Book marketing for introverts is painful. These are the writers who only want to hole up in their cave and write. Why should they come out and face the world? They only want to write!

And yet, if your story stays in your cave, you’ll never sell that book, which means you don’t have a career.

Fortunately, there are many things you CAN do as an introvert that don’t require you to interact widely with the world. There’s a continuum of activities from very engaged with the world to not engaged at all.

Introverts: Master the basics.

If you are an introvert and you don’t want to interact with your readers then you must master the basics. That means you must have an author website that has basic information on you and your books. It’s best if you have some sort of reader magnet to attract subscribers to your mailing list. That would be for example giving away a short story, a novella, or other writing that would attract readers. You need a mailing list with an automated sequence. This takes away the stress of writing a chatty newsletter because you write one sequence of emails and then send it out over and over and over every time you get a new subscriber. You may want to refresh those occasionally and you may want to add in a monthly newsletter or at least a an email when you have new books coming out.

You must also master metadata especially on Amazon. On Amazon you’re allowed to categories for any e-book in one category for print. You may have seven keywords. Your blurb should pull readers in and want them to and make them want to read your book. Your cover must be pristine and spot on for your genre. And your Amazon look-alikes must be perfect so that readers can sample the book before they purchase. If you don’t know how to do any of those there are tons of resources online. Here are some resources that I’ve found helpful.

One optional activity is newsletter swaps with other authors. Even introverts need a few best friends in the business and you can reach out to just a few of your favorite authors to suggest the newsletter swaps. Or join Instafreebie or Book Funnel and use their newsletter swap services to find the right marketing swaps for your for your book.

Introverts: Master Advertising.

Advertising is cold and impersonal – perfect for the introvert. Besides that, if you are an introverted geek and you love spreadsheets this will be your sweet spot. I know that folks still fuss about advertising their books, but that’s foolish. You’re a small business and the most reliable way to bring in customers is advertising.

There are two types of advertising: ongoing advertising and price promotion advertising. I do ongoing advertising with AMS (Amazon Marketing Service). I was stumbling around until I found Brain Meek’s Facebook group where he gives away an amazing spreadsheet for tracking the ads. Read his book, but for the most information and benefit, join his group. (I know, you’re an introvert. Just grab his spreadsheet and hang out. It’s cool.)

Others swear by Facebook advertising or BookBub advertising, and resources abound. Look for free options before plunging into an expensive course.

One caution: if you go the advertising route set a budget for experiments so that you can optimize your ads to get the best return on investment. It often takes multiple ads and an investment of a couple hundred dollars to find the right way to advertise your particular book.

For introverted children’s authors, I also recommend that you place your books with educational distributors. Sign up here to receive contact information on the four major distributors. Each education distributor has advertising opportunities that you can take advantage of. Again you’ll have to test to see which platforms work best for your books.

A final thing that you can do is to submit your books for awards. Awards are not a marketing plan because they are too uncertain. Depending on who the judges are that year your book may or may not have a good chance of winning an award. However I added here because you should be submitting for appropriate words and if and when you get lucky, it adds marketing muscle. Here’s a list of likely awards for children’s books.

Introverts: Last Ditch Option – Hire a Book Marketer or a Virtual Assistant.

Finally, if the marketing thing is totally overwhelming to you, don’t do it. Hire an extravert to do it for you. This can be a local person that you train, an experienced book marketer, or a virtual assistant. They’ll need to have or to develop expertise in a wide range of activities, so choose wisely.

Introverted writers, breathe easy. Book marketing doesn’t mean you have to do public appearances non-stop. You have many options that are actually perfect for your strengths. Find the things that work for you and get help for the things that stress you out. Either way, market your book. Because it won’t market itself!

The post Introverts: You Can Do Book Marketing! appeared first on Fiction Notes.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Bologna Book Fair: A Illustrator’s View Guest post by Leslie Helakoski

Illustrator Leslie Helakoski doing an art demo and book showcase in the SCBWI booth at the Bologna Book Fair.

If you’re a writer or illustrator of children’s books, you may have heard about the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF on Facebook) that takes place each spring in Bologna, Italy. It is the largest children’s book fair in the world. Over 1,000 exhibitors and visitors from over 90 countries. For three days each spring, the halls of the convention center are filled with agents, editors, and publishers with their heads bent over small tables talking non-stop.

Interior of Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2018

Foreign Rights Deals for Children’s Books

Just what goes on at this international fair? What are all those editors and agents talking about? The Bologna fair is all about buying and selling foreign rights. Bologna connects publishers and agents with editors and their foreign counterparts. It’s a great way for them to see what’s hot in different countries, promote books they represent, and try to sell the rights to foreign publishers. Editors come to meet with other editors and to gauge the market—what topics are popular, what are editors seeing a lot of and what is lacking.

The Illustrator’s Exhibition

The fair is a haven for illustrators around the world, with the highlight (for me anyway) being the Illustrators Exhibition. Over 15,000 works of art are chosen by a prestigious international jury for display and circulation in the 2018 illustration annual.The show this year included 3,053 illustrators from 72 countries. Traditionally, very few from the U.S. make the cut but this year there were three Americans included.

The Illustrator’s Survival Corner and Illustrator’s Cafe host world-known illustrators as well as authors and other pros from the industry who share expertise through classes, workshops and portfolio reviews.

In addition, personal exhibitions of Ludwig Bolded and Manuel Marsol were displayed along with the special Exhibition of Chinese Illustration Art as China was the 2018 Guest of Honor. Meters and meters of blank wall space fills itself day after day with drawings, cards, proposals and contacts which sometimes lead to meetings and professional opportunities. Many publisher booths along with the SCBWI booth provided both scheduled and impromptu portfolio reviews. Excited and talented artists line up to get the chance for recognition and advice.

SCBWI Booth at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

Sarah Baker is the Director of Illustration and Artist Programs at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. This is the art demo and display area of the SCBWI booth.

The SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) booth provides the opportunity for its members to have their books as part of their showcase display as well as a warm friendly place to say hello. For a small fee, members also have the opportunity to have their book in the digital catalog that is given out to hundreds of publishers and is also on display in the SCBWI booth. Members attending can also apply for a private showcase of their work for an hour. Illustrators are encouraged to include an art demo during their showcase which draws attention to the booth. SCBWI also hosts the much appreciated Dueling Illustrators activity. Two at a time, illustrators stand before large easel and listen to a new PB manuscript. The artists are given two minutes to sketch each scene. It’s a glimpse into the mind of how an illustrator tackles the first ideas words bring forth and to compare how different or similar their responses are.

Dueling Illustrators: A look into the mind of an illustrator

2 illustrators at the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair go head to head in illustrating a new manuscript.

Children’s Literature Awards at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

A number of special awards are given with the most prestigious being awarded at the fair itself. This year, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner —which celebrates the winner’s entire work and humanist spirit, is American Jacqueline Woodson. And the Hans Christian Andersen Award, created to encourage the best of children’s publishing and promote its circulation throughout the world, winners were Eiko Kadono (author) from Japan and Igor Oleynikov from Russia (illustrator).

There’s more, of course. Digital art demos, life-sized merchandising creatures roaming the halls, translated panels and discussions going on at all times.

The price of admission is around $43 for one day, less for multiple days. It’s a bargain for the experience of the fair. And well worth it if you happen to be planning a trip to Italy.

More Photos from Bologna

Jeanne B. de Sante Marie browsing at the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Notice Leslie Helakoski’s HONK book!

Author and illustrator Leslie Helakoski is the author of about ten children’s picture books. Along with Darcy Pattison, she teaches the popular PB&J: Picture Books and All that Jazz workshop at Highlights Foundation. Her popular character, Woolbur, returns in a new picture book in June, 2018.

The post Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2018 appeared first on Fiction Notes.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Are you a Kobo reader?

If not, you may be soon because Kobo ebook readers are coming to Wal-Mart by the end of the year. Read about the deal on Wal-Mart’s blog. This might be a perfect time to find out what your students will be discussing this fall and putting on their Christmas wish lists.

Kobo has a free ebook reader app, available on all platforms.

Saucy and Bubba. A Contemporary Hansel and Gretel Story.

Want to get a headstart?

All of Mims House books are available on Kobo.

In fact, Saucy & Bubba is on sale until April 23.

Use this code for a 40% discount: 40APRIL

In this modern-day Hansel and Gretel story, Saucy and Bubba struggle to get along with Krissy, their alcoholic stepmother. One freezing cold night, Krissy locks Saucy out of the house and Saucy must sleep in the barn. In a desperate move, Saucy and Bubba run away to their aunt’s house-except Aunt Vivian isn’t home. Trying to take care of Bubba for several days forces Saucy to take charge of her own life and accept a terrible sacrifice in order to find safety for herself.

This middle grade novel is a heartbreakingly simple story that weaves through the tangled threads of a family and builds to an ending full of hope. Author Darcy Pattison recently wrote about the need for books about troubled families on the Children’s Book Council Diversity blog.

Stories like this one carry a certain darkness, even if the events carry the weight of truth. It’s in the tradition of Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt, and The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. Both of these award-winning books tell of painful truths, but they manage to do so with respect for the child reader. I especially like Paterson’s statement that she always ends her stories with a note of hope. Fortunately, Saucy’s story also ends with hope that the family will work things out and come back together

Join Saucy and Bubba in their poignant search for family.


Sometimes you have to help yourself before you can help someone else, but if you mark your trail, you can always find your way home. That’s what the spunky main character of Darcy Pattison’s Saucy and Bubba learns in this modern day Hansel and Gretel tale. Saucy is a real character dealing with real stuff—hard stuff that doesn’t have easy answers, not in real life and not in fairy tales, either. This is a really compelling and ultimately hopeful story. Highly recommended.

Try out KOBO eBooks Today: Use this code for a 40% discount: 40APRIL
CLICK HERE! Put Your Books on Kobo

Kobo is an anagram of BOOK; in other words, it’s the same letters, just scrambled to a new order.

Kobo Writing Life is the portal for indie publishers to upload ebooks. You’ll need an epub version and a cover file. Supported file type(s): .epub, .doc, .docx, .mobi, .odt

I prefer to create an epub version, instead of using the Kindle/mobi file. Kobo offers competitive rates: Kobo vendors receive a 70% or 45% royalty rate on each eBook sold through the Kobo Store, depending on the price of their eBook. Distribution is worldwide. You’ll also have the option to distribute to Overdrive, the service used by many public libraries. For more information, go here.

The post Kobo eBook Readers Coming to WalMart appeared first on Fiction Notes.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Here’s the thing about searching for illustrators for your indie children’s picture books: it’s all about creating the best book possible. Within the bounds of your story, your creative sensibility, and your budget, how do you create the best book possible?

(NOTE: If you plan to submit your work to a traditional publisher, this article isn’t for you. Read instead about the biggest mistake you must avoid.. If you read on, you understand that we’re talking about independently publishing your own book.)

The problem, of course, is that you can’t draw, paint, illustrate, design, or even color a picture. You only do the words. How do you work with an illustrator? First, educate yourself about art. This article from Graphic Mama explains the different mediums, or the type of art materials such as watercolor or woodcuts. Take art appreciation classes and study layout and design.

The key, however, is that you know Story, with a capital S. You’re a writer who has created a special story, and you’ve provided great prompts in the text for an illustrator. As you work through the process, concentrate on the story, not trivial details. Does the finished book create the right reader experience for your story? That’s your sole criteria for judging the art.


So, let’s jump into details on how to find an illustrator. I find it best to cast a wide net, certainly past your own acquaintances. Usually your neighbor who’s a hobby artist will not be able to create the book of your dreams.

Behance.net is a social media platform from Adobe where illustrators worldwide post portfolios. I regularly spend time sifting through the artwork. Sometimes, I’ll look for children’s book artists because they’ll be experienced and you’ll have fewer blunders in the process. If you’re not comfortable with art direction, you may want to stick to someone who’s done a few books already.

Sometimes, though, I’ll just put in a keyword related to my book, such as “spiders” or “ghosts.” This widens my choices of artists. In other words, I don’t care if they’ve published a children’s book before. I’m confident that I can give enough art direction that a great artist can work within. Most of my illustrators publish their debut book with me.

Behance allows you to contact the illustrator through their platform, but often, there are links to the artist’s website. I usually click through because it’s good to look through their entire range of art.

Professionals already working in children’s books can be found through the Society of Children’s BookWriters and Illustrators (SCBWI). Sometimes, you can find collectives of artists work such as Children’s Book Artists.

Below these professionals are a host of sites that connect creative people with someone needing their services; always read Terms of Service to be sure you understand their policies:


So, you’ve found a great illustrator and you should contact them immediately, right? Wrong.

Let’s back up to the project in question. Let’s say your book is August Follies, and is the story of a family picnic.

What kind of illustrations do you want for this book to enhance the reader’s experience?
What style?
How many illustrations?
What medium?
What have you allotted in your budget for an illustrator?

Illustrators are freelance professionals and before you contact them, you need to know the specifications for the project so they can decide if the price is right for the amount of work you’re asking.

Here’s what you need to know so you can write those specs.


How will you print the book? Print on demand or offset? Does the printer provide templates for the interior and/or cover?
What trim size will work best for this project? In other words, how big, or how many inches (or cm) width and height will the book be?
How many pages? Standard picture books are 32 pages; however, with print-on-demand technology, you can go up or down if you have a good reason.


Next, you’ll need to know what type of contract you’ll offer.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a lawyer and you should consult one to develop a contract for your company. This is only general information. I use and recommend Aimee Bissonette at Little Buffalo Law.

Work for hire means the artists creates commission work specifically for this project and you will own all copyright to the art.

Licensing artwork usually mean the artist retains copyright, and you only license the right to use the art in this project. In this case, the art may be re-licensed and appear in other publications later. As part of the contract agreement, you can negotiation if the artist must wait for a time period or restrict it from certain uses, such as other children’s books.

A royalty agreement means you’ll be sharing the profits with the illustrator. Traditional publishers offer an advance on royalties, which means they pay the artist a certain amount upfront, and will pay no more until that amount is “earned out.” Then, they specify a percentage of sale price that they’ll pay. For example, an artist might receive $5000 advance, with 5% royalty for a picture book that costs $20 (to make the math easy). In other words, for each book that sells, the illustrator receives $1. The book must sell 5000 copies to “earn out” the advance. After that, the book would accumulate royalty payments that are paid out twice a year. Some publishers offer royalty based on net proceeds instead of sale price, so the book would need to sell even more copies before the advance is earned out.

A final contract agreement is a partnership, which means you and the illustrator will share any profits. Usually this is 50% – 50%, but you can negotiate anything that makes sense to both parties.

As an indie publisher, how to do you plan to pay the illustrator? If you consider the accounting, work for hire is the easiest, and the complexity increases with each of the other options.

The other question you must answer is how much to offer the illustrator. First, set up a budget for the book. This isn’t the article to go into that, but you’ll need to have an idea of other costs and how much you can afford. Keep in mind that the illustrator’s time and work are valuable. I wish I could give you a figure, but it varies from $1000 to $20,000, or more. What can you afford and still make a profit? Set your budget and stick to it. There are likely a variety of illustrators available in your price range.

Online Video Course: How to Write a Children’s Picture Book

I offer an online video course with 32 videos, plus a workbook, on How to Write a Children’s Picture Book. For more information, CLICK HERE.


How fast do you want the art done? It’s helpful to set up a timeline for certain events in the publishing process. You’ll want to include any outside deadlines or events, key dates for delivery of sketches and final art, time needed for copy edits, time needed for the book designer to complete work, time to send to review journals, and some leeway in case anything goes wrong. Each book needs a slightly different timeline, especially if you’re working with other professionals such as a book designer or copy editor.

The illustrator doesn’t need to know all of that, of course, but you do because it’s good practice to give them deadlines for delivery of art in a couple phases. I usually pay 25% on signing the contract, 25% on approval of sketches and 50% on delivery of final art. Sketches and final art both have deadlines.

After all the decisions, here’s a typical spec sheet:


32 page illustrated color picture book, 8.5” x 8.5” Indesign or Photoshop template provided that specify the final size of art.
To include:
Double-page color cover, Indesign or Photoshop template provided.
15 double-page spreads
Single page illustration for page 32.
All images must be delivered as tiff or jpeg files at 300 dpi.

Work for hire contract, world-wide rights, with payment of $XXXX, to be paid following this schedule.
25% payment upon signing contract
25% payment upon approval of sketches
50% payment upon delivery of final art.

Of course, modify to fit your needs.


Be professional. You’re a book publisher with a children’s book project. You know what you need and how much you can afford. Behance allows you to contact artists through their platform, but I usually go to email when possible. Other platforms such as Guru.com and Freelancer.com provide means of contacting and even managing the process of payment.

About costs: On your first couple projects, your budget may be very tight. Fine. Don’t apologize. You’re offering work, and the artist makes a professional decision based on their own needs and desires. If your published books have awards, mention them, but don’t promise any kind of award for the current project.

Your first contact with an illustrator should be a general inquiry asking if they have interest in working on a children’s book. If they answer yes, you can provide specs and the manuscript. If they are still interested, you’ll move into contract negotiations.

Observation: Often, foreign artists have lower cost of living and can afford to accept a lower payment. I’ve successfully worked with artists in Great Britain, Poland, and Columbia. Payments for overseas artists is usually through PayPal or Western Union.


The contract that you sign with the illustrator is a legal document. Be sure to have a lawyer vet all contracts. Basically, though, everything is negotiable. Go into the process knowing what you want and where you can and cannot budge. Often, the only thing an illustrator asks for is a bigger payment, so be ready with a counter offer and know your absolute limit, past which you’ll have to look for a different illustrator.

For signing the contract, I use SIGNNOW, an online service that manages the document signing process smoothly. A digital signing service also makes it easy to work with someone overseas.


Hurrah! You’ve signed up an illustrator for AUGUST FOLLIES. Now what?
First, deliver any reference material. My books are often nonfiction, which require the illustrator to use reference photos. For example, THE NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER is based on a true event for which there is great documentation.

2017 Fall Junior Library Guild selection

Because I work with internationals, I usually use DropBox or a similar service to deliver large files. It works worldwide and is a simple process. Also, discuss with the illustrator how they prefer to communicate: email, phone calls, or video calls.

Next, answer questions. There are always questions about the story, the reference material, your preferences, and so on. Be available and prompt in communicating with the artist, and in return, they’ll be prompt and available. I’ve found that good communication is one of the most important things to making a project work well.


I find the sketches phase to be exciting. The illustrator divides the text into pages, or follows your instructions on text placement. They do loose, b/w sketches that show layout and composition. Each artist works differently and has different sketching styles. I prefer that that the art is placed into the interior book template on Indesign (professional software for print layout), so I can visualize the final book. Another good option is to use a thumbnail layout for picture books (Google to find a wide variety!)

When you get the sketches, this is your chance to change anything and everything. The artist hasn’t invested lots of time yet, so it’s easy to suggest changes. Here are some things to look for.

  • Layout – Is the page layout and composition pleasing? Does it support the story? (See Molly Bang’s book in the resources below for more on composition.)
  • Text placement – In the West, we read picture book text right to left and top to bottom. On a double-page spread, say pages 2-3, the text flow is top left, bottom left, top right, bottom right. You can skip any of those or indeed, just use one placement. Just be sure the story flows across the page correctly.
  • Gutter – When books are printed and bound, the binding takes some room. The area near the center binding is called the gutter. Nothing important should be placed near the gutter: art elements, text, or important design elements. Artists can get lost in the composition and forget that the double-page spread must accommodate that gutter. Usually book interior templates account for this and push important elements away, but I always check gutters in the sketch phase.
  • Storytelling – There’s a big difference in a great artist and a great illustrator. The illustrator works to add emotions and to fill out the story. Their art conveys character, action, and setting. This is the time to make sure that the story is told in both art and text.
  • Page Turns – Often when I write a picture book manuscript, I’ll work to add a page turn. In other words, the text is divided up in such a way that the reader is compelled to turn the page. Sometimes, you can divide a sentence in half and finish it on the next double-page spread. The first half makes the reader want to find out what happens next, and the page turn reveals the answer. These are often set up with leading words: Until, Then, But. During the sketch phase, I like to reevaluate all page turns and create the most interesting possible.
  • Pacing – When you divide a picture book text, you may end up with lots of text on one double-page spread and only a single sentence or a single work on another spread. This pacing of the story makes the reader speed up, slow down, pay attention, gasp or shiver, or any number of emotional responses. Now’s the time to enhance story suspense by pacing the illustrations.In THE NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER STORY, I realized that we could create a combination of a great page turn and a wordless spread. Sketches stage is crucial for creating synergy between the art and the words to create a great picture book.

    Interior Page – The Nantucket Sea Monster | DarcyPattison.com

    This wordless spread allows readers to take in the sea monster before the page turn reveals a surprise. This spread was crucial to the pacing of the story.

  • Cover – The cover is your book’s most important sales tool. Now is the time to try out different fonts, text placement, etc. That way, the art will fit with the cover layout. Don’t wait for these crucial decisions until the art comes in. That’s too late.

Usually artists send me a couple updates during the process of creating the final color art. I like it best when they put the art into the InDesign template and create a low-resolution pdf to send. (Again, use Dropbox or similar service for any large files.) It’s good to touch base now and then because this can take a long time, depending on the artist’s style and other projects. Usually, I like to just see that there’s some progress. Of course, I’m always available to answer questions. Be a cheerleader for the artist and celebrate every milestone.


You want to change the specs. Let’s say that you’ve been getting bids from printers and decide to change the finished trim size from 8.5” x 8.5” to 8.5” x 11”. That’s the sort of thing that might legitimately happen. Unfortunately, you signed a contract based on the first specs. It’s not fair to change the specs in any way without extra payment. Any changes should be in writing and a substantial change order would include extra fees. Be very sure of your specs before you sign that contract.

Deadline not met. Late art is another common problem. When I set up a timeline for a book’s production, it’s not random. It’s based on deadlines for submission to distribution partners, review journals, and the marketplace. You’ll have to decide how to deal with this on a case by case basis. Why is the art late? Illnesses, natural disasters, and so on are excusable, if irritating. But if the artist is simply not working, and you’ve seen no art at tall, you may need to consider terminating the contract. It’s not fun, but the process should be in your contract. Work with artists when possible, but remember that you’re a business person and make decisions accordingly.

Personal problems. One of my best illustrators had twin boys. Besides the difficult last days of pregnancy, it meant about two years when her focus was on her family. It happens. Emotional problems, divorce, break up of a relationship—life often interferes with the artistic process. Again, deal with these on a case by case basis. For the mother of twins, I waited two years for art because it was book four of a series, and I loved her work.

Artwork won’t create the best book possible. What if you’ve gone through the whole process and you look at the final art and cringe? Should you publish it anyway?

This is a personal, professional and business decision that you’ll have to figure out for yourself.
If you’ve paid for the final art, you’ve kept your end of the contract. But you always have the option to simply not publish and to go back and begin again.

It goes back to what we started with: Does the finished book create the right reader experience for your story?

If it does, publish.
If it doesn’t, stop. Think. Decide what to do next.

Indie novelists have an easy time choosing art. They only care about the cover, the sales tool. Children’s picture books, however, must consider how storytelling meshes together text and words into a gestalt experience. If you publish a children’s picture book, you’ve got to gain the crucial skills of finding and working with great illustrators. What challenges, joys and problems have you found in the process?


The more you understand about the process of illustrating a children’s picture book, the better you’ll be able to direct the artist. Here are some starting points.


Bang, Molly. Picture This. Originally pubished in 1991, this book is now available as a pdf. This is an excellent book that..

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison - 1M ago

Have you sold any writing at all, any place, any time? Yes? That means you need to know about accounting for writers. You know – the tax people want to know how much money you made, and what you spent to make that money, and if you have anything left over as profit at the end of the day. That accounting.

Unfortunately, I’ve never had a course in accounting. When I opened Mims House five years ago, I knew nothing. It’s been a painful five years, partly because I was doing everything on a tight budget which didn’t stretch to hiring an accountant. My husband and I have always done our own taxes, so I thought I could do it. Besides, if I had to spend $500 on something, I wanted to spend it on great art for a picture book, not an accountant to take care of numbers. The choices were always easy to make. To my regret.

Accounting for Writers – Getting Started

I’m still not an expert! You should hire an accountant! Don’t do what I did, but be wiser!
Standard disclaimer: I am not an accountant or a lawyer. You should consult professionals for all your needs.

OK. If you didn’t believe me or if you’re so broke like I was that you really can’t afford an accountant, then I want to tell you my story.

At first, after investigating tons of programs, I went with the standard Quickbooks program. It’s relatively inexpensive, and is widely touted as a good program. It is good–if you know what you’re doing.

I hired an accountant friend to set up the systems for me, and then did my own bookkeeping. I’m using the terms accounting and bookkeeping separately here. Bookkeeping is the practice of recording daily transactions, either purchases or sales. Accounting is slotting all those transactions into categories that make sense and will give you an overview of your business.

Here’s the sad truth: I’d rather write a new chapter than do bookkeeping. Everything was put off and put off and put off. Twice a year, I spent a couple weeks of bookkeeping to catch up, and I moaned during the whole process. I did it twice a year because for a couple projects, I had a partner who needed an accounting twice a year. Until I was required to do that for her, I flat refused to do anything.

Tip: If I was setting up the partnership with someone again, I’d investigate BundleRabbit.com because they allow for collaborations. I’ve not used the service yet, so I can’t recommend it whole-heartedly; but I’ve heard good things.

Quickbooks worked for a couple years, but it’s been badly broken. I could report my income for taxes, but everything was a mess. I also knew that my accounting wasn’t set up correctly. When you first set up accounting, there’s a chart of accounts that you must create. These are the categories into which transactions are slotted. At first, with only a few books out, I set up an account for each book. Now that I have over 30 books out, that’s cumbersome, redundant and foolish.

A New Accounting Day

This year, I determined that I would sort this out and not let the accounting get so out of hand. For self-published or indie writers it’s all difficult anyway. We want to write, not play with numbers. And it’s complicated. Let’s say that you upload ebooks directly to Apple’s iBookstore. Let’s assume that you sell one ebook to someone in Norway and make a profit of $0.50. You must account for that $0.50, each and every time. Multiply that times 59 countries times the different ebook stores such as Kobo, B&N Press, Publish Drive, Smashwords, StreetLib and so on and so forth. It can be overwhelming.

I wanted something simple that would allow me to keep up on a daily basis. And I wanted to totally redo my chart of accounts to reflect the current status of my business. In other words, I decided on priorities for my accounting, and then went looking. I wanted to remove all the obstacles to doing good accounting, such as manually inputting transactions.

After investigating, I went with Xero.com as the accounting program. It’s an online subscription, so it costs more. However, it has several advantages. First, it pulls in data from my bank daily. In order to make that happen, I changed to an online-only banking account. I still have the local bank account which I have to manually upload once a month. But I’m switching almost all transactions over to the online banking program so that eventually 90% of my transactions will be pulled daily into Xero. To deposit a check, I take a photo of the check to upload. I also chose Xero because I have an eye on selling books online via Shopify, and Xero integrates with that platform. In other words, I was also looking forward and trying to make sure I don’t have switch again anytime soon.

The biggest disadvantage is that Xero is a subscription-based service. I pay monthly. But my business is at a point where I can pay for this convenience, if it makes a difference in my bookkeeping.

And it’s made a huge difference. Instead of manually adding transactions, or manually downloading/uploading from my local bank, the transactions appear like magic in Xero. My new rule is that I must check Xero daily and reconcile all outstanding transactions THAT DAY! So far, it’s working. I am, as of this writing, completely up to date on my bookkeeping and accounting.

While I was at it, I totally redid the chart of accounts. For any given business, the chart needs to be customized. After struggling through a bad chart of accounts for a couple years, I knew the pain points and where I wanted to change it.

Understanding Accounting

It’s not enough, though, to just do bookkeeping and accounting. You need to know what it all means. Are you making a profit? How do you know?

For me, the answers have been in an amazing book, Accounting for the Numberphobic: A survival guide for small business owners.

Author Dawn Fotopulos says there are three reports that small business owners should understand. And make no mistake: Authors are small business owners!

She says there are three reports you should learn to understand:

  1. Net Income Statement. Fotopolus says this is comparable to the speedometer of a car, telling you how fast your business is growing.
  2. Cash Flow Statement. This report is likened to a gas gauge, which tells you how much fuel you have, which in turn tells you how much farther you can go before filling up again.
  3. Balance Sheet. If you want to know the overall state of your car, though, you should check your oil pressure gauge. Likewise, this report, tells you the overall health of your business.

Fotopolus puts financial terms into simple analogies that make it easy for me to understand. After setting up my new accounting system, I generated these reports and decided that everything is healthy! Fortunately!

Writers don’t talk about accounting much, because we’d rather talk about plotting and characterization. Even subplots and placement of commas is more interesting than accounting. However, if you’re an author, you’re a small business person. That means you should take the time to learn the basic accounting practices. I’m finally on a more solid foundation than before because I took the time to find ways to streamline the process and make it manageable. Probably, your answers won’t be the same as mine, but I urge you to find ways to solve your own accounting problems.

The post Accounting for Writers appeared first on Fiction Notes.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Price: $8.79
Was: $16.00
Do you ever think about your writing career? This week, I finished listening to the novel, READY PLAYER ONE. I know, I’m slow. The movie was released last week, and I’m just reading it.

Let me just say, I’m not a gamer. Adults spending hours on gaming puzzles me. But this story was an interesting romp through the historical games that have claimed the hearts of so many. It moves along at a great pace. I did think the ending was ironic: Wade, the main character, realizes he needs to shut down the game and spend more time in real life.

Building a Writing Career

Among the comments I read about the movie, though, one stood out. A reviewer remarked that it was amazing the 71-year-old Steven Spielberg could still be putting out relevant movies. Any time I hear a comment like that it reminds me to look at my own career and see if there are lessons to learn.

The IMDB says Spielberg has 168 credits as a producer, 23 as a writer, 57 as a director, and 15 as an actor. Wow!

How to Have a Long Writing Career

Longevity. In order to keep producing, Spielberg can’t rest on his laurels for any one film. There are always new films to work on. It’s the same for writers. We need to produce books. If you’re traditionally published, it’s harder because you must get editors/publishers on your side. As an indie published, I can put out books that I believe in whenever I want. My output has increased greatly the last five years, and I’m loving it. Because volume of work is important.

One of my favorite books about the writing life is ART AND FEAR: Observations on the Perils (And Rewards) of ARTMAKING. Here’s what they say about producing a volume of work:

“The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the ‘quantity’ group: 50 pounds of pots rated an ‘A’, 40 pounds a ‘B’, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an ‘A’.
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.
It seems that while the ‘quantity’ group was busily churning out piles of work-and learning from their mistakes — the ‘quality’ group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”
― David Bayles and Ted Orland

Lesson: Write. A lot. Write even more. Yes, write even more. If you’re lucky enough to be an indie publisher also, publish with the same passion and work for a large output.

We don’t love every movie that Spielberg directed, produced or wrote. But he has enough volume that it’s likely you love at least one of his films.

How to Have a Memorable Career

Besides writing lots of books, a memorable career depends on those break-out novels or picture books. You know what? Those are the scary ones to write.

But doing back to the first point, volume makes it easier to take a risk.

Let’s say that your career will consist of only 5 books in your lifetime. Then your chances of breaking out, of hitting the audience with a powerful book–it all rests on five titles.

If, however, you write and publish 100 books, the pressure is off any particular book. What if you LOVE a topic and want to write about it, but when you publish that book, it flops? Well, it’s not the end of the world, because you have 99 other chances. Writing lots of stories encourages risk and creativity.

In the end, being memorable isn’t really up to you. It’s up to the readers. The best you can do is to tell your stories, your way. And to tell lots of stories. Along the way, there may be that one or two special stories that become classics.

Want a long, memorable writing career? Write! A lot!

The post Your Writing Career: How to Have a Long, Memorable One appeared first on Fiction Notes.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison - 1M ago

In the world of self-publishing, it’s writers beware!

Publishing a book is a business. That means money changes hands and whenever money is involved, there’s always a chance of fraud. The best defense for writers it to arm yourself with knowledge about what is and isn’t typical for a certain transaction.


Agents are hired by you to represent your manuscript to publishers, to help you negotiate a favorable contract, and often to help you plan and execute your career plans. It’s a crazy world when the employee chooses you, instead of the other way around, but that’s the story of supply and demand. Today, there are too few agents to go around and they get to choose which authors to work for. However, make no mistake: they work for you, not the other way around. Reputable agents are members of the Association of author Representatives and abide by their Canon of Ethics. Basically, they don’t get paid until they sell something for you. Never pay an agent to shop a manuscript to a publisher.


Traditional publishers. A publisher pays you an agreed upon price to license your copyright for an agreed upon term to publish the book as agreed upon. That’s lots of “agreed upon” because contracts can vary widely. The big thing here is that a reputable publisher PAYS YOU.

Hybrid publishers. According to the Independent Book Publisher’s Assocation (IBPA), “hybrid publishers behave just like traditional publishers in all respects, except when it comes to business model. Hybrid publishers use an author-subsidized business model, as opposed to financing all costs themselves, and in exchange return a higher-than-industry-standard share of sales proceeds to the author. In other words, a hybrid publisher makes income from a combination of publishing services and book sales.” In February, the IBPA published a list of criteria to be considered a quality hybrid publisher.

Vanity publishers. However, in today’s world when self-publishing is common, there are some companies who will help you publish your book for an agreed upon fee. These companies come with a wide variety of skill-sets and the quality of the services will vary widely. I’ve seen some awful results and some acceptable results. If you choose this route, be careful about putting money on the line until you’ve seen their work. Ask for sample books, peruse their website and order a couple books. It will save you money in the long run.

Red flags. I would be worried if a publisher did any of these practices:

  • Requires you to buy books or services such as marketing as a condition of publishing.
  • Asks for no revisions on your story, in other words, does little or no editing.
  • Most of their revenue comes from author services.
Consult Writers Beware from SFWA

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America maintains a “Writer Beware” listing of agents and publishers who are not recommended. Before you make any publishing decision, check out their materials.

In general, keep in mind that money flows TO an author, not AWAY from the author. Your work is a valuable asset and you should treat it as that.

Sure, it’s frustrating to submit your story and have it rejected over and over. Part of that is the process of learning your craft. If you decide to self publish, as I have, then be sure you know the standards of quality in your field and meet or exceed them.

The saddest thing is for an author to give someone control of their story and to wind up with a sad, inferior quality book. Don’t let that happen to you! Beware!

The post Writers Beware! appeared first on Fiction Notes.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison - 2M ago


a href="https://mimshouse.teachable.com/p/how-to-write-childrens-picture-book/">

The post Finding Time to Write appeared first on Fiction Notes.

I have a young friend who at 16 has written two novels. Amazing.
She’s worked hard on them, writing non-stop.
Some days, I envied her because (well everyone envies a 16-year-olds’ health!) her life isn’t cluttered up with things. She could choose to write because there were few demands on her time.

Recently, though, she started a part-time job at a burger joint.
It’s her junior years, so school is getting busier and busier.

She asked me how I find time to write.

Finding Time to Write – Hitting a Moving Target

This is a question whose answer changes constantly. It think that’s important to remember, that as your life changes, you must find a new answer to this question.

When I first started writing, I had four children underfoot. To remind myself to write every day, I carried an ink pen in my jeans pocket. One day, that ink pen leaked and permanently stained the jeans. It’s a stain that reminded me on other days to write.

Now, my life is full of other problems. As a publishing company, there’s advertising, accounting, new book covers, and so many other tasks that consume my day. And in the midst of it, I need to find time to write.

Where? How?

Right now, it works better to schedule a block of days for projects. January/February were taken up by creating a video course about writing picture books (More about that in a future post). But March will be revising a fantasy novel. In the midst of everything else–because all the publishing tasks never stop–I work steadily on the project-of-the-month.

Someone once said: In the short run, I get less done than I expect; but in the long run, I get more done.

That’s my motto these days. Interruptions take me away from the writing. But by consistently coming back to it, I get lots done. Some friends say that I’m very prolific. I don’t think so. I just think that I’m consistent in reaching toward a goal.

OK. I’ll do accounting. But then, I’ll write for 30 minutes.
OK. I’ll proof that cover. But then, I’ll edit what I wrote for 10 minutes.
OK. I’ll create a couple ads. But then, I’ll brainstorm the next chapter for 15 minutes.

Those kids trained me to chunk a task into small sections and to concentrate on just that one segment next. When that’s done, the next segment is naturally apparent and I plan when I can do that one.

In the short run, it looks like I’m going nowhere fast.
In the long run, my writing gets done.
And so can yours.

The post Finding Time to Write appeared first on Fiction Notes. Releasing on July 11, 2017 - JUST 3 Weeks Away!
I'm looking for a few people to review my new middle grade, science fiction novel.

If you have interest and time, you can download a free copy here.
Download a Review Copy
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison - 3M ago


The post Open with a Scene appeared first on Fiction Notes.

I’m judging a contest for a state award’s program and I’m struck again by stories that open with a scene. Reading through a dozen manuscripts at a time, you get an overview of what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve written a lot about the opening of a story here (the most popular post on this blog) and here (links to many other articles). I’ve even written a book about starting your novel. This time, I think I’ll talk about how things go wrong. How Story Openings Go Wrong

Ramble. The character is usually first person and just rambles along about something. I know that this is supposed to let me into the character’s mind, and sometimes, it does. But I’ve no compelling reason to care. Why is this important NOW?

I Am. These stories open with a list of character qualities, often apologizing for this or that, or going into long-winded details. Again, why should the reader care NOW?

Strange Voice and POV. Some stories try a sort of prologue where the opening chapter is omniscient or 3rd person. The next chapter settles into a first person. That opening chapter sets up a promise to the reader and the next chapter breaks it. Sometimes, the odd choice of POV is even a put off. For example, the story might read: “One might think that this happens often.” Instead, of philosophizing and talking to the reader, a great story starts with the story.

2nd Paragraph Flashback. This one is particularly frustrating. Often I read a great first paragraph that sets the scene, sets up a problem and grabs my interest. However, the next paragraph is a flashback that tries to explain everything. No. You lost me. Stay in the scene. If that information is crucial to the scene (and usually it isn’t) then weave it into the story in drips. Just give me the information I MUST have to understand the NOW of the story. Literary agent and story coach Donald Maass is famous for saying no flashbacks until after page 100. I agree.

Open with a Scene Instead, open your story with a scene. A scene is a connected string of events where something happens. The character has a goal: they want something. Obstacles keep the character from getting that something. Usually there’s what Sandra Scofield calls a “pivot moment” where the dynamics of the scene change in some way. Finally, there’s a resolution. The character either gets what they want, or they don’t. Positive or negative, the resolution thrusts the character into the next scene.

Stories that open with a scene put the reader into the moment. You live and breathe as the character does. If the character longs for a quiet moment then the reader longs for that quiet moment. The emotional impact of a scene pulls the reader along.

Please, if you’re writing a novel, open with a scene.

The post Open with a Scene appeared first on Fiction Notes. Releasing on July 11, 2017 - JUST 3 Weeks Away!
I'm looking for a few people to review my new middle grade, science fiction novel.

If you have interest and time, you can download a free copy here.
Download a Review Copy
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 


The post How to Format Picture Books for Kindle and ePub3 appeared first on Fiction Notes.

As an indie publisher, I format picture books for Kindle (mobi) and ePub3 ebooks for Apple, Kobo, PublishDrive, Follett, Mackin and Permabound. I distribute directly to every market that I can.

Amazon’s Kindle is a major market, and I’m glad to have books there. But there’s a big problem: my profit is being eaten up with Amazon’s delivery fees.

In a recent month, I calculated about 20-25% of the gross receipts for my ebooks went to delivery fees, leaving me only 45-50% profit. Amazon, of course, took the other 30% .

20-25% in delivery fees! That’s outrageous! The culprit is the file size of a children’s full color illustrated picture book. Those color illustrations take extra file space. But surely there were ways to reduce the file size. I searched and found nothing.

I’ve always known this is a problem, but there were so many other things to worry about that I’ve put this off. With two new picture books coming out in the spring, though, I decided to look at the issue closely so I can maximize profits. This will be a detailed look at dealing with an children’s book indie publishing problem!

Biggest Problem: Amazon’s Download Fees

Amazon is the only ebook provider who charges download fees. For novels, it’s minimal because rarely does a novel file reach over 1 MB. But for full-color illustrated picture books, it’s a huge problem because it’s not unusual to have an 8MB file. Amazon gives you two choices of royalty profits, either 35% with no download fees, or 70% with download fees.

I want 70% royalties, of course, to maximize my profits. But that means I must control those download fees. Amazon will take 30%. How much goes back to Amazon in download fees? It depends on the file size, and varies by country. For now, I’ll concentrate on US fees of $0.15/MB. Here’s a table of what that means for different file sizes and at different price points.

File size Delivery Cost@$0.15/MB @2.99 Download fees @3.99 Download fees @4.99 Download fees
8MB $1.20 40% 30% 24%
7MB $1.05 35% 26% 21%
6MB $0.90 30% 22.5% 18%
5MB $0.75 25% 18.8% 15%
4MB $0.60 20% 15% 12%
3MB $0.45 15% 11.3% 9%
2MB $0.30 10% 7.5% 6%
1MB $0.15 5% 3.75% 3%

If your ebook file size is 8MB and you price at $2.99, Amazon gets 30%, download fees are 40%, and that leaves you with 30% profit. You should take the 35% royalty because you’ll make 5% more!

As the file size goes down, the percentage of profits rise, but the download fees are still hefty. What if I could reformat my 6-8MB files, and get them closer to 2MB?

For a 2MB ebook at $2.99, download fees are 10%, Amazon takes 30%, and that leaves 60% profit. That’s double the profit than for an 8MB ebook.

A second problem: Keeping the children’s picture book fixed format ebook high quality.

The reason the files are so big, presumably, is that you need a high-quality image. I took a deep dive into image quality in this process and hope I can explain some of it for you.

Kindle Guidelines for Images
The Amazon Kindle publishing Guidelines, version 2018.1 has recommendations for images:

1) Image resolution.

You should always use a 300dpi resolution.

However, dpi is dots per inch, a measurement for print only; ppi is pixels per inch, a measurement for screens only.

Really? You should always use 300 dpi?
In his book, Pictures on Kindle, Aaron Shepard correctly point out,

“. . . the Kindle cares nothing about a picture’s resolution. The Kindle cares only about pixel dimension. (This is despite Amazon’s own confusing recommendation to make pictures 300 dpi to “future-proof” them. What Amazon meant to say was that a picture should have enough pixels to display at the desired size on a hypothetical future screen with a resolution of 300 ppi.)”

In other words, the dpi measurement is useless for online displays. Instead, you should care about the overall pixel size. In other words, if you have an image that is 100px x 100 px, it could stretch to 1000px x 1000px, but then the pixels would be large and stretched out. Those large pixels show up as you view it creating a blurry image.

Notice, pixels per inch (ppi) isn’t the same thing as file size. MB means a million bytes of information. MP (Megapixel) means how many millions of pixels are in the file. They measure different things!

A Kindle fire’s largest screen is 1600 x 2560 pixels or about 4MPixels. That’s the maximum size needed.

However, the Amazon guidelines also tell us how many MP are required for a full size image (after you take out the margins, page numbers and so on), which they say is 4″ x 6″. It should measure 1200px x 1800px for 2.16MPixels. You get that number by multiplying the width by the height, and it has nothing to do with 300 dpi!

My first hint on lowering file sizes is to ignore the dpi of your images and focus on the total MPixels.

Lest you get worried, their guidelines say, “Amazon strongly recommends images meet a minimum of 300 ppi. Any images below 72 ppi will cause the book to fail conversion.” In other words, the range of acceptable is 72-300ppi.

2) Photo Quality. A second variable to discuss is image quality.
When you export from Indesign, or use Photoshop to resize an image, you can usually choose a quality setting. Adobe software had four pre-set choices: low, med, high, max.

Low – quality score of 10Q
Med – quality score of 30Q
High – quality score of 60Q
Max – quality score of 100Q

Old KDP guidelines recommend a quality score of 40, so the presets didn’t fit, forcing you to choose between Medium and High quality. Fortunately, in Photoshop, you can set this manually (more later). The 2018 Kindle standards recommend a high quality score. What they are actually asking for is images that will display well on the newer high-definition screens.

What does the quality score mean?
The quality score means that an algorithm is used to sample adjacent pixels to decide what color to show in any given pixel. When it samples fewer pixels, the quality score goes down. When it samples more pixels, the quality score goes up. Low quality images will often show pixelation, which means you’ll see the square pixels and the image is fuzzy.

Quality changes drastically affect file sizes.
If I have an original file at 300 dpi that is 6.4MB at Max Quality, then what happens to file size as the quality score changes? (Remember, this is file size, not MP. I’m worried about this because Amazon charges download fees based on file size.)

High – 2MB
Med – 652 KB
Low – 196 KB

This means there are two variables that can help us get to the right size image: pixel dimensions and quality score. By using these two, we can reduce the file sizes drastically, while keeping an eye on quality.

Kindle Software – KindleGen Rules

There’s a final variable, that I didn’t consider at first. I’ve used R.Scot John’s amazing ebook tutorials for a long time to format ebooks. eBooks that I’ve hand-coded with his methods work well for ibook, Nook and generic ebooks to be used anywhere. If you’re one of those people who want to know everything the behind-the-scenes, then his tutorials are fantastic and will give you a deep look at the structure of ebooks. I highly recommend them. Please go read them because you’ll learn so much about creating an ebook.

However, when I created a Kindle ebook using his methods, the files didn’t look quite right. (It’s probably my fault, not Scot’s!) The real problem is getting the landscape ebooks with double-page spreads to display correctly. I couldn’t get it right.

I turned to Amazon’s Kindle Kids Book Creator (KKBC) program. It’s a free download and is designed to easily create Kindle compliant ebooks in the landscape double-page spread format. I’ve used it for several years, but some of my biggest file size ebooks came out of KKBC. I didn’t think I’d use it in this search for small file size/high quality ebooks.

But I’m game. I tried everything from hand-coding with Scot’s templates to the KKBC.

Remember when I said that KindleGen always resizes images. The KKBC incorporates the KindleGen processor to turn the files into Kindles. The KKBC output files include the raw files, which I had ignored up to now. However, I decided to look inside and see what the KindleGen was doing when it resized my images. Inside the HTML folder, I was surprised to see a Scaled-Images folder had been added. Each image was reprocessed as a “thumb” image. When I looked at those images, they were all 1000 px wide, at 72 dpi.

I believe the scaled images are what Kindle actually delivers to a Kindle to display. Amazon wants the source files, though, at high quality so it can reformat ebooks to a higher quality when needed in the future. They are future-proofing their ebook business by requiring larger files.

But I can’t afford to help them future proof the business when they charge $0.15/MB download fees! If I was right and the scaled images were all that was needed, could I match the sizes of those images and thus control my file size?

That meant that instead of 1280 px wide, I might as well format my own images at 1000px wide (because KindleGen rules: it WILL process the images whether I like it or not – nothing gets on the Kindle store unless it’s gone through a KindleGen processing), and control the quality at the same time.

This combination works amazingly well. I exported from Indesign at 300 dpi/Max quality because Indesign’s controls don’t let you do it with any better control. Then, in Photoshop, I converted the images to 1000px high at 40Quality. The file sizes were tiny. To reduce them even further, I used ImageOptim, which strips out any extra metadata stored in the image and results in about 10-20% reduction in file size.

What would happen when I used those images in the KKBC program?

The KindleGen still generated the scaled “thumb” images, but they were exactly the size of my images. I had gotten it right.

My 34-page picture book (why is it 34 pages?) with correctly sized images came in at 3.6MB, far less than the 7.8MB of previous versions of this title.

Tip: Check the file size of the folder that holds your ebook images. Your ebook will be about that size because the images are the largest files in the ebook. Compared to them, the rest is nothing!

It seems that Kindle keeps the larger images as source images in the files, along with the smaller images that are actually delivered to the Kindle. By matching what the KindleGen would do anyway, it meant those duplicate files didn’t need to be included in the final ebook. That file reduction would save me lots of money!

But I made one more attempt at even smaller file sizes. My 34-pages were laid out as double page spreads. The KKBC uses CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to force a Kindle to display the book with side-by-side images in landscape orientation. What if I created the landscape images by pre-combining the two images? Then, there would only be 17 images, instead of 34. I’d still process them for 1000px high, and a 40 Quality.

I went back to Indesign, regenerated the images as spreads instead of pages, and processed them in Photoshop.

The resulting ebook is only 1.46MB. At $0.15 download fees, delivery fees dropped from $1.18/book to only $0.36/book (about 12% of overall cost at $2.99), a savings of $0.82/book sold (28% increase in profits). That money would go to me, instead of Amazon!

In other words, I disagree with Amazon’s suggestion to always provide the highest quality images. The KindleGen will reformat to standards that they need, but it will keep the originals at the expense of file size. It’s costing me too much money to do that! Instead, I’ll keep an eye on the new Kindles when they become available. When higher definition screens become available, I’ll consider reformatting at a higher pixel size. But until then, I’ll format exactly the same as the KindleGen and save file size – and make more money!

1) Quality. Some people don’t like the 40Q because it appears pixelated. I find that it varies widely. If your image quality is poor, process the individual files at a higher level until you find the quality that you’re comfortable with. (Always start reprocessing with the original file!) Be aware that the quality shown on the display in KKBC is NOT what you’ll get on the final Kindle version. The KKBC display isn’t an accurate depiction of quality.

2) Jpgs. Some people format their books with png because they want transparencies and don’t want to flatten to a jpg format. Unfortunately, KindleGen rules. It will convert your files to jpgs whether you like it or not. You might as well do the conversion yourself so you have control over it. Even if you export as an ePub3, and then run the file through KindleGen, it will still convert the files to jpegs; but it might have problems doing it. You can’t avoid the jpgs. So control them.

3) Preview. To preview what a Kindle ebook looks like, KDP recommends using their free program, Kindle Previewer. However, some people like to side-load the ebook onto their ipad and check it there. Unfortunately, that’s an iffy thing to rely on because Kindle doesn’t keep its Mac-app updated. A side-loaded K8 file (the file type exported by KKBC) will not display correctly. The best way to make sure your files are compatible is to upload it to Kindle and then check the book’s description page. The image below shows which devices of my eBook is compatible with. I Want a Dog.

Format Picture Books for Kindle: Fixed Format

Complicated? Figuring it out was complicated, yes. But the workflow is pretty simple.

WARNING: I’ll be talking about using professional software, including Adobe Indesign for layout of books, and Adobe Photoshop for processing images. I do not use Word, online programs such as Canva, or other programs because they do not let you control the images. If you hire someone to do your layout/design and ebook conversion, you might want to refer them to this post to make sure you get the most professional ebooks at the lowest file size.

I format my books in Adobe Indesign, and they are generally meant for an 8.5” x 8.5” print book. Printers require pdf files; ebooks require jpgs.

1) Click on File/Export. At the bottom of the screen, use the dropdown menu to choose Jpegs. I will convert the files in Photoshop for better control, so I export at Maximum Quality, but I take out the color profile because it just adds to the size. You can either export at 300 dpi and change it to 72 dpi in Photoshop, or do it now. It doesn’t matter which you choose. You’ll need to create a folder for the images. I just name it the book title (rowdy) and it numbers the pages in order as it exports.

2) Convert the images in Photoshop Elements. Choose File/Process Mulitple files.

Here’s the settings I use. I overwrite the files (I can always generate them later if needed) so I leave the source file and destination files the same.
At the bottom, I choose resize images to 1000 px wide and 72 dpi with a JPEG MediumQuality. If you process individual files, you can choose exact quality; the process multiple files only lets you choose the standard settings of Low, Medium, High, Maximum.

3) Use the ImageOptim program to further optimize the images.

4) Open the Kindle Kids Creator Program and create the ebook using the processed images. If you want, add the text popups. Generate the Kindle Files to upload!


Read Full Article
Visit website

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview