In Your Corner: In a Time of Social Distancing, Come Together (Digitally) for Children’s Book Week 2020

If you’re one of the many authors whose lives have been touched by recent events, you might have found that the line “children’s books are much harder to write than you think” has more resonance than ever. Authors, editors, and publishing professionals alike must face up to the peculiar challenges of the genre–which include writing a captivating story, generating eye-popping illustrations, and creating a marketing strategy which will appeal to both the children who make up your primary audience AND the adults who must pay for its purchase–all in a time when everything feels just a little bit harder. Even the biggest event related to children’s books, Children’s Book Week, has had to make accommodations.


Event planners have compromised by preserving the original week of celebrations (May 4-10) and taking them digital, then moving the offline aspects of the program to November 9-15. Join us and tens of thousands of others in celebrating in May by using the hashtag #BookWeek2020atHome and making use of the Children’s Book Week website’s many fun at-home resources for kids and adults.

There are ways to write and publish children’s books which will sell well to folks of all ages, and here we have put together a top six tips list to help you create your own.

  1. Mind your length. As any preschool teacher or children’s librarian can confirm, reading with children is most enjoyable for both parties when the book in question contains just enough text to carry the story along without exhausting their attention.
  2. Pick a timely subject. Picture books are more likely to be picked up by parents, teachers, and librarians on the prowl if they tackle subjects which these adults want to prepare their children to face. Take advantage!
  3. Don’t dumb it down. You heard right—baby talk doesn’t carry as compelling of a story as a book which treats its younger audiences with a rich vocabulary and age-appropriate but sophisticated sentence structure. 
  4. Voice morals carefully, and cleverly. Few will argue against picture books as prime tools for teaching sound decision-making skills, but most of these success stories find clever, quiet ways to do so without alienating readers by being too “preachy.”
  5. Think about those end materials! Many of today’s best picture books include a few pages at the end which include notes for adults on how to make best use of the book in teaching a skill or an idea to young readers. Hint: this is especially useful to parents grappling with becoming educators as a result of stay-home directives.
  6. Humor me. Or rather, humor them! Children have a keen sense of humor, and are particularly sensitive to farce and comedy. Adults are more attuned to situational and other forms of irony. A good picture book will entertain everyone!

In an ideal world, you would be able to focus on the act of writing your picture book, and not have to worry about the complicated minutiae of publishing and marketing your book which you may or may not feel prepared enough to tackle. Luckily, we already live in that world! There are numerous options available if you’d rather trade your limited time and energy for a paid service. These companies offer a comprehensive list of services which they hope you’ll take advantage of as you work to translate your vision to the page. And of course, I’m here for you as well!

You are not alone. ♣︎


ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Self-Published Book Review: Sally and the Singing Whale

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

sally and the singing whale berinna hansen


Sally and the Singing Whale

by Betinna Hansen

ISBN: 9781478786412



“Whales are monsters,” Papa warns Sally. “They will eat you up!” This is the beginning of the story, a beautiful adventure that is sure to charm both children and parents. Sally is always in a good mood and sure to come out on top, but when she sneaks onto her father’s ship, something unexpected happens –Sally is thrown overboard and swallowed by a whale! This heartwarming book is as exciting as it is layered. It is about a little girl’s love for her father, her growing independence, and the beauty of the natural world. But it also touches on the fear of the unknown –a fear that, Sally learns, has nothing to do with reality. PRAISE: Author Betinna Hansen was accepted to the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature, where Sally and the Singing Whale was described as “Magical” and likened to the classic children’s story Pinocchio and the biblical story of Jonah. “Sally and the Singing Whale is a book that you will want to read and re-read for its depth and timelessness.” –Denise Dowling Mortensen; Children’s book author of Bug Patrol and Good Night Engines/Wake Up Engines.

“Betinna Hansen is a gifted storyteller whose words create beautiful pictures in my head!” –Peter Catalanotto; Author/Illustrator of Emily’s Art and Monkey & Robot. To learn more go to

 * courtesy of


Sally and the Singing Whale is a children’s picture book written by Betinna Hansen and illustrated by Tata Bobokhidze. Sally wants to go to sea with her dad, who’s a fisherman, but he’s just not willing to let her come along with him. When she asks why, he tells her that whales are monsters with sharp teeth. Sally has had many exciting adventures and loves seeing new things, but she’s both scared and skeptical of her father’s description of the whales. Her dad wants her to stay safely at home in her little treehouse that’s perched in a sunny clearing among hills and mountains. But Sally has other ideas, and while she looks sleepy as he sings her their lullaby, she’s ready to adventure once again as soon as he leaves. Sally gets dressed and follows him to the harbor where his ship is waiting. She stows away in what seems a perfectly safe place, but suddenly finds herself in the belly of a very large whale.

Betinna Hansen’s children’s picture book, Sally and the Singing Whale, is a lush and lovely fantasy about a girl’s interaction with a whale. I loved the feeling I got when reading this tale, that it was set when men like Sally’s father went whaling in ships often much smaller than their targets, and admired how Hansen is able to interject a sensibility into the fishermen’s mindsets after Sally and her father’s lullaby is sung by a pod of whales. Tata Bobokhidze’s illustrations are a masterful blend of rich colors, striking watercolor washes and marvelous little touches that bring each of these panels to life. Each and every page is suitable for framing and would make a grand themed wall in a child’s room. I found myself pausing and getting lost in each frame as I read of Sally’s adventures. The details are wonderful — check out the little eyelashes on the whale, follow Sally’s path as she enters the whale’s baleen-fringed mouth and take a moment to find where Sally is hiding on the ship. There’s so much to enjoy about this book, both for children and those fortunate adults who happen upon this book when it’s story time. Sally and the Singing Whale is most highly recommended.


Book Trailer



tuesday book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space!

Self Publishing Advisor


Beijing Book Fair 2014

Book fairs are an excellent way for self-published authors to promote their books and network with industry professionals. The Beijing Book Fair 2014 will take place August 27th through 31st, so now is the time to consider registering your book.

The Beijing International Book Fair is the largest publishing industry event in the Asian Market. This is a huge opportunity for self-published authors, considering China is the most populous country in the world. This market is interested in books translated into their local language as well as the rights to distribute English Language content. English language titles are at the forefront of the market growth in China.

Children’s books authors can be especially lucrative in this market, since the government mandates that all Chinese children learn English at an early age. STM, academic areas, sports, sports medicine, and military history are also areas that have been in high demand.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors attend the show annually to see the books from 56 different countries. Your book could be there!

To learn more, visit

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at

4 Reasons to Self-Publish This Easter

Holidays can be an excellent source of motivation and inspiration, and many great books center around a specific holiday. Here are four reasons you should self-publish this Easter.

1. Children’s Books

Holiday themed books are especially popular among children’s book authors because teachers, parents, and kids love to read books related to what children are experiencing at that time. Perhaps you could write a book Sunday school teachers could use to teach kids about Easter, or you could create a funny bunny story that plays with alliterations, metaphors, and other writing techniques so teachers could use the book in writing lessons.

2. Adult Books

Holiday themes aren’t just for children. Many adult books centered around a holiday also have success. There are countless possibilities depending on your interests, non-fiction, Christian fiction, mystery, romance, poetry, and more. Let the holiday inspire you, and be creative.

3. Time to Write

Most people have time off from work near Easter. This long weekend is a great opportunity to work on your book. Use this extra time to brainstorm ideas, finish your manuscript, start a new writing project, or begin the self-publishing process.

4. Family and Friends

Most people are surrounded by family and friends during the holidays. This is a great opportunity to get the support and motivation you need to complete your writing project. This Easter, tell your family and friends about your writing goals and the projects you are working on. Their enthusiasm and support will help you through the process.

I’d love to know, what are your favorite holiday themed books?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at

In-House vs. Third Party Illustrators for Book Covers

Children’s authors already know the importance of a great graphic artists, but even authors who write for older audiences need to understand the importance of a great artist and how to find one. While your book may not be filled with graphics, there is one image that can make or break your book’s success — your cover.

A great graphic artist will help you great a custom book cover that catches readers’ attention, demonstrates your professionalism as an author, and represents the essence of your book. By using a generic cover or a poorly created one, you may send your readers a negative message about your work and they may be less intrigued to buy and read it. Because a graphic artist is so important to the success of your book, you need to make sure you hire a talented, trustworthy one.

Before hiring a graphic artist, understand that there are two types of custom covers:

1)      A custom cover –created by a professional graphic artist

2)      An illustrated custom cover – The illustration is created by a professional illustrator and then that illustration is used in a custom cover design created by the professional graphic artist.

It is helpful to know which type of cover you’d like for your book before hiring a graphic artist. Another important decision is whether to use a third party graphic artist or an in-house graphic artist. Using a third party artist can be more expensive and complicated to work with.

It is important to know . . .

  • Some third-party graphic artists require you to share a portion of your royalties. This creates an ongoing cost instead of a one-time fee for the service.
  • You need to know what the trim size of your book is prior to the artist beginning work.
  • The graphic artist needs to know specifications about bleed and gutters for the self-publisher being used.
  • You should arrange for the graphic artist to provide high-resolution image files, not just hardcopies.
  • Be sure to get a written contract.

If this sounds like a headache, there is an easier way. Instead of hiring a third-party graphic artist, you could hire an artist through your self-publishing company. To learn more about hiring a graphic artist from your self-publishing company, contact a representative at your publishing company.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 25 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps, publishing consultants and marketing professionals; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams and on assisting authors with marketing and promoting their book once published. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.