P.S. I review Curse of the Double Digits at the end of this post. P.S.S. Lynn's doing a giveaway. One signed paperback and one ebook to two lucky people. Just wish Lynn good luck with her lovely story, ask her a question, or sing a song, and you'll be entered to win.
LYNN KELLEY!!!!!!! Wahoooo. She's here folks. And she's real! She's a real person. She's going to talk about her latest venture, which is self publishing her chapter book, Curse of the Double Digits. And it is hilarious. All kids of the chapter book age will LOVE it. You can visit her over at her houses, (she has two) Lynn Kelley's house, Lynn Kelley: Random Acts of Weirdness.
So here's that giggle maker, the woman with that knee slappin' humor, and yours truly, of course.
Lynn, I'm so happy to have you over at my place today. Tea? Crumpets? Let us have a sit down and talk about Curse of the Double Digits.
I’m jazzed to be hanging out with you today, Robyn. You’re so easy to talk to, but I’m still kind of nervous and hope I don’t wangle my tords. I mean tangle my words. Sheesh!
Don't be nervous. I'm not that famous. :-) Lynn Kelley, are you just like Becky your MC? Spill the beans!
Young and cute? That’s a big no. Hmm, I suppose I am like Becky as far as dealing with comedies of errors in my life, which I often cause myself. You know how the ripple effect works. Sometimes I feel like my life is a sitcom.
Who or what was your inspiration for Curse of the Double Digits?
The idea that sparked the whole book was a real life incident. My niece was about six and her bangs were way too long to look presentable for a family event. My sister-in-law tried to trim them, but the scissors were too dull, so my brother had a light bulb moment and grabbed his electric razor. . .
To avoid a spoiler here, let’s just say the event made me wonder how a ten-year-old would react. And of course I left the parents out of the scene and had Becky, the main character, ask her best friend Jenna to do the trimming with the electric razor.
Are you a geek? I ask this because you uploaded your story and fixed a lot of problems you were having. So. Geek or dork??
Definitely a dork in the highest degree. The whole self-pubbing journey has been trial and error. Thank God for my writer peeps who helped me figure out what I was doing wrong. My eyebrows have more gray after all this. Time to invest in an eyebrow pencil!
Why did you decide to self-publish?
Regarding Curse of the Double Digits, chapter books are a hard sell, a niche market. They’re not lengthy, so the spines are thin and aren’t noticeable on the shelves. A series of chapter books stands out.
Also, publishers aren’t too keen on accepting new authors. Too risky. Most agents and editors don’t request manuscripts for early readers or chapter books, so the odds were against Curse of the Double Digits being acquired by a traditional publisher.
Years of thought went into my decision. For the full scoop, here’s the link to a post on my blog, “My Choices in Publishing” (http://lynnkelleyrandomactsofwriting.blogspot.com/2011/10/my-choices-in-publishing.html). It has lots of links for anyone considering going this route. Seven bloggers participated in a blog ring on this subject, so their links are well worth a read, too. Some of us chose the self-publishing or indie route, others the traditional route, and others were still trying to make up their minds.
Where did you find Alanna Heck, your illustrator?
We’re in the same writers critique group. Alanna writes YA books. When I discovered she’s also artistic, I asked her if she wanted to give illustrating my book a shot. She was under the gun at the time teaching a class of special ed high school students, going to school for her master’s degree, and taking her son to activities like karate, where she worked on many of the drawings. Good thing she works well under pressure!
How did you go about finding the publisher?
Some of my writer friends went through Amazon’s print on demand division, CreateSpace. I heard good things about them, so that helped me decide.
How long did it take you to publish Curse of the Double Digits?
“Long” is the right word here, Robyn. It’s been a long journey. I started this book over ten years ago, working on it off and on. I read various versions at two different critique groups during those years. We had lot of laughs over poor Becky’s escapades.
It’s been a learning process, and each revision got better. Lots of ups and downs. The ups kept me going, like nice comments from agents and editors. I’d get my hopes up, only to crash when rejections came, but it’s part of the process. It’s been a good journey. I’ve met awesome friends like you along the way.
Did you have to ask an attorney any questions before going ahead with this?
No, I haven’t consulted an attorney. Not yet. Hope I didn’t just jinx myself!
I have to ask about marketing, Lynn. What are the major challenges you face?
Big challenges. Huge. The odds are against me. I can relate to that little ant that tried to climb the rubber tree plant. Do you remember that song?
First, I’m basically an unknown. Second, bookstores don’t usually carry self-pubbed books. I had the option on CreateSpace to choose their Expanded Distribution, which could get more exposure, but then my cost per book would go up substantially, so I’d have to price my books so high, it wouldn’t be feasible.
So I went with their basic marketing and priced them at $4.99. The paperbacks are available on Amazon and CreateSpace (authors get a higher royalty if their books are bought on CreateSpace), and I can hand sell them when I do school visits or get invited to events, but mass marketing really isn’t an option right now.
As far as the eBook version, children’s eBooks haven’t really taken off yet. That day is coming. It’s a matter of when, not if. So Double Digits is ready whenever kids are. It’s a fun read for $2.99. I think that’s affordable in this slow economy. Parents will get a kick out of the story, too, and they can read it aloud to or with their kids in just an hour and a half.
The best marketing is still word of mouth. The eBooks are available on Amazon and Smashwords. Smashwords has formatting for all e-readers, plus they distribute to Barnes & Noble, Apple, and pretty much all eBook stores.
You have been traditionally published, too. What’s the difference as far as how it affects your creative process?
My prior experience was with two small presses. The publisher basically had the final say, although both presses asked for my input. As an author, I had less control, but it all worked out, and I wasn’t asked to make any major changes. So, as far as my creativity, I had to be flexible and be willing to work with them and make changes to my manuscript.
With my picture book Merry as a Cricket, WhipperSnapper Books liked my manuscript, but they wanted to publish two stories in one book. They asked me to write a companion title about the Blessing of the Animals, a ceremony celebrated in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.
At first it seemed like a lot of pressure, having to come up with another story in order to sell the first one. I did some research, which sparked ideas for a story about kids and their pets. It was a relief when they accepted it, so Pocketful of Chocolate became the second story.
Going the self-pub route, I have the final say on the whole shebang. What I love is skipping the querying and submitting process and all the time it takes, getting my hopes up, waiting, waiting, and waiting. And once they acquire it, there’s more waiting, waiting, and waiting.
I worked on Curse of the Double Digits for ten years, submitting off and on. After five or so rejections, I’d put the manuscript away for sometimes six months or a year. I should have been more aggressive, but the submissions process is draining and a major time suck. I worked at a stressful job, had four kids, and was working on other books.
Making the decision to self-pub felt good. I get a lot of valuable feedback from my writer friends, so I’m not on my own. Self-publishing is a lot of work, especially formatting the paperback, getting rid of widows and orphans, catching typos or mistakes made in last-minute revisions. No shortcuts allowed. The last thing I want to do is publish a sloppy product. My goal is to sell quality books at an affordable price.
Will you do this again? Could there be more books featuring Becky? She’s an awesome character who all kids that age can identify with.
Yes, I hope to write another chapter book featuring Becky, but two more books in the Monster Moon series are in the works right now (coauthored under the pen name BBH McChiller), and then I need to get back to my edgy YA book. It’s screaming for attention!
Thank you, thank you, for sharing your experience with all of us, Lynn.
Thank you for having me, Robyn. It’s an honor to be featured on your blog. So, are you ready to jump in the bounce house? I mean, hey, we’re children’s writers, so we need kiddie fun. We need to be careful not to flip it, though! You first, hop in!
(Lynn is having a bouncey house at her book launch today. Anyone else wanna give it a go?) But first. Where can people go to find out more about your books?
Oh, I better share that info before we go play in the jumper.
Here are the links for Curse of the Double Digits:
Amazon – Link for paperback ($4.99) and eBook ($2.99):
Smashwords – Formats for all e-readers ($2.99). They'll distribute it to Barnes & Noble and other e-stores soon, but the formats for all e-readers are available here now:
Now for my review peeps.
Want to have some rip-roarin' fun? Then have a sit down with your kids ages 5-9 and read Lynn Kelley's Curse of the Double Digits. Trust me. It's a rollicking good time. Becky is going to be turning ten years-old. Double digits, of course. But when things go from bad to worse for Becky, well, you know how a curse can be? Right? Lynn's writing is sidesplitting fun to read. Her characters come to life. I loved Darlenie-the-Meanie (darn those long blonde waves) and Aunt Dottie. I felt like I had known some of these characters of Lynn's at one time in my own life. I know the kids who read it will too. I wholeheartedly recommend Curse of the Double Digits. I can't wait to read the next book featuring Becky and her pals.