There’s a Frog in my Tummy.

When I was a little boy and refused to eat, my mum and nan used to tell me there was a frog in my tummy that needed feeding. I fell for this everytime and years later as a parent I’ve told my kids the same story with varying sucess.

It has got more and more elaborate over time and I recently decided to turn it into a bedtime story for my youngest daughter.

There’s a Frog in my Tummy is available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Illustrations.

cover image there's a frog in my tummyThere's a Frog in my Tummy ebook illustration.There's a Frog in my Tummy ebook illustration.

Ebook for Kids

This is my second ebook for kids and after my experience of uploading my first ebook for children, Come Home Moon, on Amazon Kindle I found this a snap.

Sweet and Sour is about a little angel and a little devil. Right and Wrong in easy language and a non preachy manner.

Sweet and Sour ebook illustration

An uncomplicated layout while not satisfying the designer in me certainly made the process easy. It’s about letting go of my pre conceptions and understanding how kindles really put the reader in charge where text is concerned.

It won’t always be like this though I’m sure. Fixed layouts are essential to some stories and from now on I’ll be designing my pages to take advantage of kindle 8 features.

My journey into self publishing kids ebooks is one of the most enjoyable creatively I’ve ever embarked upon. I think it’s the completeness of the process, how I am in control of everything that appeals to me.

The illustrations were completed with corel painter. I started with pencil sketches building up to a finished drawing which I scanned in and then inked and coloured in layers.

The design always takes me far longer than the execution of the artwork. I break this down into:

Character design, where every individual is drawn over and over until I am satisfied.pencil sketches for sour catoon character

Page design, where I put all the elements in place as below. This includes backgrounds and any artifacts I need to draw.

Overall design, where I try to ensure consistency between the images and relevance to the story. Which moment in time I am bringing to life.children's book illustration. Sweet and Sour

It’s essential to me that the images add a little more to the narrative without extraneous detail. And, of course, the illustrations have to be understood by the viewer/reader.

View on Amazon

View on Smashwords

Formatting ebooks for Amazon

This is how I went about formatting and uploading Come Home Moon, my first kindle children’s book.

My first two books for children were designed for pdf but when I heard about the new kindle 8 devices that can handle colour I decided to investigate. I had already uploaded an adult book for the greyscale older kindles, mainly out of curiosity and because I had a novel doing nothing on my hard drive. It seemed very easy  using Word as the source document but I had heard that the process was more problematic where images were concerned. Obviously images in an illustrated children’s book were very imporant so I had to find out how to go about it in an efficient non techy way, if I seriously wanted to sell ebooks on Amazon Kindle. If you haven’t already signed up to Amazon KDP (kindle Direct Publishing) you can start here.

Read the help pages and get familiar with everything.

I reread the help pages and thought I’d try to upload my pdf versions and see how it turned out. KDP claims it can handle Word (.doc or .docx) ePub (.epub) Plain Text (.txt) Mobipocket (.mobi or .prc) HTML (.zip, .htm, or .html) Adobe PDF (.pdf) Rich Text Format (.rtf)  but with varying results. Oddly for me I was feeling pretty optimistic so I tried to upload my pdf. If it worked I’d be happy, if not what had I lost? A few minutes at most.

As I don’t yet own a kindle fire (hurry up Amazon), I downloaded the previewer ( you can do this when you’re uploading your first book so don’t worry about it now) and then I uploaded the pdf of Come Home Moon. It looked horrendous. A mashed up ghastly thing with different sized fonts, misaligned images and generally looked crap.

I had prepared the original source document in Microsoft Publisher so I could site the words and pictures exactly where I wanted them. This clearly wouldn’t work here so I turned to Word which is KDP’s recommendation.

I wouldn’t have had the energy to do this with a 100,000 word novel but Come Home Moon is about 1200 words so it wasn’t a big deal to re-type it. Copy and pasting from publisher would have brought the original formatting to the fresh document and even normalising the text doesn’t always work so I decided to start all over again. I set Word to Normal text and typed the first paragraph. With kindle you don’t need to indent your first line. Don’t do it because kindle does it for you when converting your manuscript.

I used the INSERT-PICTURE-FROM FILE command and placed my first image in the document. I inserted a page break INSERT-BREAK-PAGE BREAK.

The Page breaks weren’t really necessary because kindle users can change fonts and size the text however they want it and this will move images around. But, if you do use breaks and your readers keep the text small, say size 4 and under, you can keep the words relevant to the text. Then I repeated this throughout the manuscript. Words image, words image. I rechecked the text was Normal. To do this FORMAT-STYLES AND FORMATTING, then highlight or click on the sentence you want to check and Word will tell you if the text is Normal, centered etc.

Next thing is to centre the images. Use the centre option in styles and formatting.

I then went to the beginning of the book and typed up my front matter. (Copyright notice, author name, year, book title) I centered this. I inserted my cover image before the front matter (not forgetting a page break) to make sure it appeared in the ebook.

Now I read through several times looking for mistakes. I found quite a few so fixed them. Then I re-checked the formatting a final time and was ready to move onto the next task.

I selected the first image, clicked on Compress Picture, this brings up a window where you can select all pictures and set resolution to WEB/SCREEN. Select compress pictures and Word will do a pretty decent job of compression. You don’t have to do this if your entire document is under 50MB but from what I hear compressing your images rather than letting KDP do it on conversion gives better results.

I kept Word open and went into DOCUMENTS on my pc. I created a New Folder and named it Come Home Moon Kindle Files.

I went back to Word and ensured I had saved the document (doc.) I went back into FILE-SAVE AS and saved again as Web Page, Filtered, making sure this was saved in my newly created folder. I closed Word and right clicked on Come Home Moon Kindle Files and selected Send to Zipped Folder. Back to KDP where I uploaded the zipped folder. I clicked on Save as Draft at the bottom of the uploading page and then downloaded the file back to my pc. I opened kindle previewer FILE-OPEN BOOK, browsed for the file and opened it. I went through the pages one by one, slowly checking all was well.

Once happy I clicked on Save and Publish and then all I had to do was set the price and a few other little tasks on the upload pages.

A few hours later I got an email congratulating me on placing my book on kindle. I was able to follow a link in the email to the product page of Come Home Moon so I could copy the link to use in my promotional efforts. A nice little slice of the book was available to sample so prospective buyers could see a little of what the book has to offer.

So that was it. My first children’s book on Kindle. I’m sure there are other ways, probably better ways, to go about this but this way worked well for me, especially when taking into consideration that the book was always meant to be a straightforward pdf.

One more book to go this way and then in future I will design books in keeping with the colour loving kindles.

Can’t wait!

Come Home Moon on Smashwords

Home

A blog about ebooks for children and self publishing children’s books in general. I’ve become increasingly interested in e-stuff lately and having a four year old daughter who is just beginning her journey into the written word began to bring the two together. Add to that my interest in cartooning and illustration and an idea for a kids ebook bloomed.

As I progress I’ll add my experiences of digital publishing and post any insights I gain. I intend to publish ebooks as PDF’s and on the Amazon Kindle. In the UK we haven’t got the Kindle Fire yet. As I understand it Fire will support full colour images making it more reasonable to publish this way.

My first (Of many I’m thinking) is a story about the Earth and the Moon. I’ve uploaded some initial sketches along with some of the final artwork rendered mostly digitally.

I’m a latecomer to digital art hence my clinging onto pencil, paper and ink for early sketches, preparatory drawings etc and an inability to let go completely. I scan in ink drawings and then add colour using corel painter. When I am braver I will do it all on the computer. I will.

Let me know what you think.

Nick Warren