Joe Chiappetta Interview, Author of Silly Daddy Illustrated Fiction

What made you decide to write/create an illustrated book?

I was somewhat raised on comic books. Much of my early and teen development was shaped by panel to panel illustrations. As such, the directness of communicating with pictures has always held a special power in my life. My observation, raising three kids and having tons of comic pals, is that I am not alone.

In fact, many people are visual learners and are pulled and retained into stories where there are more pictures. Pictures also can cut across language barriers and tend to be more universal. That combined with a lifetime of drawing Silly Daddy comics made the decision to make illustrated books a very natural progression.

How did you decide on the age level and genre? Was your book always geared toward this age level/genre or did you change it to fit?

Since I became a Christian in 1998, I started making works that were safe for all ages. However, anything before that period I cannot vouch for–I was pretty out there. All my eBooks have a pretty wide appeal. Star Chosen, my sci-fi space opera novel, can be appreciated by readers from 10 to 110. It’s basically Battlestar Galactica meets the Bible. Along with the sequel, Power Pendant of Planet Pizon, they’re the only books of mine that are not illustrated.

All my other works are illustrated by me and cover slightly different genres. Silly Daddy in Space has the widest appeal as a sci-fi cartoon book. It’s for ages 6 and up.

Also heavily illustrated is my book Armed with Intergalactic Weapons. That is actually my life story, but told as if it were a science fiction story set 1,000 years into the future when outer space gets colonized. I actually consider this a new genre: autobiographical science fiction.

The Back Pain Avenger, my newest release is a non-medicated memoir of my rehabilitation from decades of chronic back pain. That’s also a mix of comics and straight text narration, for ages 16 and up. It reads like a “how to get healed of back pain” book as well as a warm and funny slice of life story.

Did you have an idea of what you wanted your characters to look/dress like?

In drawing the covers for Star Chosen and it’s sequel, Power Pendant of Planet Pizon, I had to picture real people and blast them into futuristic styles and planets. It helps me to have a real voice and image in mind to launch out from when creating characters. That the fun part of writing fiction.

How did you decide how many illustrations to include in your book?

I try to have at least one in each chapter, but often it ends up like 6 comics in a chapter. Plus my chapters tend to be short so the books are full of comics and illustrations, hearkening back to my do-it-yourself zine days. That’s sort of an intuitive area for me. It’s not an exact science, but more about adding value and helping readers remember more. People tend to retain the visual stuff.

I’ve seen some posts on various boards concerning illustrated books detracting from the reader’s enjoyment of creating the characters in their own mind. Do you agree with this?

That’s one of those opinion matters where there’s no real right or wrong. Debating about it seems a bit silly in the larger scheme of things. If the creators want to define the look of the characters, great. If not, that’s fine too. It’s just a different experience. I like to define most of my characters so I can more easily picture them moving forward. I need something concrete.

Do you feel your illustrations enhance your book? How?

Since I’m known as a cartoonist with over twenty years in the industry, many of my readers expect illustrations. So I deliver. As for how the illustrations enhance the book, I can say this: Formatting eBooks is a relatively new trade. And I have seen some poorly formatted eBooks from others with illustrations that were definitely not designed for the small screen eReader experience. So I have an advantage in that I am specifically creating comics and illustrations that I prefer to be viewed on small screen eReaders. It’s a quality control issue. My wife and I proof my books on a Kindle. If the illustrations and cartoons don’t pop, then I know somethings wrong. So I make sure they pop.

What has been the response from your readers? Did you notice your fan base increase dramatically?

My fan base has been increasing every year for quite some time, and it is neat to see my work reaching audiences that I hadn’t imagined. For example, I have about ten chapters of Star Chosen available for free online and that’s been read over 50,000 times. The book hasn’t even been out two years yet. That’s not bad.

How did you promote your book?

The usual stuff. I send out press releases, highlight it on my blog http://joechiappetta.blogspot.com, use social media, send review copies out, and offer free samples.

Can you explain your formatting process and any problems you encountered with uploading/viewing your book?

I write most of the books in HTML code as part of the creative process. I know that sounds bizarre, but that really helps me make sure I am thinking about end user experience if I know what code is there. Images take a little time to figure out for Kindle. Reading up on the Amazon Community image file specs for Kindle, it quickly becomes clear that there is not one standard. So you have to experiment a little. I find that 520 pixels wide by 622 high images work best, but 450 pixels wide by 550 pixels high is safest. It depends on what an author wants to do with the illustrations.

Do you offer a print version or digital only?
Star Chosen has print and digital versions. All other books are digital only–for now.

How did you determine pricing?

I try to equate pricing with time spent on the project and quantity of content. For instance, Star Chosen is over 60,000 words and took five years to complete. So that eBook goes for $4.99. However, shorter works sell for 99 cents.

How many illustrated books have you written/have for sale?

I have published about 30 books over the years, almost all of them have been heavily illustrated. Five of the most recent works are available as eBooks on Amazon, B&N plus my own site.

What advice would you give other authors who have or would like to publish illustrated books?

Keep the illustrations fairly high contrast. Make sure your blacks are solid blacks or they might get converted into a washed out look on Kindle’s black and white E Ink screen. If there is text lettered into the illustrations (like in my comics) make sure the lettering is very large. Zooming in is not a pleasurable reading experience.

Lastly, I would think through why you want to put out a book. Write your reasons down on paper, and then discuss it with people you trust. Then see what they have to say.

Joe ChiappettaJoe Chiappetta is an American author and cartoonist, grateful to be happily married with three children. Currently living in North Riverside, Illinois, his formal education was from Northern Illinois University, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with an emphasis in painting.

While trained in the more traditional visual arts, his lifetime creative focus has been in writing and cartooning. As one of the key members of the Independent Comics Movement of the late 1980s and 1990s, Chiappetta’s work is respected around the globe. He is best known as the man behind one of the longest running autobiographical comics, SILLY DADDY, which has been a rewarding creative endeavor since 1991. The series has received the following professional recognition:

Xeric Award Winner
Ignatz Award Nominee for Outstanding Story
Harvey Award Nominee for Best New Series

While the bulk of Chiappetta’s work has been within autobiographical comics, he has also maintained a focus on science fiction writing. SILLY DADDY plots are notorious for taking off on sci-fi themed subplots. As a natural progression, Joe’s 2010 release, STAR CHOSEN, is a science fiction space opera for the whole family. That book is his first full length novel without pictures.

In 1998 Joe became a Christian, which is often evident in the world view represented in his writings thereafter. Due to personal experience with a number of health impairments, Joe also writes about disability issues in his work, combining humor with the intent to help others have more compassion for those in need.

From his stories, one can tell that Joe enjoys spending time with God, family, other people with disabilities, science fiction geeks, and corny jokers. Also, at a moment’s notice, he’s usually up for a good game of chess, bike riding, building forts in the woods, wrestling, foam sword fighting, and Bible study.

Simon Haynes Interview, Author of Hal Junior Illustrated Science Fiction

What made you decide to write/create an illustrated book?

To be honest, I felt it was expected when writing for middle grade. We have a gigantic stash of books for that age group, and many of them have illustrations. A stray picture here and there can help to break up the text, particularly if you’re writing a longer book. (Hal Junior is about 30,000 words. In comparison, my adult books are about 80,000)

How did you decide on the age level and genre? Was your book always geared toward this age level/genre or did you change it to fit?

My original plan was to write novels featuring the character from my adult books as a boy. I thought back to my own childhood, and I realized the overriding memories of my teen years involved zits, braces, awkwardness with girls and other unpleasantness. On the other hand, life at ten or eleven was uncomplicated and a whole lot of fun.

On top of that, I’ve done a lot of school visits for middle grade classes. At that age many kids still think authors are pretty cool.

Do you also illustrate your books? If not, how did you find your illustrator/artist? Any suggestions for hiring an illustrator?

My original plan for Hal Junior was for a very low-key release. I even designed a cover using my own vector art, which came out well but looked too young for the book.

I drew all the internal art with pencil, then scanned it into my computer and manually re-traced it using vectors.

At this point, six weeks before release, I decided to approach the cover artist from my adult novels. We shook hands on an agreement (via email) and he turned in a fantastic piece of work. It was all kept very simple, contract-wise, but we’ve known each other for quite a few years now.

Did you have an idea of what you wanted your characters to look/dress like?

I did share a few ideas. It was a little easier because he’s based on the adult character, so that was a basis for the image. Putting him in a space suit bypassed the need for futuristic clothing. (Hal Junior is set in the distant future.)

How did you decide how many illustrations to include in your book?

I wanted one or two per chapter. I think I ended up with 30 or so, and there are 25 chapters.

I’ve seen some posts on various boards concerning illustrated books detracting from the reader’s enjoyment of creating the characters in their own mind. Do you agree with this? Do you feel your illustrations enhance your book? How?

Yes, seeing the character in the flesh can detract from imagining them yourself. I’ve seen middle grade fiction where the characters on the cover look like 18-year-olds, but apparently this is an industry thing where kids (apparently) don’t want to read their own age group, they want to read and experience life as older characters. That’s one reason I decided my original cover wasn’t up to the job.

Re the illustrations, they’re a great way to explain something without filling the text with info-dump. For example, the characters use an airlock, and instead of explaining at length I just included a diagram. Another character feels ill when he learns where their food comes from, but instead of going into the whole process I illustrated it.

There are also many sight gags. E.g. Hal Junior notices how spaceships, stations, etc, all seem to be the same shade of grey (gray, even.) There’s an illustration showing piles of paint cans with ‘Grey’, ‘More Grey’, ‘Yes, it’s Grey’ and ‘Red’ on the labels. (The latter crossed out with ‘Grey’ written in.)

What has been the response from your readers? Did you notice your fan base increase dramatically?

It’s still a week until the official release, and first reader feedback on the images has been sketchy. (Hah!) One reviewer commented that the illustrations were ‘witty’, and that’s good enough for me.

How did you promote your book?

Do we have another 2000 words? 😉 I don’t set much store in trailers, I’m afraid. I’d sooner spend the money giving away free copies. I do have a website, and I’m active on many forums and book sites. It’s important not to annoy people by posting ‘buy my book’ messages all over the internet.

I believe libraries and schools will be the primary market for my book, so I’ve been concentrating on these venues. There’s a big hole in the market where junior science fiction ought to be.

Can you explain your formatting process and any problems you encountered with uploading/viewing your book? Do you offer a print version or digital only? Any tips you can offer?

I’m offering Hal Junior as an ebook and a print title.

I’m a programmer as well as an author, and one of my projects is the yWriter novel-writing software. I recently modified the program to make it easy to export to ebook-ready HTML and print-ready LaTeX (which can be converted to PDF.)

Once the programming was done, I laid out my novel in yWriter in such a way that I could generate both types of file from the same project.

What are your sales numbers? Are your illustrated book(s) selling better than your other titles?

It’s too early to answer this yet – not released.

How did you determine pricing? Have you played with pricing? How has it affected your sales?

I looked at similar titles with a similar page length. I believe $4.99 for the ebook is about right, and $6.99 for the paperback is cheap. I can always raise the paperback price later if need be.

How many illustrated books have you written/have for sale?

Hal Junior is my first illustrated book. None of my adult titles contain illustrations.

Do you have more planned?

I’m torn between writing Hal Junior 2 and Hal Spacejock 5. The Junior books are quicker and easier to write, but Hal 5 is well overdue!

What advice would you give other authors who have or would like to publish illustrated books?

Decide what you want the illustrations to do. Are you adding to the text, or supplying full-page illustrations of scenes from the book?

Simon Haynes was born in England and grew up in Spain, where he enjoyed an amazing childhood of camping, motorbikes, mateship, air rifles and paper planes. His family moved to Australia when he was 16.
From 1986 to 1988 Simon studied at Curtin University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Film, Creative Writing and Literature.
Simon returned to Curtin in 1997, graduating with a degree in Computer Science two years later. An early version of Hal Spacejock was written during the lectures.

Simon has four Hal Spacejock novels and several short stories in print. Sleight of Hand won the Aurealis Award (short fiction) in 2001, and Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch was a finalist in both the Ditmar and Aurealis Awards for 2008.
Simon divides his time between writing fiction and computer software, with frequent bike rides to blow away the cobwebs.
His goal is to write fifteen Hal books (Spacejock OR Junior!) before someone takes his keyboard away.
Follow Simon on Facebook and Twitter.

Dangerous Times, Desperate Measures by Monica La Porta – Free Creepy Short Story

Dangerous Times,
Desperate Measures
by Monica La Porta

Yesterday
everything was perfect.

Today
I woke up to an outlandish scenario. There are no words to
describe what I saw when I opened my eyes. I am still shaking at the vivid
memory…

Something
warm, and yellow-orangey in color viciously touched my skin. I can barely talk
about it; you will forgive me if I skip to a few hours later, when I had to
leave the house to drive my kid to school. I couldn’t let him, my precious
little boy, take the school bus. What if the driver went crazy? On the road, we
witnessed the first signs that the illness had already touched several minds.
People were shielding their eyes, and changing lanes without even noticing it.
Driving back was even more dangerous. I barely made it home.

Now,
my kids and I are barricaded in the basement, safely surrounded by the familiar
humid darkness. Two hours ago, I last heard from my husband. He was stuck in
his office, watching horrified as hordes of people wandered at street level. He
told me about the vacant eyes, and the addled expressions…

My
daughter has found an old battered radio. A confused voice is giving
suggestions on what to do until this inexplicable phenomenon lasts. I shiver.
The voice says that it will continue until Sunday. I cry.

From outside I can hear little kids, lost
to the world, enslaved by this madness the voice on the radio called… the Sun.

***

Monica La Porta is an Italian who landed in Seattle, eleven years ago. She writes, paints, and tries her best to take good care of her family and house. On the house front she is losing the battle, but she has a good excuse: her first novel is coming out of the drawer. Visit her blog.

The Bike by Tim Kizer – Quick and Creepy Free Fiction!

The Bike

(from the under a 1,000 word story collection)

1.

“You’ve got a cool bicycle there,” said Norman.

“Yes, it is a nice bike.” Jesse propped his Schwinn against the wall and the men entered the house.

“Riding away from a heart attack?” Norman smiled. “This time I’m going to win.”

“Keep dreaming.”

They walked into the living room, where Sheila, Norman’s wife, was watching TV. Sheila and Jesse greeted each other.

The men sat at the table, ready to have another session of Texas hold ’em. In a minute, they were joined by Jack, Norm’s brother.

“Where’s Paul?” asked Jesse.

“Our son’s having a good time with a new girlfriend,” answered Sheila.

2.

“What are you doing?” asked Norman. “Are you about to fall asleep?”

“You shouldn’t have drunk so much,” remarked Jack.

Jesse yawned. He really felt an irresistible urge to go to bed. But he did not think he had drunk too much.

“I know–he just doesn’t want me to win my money back,” growled Norman.

“Guys, I guess I’m out.” Jesse put his cards on the table and tried to get up but unsuccessfully.

“Jack will take you home in his truck,” said Norman. “And don’t forget the bike.”

Jesse yawned again, closed his eyes, and fell into the abyss of sleep a moment later.

3.

He was woken up by the doorbell ringing. He got up, went barefoot to the entry hall, opened the door, and was surprised to see a cop.

“Your name is Jesse Greenburg?” asked the cop.

“Yes, that’s correct.” Jesse cracked a weak smile.

“Can you come to the police station with us?”

“What happened?”

“They just want to ask you a few questions.”

4.

At the police station, they took his fingerprints, as if he were some serial killer. Then Jesse met a somber-looking man in a gray suit.

“I am Detective John Lewis,” said the man. “I am going to conduct an interview. I suggest that you call a lawyer.”

They brought him to the interrogation room after he told Lewis that he would call the lawyer when he felt the need to do so. When Jesse and the detective took seats at the table, Jesse noticed a bicycle parked against the wall, which looked almost exactly like his.

“Is this your bicycle?” Lewis pointed at the bike.

“No, it’s not. My bike is at my house.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I am. I’ve been riding mine for five years now.”

“What if I told you that there’s your name on this bicycle?”

“Where?”

“On the seat.”

Jesse frowned. He had in fact had his name branded on the side of the seat of his bicycle.

“Suppose you did. So what?”

“What if I told you that this bicycle was used to commit a robbery?”

“I told you it’s not my bicycle.”

“Then why is it covered with your fingerprints?”

Jesse felt a chill in the pit of his stomach.

“What robbery?” he asked. He could hardly keep his voice from shaking.

“Last night, at nine pm, a man on a bicycle snatched a purse out of a woman’s hands on Lincoln Avenue. There were five hundred dollars in cash and a pearl necklace in the purse.”

“And you think it was me?”

“That’s right. You fit the description.”

“I assure you it was not me.”

Lewis shoved a piece of paper in Jesse’s face.

“Here’s a warrant to search your house,” he said. “And we’re going to search it right now.”

5.

They found the money and necklace. They were stashed in the garbage basket in Jesse’s kitchen, packed in a plastic bag. They put the evidence in the center of the table in the living room so he could see it in all its glory.

“Do this money and the necklace belong to you?” asked Lewis.

“No, I’ve never seen them before.”

“Can you explain how they got in your house?”

“I guess somebody planted them there.”

“Planted? Do you think it sounds plausible? By the way, can I see your bicycle?”

“I don’t see it in my house. Somebody has stolen it.”

Yes, his bike was gone. Or it was hidden very well.

“Someone has stolen your bicycle? What for?”

Don’t forget the bike, said Norman.

Jesse’s heart started throbbing. Damn, all this stress had made him completely forget yesterday’s poker night.

“Listen. I couldn’t have robbed that woman because last night at nine pm I was at my neighbor’s place, playing Texas hold ‘em.”

“What’s his name?”

“Norman Cooper. We played poker till midnight. Talk to him.”

6.

Jesse shifted a triumphant look from Detective Lewis to Norman, then back to the detective. Now this misunderstanding would finally get resolved.

“Where were you last night at nine o’clock?” Lewis opened his notepad.

“I was at home,” answered Norman.

“Did you see Mr. Greenburg at that time?”

“Jesse? No, I didn’t.”

“Norm?!” Jesse exclaimed as a thousand goose bumps popped up on his skin. “What are you saying?!”

“Is anything wrong?” asked Norman.

“Tell him the truth!” shouted Jesse.

“I told the truth. What’s going on?” Norman stared at the detective.

“So, Mr. Greenburg was not at your house yesterday at nine pm?”

“No, he was not. What happened?”

“What happened?!” Jesse was ready to charge at Norman, but restrained himself, being aware that it would only harm him.

“I guess we’re finished here,” said Lewis with a smile.

7.

“This necklace…How much is it?” Paul put his arm around Jane’s waist.

“I don’t remember the exact price.” Jane kissed Paul on the cheek. “You made a great robber.”

“And you made a great victim.”

“Having fun, kids?” Norman entered the room.

“Mr. Cooper, are you sure it was Jesse who killed your dog?” asked Jane.

“I am positive. I wish they had driving schools in prison.”

“Bad thing he’ll never know why we framed him,” said Paul.

“Why? I’m going to send him a postcard to prison,” said Norman. “A postcard with a picture of a dog. A dog riding a bicycle.”

THE END

***

Tim Kizer has authored several novels and numerous short stories in the horror, suspense, and action thriller genre.

He resides in Southern California. His current release is the thriller “Hitchhiker.”

Trapped by Alain Gomez – Free Flash Fiction To Creep You Out!

Trapped

by Alain Gomez

His head hurt.  He must have been hit with something.  Whatever it was, it
must have been heavy.

He rolled his tongue around a bit.  His mouth felt dry.

He must have been unconscious for several hours at least.

His head still hurt too much to try and sit up.  With a groan he tried to
look around.  It was pitch black.

Where was he?!  He didn’t remember it ever being so dark at the tavern he
had been staying at.  He was probably dumped on some cheap bed somewhere.

His head hit something solid as he tried to sit up.

How strange.

He reached up with his hands to feel what was above him.  It felt like wood.

Why would anyone put…

A horrifying thought crawled into his head.

His hands trembled slightly as he tried to reach out to either side of his
body.

There was wood there too.

White-hot panic coursed through him as he started to kick and push at his
coffin.

But the weight bearing down on him was too much to move.

He wasn’t dead!  It wasn’t his time!  Didn’t anybody realize they had made a
mistake?!

He dug his nails deeply into the rough wood about him; careless of the
splinters that pushed into his fingers.

The air was getting thick and warm.

Blood started to flow freely down his arms as he continued to frantically
scratch.

It was getting warmer.  Harder to think.

He wasn’t dead… It wasn’t his time…

***

Alain Gomez lives in San Diego and has been writing since she was sixteen. She works in the field of music but has continued to pursue her passion for writing as an independent author. Though she generally sticks to writing
shorter stories, Alain enjoys experimenting with a variety of genres including romance and science fiction. Trapped is from her collection Dead in a Flash.

Selina Fenech Interview, Author of Memory’s Wake, Illustrated YA Fantasy

My third interview in the illustrated fiction author category is with Selina Fenech. Both author and illustrator, Selina has carved out a fantastical world in Memory’s Wake. Read on to find out more about why and how Selina put together this Young Adult Fantasy.

What made you decide to write/create an illustrated book?

I’ve been a professional artist for almost ten years now, and am just entering the world of writing. It seemed to make sense to include some of my artwork in my novel. I almost went the opposite direction, publishing without illustrations under a pen name, just in case the novel really bombed and ruined my name as an artist 😉 But thankfully my writing has been well received so far, with all 4 and 5 star reviews.

How did you decide on the age level and genre? Was your book always geared toward this age level/genre or did you change it to fit?

I always intended my novel to be a young adult novel. It’s a style I prefer to read most myself even though I’m past the standard market age for “Young Adult” books. YA books can be dark and gritty, but they still have a level of innocence and excitement that I love, which is what I wanted to achieve for my book.

Do you also illustrate your books? If not, how did you find your illustrator/artist? Any suggestions for hiring an illustrator?

I was lucky that I could illustrate my story myself. If I couldn’t do it myself, I probably wouldn’t have illustrated at all. The novel itself is a full length novel that doesn’t necessarily require illustration, they’re just a bonus!

When seeking an illustrator (speaking from the illustrator’s perspective!), be sure to treat the illustrator as a skilled professional. Give them the same level of respect you might a doctor or lawyer, because most artists spend just as much effort and time learning and practicing what are very specialized skills. For both illustrator and client, it is always best to work with a contract, so each party has a clear understanding of what work will be done, time frames, costs, and how many changes an illustrator is willing to do based on clients requests.

Did you have an idea of what you wanted your characters to look/dress like?

I had a fairly clear idea, but when I started illustrating, of course I had to develop much more detailed designs for each characters clothes. And then each character changed clothing a number of times during the story, particularly my main character Memory, who begins in jeans and a t-shirt and undergoes a number of transformations throughout the book, which are somewhat symbolic of her internal transformation through the book.

How did you decide how many illustrations to include in your book?

At first I thought I’d just do one small illustration per chapter (28 chapters), but I kept thinking of other scenes I wanted to illustrate. And then I felt the illustrations were unbalanced, too many of one character, or too many for some chapters and not enough in others, and I just kept adding to the list. It became an ongoing joke between myself and my husband. I’d keep announcing, “Just 2 more illustrations to go!” Then I’d finish some, then announce “Just three more illustrations to go!” I ended up with 44 illustrations in total.

I’ve seen some posts on various boards concerning illustrated books detracting from the reader’s enjoyment of creating the characters in their own mind. Do you agree with this? Do you feel your illustrations enhance your book? How?

This is something I worried about. I almost went down the path of avoiding showing any of the characters faces for this reason. I do think readers form, and want to form, their own idea of how a character looks, and when presented with a different alternative it can be jarring (just look at the trouble that movie casting goes through when making movies from books!). In the end I went with including the characters faces, but tried to make them not overly unique faces, if that makes sense. I haven’t had any complaints that people didn’t enjoy seeing the characters in the illustrations. I think part of it is also because they meet the characters in words and pictures at the same time, rather than forming an opinion first then seeing alternate images.

What has been the response from your readers? Did you notice your fan base increase dramatically?

My book has only been out for a few months now, but I’m starting to see more readers amongst my fans, which before were primarily art fans.

How did you promote your book?

I tried a bit of everything. Because the book was illustrated, I could use the pictures in a book trailer, and also release a few of the pictures leading up to the book release as teasers which people loved. I have a website for the book www.memoryswake.com where you can see some of my older posts about the big launch week program I organized to promote the book. I use Twitter a lot (@selinafenech) and it’s a combination of art and book promotion, and also just general chatter, since no one is interested in just being advertised to all the time.

Can you explain your formatting process and any problems you encountered with uploading/viewing your book? Do you offer a print version or digital only? Any tips you can offer?

I set my book up for print (paperback and hardcover) as well as ebook for Smashwords and Kindle.

At first, I only included the illustrations in the print versions. Laying these out was more straight forward, a what you see is what you get approach that I could also double check with hard copy proofs of the printed books.

Ebooks are a little trickier, because the one ebook can be viewed on any number of different device types, and people can adjust font sizing, screen colour and so many other options as they wish. It makes it hard to control formatting. My advice for those considering including illustrations in their ebooks is to not be too set on an exact formatting you want. Different devices will resize the images and treat them in different ways. It’s hardest to get images to show as “full page” images, and smaller images within the text work better. For myself, having the images appear where they are intended to within the text was the most important part.

How did you determine pricing? Have you played with pricing? How has it affected your sales?

I offered the book at a sale price during launch week, which a lot of people took advantage of, and since raised the price slightly. Otherwise I haven’t played with the price much. One thing I did which worked well, is during my launch week promotions, I offered a voucher to anyone who purchased the paperback to be able to also purchase the ebook for 99 cents so they could start reading while their paperback was being shipped. A lot of people took up that offer.

How many illustrated books have you written/have for sale?

I currently only have the one book published and available, Memory’s Wake. I’m about to publish another novella, however it won’t be illustrated.

Do you have more planned?

Memory’s Wake will be a trilogy, and I plan to illustrate the following two books as well. I’m hoping to have the next book out in late 2012.

What advice would you give other authors who have or would like to publish illustrated books?

From my point of view it’s a little hard to judge because many of my readers were my art fans first, but the illustrated format has been well received and people seem to really enjoy seeing the scenes and characters as they read. Of course, illustration isn’t appropriate for all books (which is why I’m not illustrating my urban/paranormal romance novella), but for books like Memory’s Wake, which already have a strong fairy tale theme, the illustrations help bring the book together as a nice package.

Born in 1981 to Australian and Maltese parents, Selina lives in Australia with her husband, unnamed cat, and a lorikeet who’s far too clever. During her life Selina has found ancient Roman treasure, survived cancer, had knights joust at her wedding, earned a living from her art, written a novel and eaten every bizarre and wonderful food put in front of her.

Follow Selina on Facebook.

Follow Selina on YouTube.

Abigail Hilton Interview, Illustrated Fiction Author of Cowry Catchers & Feeding Malachi

Welcome to my second installment of illustrated author interviews. Abbie Hilton was kind enough to offer a wealth of information that will benefit authors regardless of whether they’re writing an illustrated book or not. Thanks Abbie!

– What made you decide to write/create an illustrated book?

Hi, Heather. Thanks for inviting me to your blog.

My experiences with illustration arose organically. Back in 2007, I was writing a dark, nautical fantasy series called The Guild of the Cowry Catchers. As a gift to myself, I commissioned some illustrations from an online artist that I admired (Sarah Cloutier). They were beautiful watercolors that I could hang on my wall. I did not expect anyone to ever see them except myself and my beta readers. I was still trying to get traditionally published. I had never heard of podcasting. eBooks were anathema to any true book-lover.

At first, I was only going to commission one or two illustrations, but Sarah did something very smart – she created about a dozen pencil sketches and then asked which I’d like to buy as finished watercolors. The sketches were so gorgeous that I couldn’t buy just 1…or 2 or 3… LOL. I was a single nurse with some disposable income, and writing was what I loved most, so I thought, why not? I bought about 10. But I still thought they were just for me and my friends.

Then in 2008, I discovered podcasting – serialized audio books released under a creative commons license. I love audio books, and the idea of making my own was enticing. I started with my YA series, The Prophet of Panamindorah, as a solo-read. I built an audience of several thousand people. I finished in 2009 and immediately started working on the audio for Cowry Catchers. This time, I wanted a fullcast production with voice actors and music. I also realized that I had something exceptional in the illustrations. No other podcast had professional quality illustrations for each episode. You can view some of the illustrations here: http://cowrycatchers.com/?page_id=548

I started buying more artwork to fill in the gaps. A podcast episode is about 30 minutes, and my books tend to be 10-12 episodes in length. Cowry Catchers is a 5-book series. So I got to know some more artists, and I did a lot more work with the very talented Sarah Cloutier. I asked some of my favorite podcasters to do voices for my characters and was shocked when they all said yes. I got very involved with the community. It’s a lot of fun!

I still thought of my writing as a hobby. I spent money on it as you might spend money on skiing or travel. I did not expect it to pay me back. I spent about $2,000 per book on artwork on Cowry Catchers, and I bought mics and some sound equipment, upgrading as I got better.

In 2010, the eBook revolution hit. I had figured out by then that (a) my books are too niche to ever find a traditional publisher and (b) my work has an enthusiastic audience. Those things may seem contradictory, but they’re both true. I had already tried selling a couple of audio short stories off my website. I found that my listeners would pay me over 10 cents per word. That’s pro rate.

 

So, in Dec of 2010, I started publishing eBooks. I’ve currently got 9 (soon to be 10) books out. Four of them are illustrated. Two of them are redundant. They are:

The Prophet of Panamindorah series (YA):

Fauns and Filinians

Wolflings and Wizards

Fire and Flood

The Compete Series (all 3 books as a single download)

The Guild of the Cowry Catchers Series (Adult, also set in the world of Panamindorah)

Embers, Illustrated

Flames, Illustrated

Ashes, Illustrated

Out of the Ashes, Illustrated (coming end of 2011)

Shores Beyond the World, Illustrated (coming 2012)

The Complete Series, text-only (coming within a month)

Crossroads: Short Stories from Panamindorah

Feeding Malachi, an Illustrated Chapter Book (Target age range 4-8)

Malachi is the most recent edition and probably the reason Heather contacted me for this interview. However, I don’t know how to explain my journey into illustrated eBooks without talking about the rest. Sarah Cloutier did the artwork for Feeding Malachi. We already had a substantial professional history together working on Cowry Catchers.

How did you decide on the age level and genre? Was your book always geared toward this age level/genre or did you change it to fit?

LOL. You’re assuming that I made a conscious decision on age level and genre. I didn’t. I just wrote the stories. Cowry Catchers is definitely for adults. With Malachi, I had to ask friends with children what age-range they thought it fit. I had some children test-drive it, too.

Do you also illustrate your books? If not, how did you find your illustrator/artist? Any suggestions for hiring an illustrator?

I’m a writer, not an illustrator. I love visual art, though, and I follow a lot of artists on DA (DeviantArt). When one of them announces that they’re taking commissions, I politely approach them and ask for a commission for my story. Sometimes, this blossoms into a more long-term working relationship. I usually just give them the story and ask them to illustrate a scene that they find appealing. I get better art this way, and the artists usually like it after they get over the weirdness of it. The downside is that they have to actually read the story. Some just won’t. However, once they realize that you’re not going to tell them what to draw, they get a lot more enthusiastic about it.

If you’ve never worked with artists before, I suggest starting with one who has a system for taking commissions. This person will guide you through the process, and you have some assurance that they can finish things. Don’t start with an artist who’s never taken commissions before and is still figuring out how to do it.

It’s not wrong to have a contract, although I’ve never done it that way. Email agreements do have some legal clout, although a signed contract is more binding. Basically, you just need to agree on payment, timeframe for delivery, medium of the artwork, and number of revisions that the artist will do before she starts charging you extra. Most artists will send you a sketch, which you may critique before the final product. Occasionally, they will also send the work in progress to make sure you’re still okay with how it’s going. Major revisions at the sketch stage and small revisions at the WIP stage are usually well-tolerated.

You should also make sure that the artist understands how you will use the art and she’s OK with that. Understand that you are not buying all rights to the image. The artist is free to re-sell digital images of the artwork. This is very unlikely to happen or to harm you if it does happen. You shouldn’t worry about it. If you insist on buying the complete rights to the image, it will cost much more.

Additionally, if the image is real-media, I suggest asking for a high resolution scan from the artist in addition to the physical artwork. Most artists make such scans and keep them. They own the image, after all, and can resell it. Scanning artwork well is an art in itself. You probably will not achieve a scan as attractive as the artist will achieve. You want the hi res file – the TIFF or PNG – not a compressed file like a JPEG. You’ll need that if you ever produce a paper version of your book. It will probably be too big to send via email. I suggest DropBox or a similar service.

Finally, if you plan to use the image for anything other than the book, such as promotional materials (banner ads, free bookmarks to give away at cons, posters), you need to let the artist know that. In my opinion, if the artist isn’t OK with that or wants to change you a lot more money, you should walk away. This is a basic necessity for marketing an illustrated book. However, it is a different kind of right, and, just to avoid unpleasant surprises, you should make sure the artist knows that you plan to use the artwork this way.

If you plan to use the artwork on merchandise that you will sell – t-shirts, calendars, prints – you definitely need to clear that with the artist first. In my opinion, she is justified in charging you a little more if you want these things, and she may even say no. Some artists sell their own prints, and they will not be OK with you doing so. You can direct your readers to their store to buy their prints. On the other hand, some artists have no interest in being burdened with this activity, because there’s usually very little money in it. They’ll be happy to let you do it yourself.

Did you have an idea of what you wanted your characters to look/dress like?

Since Rah was my first illustrator for Cowry Catchers, she set the bar for character appearance. She followed my descriptions pretty closely, but she created things, too, including the styles of their clothes. Near the beginning, I remember that she sent me a frustrated email saying that she didn’t know the length of anyone’s hair. Kinda funny. It wasn’t important to plot or characterization, so I just hadn’t thought to include that detail. You have to nail down stuff like that for an illustrator.

How did you decide how many illustrations to include in your book?

For Cowry Catchers, I wanted an illustration for each podcast episode. For Malachi, I wanted one for the beginning of each chapter. I ended up getting a few more than that in both cases, but those were the goals.

I’ve seen some posts on various boards concerning illustrated books detracting from the reader’s enjoyment of creating the characters in their own mind. Do you agree with this? Do you feel your illustrations enhance your book? How?

I think that’s kind of silly. I’ve never heard an actual reader express that idea. On the other hand, there’s a strong prejudice against pictures in books for grown-ups. There’s this idea that art for adults needs to be ugly or abstract or hard to understand. Adults aren’t supposed to just enjoy beautiful, attractive artwork, such as storybook illustrations. So I don’t think anyone will buy an adult book for the sake of the illustrations, at least not the first one. They are usually pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoy the illustrations. At least, so they tell me.

I think most adults are sophisticated enough to understand that any illustration is the artists’ interpretation of the character. My voice actors give their interpretation of how the characters sound. My music selection for the audio gives my interpretation of the kind of emotion present in a scene. Readers and listeners are sophisticated enough to disagree or to reimagine their own versions. I know, because they tell me when they think I got it wrong.

What has been the response from your readers? Did you notice your fan base increase dramatically?

Well, there are certainly people who like the illustrations, and there are people who are indifferent. There’s no way for me to know what the response would have been like without the illustrations. I don’t have 2 versions.

I will be releasing the complete 5-book series of Cowry Catchers in a text-only version a year or more before the last of the illustrated books. I want people to be able to get the whole story, and illustration is a slow process. It will be interesting to see how many of those people come back to buy the illustrated versions once they’re released.

For the first 3 books of Cowry Catchers, most of the illustrations were free online. However, for the last 2, they’ll be eBook-only. So, both the podcasting audience and the text audience will have to buy the eBooks if they want to see the pictures. How many will do it? I have no idea.

How did you promote your book?

Well… I do a lot of stuff. 😉 And I keep meticulous records about what works and what doesn’t.

While I’ve never been professionally published in book form, I write a fair number of short stories, which do get published in both text and audio venues (mostly audio, because that’s what I love). Some of these stories are set in the world of Panamindorah and include characters from the books. I’ve found this is a great way to gain new readers and listeners. Even when I publish stories not set in Panamindorah, the editor always includes a little bio, which mentions my books. If a reader or listener enjoyed the story, they’ll go looking for my longer fiction.

For the podcast, I occasionally run promos in other people’s podcasts, and I do voice work for other podcasts. I also have my audio books on Podiobooks.com, and that site gets a huge amount of traffic.

The audio and text audiences are separate, although there is some cross-over. Mostly, I get bleed-through from my podcast audience into my eBooks. I have my own website www.abigailhilton.net as well as devoted websites for Cowry Catchers www.cowrycatchers.com and Prophet www.panamindorah.com . I have reasonably active forums – http://panamindorah.freeforums.org/

A lot of fans also contact me on Twitter and FB. I post to twitter and it cross-posts to FB.

Very occasionally, I do highly targeted ad campaigns through Project Wonderful with $10-$20 worth of slot-time. I have found this effective for getting people hooked on the podcast. I have found it completely ineffective for getting them to buy the eBooks. Take-away lesson: get them hooked on free content first, then ask them to spend money later.

The only expensive advertising I’ve done is through Kindle Nation. I did find that this boosted eBook sales. I’m not sure that it paid for itself in initial sales, but many of those people will go on to buy the rest of the books in the series, at which point it will definitely pay for itself.

The best promotional I’ve ever gotten was when Amazon decided to make Book 1 of Prophet free. I had no control over that, but it caused a huge jump in sales. I wish they’d make the first book of Cowry Catchers free.

Can you explain your formatting process and any problems you encountered with uploading/viewing your book? Do you offer a print version or digital only? Any tips you can offer?

I have a whole article on formatting illustrated eBooks using Smashwords. It’s on my blog. http://abigailhilton.squarespace.com/abbies-blog/2011/5/21/how-to-format-an-illustrated-or-unillustrated-ebook-using-sm.html

A physical book is completely different from an eBook. In many ways, they’re opposites. What looks good in a physical book looks terrible in an eBook and vise-versa. Real books have a fixed page-layout (like a PDF), while eBooks need re-flowable text which cannot be fixed to a certain layout. PDFs look crappy in most eReaders, and that’s because they’re laid out like a paper book with a defined page.

Images – you’d need the hi res version, 300 dpi. I have limited experience with physical books, and I would never attempt to lay them out myself. I’ve only had the first CC book professionally laid out and published through Createspace, Amazon’s POD. Other POD’s are Lightning Source and Lulu. While I was happy with the result, it was an expensive and time-consuming process.

In addition, I feel there’s no money in paper books. Yes, people want to buy them from me at cons. They want something signed. However, they buy very few of them online. So, it’s a kind of loss-leader, and I spend so much money on artwork, I just don’t care to pay to have all my books laid out in paper. It’s not worth it right now.

I’m sure a children’s book would sell more in paper than an adult book. But how many more? Enough to justify the layout expense? Prob not. At least not for me right now.

What are your sales numbers? Are your illustrated book(s) selling better than your other titles?

I post my eBook sales numbers fairly often on my blog. These are combined sales from Amazon, BN, and Smashwords. Through Aug:

  • Dec: 36

  • Jan: 31

  • Feb: 88

  • March: 271

  • April: 180

  • May: 352

  • June: 359

  • July: 363

  • Aug sales: 296

With this month, I’m over 2,000 books sold. In addition, Amazon has given away about 8,000 copies of the first Prophet book. BN has also given away lots of copies of both Prophet 1 and CC1. However, they don’t give me numbers for the freebies.

My best-seller is, ironically, the complete Prophet trilogy. It’s not illustrated, nor was it professionally copyedited. I paid about $500/book to have CC copyedited, but it turns out, readers just don’t care. As long as the book isn’t riddled with errors (mine aren’t), readers don’t seem concerned.

However, comparing Prophet to Cowry Catchers is really apples to oranges. Prophet is YA (which has very broad appeal), it’s finished (people like finished stuff), and Amazon has the first book in the series listed for free. Those are all big points in its favor.

This is funny to me because Prophet was drafted when I was 16. It was re-written in 2008, and although it’s solid work, it doesn’t hold a candle to Cowry Catchers as far as the strength of the writing. However, as I said, they’re apples and oranges.

I don’t think the illustrations have anything to do with it. Illustrations in an adult book will not draw an audience. They may *keep* an audience or make people feel comfortable paying more for a book, but illustrations will not induce adults to try the books initially.

Illustrations make me happy. They are not a business decision.

For Malachi (a children’s book), I felt they were important. Stories for children in that age range are expected to have artwork.

However, I could be wrong. So far, I’ve heard exclusively from parents reading this book to their kids. Would it have sold just as well without illustrations? I don’t know. Maybe. The illustrations put it about $500 in the hole right out of the gate, with the cover another $100. Is it good business sense to put the book in that kind of debt (to me, it’s publisher) over something that may not boost sales? I have no idea. I just know I like artwork.

How did you determine pricing? Have you played with pricing (lowered/increased)? How has it affected your sales?

I try to make the first book in a series as low as possible, preferably free. This definitely boosts sales of the later books, which is where I make my money. For the illustrated books, I make a little less than it looks like because of transfer fees. For instance, CC3 is $4.99. Amazon takes 0.26 cents right off the top for file transfer costs, and then gives me 70% of what’s left. So I make $3.31 per book. To their credit, Amazon does share the transfer cost with me by doing it that way. These transfer fees are negligible on non-illustrated books, but illustrations make the files large.

For the rest…I’m probably not the best person to ask this question, because I don’t play a lot with pricing. I haven’t been publishing eBooks for long enough to have sufficient data on the prices I started with. Maybe in a year, I’ll know enough to “play.” In the meantime, I read a lot of indie blogs, try to learn from their experiences, and price accordingly.

The illustrated Cowry Catchers books are all $4.99 after the first one. None of my non-illustrated books are more than $2.99. That will change when I release the complete text-only version of Cowry Catchers, which will be $9.99. It’s 5 books, 300K words.

No one has ever complained to me about the price of my eBooks.

Do you have more planned?

Well, there are books 4 and 5 of Cowry Catchers – those will definitely be illustrated. Beyond that, I don’t know.

Hunters Unlucky is an old story that I’m digging out and rebooting. Also, there’s another (flawed but written) Panamindorah story that people keep asking about – Walk Upon High. It needs a comprehensive re-write before it can go out in public. In addition, there’s a Cowry Catchers-related novel and a novella that I’d like to write in the near-future. I doubt any of these will be illustrated right out of the gate, since my primary illustrator is busy with CC4 and 5. But, who knows? I would love to do Hunters as a web comic, but that’s a different set of hurdles.

What advice would you give other authors who have or would like to publish illustrated books?

If you’re going to do this, do it for the love of it. If it doesn’t give you great pleasure to see your story come alive in art, don’t do it. It won’t be worth it to you. I am not personally convinced that illustrations sell books. They do make fantastic promotional materials, and attract people in ways that are not quantifiable.

However, if you’re looking at this from a strictly business perspective, I’m not sure the artwork will pay for itself. The book will definitely be making money faster (pay off its “debt” to you) if you don’t set it back by hundreds or thousands of dollars with illustrations.

On the other hand, if you derive personal enjoyment and satisfaction from seeing your work come alive in visual art, then it’s worth it. Eventually, the artwork may capture its own following and attract people for the art’s sake. In the meantime, you will have terrific promotional materials. However, from a business perspective, it would be foolish to see this as anything but a gamble. Buy art because you love it or don’t buy art.

Abigail Hilton is an itinerant nurse anesthetist. She has spent time in veterinary school, lived in Taiwan, and skinned rattlesnakes. Not in that order.

Follow Abbie on Facebook and Twitter.

Laura Lond Interview, Author of My Sparkling Misfortune Illustrated YA Book

In my quest to learn more about the illustrated fiction market I decided it might be more beneficial to interview author’s of illustrated books gleaning their advice and applying it to my own situation. Laura Lond, author of the YA fantasy My Sparkling Misfortune, starts off this series of author interviews.

What made you decide to write/create an illustrated book?

The idea to add illustrations had come rather spontaneously, after the book was completed. I already knew an artist who worked on foreign language editions of my other titles, and I knew she’d do an excellent job. I wanted to offer my readers the best product I possibly could, so I thought, why not try enhancing it this way.

How did you decide on the age level and genre? Was your book always geared toward this age level/genre or did you change it to fit?

I did not think of any of that as I was working on the book, I just wrote the story the way I felt it needed to be written. Then, when it was completed, I tried to determine what audience it would fit best. Given the plot, the length, and the style, it looked like a MG/YA book. Adding illustrations seemed to move it closer to MG in many readers’ eyes. While I personally see no reason why YA or even adult books can’t be illustrated, I don’t fight it. I let the readers be the judge.

Do you also illustrate your books? If not, how did you find your illustrator/artist? Any suggestions for hiring an illustrator?

I have no artistic abilities myself, so I work with a professional artist. I found her through a publisher in Kiev who handles the Russian language edition of my YA fantasy trilogy. It was their idea to have the trilogy illustrated, and when I saw how well the artist had handled it, I decided to have her work on this new series as well. She had perfect credentials and a long list of published works, so I did not have to worry about anything. If you are just starting out though, testing the waters with a new artist, I certainly do advise to do your research, check references, possibly get in touch with their other clients and see whether they are satisfied with the results.

Did you have an idea of what you wanted your characters to look/dress like?

Yes, of course. We had discussed all that with the artist, especially the two main characters. As for the illustrations themselves though, I gave her the freedom to choose what scenes she wanted to do and in what way. All I said was that I wanted one illustration for each chapter. The rest was up to her.

How did you decide how many illustrations to include in your book?

Since I had to pay out of my own pocket for this independently published book, finances had a lot to do with the decision. I could afford ordering 10 illustrations, one for each chapter, and it seemed sufficient. The artist ended up doing one more and giving it to me for free just because she liked one specific scene.

I’ve seen some posts on various boards concerning illustrated books detracting from the reader’s enjoyment of creating the characters in their own mind. Do you agree with this? Do you feel your illustrations enhance your book? How?

Unless illustrations are poorly done, I don’t think they take anything away from the reader’s enjoyment of the book. I’ve always liked illustrated books myself. When we read, we still create the characters’ picture in our head; to me, it’s fun to see an illustration and compare how well it matches what I imagined. Sometimes it’s a great match, other times I disagree with the artist’s rendition. There’s nothing wrong with that. Now, if the book clearly says the character has dark hair and I see them blond on the picture, that’s a different story. I think such blunders are easy enough to avoid or correct, and they shouldn’t make their way into a published book.

What has been the response from your readers? Did you notice your fan base increase dramatically?My Sparkling Misfortune

I often see readers and reviewers comment on how much they have enjoyed the pictures in my book. Unfortunately, I also see a small percentage of comments stating that the particular reader was reluctant to pick up my book because it is illustrated – in their mind, illustrated book means children’s book. So, as you see, this can be a little tricky. I trust the readers though. My experience shows that someone might not want to read a MG book, but when they see it mentioned favorably in blogs they trust or on Amazon, they’ll give it a chance – and then post comments along the lines of, “I had almost passed this up, I’m so glad I read it.”

How did you promote your book?

I’ve been promoting mostly through reviews, trying to get the word of mouth going – doing giveaways, contacting bloggers/reviewers with established followings. The main character, Lord Arkus, has his own Facebook page. I’ve also submitted the book for a couple of awards; it had won the 1st place in one and become a finalist in the other. Being able to mention that it is an award-winning book helps.

That’s about it. I have no time to blog, tweet, etc. I go to some book-related message boards, but except for having my books mentioned in my signature, I rarely promote there.

Can you explain your formatting process and any problems you encountered with uploading/viewing your book? Do you offer a print version or digital only? Any tips you can offer?

I formatted my book in MS Word, then created an ebook with Mobipocket Creator. There was some reading and learning to do when I had first started, of course, but I did not have any problems. MS Word is easy to format the text and insert illustrations where I want them; Mobipocket does a great job of creating an ebook. I then check how it looks through Kindle for PC or on my Kindle.

I have printed edition available as well, offered through CreateSpace. I did the book in MS Word as well, using their templates, then converted to PDF.

What are your sales numbers? Are your illustrated book(s) selling better than your other titles?

Since releasing My Sparkling Misfortune in January 2011, I have sold a little over 300 copies. Not much, but the sales are growing. When I don’t do much promotion, the book seems to sell around 20-30 copies per month. Doing promos or being mentioned on a prominent blog helps, of course. My bestselling month was May, with 83 copies sold. Yes, MSM sells better than most of my other titles. It has never been offered for free, so I don’t have any number of free downloads.

How did you determine pricing? Have you played with pricing? How has it affected your sales?

Since the book is not long, only about 33,000 words, I didn’t feel comfortable charging more than $1.99 for it. I did not want to go less than that though, either; it is a quality book, and I had invested in a professional artist. The price seems to work well. Yes, I did a $0.99 experiment, lowering the price for a week. It gave a good boost at first, then sales went back to what they were before. I think I will stick to $1.99.

How many illustrated books have you written/have for sale?

Just this one. My other titles are not illustrated.

Do you have more planned?

I plan to release the sequel to My Sparkling Misfortune in October 2011, but it will not be illustrated, at least not right away. The reasons are purely financial. Fortunately, illustrations are easy to add later on. If the book sells well, I might consider doing that in the future.

What advice would you give other authors who have or would like to publish illustrated books?

If you can draw your own illustrations, things are much easier for you; I’d say just go for it. If not, it is a considerable investment, so I would advise to do some careful thinking. Why do you want illustrations? Do you think it will boost the sales? It might help, but not necessarily so. Do you think the book will benefit from being illustrated and you don’t care how soon you recoup the investment? In that case it is probably worth a try.

Laura Lond is an internationally published author of several novels and a collection of short stories. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. Having worked for 2 years at a literary museum, Laura entered the world of business, working for large international corporations like Xerox Ltd. and Fluor Daniel. After moving from Europe to the United States, she has been self-employed as a freelancer. Laura lives in Illinois.

Follow Laura on Facebook. Follow Lord Arkus on Facebook

Writing More Than One Book At A Time

Okay, so I sat down to work on the sequel to my children’s book yesterday and wasn’t ‘feelin’ it.’ Instead, I opened up a whole new document and started writing dialogue for a different book entirely.

Has anyone else had this happen?

The flow of words was so natural and I knew exactly what I wanted to relate to the reader. Granted, it is a far cry from my children’s book, but it is has more of me in it, which I think is why it was so easy to start. Now, to keep it going. I estimated that if I wrote between 1500 and 2000 words per day that I could be finished in thirty days. Of course, we’ll see if I can stick to that schedule since I have three other WIP’s all at different stages of completion.

I’m focusing on them in order of ‘easability.’ Is that a word? Basically, the easier it is for me to write (ideas coming at me clearly) the higher it is on my list. I’ve also determined when I can work on certain books, such as naptime for YA novel and bedtime for children’s book. I’ve reserved morning tea time for the new book I started, which doesn’t leave any time for my Romance novel, which has been hanging in the balance for months. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to make due until Nursery School starts.

Children’s Book Market

I dug out a children’s book I wrote six years ago for my grandfather. I’m wondering if there’s a market for children’s picture ebooks since most kids don’t have their own Kindle or other e-reading device, at least those between the ages of eight and thirteen, which is my target audience. I’m also wondering about the picture part and how intriguing a black and white illustration will be on e-readers unable to display color.

I’ve read conflicting reports by authors on various forums claiming there isn’t much of a market for children’s books, but then there are those authors claiming to be selling children’s books quite frequently. Not sure what ‘frequently’ means.

I performed a search on length and word counts for children’s books and came across a host of information mainly directed at the traditional publishing world. I wanted to make sure my book wasn’t too long or short or advanced. After talking to other indie publishers and reading numerous posts in the indie book publishing community I learned I just need to write the story I want to read. Sure I need to keep in mind that a five-year old won’t be able to read four syllable words and I need to keep the sentences short and to the point without running off on two paragraphs of backstory, but in the end it’s my own style, pacing, etc. that needs to come through.

I’m intrigued by the illustrated ebook market, so am launching a series of interviews in the coming weeks with authors of various types of illustrated ebooks including children’s, comic, how to and whatever else I can find.

Stay tuned!