Children’s Writing Weblog


If you’re looking to start writing children’s books, look no further!


Here’s step one:


Visit for lots of information about creating apps, ebooks and more!

So, just the other day we offered up our new ebook The Problem Isn't Piracy, the Problem Is Obscurity and now we look like freaking geniuses.  🙂

To recap, Cory Doctorow's essays, as reprinted in The Problem Isn't Piracy… argue that authors should chill about people copying and downloading their books online, because, ultimately, the added exposure will help sell printed copies of the book.  Not everyone, to put it mildly, sees things that way.

Well score one for Cory.  I give you the current #1 best selling book on

Go the F**k TO Sleep is a picture book parody and it's a pretty funny idea.  But here's what's really fascinating about it:

PDF copies of the book (which won't be released in print until June) have been floating around the Internet for months.  Booksellers and publishing industry insiders have been sending copies of the book around and the buzz kept getting louder and louder.   Loud enough to drive the book to the top of the charts weeks before its release and without a shred of promotion from its publisher.

So what do we learn from this?

1. Having people talk about your book is a good thing, no matter how it gets started

2. Even if they're given ebooks for free, readers still want print editions of  Illustration-heavy books ( opines "Books with artwork have a tactile, archival appeal lacking in the latest Grisham potboiler, say.")

3. Having a great title and easy to grasp concept is always a winning combination when it comes to viral attention.


Forget this specific book, and whether you appreciate the language or the joke.  That's not relevant.  But pay close attention to what happened here — a book was "pirated" and the treasure ended up in the hands of the "victim". 

Maybe, just maybe, it's time to change the terminology a bit. 


'Go the F— to Sleep': The Case of the Viral PDF

How Viral Copies of a Naughty Bedtime Book Changed Publishing

'Go the F— to Sleep': The Case of the Viral PDF

Source: The Bay Citizen (

Interested in learning how to write a book and send it to children’s book publishers? Come on over to The CBI Clubhouse for audios, videos, insider writing tips and much, much more!

Let's continue our series of quick videos about developing a success-oriented mindset with a chat about the way successful writers approach their careers.  The key:  avoiding the "all or nothing" syndrome.


Interested in learning how to write a book and send it to children’s book publishers? Come on over to The CBI Clubhouse for audios, videos, insider writing tips and much, much more!

Book marketing keeps changing, and genius new ideas keep popping up.  Here's one I really like:

"I need your help naming my new book…"

The link takes you to a video from a fellow named Frank Kern.  You may not know him, but he's pretty much the Lada Gaga of internet marketing. A real superstar.

Anyway, Kern's piece of book promotion for his upcoming title is so simple, so smart and so unique I wanted to bring it to your attention.  Go watch the video and you'll get a three minute masterclass.  See how beautifully it's shot, even though it seems homemade.  Notice Frank's demeanor (his pesona — which, by all accounts, is authentic —  is "laid back surfer dude") and how soft the sell is.

The end result of this little bit of book promotion?  He gets early buzz for his book, he makes at least 1000 people feel invested in the book's creation, he manages to get his distribution of teaser copies of the book subsidized and he builds a personal bond with potential buyers.

Think about how you can use this technique for your own benefit.

"I need your help naming my new book…"

Interested in learning how to write a book and send it to children’s book publishers? Come on over to The CBI Clubhouse for audios, videos, insider writing tips and much, much more!

It seems that reports of the death of books have been greatly exaggerated (with apologies to Mark Twain). As the numbers continue to roll in, it's clear that people still read, more titles are being published than ever, and e-books are taking their place alongside print books, not replacing them. As reported in "Is the Book Dead? Let That Myth Rest in Peace" from The Atlantic, 288,355 new and reissued titles were published in 2009, and Bowker (the data agency for publishing) speculates that the numbers will be higher in 2010 and 2011. And — here's a really astounding statistic — an additional 764,448 titles fell into the self-published, micro-niche and print-on-demand categories.

Think about that for a moment. For the first time in publishing history, authors are self-publishing more books than publishing houses are producing. Considering that these numbers are over a year old, and advances in e-publishing are happening faster than you can download an app from the iStore, 2011 could potentially near the one million mark in self-published titles.

Upon hearing this, many seasoned authors (read: those with several traditionally-published books under their belts) worry about the lack of gate-keepers. If so many people are self-publishing (and publishers are paying attention to successful self-published efforts, as described in this Publishers Weekly article), who's going to decide what's good? Who's going to create the buzz, tell us what to buy? Without the taste-makers, how will we know what to read?

It's a seismic change, to be sure. And like all changes, it feels a bit scary. But the answer boils down to one word: you.

You, as the consumer, get to decide with your dollars what constitutes a good book. Sure, book buyers always voted with their purchases, but the pool of choices was limited by what publishers presented. And publishers often make decisions based on non-artistic criteria: Does this book cash in on a current trend? Is the market broad enough to make a substantial profit? Will it stay on the shelves of Barnes & Noble for more than three months? Is the author a celebrity? Many great books get published each year, but just as many great books get rejected because they don't quite fit the corporate plan. Readers have never had the opportunity to decide for themselves if those books deserve to exist. Now they can.

You, as the author, still have to put in the work, learning how to write, learning how to revise, and learning how to communicate with your audience. That age-old truth won't change. But now, after you've workshopped the manuscript, had it professionally edited and gotten the go-ahead from your writers' group, you have the power to see your words in print. Since self-publishing is rapidly losing its stigma as the last resort for rejected authors, you have a real choice of submitting to publishers or producing the book yourself. You also now have a choice of paper or electronic formats. Low-cost and no-cost options for e-books mean you can make your dream a reality without a trust fund.

You, as the publicist for your book, can generate reviews, create a buzz, connect with readers and set up personal appearances in direct proportion to the amount of time you're willing to devote to marketing. You're not limited by the publisher's marketing dollars going to the big authors, or the New York Times' limited space in their book review section. The internet is the great equalizer, giving authors the same access to their audience as publishers have had. The more you reach out, the more sales you'll see. It's that simple.

The book is far from dead, and the opportunities for authors are more plentiful than ever. The only difference is that now both authors and consumers have more choices, which means they're responsible for deciding what constitutes a worthy book. As an author, you now have options: you can go the time-honored route of submitting to agents and publishers, waiting months for a reply, and hoping you're one of the lucky ones who gets a book contract. Then you can hope your book sells enough to get contract #2. Many authors still find success and fulfillment this way, and if you're one of those, then I'm looking forward to seeing your book on the shelves. But if you're tired of waiting, you believe in your book and you're not afraid to do the work necessary to get it out there, then for the first time you have equal (or very close) access to book production and marketing as the big publishers. And it's only going to get easier.

So make your choice. Your readers are waiting.

Interested in learning how to write a book and send it to children’s book publishers? Come on over to The CBI Clubhouse for audios, videos, insider writing tips and much, much more!

Over at the Yahoo Children’s Writing Group, someone asked me for an opinion about the future of publishing houses in the new e-publishing age. Some of you may find it interesting, so I’ll reprint it here:


I’d look to the music industry for answers, as it experienced this same turmoil
a decade ago. And (mostly) they blew it.

The new media environment begs for curators — trusted sources who can sift
through the dross and deliver quality. Once upon a time, that’s exactly what
record labels were. Atlantic delivered quality east coast soul, Elektra had its
finger on the pulse of the L.A. scene, Sire was the champion of the New York and
London new wave, etc. But as mega-conglomerates bought up the record labels,
they lost their identities. Go ahead an tell me what Sony or Warner or EMI
stand for musically today? You can’t, because they’re not curators, they’re
giant distribution funnels for any kind of music they think can sell.

But here’s the rub: the distribution of music got yanked out right from under
them, thanks to the Internet. So now what is their purpose?

The same thing is happening in publishing now. Large publishers aren’t viewed
as trusted sources of quality books in specific genres/age groups. Think about
it — when was the last time the publisher’s name on the spine of a book gave
you reason to think a book was good or not?

Now, as book stores become less important, and anyone can get worldwide
distribution of their ebook via Amazon with a click of the mouse, what’s the
future of the big houses?

My suggestion for them: Use (or create) imprints to market to niches, and hire
the best editors you can. Stand for quality within each niche and nothing but.
Then, invest in social marketing geniuses and give every book you publish and
every author with whom you work complete and comprehensive marketing support.

Group authors together for multi-author blogs and school visit “teams”.

Next, consider the Godin/Doctorow “free” model and convince authors it’s in
their best interests to give some ebooks away with an eye toward spurring word
of mouth and print sales (this would be an excellent approach for picture books,
IMHO, as paper will still be desirable in that realm for a long while). (and
for goodness sakes, don’t sue your customers over copyright the way the record
industry did. You can’t scare people into refusing to accept technology. YOU
have to adapt to new realities, not ask your customers to travel back in time.)

One last point toward your comment about “star authors” — This is a new reality
where ANY author can become a star. Build a huge Twitter following, a loyal
blog readership, an active Facebook fan page and guess what? You’re a star, and
you’ll have legit leverage with publishers.

The Successful Writer's Mindset – Part 2


In this video, Jon explains why knowing the difference between being a writer and an author is vital – and which label newcomers should embrace.




Related:  The Successful Writer’s Mindset – Part One

Posted on: April 14, 2011

Wow – ebook sales post HUGE jump in Feb. *

young adult writing tip

Young Adult Writing Tip – Today's Kids

Actually Like Each Other!  🙂


When I was 14, I was terrified of three things:  heights, vegetables and girls.  Thankfully, I got over the last two, although I'm still not a fan of tall places.

If I were to write a young adult story about a similar young man with those fears living in today's world, my teenage readers may nod in understanding with the the first two concerns, but scratch their heads at the last one.   That's because, for many kids, the barriers that used to exist between the sexes, between social cliques and even between grade levels are far less a concern than they were when we were young.

Laura and I have been taking our 15 year old music nut to a bunch of concerts to see artists popular with his age group. (An aside – go see My Chemical Romance, they're really, really good.)  At these shows, one thing strikes you straight away — these kids all act like they know each other.  Giant groups of kids mingle together, hug one another and act as if they've been buddies all their lives.

Now, when I was a kid going to shows (and no, it wasn't to see Al Jolson and Enrico Caruso, smart ass), that would never happen.  I went with my boys and we didn't mix with anyone.  It was an arena filled with thousands of small tribes, all eyeing one another warily.  But take any bunch of teenagers today, toss 'em in a room and it's kumbiya time.

I asked my son about this and he had a simple answer:  these kids — who have never met in person — already know each other via Facebook.  They're online friends, or they're friends of friends and thus, they're buddies.  Typical exchange:

Kid 1:  "Hey, what school do you go to?"

Kid 2: "West High in Murphystown."

Kid: "I go to South High in Elmwood. But I'm Facebook friends with Joe Smith from West High."

Kid 2:  "Cool.  Joe's a great guy.  What's your name?"  (Gets name, whips out smart phone, befriends Kid 1.  They are now pals.)


Now of course there are other reasons than social media to explain the higher comfort level teenagers have with one another today, and I'm certain there are still no shortage of alienated kids and teens who get tongue-tied around the opposite sex, but the point is this:  If you think that alienation from peers is anywhere near as prevalent among young adults as it was back in your day, you need to do some more observation.  Go to some concerts, wander around the mall, stay out the way and watch the way your readers connect with one another. 

You'll get a better understanding of your market — and you may even start feeling a little bit better about our future.  In a world where fear and mistrust tend to get all the attention, it's nice to know that today's enemies may be tomorrow's Facebook friends.


Interested in learning how to write a book and send it to children's book publishers? Come on over to The CBI Clubhouse for audios, videos, insider writing tips and much, much more!