Tooling up for the new book: the photography of Gator McBumpypants

An array of affordable photography equipment

Some very affordable photography tools to enhance the magic of Gator McBumpypants

My first picture book, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise, started out as a photography project. I was taking an online photography course and needed models for an assignment, so I took a couple of my stuffed friends outside and started taking pictures. As the photo shoot progressed, a story came into my head about how this alligator met a baby pterodactyl who was attempting to fly.

Last year, with my third book, Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three,  Mother Daughter Book Review published my post about a new hybrid genre in picture books. I believe that photo-illustration in children’s fiction will grow, but the photos need to be imaginative, colorful and fun. So, as I do with every one of my books, I have challenged myself to make my photo-illustrations even better.

After becoming very frustrated with the costs of photography equipment, I got creative. I

fisheye

Fish-eye effect

discovered that a very cheap fish-eye lens made some great effects, so I looked at other incredibly cheap options for effects I want.

Here’s what I’m trying out for the fourth Gator McBumpypants adventure picture book:

Some Extra Light

Last year’s photography focus was on light. I worked very hard on interior lighting and had some success with a small headshot studio. However, Gator McBupypants and his friends will be on an adventure in a place where I can only bring a small backpack, so I found some small light sources.

Macro Ring 48 LED Light

This light makes a great circular light in eyes, as apposed to the regular rectangle. Human subjects complain of its brightness when I stick my lens that close to their eyeball. However, Gator McBumyppants and his friends probably won’t be bothered.

Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

I’m excited to finally have a directional flash. This should be great for creating or reducing foliage shadows.

Some Extra Color

Opteka HD Multicoated Graduated Color Filter Kit

These color filters give a subtle effect over only a portion of the lens and rotate to the section of the image you wish to color.

Opteka HD Multicoated Solid Color Filter Kit

These solid color filters blanket the entire image and may be useful for dramatic mood.

Some Unique Perspective

55MM Professional Lens Filter and Close-Up Macro Accessory Kit

This is fun for getting pictures of flowers and insects, perhaps some close-ups of things Gator McBumpypants sees on his adventure.

Super 500mm/1000mm f/8 Manual Telephoto Lens

This is great for birds and other critters that are far away. I’m looking forward to experimenting with photos of the gang from far away.

More Unique Perspective

Recommended photography books:

The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life

Bryan Peterson’s Exposure Solutions: The Most Common Photography Problems and How to Solve Them

I hope you’re getting as excited as I am for the fourth Gator McBumpypants book. Don’t forget to like Gator McBumpypants and Friends on Facebook to keep up with all the fun activities leading up to the book release.

A Quick Note of Thanks

pastel reflectionI want to thank Renee at Mother Daughter Book Review  for allowing me to guest post and for making the post look so lovely.  I did  research on photography as illustration in children’s picture books and found an interested study that illuminated a hybrid genre. I hope you’ll take a moment to click on the link and read my post. I would love to hear your thoughts.

And for those of you who have not read the first two Gator McBumpypants books, or you just want a chance to win a signed copy, I have two Goodreads giveaways going on right now.

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise Giveaway until Dec. 2, 2015

Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly Giveaway until Dec. 11, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you are surrounded by reasons to be thankful.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Book Giveaway Linky: #Freebooks

Book Giveaway Linky

Thank you to Mother Daughter Book Reviews for hosting the Book Giveaway Linky. It provides a great platform to let authors inform readers about their book giveaways.

Please click on the link and enjoy all the free books.

Happy reading.

Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three First Draft Thanks To A Thousand Words A Day

Dee Dee the Duck with her new friendsThough I did not write another 1,000 words since I reported yesterday, I did write 570 words to finish up the first draft of my third picture book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series: Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three. That brings the weekend total to 2,014! By my math, I made it to the goal of 1,000 words a day (though I still have to write 1,000 today, but that’s for tomorrow’s blog). I’m very excited about this book, not only because it’s fun to take pictures of stuffed animals in the wild and tell their stories, but because Dee Dee is the first of my characters that I designed and created myself. Spoiler alert! I plan to make a box turtle next.

For the rest of my 5,000 words this week I will be working on two projects:

One is a middle grade novel that I plan as a series. It’s about a nine year old girl who realizes she can interact with spirits to help them with their unfinished business. However, she doesn’t want anyone, especially her classmates, to know, so she creates a business getting rid of household noises.

The other project is a series of short stories about a lake spirit. The story I’m trying to finish is called “Creation of the Lake Spirit” and is about half done. I hope to finish this week.

As part of the Novel Recommit challenge, I said I would post my word count each day, so I will keep you posted. I have a couple of more instructional yet-to-be-finished blog posts saved in my drafts to dust off for you throughout the week and hopefully some very fun pictures of Gator McBumpypants and his new friend Dee Dee as the week progresses.

Happy Writing!

My first vocal interview: Chris is a talented interviewer; I want to buy my own books.

ROACHOPERA

The cover of Christian Champagne’s poetry book.

YAT DICTIONARY ine YAT DICTIONARY2Chris Champagne, author of  Roach Opera and The Yat Dictionary who has been voted Best Comedian in New Orleans two years running, interviewed me about my books for his podcast. It’s a great interview. He made me want to read my books.

The first part of the podcast is a comedy quiz show, my interview starts at 24:37. I recommend following his podcast; it’s funny and I learned most of the truth about New Orleans politics through Chris’s comedy. He is a true New Orleanian.

Finding the Nearsighted Narwhal

A pod of narwhalsIt’s easy as a self published author to focus all of your promotion and marketing on the web. However, I recently experienced the joy of seeing my books on the shelves of a local bookstore and it feels great!

It all started with a facebook invitation to a Saturday night showing of local films. It looked like fun, so I looked up the location. It turned out that the films were being shown at a small bookstore called the Nearsighted Narwhal.

The store not only had a wonderful name, but the website said it took self published books on commission. It sounded like a great opportunity to get my children’s books into the hands of readers, so I took a look at their commissions contract.

logo for the Nearsighted Narwhal bookstore

2610A 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406 253.301.4098 Sunday 10 – 6, Monday Closed, Tuesday 10-10 Wednesday-Saturday 10 – 7

As an artist and crafter, I have put items in stores on commission before–usually the store takes at least 60% of the sale price leaving the artist with 40% or less. The Nearsighted Narwhal only takes 30% of the sale price. So, I printed off the contract, signed a couple of my books and eagerly awaited the event.

I arrived a half hour early to conduct business before the show. I had expected the entire store to be crowded with books, with the amount of people self publishing these days, but there were three double sided free-standing racks at the front of the store, nicely organized with great visibility. There were some crafts in the middle of the store and the back of the store was filled with self published ‘zines.

I walked to the desk and introduced myself to the proprietors who put price tags on my books and walked them straight to the children’s book section at the very front of the store. It was wonderful.

The local films that were shown were entertaining and of high quality. I’m so glad I decided to look into this local event and that I found this great supporter of local authors.

Have you looked into places that might carry your books on commission? I’m thinking of looking into children’s clothing stores that take clothing on commission. They may also be interested in books.

Marketing: Societies, Associations, Meetups and Clubs

A tiny shiny hummingbird on a branch

Like this tiny hummingbird, our books need to shine to be seen.

I apologize for neglecting you last week, dear readers. I received the fully copy-edited version of my chapter book and dove into choosing agents to query and revising my query letter. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, querying is a nerve-wracking full time job. Today, I posted my second revision, after many helpful critiques, on Agent Query Connect and hope I am getting closer. But that is for tomorrow’s topic.

In the past I’ve looked at writing societies and associations and didn’t see past the expense to the value. Now that I have two self-published books to promote and another that I’m trying to get agented, I joined both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I’m also really enjoying a biweekly writer’s social meet-up and many online clubs.

So, what are the benefits?

SCBWI: SCBWI is an international society with local chapters. Once a member, you have access to current information in every aspect of children’s book writing, illustrating and publishing. That alone is worth the membership price.They also offer many tools to promote your work and connect with other professionals. They have conferences and an online members’ bookstore.

PNWA: They have a member library to show off members’ work. As a member, you get a discount to their convention (which I’m thinking I might attend this summer). You can attend meetings from home on a conference call when you don’t have the time to drive out to a meeting.

Meetups and Clubs: These are great places to make personal relationships with other authors. I’m hoping the aforementioned are too, but I personally have found meetups and clubs to be a good place to ask questions and get feedback. You can also see what topics are important to other authors and learn from their experiences.

An important part of marketing is getting your book into people’s hands to create word of mouth. Meeting people through local associations, societies, meetups and clubs can help you get the word out.

My first interview as a children’s book author!

I planned on re-posting the fun interview Andy Mulberry did with me, but that’s not working, so I’ll link to it instead.

Here are the first few lines from Andy’s post:

Welcome Maria L. Berg, Children’s Book Author | Guest Post

It’s Sunday! Which means, it’s time for a fun Q&A with a children’s book author! I’d like to welcome Maria L. Berg to my blog! She’s a fellow Goodreads author and recently released a photography picture book, called… 434 more words

Thank you, Andy, for taking the time to support your fellow authors. What a treat!

New Book! Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly!!

Front Cover Herman Learns to Fly

Front Cover of new book Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly

Back Cover Herman Learns to Fly

Back Cover of new book Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly

Now that the second book is finished and available in both paperback and kindle, I will be back to my regular blogging schedule, finishing up my free guide to self publishing children’s books and exploring guest posts (activities that went to the back burner to simmer while I finished my book).

So, today being Monday Marketing, I am happy to report that my marketing efforts with Gator McBumpypants, specifically with facebook and a targeted email list, resulted in first day sales. Because knowing what works is the only way to wade through all the money traps for self promoters, I am glad I found some freebies that actually work. Be careful with both facebook and email lists to make sure you target to trusted friends and family, then groups specifically interested in your genre — your target audience, then (hopefully) fans, and people who truly want to work with you.

I noticed early in my marketing, my responses came from other marketers who weren’t marketing anything to help me and would have loved to have my money for no reason whatsoever. This almost turned me away from blogging and self publishing, but then I started finding good blogs with my interests. I also focused  my reason for marketing which is selling my Gator McBumpypants books to support my writing and photography obsessions.

I hope my readers will find what they need here on this blog and my other sites as I continue to focus my time on publishing all of my projects. Next steps: An agent for my middle grade fiction book and revising my adult fiction novel while writing the novel all of this has been practice for: Within the Lahar.

Marketing: The second book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series

winter flowersA deep, heart-felt Thank You to everyone who downloaded Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise last week–80 downloads and 4 new reviews!–a very happy return on a free 5-day campaign. Now, hopefully, some word of mouth from the people who read the story can help me keep the momentum going.

This week, my writing life is consumed with publishing the second book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series, Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly. While I go through the process of getting all the pictures just right, formatting the text, making the cover and uploading to CreateSpace, I’m going to write the step by step guide Publishing Your Children’s Picture Book like I promised. This is the broad outline I’ve come up with:

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Create Space Set-Up
  3. Formatting the Interior Pages
  4. Making a Cover
  5. Review
  6. Kindle Formatting
  7. Distribution
  8. Marketing and Promotion

Have I forgotten anything? Are there other topics you would like me to cover? Please let me know in the comments.

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