books. But that’s okay. My first books sucked. Write five more, concentrating and learning what makes bestsellers good, and then read the first bits of what you wrote. You’ll be disgusted. Appropriately so.

So here’s my advice to all writers: find somebody who will tell you that you suck. Find someone who won’t spare your feelings and knows something about good writing. Then, be a good enough sport that they are willing to pick apart your writing with you. Learn to take criticism.

So, what do you think? What’s your process when you buy a book? What helps you make your decision when you’re browsing?

What is it About? The Artist and “Pitching” to random strangers

The Artist is a children’s picture book about a young clay figure who decides he doesn’t like how the Artist is forming him. It reminds us that God creates each of us uniquely and we can trust Him.

Then the Artist,

Turned and looked at the clay.

“Why do you cry?

I’ve formed you this way.”

One of the first things you’ll learn if you’re trying to publish a book is this: be ready to pitch at all times, in season and out of season, in sickness or in health. But it’s hard! Especially since I’m a shy girl with some sense of pride. This is hard for most authors, though. We’re artists, not businessmen.

But when I decided to self-publish, I made a disastrous, self-contradicting commitment to “pitch” my book to everyone I knew and strangers they knew, as well. Most of my “selling” (pre-selling the book to raise money for the printing) has been on a personal basis. FaceBook status updates don’t generate much interest. And it has stretched what I thought I could do.

ONGL0185Now, as we travel down this road, I’m preparing to go far out of my comfort zone. I know this is a good message. I know it may help. So I will keep going.

Pitching advice: read a lot of pitches, the first line off the back of every book, or the subtitle or sometimes the tag line on the front of the book. What catches your attention? What makes you want to read the book?

Also: What made you want to write this book? What pushes you?

ONGL0255Also: PRACTICE. Pitch it to your husband, your uncle, your college roommates. Ask if they would read the book after hearing your few words. A pitch is one, sometimes two sentences that intrigue a potential book-buyer into looking at your full pitch summary on the back of the book. It’s also what you’re going to be repeating a lot when people ask “What is it about?” It’s the single bit of writing that will sell the most books. I know a lady who had a really good pitch and sold thousands, despite the book being a mumble of typos and rough writing. It’s important. Figure it out. Spend time on it.