Thursday, May 28, 2015

Children's Picture eBook Review: Survivalist Sam Stocks Up, by Kermit Jones, Illustrated by Christy Brill

Storyline: 4.0 Stars
Illustrations: 3.5 Stars 
Total: 4.0 Stars
I've come across children who experience a lot of anxiety for the future. After all, the world seems a scary place, and they are entirely dependent on adults. Something that can help their anxiety is a book about preparations for an uncertain future. 

Children (and adults) can take comfort knowing that unsteady income, job loss, etc., doesn't mean going without basic necessities if they are prepared. 

Although I would emphasize the value of preparing for an uncertain future (rather than a disaster that has us needing primitive skills, or the titles "prepper" or "survivalist"), this book is valuable for teaching children (and adults) a simple way to become more self-sufficient and have more peace of mind for the future.

Starting with food and water (Beans), then to hunting/protection (Bullets), medical/education (Bandages) and having things to trade (Barter) these four illustrated steps make preparations seem less overwhelming. 4 stars

Illustrations: The illustration style is not professional, but colorful and adds interest (especially from the children) to the story. 3 stars

Author Kermit Jones
Author Kermit Jones, Jr. stumbled across the idea of a prepper book for kids when trying to decide how to explain the topic to his four young daughters.  

Having attended high school in a very rural part of Virginia, he later went on to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  After spending a few years as a Surface Warfare Officer, he resigned his commission and entered the Navy Chaplain Corps, earning his Masters degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX.  A Reservist, he was recently recalled to Active Duty.  

In addition to writing children’s books, he is an instructor for and has been a guest on several radio and talkshow broadcasts. Between kids and his career, he has learned that it is important to “be prepared!”

If you are interested in Jones' other children's picture books on preparedness, Click on these covers: "teaching kids gun safety," "resourcefulness" and "how preparation keeps away fear":


You can also look at Kermit Jones' website here.

~Review by Valerie Harmon

Friday, May 8, 2015

Reading to Children, an Unfair Advantage?

As fans of children's literature (whether hardcover, softcover or eBook) this ABC Radio National article, by Joe Gelonesi, draws a conclusion that may be obvious to us:

"‘The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t—the difference in their life chances—is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,’ he says."
-a quote in the article from philosopher Adam Swift

So more than an elite private school, being read to bestows more advantage to children? That. Is. Tremendous! 

Doesn't it make you want to go read aloud a book to a child? Knowing that it's more valuable to the child's future than a private school education?

With eBooks and Book Apps adding even more reading options and interaction with children, never before has literary technology been a greater advantage to children. 

I believe the advantage of reading to a child is mostly from the relationship and emotional bond that develops between the child and parent who is reading. However, because Book Apps actually "read aloud" to a child, and children control the narration at a touch (repetition of a favorite part? no problem!), I've seen great value in Book Apps raising childhood literacy. Do you agree?

The title of this article is, "Is Having A Loving Family An Unfair Advantage?"  Click on the link to read the entire article. 

Note: posting this does not mean I agree with everything the author Gelonesi postulates. In fact, I disagree with whole parts of it. But I obviously agree with the conclusions drawn about reading aloud to children. And I thought you might find it interesting too.

~Valerie Harmon

Friday, May 1, 2015

5 Ways to Market a Children's Book Online, from Scott Harpole

Guest Post by Scott Harpole

Here's the thing. I am in the process of learning how to market a children's book online! Hopefully I will arrive at some point and be able to say that I figured most of it out. At this time, I just have a few bumps and bruises and a couple of successes that I think might be helpful to someone else

#1 Belief! 
I truly believe that my children's bedtime story, Sleepy Beach, is the best story on the planet. The illustrations are incredible (I didn't create those!) and the story's concept is amazing. I am not saying that to be self-serving (not that I mind entirely!) but to illustrate the most important point. If you don't believe in your story, then don't expect anyone else to.

How can you ask for reviews, submit info to blogs, pay for ads, etc. if you really don't think that much of your story? I know that creatives, like you and I, can get bogged down in making the story perfect. I'm not trying to get you to perfectionize (yes, I made that up) your story, but you must have a powerful belief that your story is worth buying, buy the time you are finished with it.

#2 Set A Goal. 
This one thing I did and I only did this one thing. I researched all of the Bedtime and Dreaming books in that section of the Amazon children's' books and realized that if I could get 100 positive reviews then my book could be ranked in the top 10 of that section and possible in the top 100 of the next section up, the Literature section. 

So for about 40 days or so, I did everything in my power to get those 100 reviews.

I texted everyone on my phone, I reached out to everyone on Facebook I reached to everyone I knew on Twitter and 100's of people I did not know. I refused to start any other part of the process until I at least reached that goal of 100.

#3 Ask If You Can Ask. 
There is a wonderful method to getting people to help. I've learned this the wrong way in a different business, by just shooting out a massive amount of emails and assuming that people will respond. They don't. 

Here's the exact wording I used with people that knew me: 
"I don't know if you've heard about it, but I have a new children's bedtime story called Sleepy Beach. I am trying to get 100 Amazon reviews. Can I send you a free copy of the ebook in exchange for a review?" 

Here's what I sent to people that didn't know me: 
"Hey, I'm a Dad with a new children's bedtime story and I'm trying to get 100 Amazon reviews. Can I send you a free copy in exchange for a review?" 

These were individual messages and text. The general kind of message or posting doesn't work.

I actually asked over 2,000 people for reviews and I got about 120 reviews from them. 

A large amount of people told them that they would and either forgot or couldn't figure it out. It may have been a bad sign when an elderly lady from church asked me "What is the Amazon Review?", in response to my Facebook message. I also had 10 of my 5 star reviews removed by Amazon! Evidently, if anyone states that they are your friend or if they know you, (in the review) then Amazon may remove that review. I fought with them about this, only via email of course, but to no avail.

Since my book has been exposed to a wider audience, that doesn't know me, I have recently gotten some bad reviews. My first 1 and 2 star reviews were given because the book opened backwards on their Kindle. Again, Amazon refused to remove those reviews. My favorite bad review literally says "I love children's books. This is not a well written book. I will not be reading it to the children in my life. I would recommend that the author think about editing it to make it a true story." Ha! I laughed so hard when I read that. I kind of feel like I have really arrived, when I see a review like that one.

#4 Paying For Ads Can Be Worth It: 
I've carefully read and re-read Let's Get Digital and Let's Get Visible by David Gaughran. He's a master at this and I have a ton to learn from him about marketing a book. He encourages his readers to use Book Bub and I followed that advice. It took quite awhile before I was ready, but I paid them $60 to let the world know when my book would be free. Amazon allows you to have 5 days that are free when you sign up with Kindle Direct Publishing. My first day, I had over 11,000 free downloads and a total of nearly 15,000 by the time the 5 days were finished. I can definitely say that it was worth the exposure and blogs (like this great one!) picked up on the special and helped spread the news.

My plan is to get lots of people to sample the ebook and then buy the actually book. Hopefully.

#5 Selling The Book Myself Is The Best Choice: 
I have come to realize the truth that I can undersell Amazon (don't tell them) and still make more money. They take 55% of the profits of my sales. That's crazy, I know. But I have used the notoriety and the positive reviews to get the attention of people. So I can sell my book for $10, and personally sign it, and make more dollars than if it is purchased on Amazon for $15. I do have a few of those here and ready to ship, if you'd like one!

I am still in the pursuit of finding out how to get my book in front of millions of the right kinds of eyeballs. I'd love to hear your ideas. Send me a note at scott (at) mydadsbedtimestories (dot) com.

Sweet Dreams!
Scott Harpole
My Dad's Bedtime Stories