Sunday, December 9, 2012

Your first book sales


Let's say you secured the appropriate financing and your book has been printed.  First of all.....I want to congratulate you on this major accomplishment.  I know it has been no easy task to get this far.  So, take a minute and remember that you did it!  Now it is time to sell your book and start making money.

A few entries back I wrote about creating your layers of supporters, backers, family and friends.  It is time to convert those people into your first customers.  I was thrilled to be able to deliver signed books to my backers who in many cases ended up ordering additional copies to give as gifts.  I started getting emails from people all over the country who had received the book as a gift and wanted to let me know they loved it!  I received this picture and a thank you from a family that got the book as a gift from a dear friend and backer of mine.  He even took it to show and tell!

I asked several shops I frequent and store owners I know if they would kindly display my book with cards in front.  I started making sales in places you might never think you would sell your book.  I quickly learned that in those places it is more of an impulse buy than a planned one.  Nonetheless, they are still sales and you are getting your book out there.

Set up a few readings to kick off your sales and overall awareness of you and your book.  This will help generate excitement about buying your book.  If it is interesting and people like it they will definitely tell their friends about you!

While these early and direct sales will hopefully cause a spike in your sales, you should also expect that to plateau.  When this happens you need to have a very definitive plan in place to diversify your sales and distribution channels.  But I will get into that in more detail in my next entries.

Don't forget to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pug Story website is live

Good Morning,

I hope all of you had a great turkey day!  I will be giving some tips an helpful info on marketing your book in my next entry.  Since I have started this blog some of you have contacted me to say that now you too will be writing and self-publishing your own book....YOU CAN DO IT!!!!

I am proud to share our new and updated website with you: where you can purchase a copy of "Chloey's BIG Move" and learn more about the series and other fun info.  I am so thankful to those of you who have contacted me and hope you like the site and love the book!

And don't forget to just WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pug Story has arrived!

Hi there,

I will keep this short and sweet.  I felt it only appropriate to share with all of you who have continued to read my blog (as some of you have mentioned that you are now starting on your own book) some great news!

My book is out and will be on shelves here in local Chicago stores in the next week or two and by the end of this week our updated website will be live at  It is the most amazing feeling to see all of your hard work come to life and hold a beautiful book in your hands that you helped create!  If I can do it.... so can you! People's faces light up when they see it and trust me....there are few better feelings than making someone smile.  Never give up on your dreams!

My next entries will discuss how to market your book and get it out there into the world.

And don't forget to just WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Bank financing for your book and business part III

Hi there,

Hopefully by now you have reached out to your most inner circle of friends and family for the initial capital to self-publish your book.  Maybe you have even posted your project on a crowd funding site like:,,, or (there are many more but those are a few that tend to focus a bit more on creative projects).  The good news is that in doing this you will expand your reach, grow awareness about your book and business, and raise money without giving up too much on your end, like royalties or equity in your business.

Self-publishing, marketing, and selling your book will not be cheap.  Aside from the hard cost of creating and printing your book, the business side of things can get costly.  To market and sell your book you may decide to have your own website with E-commerce capability, optimize your site, create marketing materials, purchase software like Quick Books, Sales Force, Constant Contact, or others like those.  You will want to protect your intellectual property, pay vendors on time, ship products, and manage any additional overhead you may incur.

While it is true that obtaining institutional financing for a new business is much more difficult these days, it is not impossible.  I would start by talking to someone at your bank who handles business loans etc.  I know from experience that Chase bank has a strong relationship with the SBA (Small Business Administration) which is a great resource.  Even if you are not a candidate at that moment you will learn what you need to do to become one in the future.

If you are a homeowner it may not be out of the question to pull some equity out of your home to offset some of your business costs.  Give your mortgage broker or banker a call to see if this is a viable option for you.  To learn a little bit more about what that will mean check out the site;

There are organizations, both private and government that, believe it or not, are still allocating funds to small businesses.  It is up to us to find the right one for our needs.  For example, as a female business owner you can apply to join the WBENC (Women's Business Enterprise National Council)  The same goes for other "minority" owned businesses, so take a look at; to learn more.

Since we are writers we have an ability to effectively articulate our project, needs, and capabilities.  There are grants being given around the world and knowing which one is right for you coupled with writing a great grant proposal could certainly give you an edge.  To better familiarize yourself with the process and identify active organizations offering grants take a look at;

YOU CAN DO IT!  And remember to just WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Crowd funding-raising funds for your book part II


Hopefully by now you have created your database as best you can, and have reached out to your family and close friends for financial support to get your book project off the ground.

CROWD FUNDING is a great platform to get your message and details of your book out to a much larger pool of people than you might normally reach.  Not to mention that people from all over the world have the chance to learn about your book and become a "backer" and donate to your project. I posted Pug Story on a the crowd funding site: to kick off my campaign and raise funds., and others like it, are a great tool for people like us who want to make, create, or further an existing project.  These crowd funding platforms connect us with generous and philanthropic people who want to support us.

It is not like taking in an equity investor or anything like that. You are not selling a part of your company but rather rewarding your "backer" with something to thank them for their donation.  You set the denominations like $5, $25, $50, $100 and so on.  For example, depending on how much they donated I offered a reward like a signed copy of my book or a rendering of their child or pet from my illustrator, even an in person reading of my book.   Get creative but don't break the bank.  Make sure your cash flow can sustain the would be terrible if the donations came in and went right back out, so really think about what you can afford to offer.

Kickstarter is an ALL OR NOTHING type of funding platform so please take the time to go through the kickstarter school to learn about how best to post your project and do's and dont's. Google other crowd funding sites to learn about how their platforms work and what kinds of projects they might seem to hi-light.  I did not hit my goal BUT....I maintained my database of backers, continued to reach out to them and update them and raised over $3,000 by doing that.  My tenacity and conviction to continue the project after not reaching my goal gave people confidence that I would complete the task and make the book, and some people even increased their donation.  Put yourself out there and start letting people know about you and your project.  YOU CAN DO IT!

And don't forget to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Raising funds for your book part 1

Hi there,

It has been too long since my last post and for that I am sorry.  I have been busy getting my book ready to go to the printer. Even though it has been a crazy time, it has been an awesome and exciting time!  I can't wait for you to know the feeling.  The feeling of seeing all your hard work come to fruition and knowing you are doing what you love.  You can do it!  Ok..back to the topic of beginning your initial fundraising efforts.

Hopefully by now you have a good idea about what kind of book, characters, storyline and product you will be developing, who your target audience and market are, what kind of vendors you will use, and who your team members will be.  In addition to all the work you have done relative to the above tasks as well as write your book, you will have to think about the funds it will take to make your dream a reality.  Some of us may be in a position to self fund a project like this; some of us may not.

There are many accessible ways to gain different kinds of funding for your project but for this entry I would like to focus on creating your database and begin reaching out to your friends and family.  Create groups for the people you know.  It is like thinking about an onion and its many layers.  Your groups of people range from acquaintances to family members.

People that know you well and know your project more intimately (the inner layers) are often more likely to contribute financially to your project in the beginning.  This is a great way to gain momentum in your fundraising efforts and begin to pay for your start up costs like a video, prototype, and maybe even initial payments to your vendors.  This shows people who might not know you or don't know you well (the outer layers) that you have already invested time, money, and hard work to be where you are regarding your book.

The more involved you become in this process the more you will learn about the necessary funds you will need to get your book completed, printed, and into the market place.

Check back soon for Raising funds for your book part 2---"Crowd funding"

And don't forget to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Picking a printer to self publish your book

 Hello Again!

So, hopefully by now you have had a chance to tackle some of the below tasks as you strive to self publish your very own book.
  • Picked a topic/genre
  • Zeroed in on, and researched your target market
  • Developed your outline and storyline concepts
  • Developed your characters
  • Found the right illustrator (photographer, designer etc.) "Team members"
  • Envisioned how your book will look and feel, and what message it will send
Before we get to picking a printer, I want to say that even if you have done a few of the above things, or a little bit of all of them, it is totally okay!  It is about you being ready, as it does take time, energy, and money to self publish a book.  To be fair, I wanted to write Pug Story almost 13 years ago.  I am finally doing it, and so can you!

Now, back to our topic: Picking the right printer for your book
  • Get at least 4 quotes, or more: There are a ton of book printers out there so make sure you shop around to get the best pricing.  It can be helpful to create a spreadsheet of some kind to track and compare quotes including printing costs, shipping etc.
  • Find someone local: Try to find a printer within reasonable driving distance.  This will help with 2 major things: 1) No shipping cost to you once the books are made. 2) Tighter quality control and you can see the facility where the books will be printed.
  • Be Aware that many printers will only print, or advertise, standard sized books.  Based on your knowledge of your genre and target market etc. you will be able to better know what sizes are selling best, and what you like.  If you do not see the size you want on a website, just ask if they can do it.
  • 3 Potential problems with a standard size you didn't choose: 1) It is not the most efficient way to print the book on the press, therefore it is not the most cost effective. 2) It is not a best selling size for your market. 3) The artwork does not fit appropriately, and could therefore be compromised. should like it, it is your book :)
  • Speak candidly with said printer about efficiencies, turn times, payment terms, quality control assurances, and check examples or references of books they have previously made.
Here is an example of specs I sent to obtain a quote...this info will be helpful to learn as you get quotes, and also when you talk to your printer:
  • Title:     Children's book
  • Size:     8.5 x 8.5 (be sure to discuss bleeds with illustrator and printer)
  • Pages:   32 (2 black/white and 30 color)
  • Cover    Printed, laminated cover over 98 pt boards (hard cover)
  • In as :   Trouble-free files
  • Paper :  100# gloss text over 98 pt boards (# refers to thickness or stock of paper, matte can be nice depending on type of artwork you will have)
  • Inks :     4/0 process
  • Finish :  Lay flat gloss film laminate
  • Proofs : Color match proof
  • Misc.:   Text bleeds OK
  • Bind:     Smythe sewn case bind
  • FOB:     Printing Plant, TN 
  • Quantity: 300,500,1000

I have a lot of tips I would love to share with you all, and hope that you will find the information helpful as you move forward.  So, the next few entries will touch on marketing, details for registering your book, and raising funds for production of your book, if you wish to go that route.  But let's not forget, the ultimate goal is to sell your book, and we will get to that as well!

Don't forget to Write, Write, Write!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Even Pugs think Mondays are ruff!

Good Morning!

My very first thought this morning while watching my Pug slowly wake up.....Monday mornings can be ruff!

Check back for my next entry as I will offer some tips on finding the right printer for your book.

And don't forget to--Write, Write, Write!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Finding the right illustrator


Even though I have chosen to focus this entry on finding the right illustrator, the following tips and thoughts can be applied to adding almost anyone to your "team".  As your needs grow your team will need to grow.  So, understanding an efficient way in which to augment your team will prove to be useful, and hopefully shorten your learning curve and lead time.

For example, I worked with 3 different illustrators before finding one that was a great fit for my children's book and for me.  I worked with 3 very different types of artists and people.  My first illustrator is a very dear friends of mine and very talented painter specializing in oils.  The thought of us working on a project together showcasing our talents and passions sounded awesome to both of us!  A little bit into the project we realized that her style of painting was not the best fit for the kind of children's book we were trying to make.

The second person with whom I tried to work was recommended by an acquaintance and had published a children's book of his own.  We had, what I thought, was a nice meeting and then two weeks went by and I never heard anything back from him...still haven't :)

I couldn't afford to keep waiting so, I went looking on-line.  I found my third candidate for the illustrator position.  Someone in another state, but a published children's book illustrator and mother.  I thought...this is great.  She checked out, her samples were cute, and she was happy to meet my deadlines and work within my budget.  Sadly, after sending a 50% deposit out of state in the hopes she was everything she promised; I was let down time and time again, with missed deadlines and mediocre work.  I did get most of the deposit back when we parted ways, but fell almost 2 months behind on the book's completion schedule.  Be very sure about anyone to whom you will be sending money!  I got lucky!

I started thinking about all the things I wasn't getting with the people I had chosen or hoped to work with, and based on that I made a list of my needs:

  • Someone who specializes in children's books illustrations and has a skill set that would match up with the type of medium and style for which I was looking.  
  • A person that is communicative and sensitive to the fact that I am only one person trying to build a business and manage several different things at the same time.  Essentially, someone who would return my calls or emails, and let me know that my business matters to them.
  • Someone who is eager to work on a fun project with limited initial capital, but also has something to gain such as: experience, more info for their portfolio, making networking contacts, or reaping other potential intangibles.
  • Someone who is local and I could meet, get to know, and sit down with to go over concepts, expectations, revisions etc.  In doing this you will have a chance to read the person you will be so closely working with and to whom you will be writing checks. You will also cut down on repetitive communications and lead time.  Hopefully you find someone who you can sit down with over a cup of coffee and brainstorm about the book or project---don't forget, this is your team, and will ultimately serve as a reflection on you and your book.
  • Someone who has strong recommendations from a credible source means you know what you are getting.  Not unlike when we want to find a new doctor, vet or mechanic etc.  It is often times best to work off of a referral.  Or, read a couple on-line reviews and check references to know what to expect. Then you can better decide if that person is a good fit for you.  
I reviewed my list and finally got the idea to contact all the art colleges in the Greater Chicago Area.  I thought, surely a student at one of these schools would be able to meet the above requirements.  Just do a Google search to find schools near you and their contact information.  Go to each school's website and search for a job board on which you can post your project, call the head of the art department, or email them if you like.  I prefer to make contact via phone, the first time especially to: ensure I convey my message and needs properly, quickly get answers to my questions, find out everything I need to know for my post, and learn about any necessary paperwork to complete.

After about two weeks of filling out forms for schools, sifting through resumes, checking references, conducting phone interviews and looking at portfolios, I found the perfect illustrator for me and my book!  She met all of my needs and we were able to agree on expectations such as: payment, time lines, style, and communication type and frequency.  In fact, we had coffee this morning to review the project and brainstorm.  

Think about your needs, and your book's needs.  Seek your team members out according to that.  Make sure you lay all relevant party's expectations on the table at the very beginning to eliminate potential  "surprises" that might arise throughout the duration of the project. Utilize networking platforms, ask around your circle for recommendations, or go-online, but don't forget to follow up with your own research when looking for a team member.  Graduate and post graduate students and programs, communities, social networks, and inner circles can often provide just the team member for whom you are looking!  

Don't forget to--Write! Write! Write!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

My pets hi jacked my sample book!


So, my thought for today.....don't leave your sample book, or any part of your book for that matter, alone in the company of a crazy cat and a goofy Pug!

I just came home after meeting with my merchandise contact to find my sample book being held hostage by my pets.  Literally, the book was in the middle of the floor, and it was as if their biggest show down was about to ensue.

In one corner....Oscar the cat Dela Hoya-- In the other corner....Sampson the scrap eating Pug.

Oscar: Hmmmmm, what's this on her desk?  Ahhhh, it looks important.  Wait, this face looks all too familiar.  I must have it!  If I jump on the desk and nudge it off with the side of my face I can ensure it hits the ground, allowing me to make it my newest toy!  Muahh haha Muahh haha!
Sampson: Oh boy (tail curls up), what does Oscar have?  Is it food? Is it a treat?  I'll go over and see!  Dumpt de dumpt.
Oscar: I finally achieve my goal for the morning and here he comes to stifle my plan.  I can't get any alone time in this house!
Sampson: Nope, not food (tail straightens out).  Hey, that toy has my face on it.  Dumpt de dumpt.
Oscar:  This toy represents the fruits of my labor.  Back off funny man!
Sampson:   Funny man? I am funny---funny looking.  You shouldn't take yourself so seriously my dear brother.  That toy looks like me anyway.  It's my turn to play.
Oscar: Bring it on!
Sampson: I'm trying to bring it, I just don't move as quickly as you do.  Dumpt de dumpt.

It was right about then I walked in to find this hilarious situation taking place over the book cover. Maybe it was the picture of Chloey the Pug on the cover that appealed to them, or maybe this is just what happens when we leave the house.  I was able to re-cover the book safely, and now both boys are napping in their respective corners :)

Don't forget to Write, Write, Write!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Your storyline: See the end from the beginning!


So, since an earlier blog I have been asked by friends to elaborate on my ideas about developing your storyline and characters.  I want to dedicate this entry to developing your storyline.  I do apologize if my information was too vague.

Let's re-visit developing your storyline: See the end from the beginning.  In other words, know what the endgame is for your book. You can then essentially "back in" the story as opposed to the reverse; hitting it head-on and running the risk of it being inconsistent upon it's completion.  Kind of like even though a building begins on it's foundation, the architects have completed blueprints long before ground breaks so as not to compromise their endgame.  For me, I decided that I wanted the main character in my first children's book to ultimately adapt to her new surroundings and overcome adversity as a way to help teach children how to achieve the same experience. This set the stage for my storyline, even though I hadn't started writing yet.  I knew where the storyline was headed and where my characters would stand at the end.

Think about your storyline having three major points of contact.  A gripping beginning, a climactic middle, and a satisfying ending that still leaves the reader wanting more. Each third should propel the reader to the next.  Introduce the back story and capture the reader with a gripping beginning upon which you can build. Think again of the building and how each layer must build on the following one until the project is complete.

Your spy novel might begin by introducing the main character who is a robber that pulls off a bank heist. This will help the reader connect to the main character quickly, and give you the gripping beginning you need.  Your climactic middle might include something like; the robber falls for the woman who opened the bank vault, but she never saw his face even though he saw hers.  Since you have previously decided that your storyline ends with a bank robber who gets caught by a spy agency, you now have all three major points of contact.  Bank gets robbed, robber falls in love with teller, robber gets caught.  However, don't forget to write a satisfying ending to your book, and still leave the reader wanting more. Even though the robber is caught, raise a question and leave it on the table.  Was she in on it with him?  Does he find a way to escape jail?  Does he actually work for the spy agency?

Write your storyline according to what is popular and selling, but also to what you would want to take away from the book if you had not written it, but simply read it.  In my book, "Chloey's Big Move", the main character moves to Chicago and deals with all things new, faces adversity, and finds resolution that ends with her thinking only of Bark Park, her new friends, and all of their adventures to come.  This was the method to my madness which I hope will be of some help to you!

And don't forget to Write, Write, Write!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Thinking about your book's layout


 I have chosen to share my thoughts on steps towards writing and self publishing a book, in a way I found helpful to me.  If you have experiences or thoughts to contribute please let me know, as it is all about sharing helpful information.

Thinking about your book's layout: After researching layouts of some favorite books among children (my target audience) I was able see patterns. Regarding how many pages I needed, what sizes sold well, and I decided that I wanted illustrations on every page, along with the text.  My target audience seemed very receptive to the bold colors and fun characters they were seeing during reading hour at Barnes and Noble, or at the libraries I frequented.

Cover art and layout are important to research, as well as deciding what you like relative to getting your book made.  For a children's book knowing some of the details I mentioned just above helped guide me in determining my layout, as well as knowing what I liked from a creators stand point.  "A How To" book may require pictures as well as copy because some people learn visually, and it reinforces the copy already on the page.  A novel or biography may also require pictures of the subjects to correlate with the copy.  This will help the reader truly visualize the subject as you intend during certain parts of your book.

So, just a few things to think about when planning your layout, that will also be helpful when you go to your illustrator/designer or the printing press to finalize details.  Sometimes your copy may need to be slightly adjusted based on changes to the layout for cost efficiencies, and for the success of the book's first run.

I am excited in my next blog to share my thoughts with you about how to find an illustrator, designer, or photographer for your book.

And don't forget to Write, Write, Write!


Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!

I wanted to do a check in, as I have been nursing a sick dog and tied up all weekend.  However, he and I are feeling much better and rested!

Please check back later tonight, and read some thoughts on thinking about and planning the layout of your book.  Hopefully you have taken some time and decided on your topic, target audience, and begun to develop your characters, I found that working out the details of the book layout was a pretty imperative step in the planning process.

Have a great day!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Start developing your storyline and characters


Now that you have decided on a topic for your book and the message you want to send, it is time to begin developing the storyline and characters.  In choosing your topic you have most likely decided on your target audience.  In other words, who do you want to read and or buy your book?

Developing your storyline:  For example, once I decided that my topic would be teaching life lessons to children (my target audience) I had to choose an age range (4-8).  This dictated the kind of storyline I would write, type of vocabulary to use, amount of dialogue included, and the number of pages.  This took quite a bit of research, but the information is out there for you to find.  By sticking to a model that was suitable for my target audience I could then gain credibility with the parents, who would ultimately be purchasing my book.  My storyline began to flow once I knew my topic, target audience, and the parameters to which I needed to adhere.

Let's say you have decided to write a crime novel.  Research how other successful crime novels are written.  Is your storyline about a who dunnit murder?  Is it about a team of bank robbers that eventually gets caught?  Maybe it is about a singular main character who finds themselves in nefarious situations throughout the novel.  Or, let's say you have decided to write a "How To" book.  Your storyline will include teaching a skill you have and want to share, such as: cooking, being athletic, promoting healing, or how to build something around your home.  Answering these questions after picking your topic and knowing your target audience will aid you in developing your storyline.

Developing characters:  I chose dogs as my main characters because I love them so dearly, but together in a group their characteristics and interactivity was not unlike how a group of children might interact.  I chose the dogs in our family because I knew their personalities and the manner in which they interacted together.  This helped immensely while developing my characters, and really brought them to life!  Think of people you know, people you see on TV, historical figures, people you admire or even dislike. If your book will be non-fiction then make sure you research your characters to portray them adequately.  If your book will be fiction it is ok to embellish and give your characters personalities that you think will fit your storyline within your chosen topic.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I think writing about what you know or have a passion for can be very helpful.  And don't forget to....write, write, write!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

You can do it!

Good Morning!

I wanted to share that I just got confirmation that two more stores are willing to carry my children's book in my neighborhood! :)   I am sharing this to remind you that YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!  Have a great day, and check back tomorrow for my next tip on how to get your very own book written, self-published, and sold!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Pick a topic for your book


So, now that you have decided to write and self-publish your book the questions becomes:  How do you choose a topic?  Well, let's start with some basic questions.  Is it fiction or non-fiction?  What is your demographic?  Is biographical or auto-biographical?  Is it about something you love or loathe?  The list could go on and on, however I find it is easiest to write something about which you are passionate.

For example, I write about dogs, for children.  Two things about which I am very passionate.  I find that the concepts and words come easier because I understand both animals and children.  This is not to say that this is right for everyone.

Maybe you are passionate about disliking war and want to write a book and tell your story.  Maybe you love to cook and want to share your recipes with others. Or, maybe you know something that the rest of us should know.  The bottom line is when it comes to picking a topic, I believe it has to be personal to the writer in some way.  For me, it was dogs and children.

Sometimes it can be extremely helpful to simply write, write, write.  Keep going until that special topic becomes abundantly clear, because stream of consciousness can be very helpful when we feel blocked.

Since this blog is centered around tips that might help you write and self- publish a book of your own, I am very excited to share with you the following link where you can learn more about me, and my journey to self-publishing my first children's book in the Pug Story series.  I hope this information has been helpful in some way, and I look forward to sharing more tips with you soon.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Welcome to my blog!

Hi there…My name is Jaclyn, I am a long time animal lover, Pug owner, and self published writer.  With a background in English Literature, business development, and a future in teaching children. Self publishing my book, Pug Story, has been nothing short of a dream come true.  

For many years I have wanted to be able to create a children's book series that would aid parents and children in tackling life's tough lessons.  

If there is one thing I have learned in all of my start-up endeavors, it is that there will always be an inevitable learning curve.  As we grow older, and hopefully smarter, that curve shortens.  I have been very fortunate to exchange information and knowledge with some very insightful people over the years.  And thanks to those people my learning curve has shortened a bit. 

I pledge to offer my help to you, and in return I welcome any and all responses or questions.   It is my sincere hope that the information I share in my blog will be of some use to you and create productive interaction as you strive to write, self-publish, market, and sell your own book.  

To learn more about Pug Story check out our website at and don't forget to follow Pug Story on Facebook and Twitter