• Illustrator Contract – Absolute MUSTS

    I am very privileged to get to offer some advice from my experience publishing and writing children’s books, and one thing I am often asked about is working with illustrators and illustrator contracts in particular. 

    “How do you find an illustrator?” and of course,

    “What should you include in your illustrator contract?”

    My suggestion is, do you research when you find one you like, or use an agency. 

     What to look for:
    – work the illustrator has done before
    – can they work within your timeline and budget?
    – ask for a referral

    So, assuming you've found the perfect illustrator and are getting serious about hiring them.  What is absolutely essential when drawing up an illustrator contract? 

    Some of it is obvious, but here is a checklist I always refer to when I help my authors with their contracts:

    Illustrator Contract Checklist

    • the date of completion
    • their price
    • pay half now, and half upon completionyour book’s dimensions (will you be doing an 8×10 picture book? 5×7? You need to know this before you sign a contract with an illustrator. You can research what works best for your target audience. I went to a bookstore and got a feel for the size of book I liked, then measured it! haha)
    • the specifics that your graphic artist/printer will need to prepare to go to print
    • include a story-board requirement so that you have an idea of what everything will look like, page by page, before they start on full illustrations. You can see an example of the story-board I got from my latest book, The Big, Bad Bully, above. Eva Morales was my very talented illustrator for The Big, Bad Bully, and it was published through HCI Books. 
    • and MOST IMPORANTLY make sure your illustrator contract states that you are hiring your illustrator (work-for-hire) and upon completion, you will own the copyrights to the illustrations. This means that you can use these illustrations in the future, as you see fit.

    If you’re thinking, “What would I need the illustrations for?” think about merchandising. If you don’t own the rights to the illustrations, you will have to share a cut with your illustrator and come to an agreement. This is much more difficult after your book is a major success.

    If you found this helpful, and would like to have me available to help you navigate these kind of negotiations (plus so much more, as you publish) consider joining my Publishing Mastermind.

    I am accepting a few more authors for my Publishing Mastermind that is starting next week. I work with a small number of aspiring children's book authors in a one year mentorship. We focus on perfecting your story, we publish your book, and I also teach you how to market your book. 

    The deadline in Friday, May 29th! I don't know when I will be offering it again. 

    If you want to discuss being one of my new authors, shoot me a message! I'll be happy to arrange a time for us to talk.
  • Grow your Social Media

    Social media is a great tool for growing your influence, but how can you use it effectively? After years of experience, I’ve learned that it’s a process that takes time, but there are some golden rules to follow to make sure you are getting the most out of your efforts. 

    ** Hey writers! If you are stumped for ideas on what to post, I’ve got you covered. Here is a free PDF with 8 prompts to help spark some ideas.**  —- > Click Here to Download

    WHAT to post: Ultimately your goal is to share something that will bring value to your viewer. It doesn’t have to be huge value, either! Something as simple as sparking a smile, is value that the viewer wants.

    Think about the posts that you pay attention to in your personal social media. Chances are they make you smile, inspire you, challenge you, inform you, or spark your curiousity.

    HOW to post: There are three things that every post needs. 

    1. A Good Title (The first line has to hook them, just like a book.)
    2. A Picture. (Or it will not get the attention it deserves.)
    3. A Call to Action (CTA). If you can get someone to engage with your post somehow, that is gold. Posts that prompt people to vote on different options, respond with questions or shared experiences, or “give it a like” do really well.

    *Engagement plays a big part in whether social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, choose to show that post to your followers.*

    That’s right! Not all of your followers are going to see everything you post, BUT, if a post is “performing well”, more people will see it. Exactly how they figure this out (their algorithm) is a well-guarded secret, but we know that part of it has to do with how many people respond to the post, and how quickly. 

    WHEN to post: I’ve found that the time of day, or day of the week doesn’t matter as much as consistency. If you want people to pay attention, you need to be getting in front of them on a regular basis. How frequently, you ask? The professionals say multiple times a day. 

    My advice, if you are starting out, is to start posting once a week. and then stretch yourself for posting two or three times a week, until you are posting every day.

    Are you looking to learn about writing for children? Join me for a free webinar. Registration required.

  • How To Find the Time to Write

    Something I get asked over and over is “how can I find the time to write?” How do you find the time to do anything for yourself with the pressures of work and a family? With four children of my own, let me tell you, I can relate. 

    The key to finding time for your own dreams is something I learned with my very first book, I CAN Believe in Myself. You wouldn’t think that I wrote it during one of the busiest times of my life. I had a brand new baby, Lucas, who was just a couple months old. He was the newest member of our four children. Talk about busy!

    I carved out time to write a children’s book because I had a really big WHY. 

    I had recently suffered a personal family tragedy and was determined to write a book that would help my children (and children around the world) believe in themselves. That WHY was a driving force that motivated me.

    That is the key to making time to do the thing you never seem to have the time for. Discover why you want to write, and let that drive you to find a way to make it happen. 

    Many people are in isolation right now, and the situation is different for everyone. 

    Some people find they have a lot of time on their hands, and it is just a matter of motivation. Others are suddenly learning how to “home-school” their children, or even how to juggle their family at home and work at the same time. 

    I get it. It seems there is never a perfect time to start working on your dreams. My advice is to find a coach or community, someone who can help you stay focused on your why.

    If your dream is writing a children's book, I’m running a Writing Webinar on May 20, 2020. I'm going to share some things I learned early on to help you avoid some mistakes I made in the beginning. 

    Join me and learn more about writing a solid children’s book. Click on the link to get the details and sign up for the free writing webinar.

    This is a picture of me holding my first published book in my hand. I’m so glad I didn’t give up because that moment made it all worth it.

    I didn’t know it then, but that book became a tool for empowering over 100,000 children and setting a Guinness World Record. (I am celebrating the 6 year anniversary this week! You can see a throwback picture on my Facebook or Instagram.)

    If this is your dream, I know you can make it happen. 

    And, if there is anything I can do to help you, let me know. In fact, I'm offering that free webinar specifically to help new aspiring children's book authors. I had to learn a lot of things on my own when I first published. Now, it's time to turn around and help others.