Dream of becoming a children’s book author?

October 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Book reviews, Community groups, Educators, Publishing your story, Uncategorized, Writing | Leave a comment

Learn the secrets from a professional. One of a two part series

 
Meet author Karen Kaufman Orloff.  With four children’s picture books under her belt she has enough experience to give those of us who dream about being published authors the inside scoop. After graduating college with a degree in English, journalism and publishing, Orloff became an editor for a Manhattan magazine group. She currently is a columnist for the Poughkeepsie Journal.

“I have been writing for over 20 years,” says Orloff. “Since my children were babies.

“I remember reading story books to the kids and thinking I could write stories for kids. But once I got into it, I realized it’s a lot harder than it looks.”

It took Karen ten years before she published her first book I Wanna Igwana with the G. P. Putnam publishing group.

“It was a fluke,” says Orloff.  She went to a conference armed with her manuscript.  The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrator’s offered one-on-one sessions with editors. The rest is history. Then and there, the editor was interested in acquiring the story.  “That was the best money I ever spent,” says Orloff.  I Wanna Igwana has been nominated for 16 awards since it was first published in 2004. In fact, she was given an all expense trip to Nebraska to make a presentation about her book.

5  common misconceptions writers have?

  1. If I write a good story it will get published
  2. It is easy to get published
  3. Must use rhyming for easy reader children’s books
  4. Writing is a great way to earn a living.
  5. You must get an agent to get published.

 “I see many well written stories,” says Orloff. “But they are stories that have been around forever. It is critical that the story be unique. Some stories are way too long, or too adult in their theme or use of language.

 According to Orloff, you must have a thick skin to get published. And even now that she is a published author, Orloff still gets rejection letters. “Putnam rejected the manuscript for If My Mom Had Three Arms. The book finally found a home at Sterling Publishing and was published in 2004. Good luck follows Orloff. Sterling was bought by Barnes & Noble and now she has the benefit of their extensive distribution network.

In terms of rhyme, the author says that good rhyme is very hard to create. That is one of reason she suggests only using that technique is you a really good. She sees lines that don’t rhyme or meters that are off.  She emphasizes that rhyme must be good rhyme to work.

 According to Orloff, you shouldn’t count on quitting your current job if you need this money to pay your rent and put food on your table. Advances can run between $3,000 to $5,000 but getting two books published a year is considered good.  Even with royalties the money accumulates very slowly.

 Orloff does not have an agent and even as a published author she would have a hard time finding one.

There are so many writers now writing for the young market that it is very hard to capture the attention of an agent. So learn the industry and go it on your own.

 Her one word of advice? Persevere!

Want to learn more from this seasoned professional? Attend her upcoming class now forming.

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Are books really dead?

March 21, 2011 at 10:35 am | Posted in Book reviews, Education, Educators, Librarians, Publishing your story, Uncategorized, Writing | 1 Comment

I am always looking for the next book to read. One night I took a business book off my shelf called Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte. Just getting through his introduction was a shocker.

“Early in the next millennium your right and left cuff links or earrings may communicate with each other by low-orbiting satellites and have more computer power than your present PC…the digital planet will look and feel like the head of a pin.

As we interconnect ourselves, many of the values of a nation-state will give way to those of both larger and smaller electronic communities. We will socialize in digital neighborhoods in which physical space will be irrelevant and time will play a different roll.”

This was published in 1995…sixteen years ago.

 I was so fascinated by rereading Negroponte’s book I went online to see what other pronunciations he may suggest. And there it was… “The physical book will be dead in five years.” He shared this bombshell at the August 6, 2010 Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, CA.  

Over the past three years, I have worked with author Gloria Smith Zawaski, publishing our first children’s book called The Trunk in the Attic. We are about to print our second book in the series called Mongolia Bound. Our purpose is to introduce kids to other kids around the world, first Holland and now Mongolia. The series helps kids learn from other kids’ adventures. But I now think I have to consider another way of delivering the information, one that will be meaningful to this new generation of youngsters who may no longer use books as I did.

 This revelation really hit me when Eliot and Amy took to me to this huge used book warehouse in Washington, DC.   I looked at the 1,000s of books surrounding me and realized that I was looking at the death of an industry as I know it.  

It’s time to embrace the new ways and see how to make this online system of sharing information and books a more encompassing way of learning.

 For someone like me who loves books and the written word, catching up is not going to be easy. Not only do I have to stop thinking linearly but have to learn new skills. Who will I turn to in order to learn how the new computer widgets work?

Update!

July 5, 2010 at 9:48 am | Posted in Writing | Leave a comment
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Hello Undercover Kid lovers! It’s been awhile since we’ve updated you with any news. The past few months have flown by, but Gloria has been hard at work writing the second book in the series. Keep checking back for updates! We hope your summer is filled with many travels.

Story Starters

May 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Education, Kids and reading, Publishing your story, Writing | Leave a comment
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Throughout the past year we have written a lot of blogs on how to  encourage writing in children and we have found excellent resources from teachers and educational blogs. Well, we found another one! Here is a great idea for a child who has a hard time beginning a story. (Introductions are always my hardest part to start too.) These story starter activities are more like games, so they are fun as well as education! If you try any of them, please let us know how it went!

Local Bookmaking Workshop!

April 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Posted in Education, Kids and reading, Publishing your story, Uncategorized, Writing | Leave a comment
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Here at the Exciting Read Publishing Group we always love when we hear stories about story telling, bookmaking, reading, and writing workshops for children. It’s exciting to know that there are groups that support creative projects. The Children’s Media Project located in Poughkeepsie, will be hosting a free storytelling and bookmaking workshop for children on Saturday, May 1st or June 12th at the Lady Washington Firehouse in Poughkeepsie. Stop by from 1pm-3pm and children can write their own stories! Children’s Media Project (CMP) is a non-profit arts and education organization with a history of empowering “at-risk” youth through the media arts. CMP believes in making a social investment for community transformation by providing access to the skills and tools necessary for creation and appreciation of media as art, as education, and as entrepreneurship. The CMP’s programs encourage youth to not only explore the world around them, but to also be active participants. CMP provides workshops, programs, and projects for youth, artists, and educators that teach critical viewing of the media, that encourage youth to be creatively engaged in using the media to deliver important messages, and that offer employment and growth opportunities for youth. Enjoy!

New writing games to share

April 13, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Education, Kids and reading, Mystery books, Parents, Writing | Leave a comment
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I hope that those out there who read this blog, have learned about some great activities that you can use in and outside the classroom. Reading and writing is fun and all you have to do is make a game out it! Here are some more ideas that may inspire your children to read and write:

  • Before beginning a creative writing activity, sitthe children down in a circle and start a story with a fun, silly sentence. Each child in the circle needs to continue the story with one more sentence. You could appoint one child to record the story. After creating this silly, group story, the children will be ready for creative writing.
  • Make three boxes with ideas plot elements. One box should have story starters, another box should have ideas for the middle and the third box should have endings. Ask the children to pick one slip from each box and write a story linking the ideas together. Children will love the random elements of this activity.
  • Enjoy and keep reading for more ideas and activities!

    Meet Jeff Kinney!

    March 17, 2010 at 10:41 am | Posted in Kids and reading, Publishing your story, Puppets, Writing | 1 Comment
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    After self-publishing a children’s book we know the struggles and hard work a writer has to go through to make their book come to life. We made the Undercover Kids come to life by creating puppets, but often books are turned into movies or television shows. Here at the Exciting Read Publishing group we are always so excited when we get the chance to speak to authors and hear their stories. Last year, we were luck enough to speak to author Jeff Kinney at the 2009 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Kinney wrote the very popular book  “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” Jeff’s book was made into a movie and it comes out this Friday. It looks like a lot of fun. We would like to thank Jeff for speaking with us and say good luck with the movie. Did you read “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and will you be checking out the movie?

    How a book is born: Author signings

    March 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Posted in about life, Mystery books, Publishing your story, Writing | Leave a comment
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    Authors always wonder if they should participate in book signings as a route to increased sales. I am not sold on the idea.

    The other night my husband and I were in Barnes & Noble. A good cup of coffee and a good book for an hour of relaxation. (If a B & N manager is reading this blog, I do buy books…my credit card will attest to that.) At their entrance was a local author displaying her works and ready to sign her book. She is not a new author, by any means, but no one entering the store stopped at her table. It is true that the traffic was light that night, but that was an expensive night out for this author.

    Gloria Smith Zawaski, the author of The Trunk in the Attic, loves meeting kids. But I feel that a book signing event for an author who is not well-known just doesn’t work.

    Who would you wait in line for…Jeff Kenny, the author of the Whimpy Kids series or Gloria Smith Zawaski, the author of The Undercover Kids book series? Kenny wins hands down!

    Last night I met the manager of our local B & N bookstore at a PTA event. She heard of our book through one of her employees. And she knew that we were not on the B & N online book site. But she said they do author signings for local authors, even if the store does not carry the book. My first questions was, ‘who would show up?’ Her response, “People show up for children’s author signings.” “I figure young children but the eight to eleven year old crowd?” I asked. We are going to meet next week to discuss the process, and then I’ll decide how best to proceed.

    I will say that when Gloria participated in events, the kids who bought her books really enjoyed meeting her.  But in general, I don’t think book signings for unknown authors are the way to go.

    In my opinion, you have to really work at promoting the author and promoting the book before you begin the book signing route.

    How a book is born: The independent book stores

    February 17, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Education, Fundraising, Kids and reading, Publishing your story, Writing | Leave a comment
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    Looking for distribution that gets your books into the hands of kids while earning you money? That’s the ultimate challenge.

    I downloaded a list of independent bookstores from the web. They all specialize in children’s books. But will that work?

    Studies show that:

    1.  Fewer people are reading
    2.  Online services are ruining  brick and mortar stores
    3.  Book readers like the Kindle, are making printed material obsolete.

    The statistics are against me, but I was going to plow forward. Based on what is going on in the book industry, my independent search results were not surprising. First, I started by calling stores in New York State where I am located. Some were too small to do any volume and others were not quite making it. Others were only interested in purchasing from national distributors.  And still others would carry  but only if they get 65% of the sales price. Plus I have to pay for shipping the books to the store and the shipping for returns.

    At this point, I only have three local stories who have agreed to carry the book. I will use their logo in my local advertising to encourage people to go to their stories to buy.

    Personally, I think our one book will get lost on the shelf and is not worth the investment.

    I have also placed our book on Amazon.com. They sold ten books in the last six months. I will also look into Barnes and Noble online. I have placed my book on Amazon not because I thought it was a great distribution stream but it gives us credibility. I found that some online book reviewers will only review the book if you are on at least one of the online booksellers. (Does that include Wal-Mart…only a joke.)

    It does take work to make your book stand out. If bookstores or the online booksellers are not the best distribution stream, then what’s next?

    The Undercover Kids Trivia Quiz!

    February 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Posted in crafts, Education, Educators, Kids and reading, Mystery books, Parents, Writing | Leave a comment
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    We know what you are thinking a quiz does not sound like fun, especially on a Friday, but quizzes can be fun! You learn new information, you can test your friends and turn into a game. Test yourself, how fast can you answer the questions, what about your friends, how fast can they go? Try turning the quiz into a race, the one who answers the most questions correctly and the fastest wins a prize. (I vote you make a batch of brownies before you play the quiz game and when you are done playing hand a brownie out to everyone, so everyone wins!)

    Try making your own Undercover Kids quiz about the book and hand it out to your friends. Don’t forget to tell your teacher about our downloadable teacher’s guide, where they can download even more fun activities!

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