Diane Alber

“Write the book you’d read to your kids”

I will never tire of saying these two words to my beloved author friends: THANK YOU.
Thank you for sharing with me with your problems
Thank you for sharing with my listeners your time and for being vulnerable
Thank you for giving it your all, your best, your everything!

And one person I particularly want to thank is Diane Alber who literally inspires me with everything she does.

She went from a 9-5 IT job to an incredible side hustle that’s been described as a PHENOMENON.
She also:
* has published five books in this series
* has moved from a passion about art to a MOVEMENT about scribbles!
* regularly sells out of stock at Amazon!

Impressed? Inspired? So am I!

Find Kelly on  Her website!  href=”https://www.instagram.com/imnotjustascribble”>On Instagram! On Facebook!

Show Notes

Introduction:                     00:00                     Welcome to the Wrighter’s Way Podcast where we celebrate writers who have completed their books and inspire writers who haven’t. Join Laurie and her guests as they talk about writing books and life in between chapters.

Laurie:                                  00:17                     Hi everyone. It’s Laurie with the Wrighter’s Way Podcast. Joining me is the gorgeous Diane Alber and what we’re talking about is how this is still so new for me. She is my second. Truthfully, you’re my third, but the first one didn’t quite work out so we have to rerecord it. So it’d be like two point five. So welcome Diane!

Diane:                                   00:39                     Hi!

Laurie:                                  00:39                     And you’ll see on the screen, Diane won’t see it. Everyone else will see it. You’re, I think this is your best selling books. Splatter? Is that your best seller right now?

Diane:                                   00:46                     Scribble.

Laurie:                                  00:48                     Scribble. Okay. So we’ll get to your books. Why don’t you start off by sharing who you are, what you do, like your bio, that kind of thing. Then we’ll talk about your book.

Diane:                                   00:59                     Okay. So, my name’s Diane and I have a fine arts degree at ASU. Went there on a scholarship. I graduated and then got into IT because the arts didn’t make a lot of money and being an artist I guess. So I got an IT kind of by accident. I was a server as a waitress and I do that as my day job, but I’ve always wanted to write children’s books. I’ve been illustrating and painting for a long time and when I had my children, it was kind of you start to read a plethora of books, a lot of them and you’ve started to realize that, you know, the books that I really wanted to get my children out there, kind of ones that really inspire creativity and things like that. There was a couple but not as many as I’d like to see. So I saw that there was a reason to write a book for my children. And so I wrote my first book. I’m not just a scribble, which was inspired by my son who was just learning how to draw. He was three years old and he was… I wanted him to draw like a house and a sun and all sorts of fun things, but he ended up just trying to scribble and I was like, no, draw something awesome because I could draw something awesome. So he, uh, he got really upset at me and threw his paper down and it just so happened we were like in the craft room and these two googly eyes landed on his drawing he’s like, Mommy, I did draw something I drew a scribble. And I was like, oh, okay, this is a really cool way to start a story. So, I, I basically made a story about a little scribble who feels like he doesn’t fit in. I guess a lot of people have questioned why a lot of my books are about not fitting in I guess. When I was younger I didn’t really fit in very well. So I kind of wrote a series about being kind, you know, mindfulness and understanding people’s feelings and kind of words hurt, things like that. So basically Scribble, kind of owns the fact that he’s different and you know, teaches the other drawings that, you know, if they work together they can make something beautiful and in the end they create a beautiful drawing together. So all my series have, I would say the only one that doesn’t necessarily have a full moral would be Spots, but it’s still about like finding the fun in every situation, but a lot of them are around kindness, empathy, mindfulness, things like that. So

Laurie:                                  03:29                     That’s fabulous. And so I taught kindergarten and the younger kids would often come in and do the scribbles and so I didn’t really know what to say. I don’t have a arts creative back. And I’d say, Oh, you did a tornado, that’s great. And you know, and then they were really proud of themselves and they would do a lot of tornadoes. But I have a three year old, a six year old and a 10 year old. And we sat down this weekend and we looked at your scribble book and now I wished I was showing the scribble back. But anyway, people can go on Amazon and I had ordered some stickers from you and they were so fun. So the 10 year old, the six year old, three year old, we all sat around the kitchen table for a couple of hours doing scribbles on purpose. And what I found, it was hard for me to do a scribble like right as an adult if you said you want to do a beautiful drawing and I can’t draw but to do a scribble. I felt like my scribbles aren’t good enough. But my three year old was so proud of himself and he was keeping up with the big kids. And even the 10 year old, had so much fun with it. So he, he annotated it and he started talking about this is my face. We would put a sad face and know this is my face when I die in fortnight. And then he kept doing this is when I die in fortnight and there’s only one person left. And so they really just did their own thing with it. But it was so, so fun. So thank you. Thank you for doing that. I love that. And what a great thing for teachers to, for preschool teachers in daycares and things like that to teach the kids that are younger and maybe don’t have that dexterity yet. That’s scribbles are good too.

Diane:                                   05:02                     Right. One, I think the big thing is, is like every kindergarten teacher, even the art teacher, they always hear from a child, I can’t draw. That’s very typical. And with the scribble, anybody can do it. So whether your an adult or you’re a child or even if you have disabilities of any kind you can. Everybody can do a scribble. So what’s been happening is full schools are participating k through eighth, every single child and so it makes it so everybody can show their artistic ability and no one’s being judged, right? Because no matter what, everybody scribbles unique. No two scribbles are alike, they’re kind of like little snowflakes and they really. They kind of really give you the confidence. And the other thing that was really cool as well. I was doing this whole thing. I didn’t really understand how important scribbling actually is. So a lot of parents and teachers are guilty of this. They kind of skip over the scribbling phase. They want them to start writing right away. They want them to start creating shapes right away. And what a lot of people don’t understand is that scribbling is a precursor to writing and to gaining your fine motor skills. So like when people go through physical therapy, if they’ve had, you know, when they’re trying to build their muscles back up there, you’re not going to just start at the highest point, start writing, right? They have to do these exercises with their hands to build the hand eye coordination to build the strength in their fingertips, things of that nature. And so it’s funny because when I first launched the book, my son was three and my daughter was two and I made Ryan scribble everyday. I was like, don’t draw anything that I can recognize. I only want scribbles. And so after a period of time it was funny because he’s like, Mommy, I’m, I’m kinda over the scribbles. Like I can drop a little faces now. Like he has. He gained so much control in his crayons, in his pencils that, it was a natural progression, which I think people think that when their child is doing scribbles that they’re never going to get there. And that’s not true. The more scribbling they do. And this is kind of art one on one, is the more that you do something over and over again, you get bored and you want to kind of, expand. So when my son is scribbling, he used to scribble outside the lines all the time. I didn’t care. I’m like, do whatever you want. This is your piece. Well then eventually he was like really getting the control. So he started coloring inside the lines and I think, you know, I see it all the time and it’s really sad, you know, kindergarten, even in pre k they get really upset about the children’s coloring outside the lines. And it’s usually because the child doesn’t have the fine motor skills yet to do it. So it almost is causing the child to have this resentment towards drawing and coloring because they get yelled at when they color outside the lines. So I think the more that they scribble, the more that they create these characters, the more competence they build. It’s only going to be a natural progression. So if you see some of the scribbles now from my son there, they’ve got full themes like houses, buildings, airplanes, suns like all around a scribble because his skills have progressed. And same thing with my daughter, they just get better and better over time. People just need to be patient. It’s kind of like you can’t run before you crawl basically. Right? So I really want to kind of make the scribble something so amazing that when a parent sees a scribble, they’re so proud and they put on their refrigerator and they’re excited about it because it’s only going to encourage their children to be excited about drawing and creating and ultimately writing, right? Because that’s where you want them to get to is being able to write. And so now his, his hand eye coordination is unbelievable when it comes to writing. And I really truly believe it’s because of how much scribbling he did. And so it’s kind of been a really cool process and so all my books kind of really tap into the fine motor skills, right? The stickers obviously are a huge fine motor skill with my new books coming out, Snippets, all scissor cutting, right? So that’s a big fine motor skill. Scribbling as another one painting… So all these things are going to build your hand eye coordination and the way that you can really develop those muscles in your hands. So it’s kind of cool.

Laurie:                                  09:12                     I love that so much. I can’t wait to share this podcast. I have a lot of teacher friends, I have a lot of people on my friends list who run day homes or daycares and I think this is so, so important. And like you said, people don’t realize and it builds their self confidence so much with that fine motor, that, that aspect of it then as so often just skipped over and I just think that’s brilliant and people would maybe look at your book at first and be like, it’s a scribble. you know, and maybe not take much out of it. And then when you read it and you listened to you talk, it’s so much more than that. So thank you.

Diane:                                   09:49                     It’s really, it’s really cool. And I think it, it goes … So it’s funny now because I’m seeing third graders actually get into it too because they’re writing a full story. So like one of the biggest classes I remember was in third grade. And you start your creative writing, right? That’s like your big thing. And a teacher of mine, I’ll never forget this, drew like a squiggle on the board. Okay. And then she said you have to create this into something and then you write a story about it. So I would do this elaborate. Obviously this whole thing, it’d be this big elaborate story, but a lot of the children’s struggled because they couldn’t draw anything. Right? So now it’s happiness. Very important. They’re like, here, this is your character. You can draw them in any kind of scene, you can do anything. And everybody in the class can participate no matter what kind of artistic ability. And they write these amazing stories about scribble. Whether Scribble likes pizza and likes to skateboard on a regular basis or like this whole thing is crazy because it’s also going into the creative mind, you know, the creative writing. And it’s funny because I was out to lunch with my aunt and I was telling her about, you know, I wanted to do international scribble day where everybody participates k through eighth and she’s like why would eighth graders participate in scribbling? That’s for kids. But I was like, okay, see that’s the kind of mentality that I’m trying to work on that I would like everybody to no matter what that scribbling should be looked at as a form of art, right? So no matter it shouldn’t be looked at as a child, like form, it should be looked at as, as a, as just a form of art in general. And you should be proud of it. And so I think that is. I’ll never forget the first couple scribbles because it literally comes to life. As soon as you put the scribble faces on this, it becomes a character. It’s really cool. And I put them all over the refrigerator. Right? They got really kind of intense. But it’s the kids, you know, children really feed off the energy of the parents. Right. So as soon as they create a scribble and you get excited about it, you’re like, oh my gosh, it’s so amazing. Look how cool this is. There’s so excited about it because they created something. They almost look for your approval, right? They created something that really made you excited to hang up on the refrigerator or give as a gift or frame for a grandparent or do whatever. So my goal is to eventually I’m going to be doing like spooky scribbles for Halloween where it’s the white on the black paper, so they’ll look like ghosts scribbled and that I have like a whole like ornament thing. I’m going to try to do ornaments to give to grandparents or scribbles and stuff like that is fun ways to incorporate scribbles everyday. And then basically every time someone has a a card, I just make a scribble card for them and so that pretty much helps …

Laurie:                                  12:30                     Okay. So while we’re talking about that. Normally I ask this at the end, but just tell people where they can find you and they can find these ideas if they want to follow you and follow these ideas as you come out with them seasonally. Where can they find you?

Diane:                                   12:45                     So I have an on Instagram at I’m Not Just A Scribble that I post all the images. And I didn’t mention to you, I actually have a full lesson plan available for download free download. It’s about an eight page lesson plan, all about emotions and colors and how they react, like basically explain to children how they can refer to themselves as blue that day if they’re sad. So I put on TPT just because it’s easy to download it there. I didn’t know how to do it any other way. So on my website at just dianealber.com, if you go under lesson plans, you’ll see lesson plans for Scribble that you can download. I also am starting to put a for Splatter I have a full color wheel chart on how to mix primaries to get secondary colors. And I’m also doing like basically every… So in Splatter, every back of the book has a lesson plan in it outside of Scribbles. So Scribbles, got the full like eight page thing and then Splatter, Spots, Snippets, all the rest of my series has what’s called the next step. So it’s questions you can ask the children to basically engage them in the story. Like why did you think the house was treated scribble this way or you know, things like that to really kind of engage in conversation with the child and kind of understand why, you know, characters were acting a certain way and how your words can affect other people. So it’s a really great way to do it. And it was funny because I gave them, I gave some books to my children’s preschool and one of the parents is like, I read scribble, my son was really upset about how angry the house got to Scribble. Made him really upset. Oh well it’s supposed to evoke emotion, right? I mean it’s supposed to. She goes, well, it’s a great conversation starter about how someone’s words can really make you feel upset, right? Just, you know, not so much even actions, but just words. And she’s like, yeah, he was really upset. He talked about all week about how the house was so angry and I was like, well that’s what happens in everyday life. People can be mean and it’s not necessarily a bullying tactic or anything like that, but there’s just, people…

Laurie:                                  14:52                     Oh, you froze a little bit there.

Laurie:                                  14:55                     Diane’s back…and neither of us can remember what her what she was talking about. And I was distracted by the fact and she had to move where she was sitting to get to get wifi back. So I’ll move on because this podcast is about motivating people who want to write a book but who haven’t yet. Can you speak a little bit about how you felt before? So you said that you were inspired by your kids and you really wanted to write the book that you were looking for and couldn’t find. So what was your, your mindset, your frame of mind before you published? And then I’m going to ask you know, how, how that changed after you published? Of course.

Diane:                                   15:34                     So I did a kickstarter, I don’t know if I mentioned that, but that’s how I raised the funds to initially self publish and it’s funny because once I got a successful Kickstarter campaign, I thought that I would get traditional publishers that would pick me up. No, that did not happen. So I got rejected by publishers that didn’t want to pick up my book and it was really disheartening because I was like really upset about it. So. But I, yeah, I’m like, you know what, I’m just gonna move forward. I had to print any way to fulfill the Kickstarter. I had over $600 pre-orders for Kickstarter. So, so I got that started and people just really got the message. I was featured on the news. It was one of those things that was really exciting. I think the biggest advice that I could give to anybody that’s writing a book, is that write a book that you would read to your children. I know it sounds really weird and people don’t think about that, but I think people write books that they think will sell, which is not a good way to think about it. You need to write a book that you, that you personally would read that you personally would share that you personally would give as a gift. That’s a big, big thing and you can’t necessarily have your book blinders on. I call it, because it’s, it’s like your children, like you don’t, you don’t see, you know, if they’re really not great at sports. You just have these mom goggles on that you just hope that they will be and then you just kinda go, oh, maybe they’re not. You really need to be honest with, you know, the book you’re writing and what the reason is. I, from what I’m seeing and I belong to a …I run a large children’s book publishing group on Facebook and what I’ve seen is the …read a lot of children’s books. Like a lot of books, like if you want to write a children’s book, you better read hundreds if not thousands of children’s books. And even if you don’t achieve it, you can read them to your dog. It’s fine. Just read them out loud, read them and, and really be engaged with it. I probably had a library of over thousands of children’s books. My husband gets really upset but I tell him it’s for research.

Laurie:                                  17:48                     I’ll write it off. It’s fine.

Diane:                                   17:51                     But I think, you know, there’s, there’s several different hurdles. The first hurdle is how are you going to get the funding to actually publish your own book? And I think a lot of people that have come to me are looking for that publisher, that traditional publisher that’s going to pick them up that agent that’s going to pick them up. And I mean, my story is, you know, I’d had a successful Kickstarter and raised $15,000 and I still don’t have a publisher pick me up so I wouldn’t be discouraged necessarily. They don’t like the fact that you have an audience first. It’s very weird because then they can’t mold you into what you … So for instance, like they didn’t like the fact that I already had kind of a book put together because they wanted to be part of that process that makes that, that makes them worth more, to me, if they’re part of the process of putting the book together, the illustrator with the author, those kinds of things. I had already done it all and so they were kind of didn’t know how they would help me in that process and I was kind of a lot of the, the feedback I got. And then once I had already sold, you know, 7,000 books, I was looking for another traditional publisher to basically take me to that new level. And then at that point I became too difficult to work with because I refused to make any changes with my books because I’m like, they are selling, so why would I change anything? Yeah. So, so that was also, you know, a struggle. I think getting from point a point a you can’t…So I think everybody has the same struggle is a, how do you stop editing? That’s the other big, right? So how do you know when your book is ready to go out? Like how, like when do you stop? And I, I think, you know, they call it like you can’t basically edit a horse into a pig, right? So you – so much editing that… (inaudible).

Laurie:                                  19:34                     I’ve never heard that yeah…

Diane:                                   19:34                     It basically just makes things really bad if you just keep at it. And so I had to finally just say, okay, I’m done. And I had a deadline because I had to meet the kickstarter by Christmas. I had to get everybody’s… So I really put myself on a deadline to say I have to get it out by this day. And that’s it. Like that’s what it’s going to go out. That’s I, there’s no other, you know, I can’t push it off another two weeks. I can’t edit it one more time. I can’t send it to this place. So I mean was there some edits that I could have fixed a little bit? Possibly, yes. But I think you’re always gonna find. I’m sure you find it with your books too. We were like, oh, that, that dot was there. I’m the only one that notices and no one else does, but you always can do another run. Could always do a second edition. So I think, you know, I have people come to me all the time, you know, especially going down the traditional publisher route, that’s what they’re “How do I get picked up by a publisher?” And that’s not really my direction. I feel like owning it and understanding the process and knowing the process, you make a lot more money. You really influence a lot more people because you really own it from start to finish and when you own the marketing, you own everything about it. And I think the big thing is networking and I’ve really built a community which has been awesome. I have other children’s book writers and they’re all my friends. It’s really hard when you’re a mom to make friends and so I’ve built these friends and this children’s book market and it’s been awesome. So I think, you know, kind of understanding the different processes. I think the biggest hurdles is people don’t stop editing. That’s number one. They will leave a book in editing for years and they’re like, I been writing a book for 10 years. I don’t even know how someone could do that. Like I don’t know how you could literally write a book for 10 years. At some point I think it’s when they’re doing that, it’s the fear of putting out there, the fear of failure and I don’t think there’s really any kind of, I don’t know. What makes you successful or what makes you a failure if you already sold 10 books, does it really matter if we made 10 children happy? Right. I mean, at that point, you to look at it that way. Right. And having your first book in your hand is probably the coolest thing on the planet. Like when you finally get that first copy, you know, and you’re like, I’ve done this and I made it. And that was probably one of the coolest things that you know, I experienced, which was awesome. I kind have lost your question. I’m sorry. I ramble.

Laurie:                                  21:56                     It’s ok. It was advice that you would give. So that’s great. You’re obviously full of advice. You haven’t been doing this for too long, but you have learned tons along the way, obviously and you’re very business minded. So I don’t know that everybody would resonate with that and I think that’s where a lot of people think if I, if I can find a traditional publisher, they’ll make all the decisions for me and that I don’t have to worry about that I can be creative and I can just, you know, write the book and pass it off to somebody else. But for somebody who likes to be in charge, has a little bit of either willingness to learn that business side of it or make it a little bit of background in marketing or something like that. Then it’s so much better. I agree with you to be able to make all the decisions, so Yay for you for being difficult to work with. And recognizing that. (Laughter) You’re so difficult.

Diane:                                   22:49                     I was like how am I difficult? They wanted to change the title. They want to change the meter. They wanted to write the entire story and you’re always gonna have a critic out there. Someone’s not going to like your book. Someone’s not going to agree with your meter or the way it’s written, and I think once again it goes back to the original piece of advice. If you write a book that you know you’re going to share and that you know that it’s something that you really think that it should be out there for the children kind of thing. I think that that’ll solve a lot of that problem. But another thing I like to bring up, I had someone bring this up to me the other day. I get books all the time that people were like, what do you think? And I feel so bad because a lot of time they’re really bad and I don’t know how to say like, Hey, maybe you should get a really good illustrator. You know, the story’s good. The illustrations are horrible. I don’t know what to say. When it’s that…when it happens, but it happens more… Invest in a good illustrator. A picture book is like 80 percent illustration. I mean literally you can have a quasi okay story, but if your illustrations are amazing, it could be a hit. So. But it’s not the other way around. You can have a great story and really bad illustrations and it take off, it just doesn’t work that way because it’s a picture book. Right. So I had a girl that she tried and it hurt her… What she was trying to do is great, but it was a very tough subject to write about. It was about the death of a child and it was very, very hard and she was very literal. And so I think when you have, when you’re wanting to write about a topic, because a lot of inspiration comes from people that want to write about things that are close to them, whether their child has autism or or an eating disorder or something like these big topics. Right. I would definitely try to do a metaphor. I’m more so than the actual thing that you’re trying to talk about. So if you want, for instance, if you want to write a book about a child who say lost two limbs or something, maybe you could write about a turtle that has no legs. Okay. Or something like that. So make it a… Or like a perfect example. The Rookie of the Rock is a great example. You know, he wrote about his, his daughter who had Parkinson’s and it was about a Rock that couldn’t roll like the rest. So it was very similar, right? She can’t walk like the rest of the children this rock and roll down the hill like the rest of the children. I think it’s very important that when you’re conquering very tough topics that you still need to understand that you’re talking to a child, right? And that these topics can still be addressed. You can still address hard topics like cancer and death and things of that nature. But I think if you give it a metaphor, it can still have just as deep of a meaning, it can still evoke the conversation. But it doesn’t scare people because it can get very scary when you’re reading these, these, these stories. And I, and I see them and the reason why I wanted to bring it up is I see it more than a lot of people were inspired by an event that happens in their life. And I see it more and more and more that they’re writing about these very tough topics and they’re straight up saying the tough topics like right in the story and I think that really means you just need to kind of take a step back and understand that this is a very tough topic to talk about with children. And if you make it into a story that you can eventually kind of move into that direction, then I think it’s a much better… It’ll be a much more successful book and I think people are much more willing to share it. And then your voice will be heard farther, you know?

Laurie:                                  26:27                     Yes. And you can explain the metaphor in your ad copy or your, you know, on the book page and the blurb or in any media you put out about it so that people understand because otherwise they might not get it. Why does this turtle have no legs or no… But as soon as you explain it, like J explained a little bit on his Rock.. Or what does it rock?

Diane:                                   26:49                     Ricky the Rock yeah…

Laurie:                                  26:50                     Once he explained it is very eyeopening. But if you just read the book or you just know the general idea of the book, you might not get it. And then as soon as you get the ground it’s like, oh, okay, that makes more sense. And it’s in kid language. This morning my daughter actually my son pressed the button on the carbon monoxide detector the test button. So it was really loud and it beeped and then they asked what it was there for. And so I usually just tell it like it is to my kids and I don’t think about it often. And so I said, well, in case there’s any poisonous chemicals in the air that will let us know and we can leave the house. And my six year old was like, what are these poisonous chemicals you’re talking about? And so she, she didn’t freak out, but like every couple of minutes she would ask me another question like, so when is that going to happen? How will we know that happens? You know, like how often does that happen? And so I had to backtrack and we just, as adults, we don’t always realize, you know, I think often people think I’m going to tell it like it is, you know, and, and not, not sugarcoat it because you know, they’re kids and they’re kids, but they still, they have to learn about the real world that But they’re kids and they, they take things internally that we don’t always think about, you know, and they lay in bed and they stare at their ceiling or at the window and they worry about things then they don’t always verbalize it to us. So I think that’s really good advice for people and especially because you’ve obviously been given a lot of manuscripts from other people to read that you do read a lot. And so you know what’s happening.

Diane:                                   28:18                     And I’m not professional by any means. So like I read a book and some I think would be great and they haven’t. And some, I did not understand it and they took off. I just trying to offer as much advice as I can. Like. So for that book that I saw, it was really hard and I basically said, you know, there there’s a lot of angels in it, and I was like, you know, maybe if you just made it into an angel type book as opposed to the child turns into an angel. It was very weird how it was transitioned and I kind use and they’re like, oh, this is really great advice. But the other thing too is people, these are like when you create a children’s book, it’s your baby, like it’s very personal. So when somebody even gets any kind of advice outside of this is amazing. That also becomes a problem. So the other issue too is don’t go to your friends and family, like they’re going to tell you it’s amazing. So, you need to put it in some sort of anonymous group too. So they don’t know that you’re the author and that you’re getting honest feedback because I’m very rarely is your family going to say that your book is horrible. I mean…

Laurie:                                  29:24                     That is good advice because there’s a mom at home and thinking, I have a book, I’m going to ask my mom to read it, or my, my sister who teaches English or my best friend, they’re not going to tell you it stinks or give you ideas on how to change it. So that is really, really good advice. Don’t go looking to hear that it’s amazing. Go looking to find out what can be fixed.

Diane:                                   29:48                     I think the other thing too is that sometimes people love the book because they love you. So like if they, if you have a message and you’re like, I really did this book because, you know, I was trying to spread the word about saving water or something. Right? And you have this great motivation behind it and it’s a great cause. And so people are like, oh my gosh, I love this, but you can’t talk to everybody on the planet about your cause so they’re not going to know what’s behind it and the passion behind it. So with your…So even if everybody in your kids class loves it will probably cause you went in there and you’re charged about it and you said what the reasoning behind it was and they liked you so they bought your book. So I think that also has a big play too. Is that not necessarily just because you have a lot of people that like it. You could literally have 100 people that like it because you yourself are pushing it. Like it’s like you’ve done fairs, you’ve talked to people, everything is great. I think the real test is, is if you’re not attached to it right, if it’s sitting on a shelf somewhere and someone picks it up, what do they think? Like what is their impression of it? So I think at that point that’s when you really can get digged down. Because I also have that too. I’ve sold 500 copies, which is great. And I’m like okay, well how many people that you actually physically talked t? Well all of them. I was at a fair. I sold them but it’s not doing well on Amazon. It’s not doing well at bookstores and the other thing too, I wanted to be a humble in this. Bookstores have not been generous to me whatsoever. So every bookstore I’ve put in, I’ve sold one copy every six months and it’s been horrible. On Amazon. I sell now I’m standing about 200 books a month on average. So it’s night and day difference. I walk into my local bookstore and I’m trying to support the indie bookstores and I’m like, Hey, put this on your shelf. Unless you’re forward facing, unless you’re. Unless you’re facing, you’re not going to, you’re going to be able to. No one’s going to see you. Right. You know, so that’s the other problem.

Laurie:                                  32:00                     Yes. We could go on forever about how to actually get your books sold and marketing, because you’re kind of a genius about it. But let’s wrap up with one last question and this might be like the TMI question where I get I’m awkward and uncomfortable for you, but what I really like to know from people is how much money you’ve made just in dollar signs, like $1 signs, no dollar signs and the reason is so that people watching and listening get an idea of, you know, career trajectory and potential, lack of potential, but also I want to know what the best thing is that you’ve bought with your money. So for example, I, I can afford to have house cleaners now and for me that’s life changing and I’ve talked about it before on the podcast because it’s just, it makes my life so much better and I’m so proud of the fact that I can pay for this and, and I love it. So much. So. So how many dollar signs have you made and what’s the best thing that you’ve used the money to buy?

Diane:                                   33:03                     Why do you think this is good too? Because when I started breaking down the numbers, people think it’s not … Okay. So on average I make profit wise per book around between 3:50 and $4 a book. Now people might go, that’s not a lot of money. Like I have a lot of people go that’s not, that’s not a lot of money. You times it by 2000 were $4,000 a month. That’s a lot of money. But again that’s pure profit. Right? So it’s after all my expenses are paid after my marketing. So on average, like this month I’m going to profit about 10 grand this month. Everything that I’ve made off my books, I’ve literally bought more books. It’s been horrible. I’m trying to stock up for Christmas. I haven’t had a Christmas yet. This is …my book Scribble will be out one full year in January. So this will be my full year. I haven’t, haven’t really indulged done anything. I mean when I first started making good money I bought new windows, was really excited about it.

Laurie:                                  34:01                     Windows is huge! They’re expensive!

Diane:                                   34:03                     Well and I added the windows so like it was a wall and I made a wall of windows. So that was like my big thing for when I started to actually make money and then I realized I was selling too fast and I needed to bulk up on inventory and so I literally invested all the money that I’ve made, into more books. So talk to me in like four months I can start to see the profit …

Laurie:                                  34:29                     Knocking out a piece of the wall and putting a window in is huge because I think we all as adults know how expensive that must have been, so that, and then you can see that all the time and you had to start by running a Kickstarter and I’ve done that too. And so I understand sort of the,, the feelings that are associated with that because you know, you’re really hopeful but you also feel a little bit desperate and vulnerable and like you’re begging people for money and there’s these different. Yeah. There’s all these different emotions for that. So for you to have the money to be able to turn around and invest it in buying more books without having to beg your friends for money. I think that’s huge. So good.

Diane:                                   35:08                     I was just trying to be smart about it. Right. So everything I made from the Kickstarter run, all the profit I made from that, I literally dumped back in and so I just kept dumping back in. Now what really is put me behind is all the new titles that I have. If I just stuck with scribble, I wouldn’t be technically in the hole because I’m in the hole probably about 20 grand right now just because I had to invest so much in inventory just to get me through Christmas because Amazon was predicting some stupid numbers and I don’t know if it’s gonna come to fruition or not, but you know, predicting right predicting like ridiculous numbers to get me through Christmas and so I figured, you know what? I go big or go home at this point. My husband was very supportive on it. I had a whole entire spreadsheet that outlines all the profit, all the marketing and what also is very interested. I’m an author illustrator, so that’s also something… I’m going to get more profit just because I’m not splitting it so that, that also is a little bit different and I can produce books faster because I kind of do everything with it. I do the illustrations on the writing and the design and pretty much everything of it. Everything. So, but yeah, I think so… It can definitely be a living, like my goal. So when I first had Scribble, I was pocketing $4,000 a month now that I have a now that. So it was funny, now that I launched Splatter, it catapulted Scribble. And so now I’m making more on Scribble and so now I’m making about $10,000 a month and my goal is with every new title it’s going to add more and more because they all sell each other because it’s all part of a series. So if you like one, chances are you’ll like them all. They all have the same, you know, inspire to create type of mentality. So that’s kind of. And that’s another piece of advice too once you have something good going, don’t go into a completely opposite direction. So like it’d be like it’s Scribble, Scribble, Scribble, and then all of a sudden I write a book about plants like, and it has nothing to do. There was no common ground between the two of them whatsoever. Not the same illustrator, not the same story-line. That’s not going to work. Your audience is so important to you. You really need to understand that once you gain that audience, you need to capitalize on that. And that’s when you’re going to continue to release books. That’s why you have people that follow illustrators because they like the style. It’s the style of illustration that they do. So I think that’s really important if you’re doing a series or just stick with before you become popular enough, if you’re trying to write 10 books. I’ve had a lot of people will say, I’ve got a whole series of 10 books. And I’m like, are they at all similar? And they’re like, well no. I’m like, well then at least stick with the same illustrator for all five. Like even if they’re not because you see like, you know, there’s a lot of illustrators like Adam Rocks and, and somebody got, they have different or, or Oliver Jeffery’s that have that specific style would they have totally different stories, but it’s okay because you really liked that style. You love that the way it looks. So I think that’s also really important is to keep something consistent. If your first book takes off, don’t start your second one in a completely different direction would be my advice.

Laurie:                                  38:21                     Good advice. Okay. So you have to come back on another time because you have so much advice.

Diane:                                   38:28                     Ok I will. I will. When I get better wifi.

Laurie:                                  38:30                     Yeah, there you go. When you have better Wifi, come back on. So I’m going to stop us here. Thank you so much. I think you’re brilliant and you have so many ideas and I could listen to you share about them and I look forward to meeting you in person. We’re going to a conference together so I’ll pick your brain lots then. But anyway…

Diane:                                   38:48                     Well thanks for having me too. I appreciate it.

Laurie:                                  38:49                     Oh yes. Well thank you. And I get to say goodbye. Goodbye everybody.

Diane:                                   38:52                     Bye. See ya!

Outro:                                   38:58                     You’ve been listening to the Wrighter’s Way Podcast. For show notes, links to get information, and to learn more about the Wrighter’s Way check out Lauriewrighter.com. Until next week, enjoy this chapter of your life.

because I’m like, they are selling, so why would I change anything? Yeah. So, so that was also, you know, a struggle. I think getting from point a point a you can’t…So I think everybody has the same struggle is a, how do you stop editing? That’s the other big, right? So how do you know when your book is ready to go out? Like how, like when do you stop? And I, I think, you know, they call it like you can’t basically edit a horse into a pig, right? So you so much editing that…

Laurie:                                  19:34                     I’ve never heard that yeah…

Diane:                                   19:34                     It basically just makes things really bad if you just keep at it. And so I had to finally just say, okay, I’m done. And I had a deadline because I had to meet the kickstarter by Christmas. I had to get everybody’s… So I really put myself on a deadline to say I have to get it out by this day. And that’s it. Like that’s what it’s going to go out. That’s I, there’s no other, you know, I can’t push it off another two weeks. I can’t edit it one more time. I can’t send it to this place. So I mean was there some edits that I could have fixed a little bit? Possibly, yes. But I think you’re always gonna find. I’m sure you find it with your books too. We were like, oh, that, that dot was there. I’m the only one that notices and no one else does, but you always can do another run. Could always do a second edition. So I think, you know, I have people come to me all the time, you know, especially going down the traditional publisher route, that’s what they’re “How do I get picked up by a publisher?” And that’s not really my direction. I feel like owning it and understanding the process and knowing the process, you make a lot more money. You really influence a lot more people because you really own it from start to finish and when you own the marketing, you own everything about it. And I think the big thing is networking and I’ve really built a community which has been awesome. I have other children’s book writers and they’re all my friends. It’s really hard when you’re a mom to make friends and so I’ve built these friends and this children’s book market and it’s been awesome. So I think, you know, kind of understanding the different processes. I think the biggest hurdles is people don’t stop editing. That’s number one. They will leave a book in editing for years and they’re like, I been writing a book for 10 years. I don’t even know how someone could do that. Like I don’t know how you could literally write a book for 10 years. At some point I think it’s when they’re doing that, it’s the fear of putting out there, the fear of failure and I don’t think there’s really any kind of, I don’t know. What makes you successful or what makes you a failure if you already sold 10 books, does it really matter if we made 10 children happy? Right. I mean, at that point, you to look at it that way. Right. And having your first book in your hand is probably the coolest thing on the planet. Like when you finally get that first copy, you know, and you’re like, I’ve done this and I made it. And that was probably one of the coolest things that you know, I experienced, which was awesome. I kind have lost your question. I’m sorry. I ramble.

Laurie:                                  21:56                     It’s ok. It was advice that you would give. So that’s great. You’re obviously full of advice. You haven’t been doing this for too long, but you have learned tons along the way, obviously and you’re very business minded. So I don’t know that everybody would resonate with that and I think that’s where a lot of people think if I, if I can find a traditional publisher, they’ll make all the decisions for me and that I don’t have to worry about that I can be creative and I can just, you know, write the book and pass it off to somebody else. But for somebody who likes to be in charge, has a little bit of either willingness to learn that business side of it or make it a little bit of background in marketing or something like that. Then it’s so much better. I agree with you to be able to make all the decisions, so Yay for you for being difficult to work with. And recognizing that. (Laughter) You’re so difficult.

Diane:                                   22:49                     I was like how am I difficult? They wanted to change the title. They want to change the meter. They wanted to write the entire story and you’re always gonna have a critic out there. Someone’s not going to like your book. Someone’s not going to agree with your meter or the way it’s written, and I think once again it goes back to the original piece of advice. If you write a book that you know you’re going to share and that you know that it’s something that you really think that it should be out there for the children kind of thing. I think that that’ll solve a lot of that problem. But another thing I like to bring up, I had someone bring this up to me the other day. I get books all the time that people were like, what do you think? And I feel so bad because a lot of time they’re really bad and I don’t know how to say like, Hey, maybe you should get a really good illustrator. You know, the story’s good. The illustrations are horrible. I don’t know what to say. When it’s that…when it happens, but it happens more… Invest in a good illustrator. A picture book is like 80 percent illustration. I mean literally you can have a quasi okay story, but if your illustrations are amazing, it could be a hit. So. But it’s not the other way around. You can have a great story and really bad illustrations and it take off, it just doesn’t work that way because it’s a picture book. Right. So I had a girl that she tried and it hurt her… What she was trying to do is great, but it was a very tough subject to write about. It was about the death of a child and it was very, very hard and she was very literal. And so I think when you have, when you’re wanting to write about a topic, because a lot of inspiration comes from people that want to write about things that are close to them, whether their child has autism or or an eating disorder or something like these big topics. Right. I would definitely try to do a metaphor. I’m more so than the actual thing that you’re trying to talk about. So if you want, for instance, if you want to write a book about a child who say lost two limbs or something, maybe you could write about a turtle that has no legs. Okay. Or something like that. So make it a… Or like a perfect example. The Rookie of the Rock is a great example. You know, he wrote about his, his daughter who had Parkinson’s and it was about a Rock that couldn’t roll like the rest. So it was very similar, right? She can’t walk like the rest of the children this rock and roll down the hill like the rest of the children. I think it’s very important that when you’re conquering very tough topics that you still need to understand that you’re talking to a child, right? And that these topics can still be addressed. You can still address hard topics like cancer and death and things of that nature. But I think if you give it a metaphor, it can still have just as deep of a meaning, it can still evoke the conversation. But it doesn’t scare people because it can get very scary when you’re reading these, these, these stories. And I, and I see them and the reason why I wanted to bring it up is I see it more than a lot of people were inspired by an event that happens in their life. And I see it more and more and more that they’re writing about these very tough topics and they’re straight up saying the tough topics like right in the story and I think that really means you just need to kind of take a step back and understand that this is a very tough topic to talk about with children. And if you make it into a story that you can eventually kind of move into that direction, then I think it’s a much better… It’ll be a much more successful book and I think people are much more willing to share it. And then your voice will be heard farther, you know?

Laurie:                                  26:27                     Yes. And you can explain the metaphor in your ad copy or your, you know, on the book page and the blurb or in any media you put out about it so that people understand because otherwise they might not get it. Why does this turtle have no legs or no… But as soon as you explain it, like J explained a little bit on his Rock.. Or what does it rock?

Diane:                                   26:49                     Ricky the Rock yeah…

Laurie:                                  26:50                     Once he explained it is very eyeopening. But if you just read the book or you just know the general idea of the book, you might not get it. And then as soon as you get the ground it’s like, oh, okay, that makes more sense. And it’s in kid language. This morning my daughter actually my son pressed the button on the carbon monoxide detector the test button. So it was really loud and it beeped and then they asked what it was there for. And so I usually just tell it like it is to my kids and I don’t think about it often. And so I said, well, in case there’s any poisonous chemicals in the air that will let us know and we can leave the house. And my six year old was like, what are these poisonous chemicals you’re talking about? And so she, she didn’t freak out, but like every couple of minutes she would ask me another question like, so when is that going to happen? How will we know that happens? You know, like how often does that happen? And so I had to backtrack and we just, as adults, we don’t always realize, you know, I think often people think I’m going to tell it like it is, you know, and, and not, not sugarcoat it because you know, they’re kids and they’re kids, but they still, they have to learn about the real world that But they’re kids and they, they take things internally that we don’t always think about, you know, and they lay in bed and they stare at their ceiling or at the window and they worry about things then they don’t always verbalize it to us. So I think that’s really good advice for people and especially because you’ve obviously been given a lot of manuscripts from other people to read that you do read a lot. And so you know what’s happening.

Diane:                                   28:18                     And I’m not professional by any means. So like I read a book and some I think would be great and they haven’t. And some, I did not understand it and they took off. I just trying to offer as much advice as I can. Like. So for that book that I saw, it was really hard and I basically said, you know, there there’s a lot of angels in it, and I was like, you know, maybe if you just made it into an angel type book as opposed to the child turns into an angel. It was very weird how it was transitioned and I kind use and they’re like, oh, this is really great advice. But the other thing too is people, these are like when you create a children’s book, it’s your baby, like it’s very personal. So when somebody even gets any kind of advice outside of this is amazing. That also becomes a problem. So the other issue too is don’t go to your friends and family, like they’re going to tell you it’s amazing. So, you need to put it in some sort of anonymous group too. So they don’t know that you’re the author and that you’re getting honest feedback because I’m very rarely is your family going to say that your book is horrible. I mean…

Laurie:                                  29:24                     That is good advice because there’s a mom at home and thinking, I have a book, I’m going to ask my mom to read it, or my, my sister who teaches English or my best friend, they’re not going to tell you it stinks or give you ideas on how to change it. So that is really, really good advice. Don’t go looking to hear that it’s amazing. Go looking to find out what can be fixed.

Diane:                                   29:48                     I think the other thing too is that sometimes people love the book because they love you. So like if they, if you have a message and you’re like, I really did this book because, you know, I was trying to spread the word about saving water or something. Right? And you have this great motivation behind it and it’s a great cause. And so people are like, oh my gosh, I love this, but you can’t talk to everybody on the planet about your cause so they’re not going to know what’s behind it and the passion behind it. So with your…So even if everybody in your kids class loves it will probably cause you went in there and you’re charged about it and you said what the reasoning behind it was and they liked you so they bought your book. So I think that also has a big play too. Is that not necessarily just because you have a lot of people that like it. You could literally have 100 people that like it because you yourself are pushing it. Like it’s like you’ve done fairs, you’ve talked to people, everything is great. I think the real test is, is if you’re not attached to it right, if it’s sitting on a shelf somewhere and someone picks it up, what do they think? Like what is their impression of it? So I think at that point that’s when you really can get digged down. Because I also have that too. I’ve sold 500 copies, which is great. And I’m like okay, well how many people that you actually physically talked t? Well all of them. I was at a fair. I sold them but it’s not doing well on Amazon. It’s not doing well at bookstores and the other thing too, I wanted to be a humble in this. Bookstores have not been generous to me whatsoever. So every bookstore I’ve put in, I’ve sold one copy every six months and it’s been horrible. On Amazon. I sell now I’m standing about 200 books a month on average. So it’s night and day difference. I walk into my local bookstore and I’m trying to support the indie bookstores and I’m like, Hey, put this on your shelf. Unless you’re forward facing, unless you’re. Unless you’re facing, you’re not going to, you’re going to be able to. No one’s going to see you. Right. You know, so that’s the other problem.

Laurie:                                  32:00                     Yes. We could go on forever about how to actually get your books sold and marketing, because you’re kind of a genius about it. But let’s wrap up with one last question and this might be like the TMI question where I get I’m awkward and uncomfortable for you, but what I really like to know from people is how much money you’ve made just in dollar signs, like $1 signs, no dollar signs and the reason is so that people watching and listening get an idea of, you know, career trajectory and potential, lack of potential, but also I want to know what the best thing is that you’ve bought with your money. So for example, I, I can afford to have house cleaners now and for me that’s life changing and I’ve talked about it before on the podcast because it’s just, it makes my life so much better and I’m so proud of the fact that I can pay for this and, and I love it. So much. So. So how many dollar signs have you made and what’s the best thing that you’ve used the money to buy?

Diane:                                   33:03                     Why do you think this is good too? Because when I started breaking down the numbers, people think it’s not … Okay. So on average I make profit wise per book around between 3:50 and $4 a book. Now people might go, that’s not a lot of money. Like I have a lot of people go that’s not, that’s not a lot of money. You times it by 2000 were $4,000 a month. That’s a lot of money. But again that’s pure profit. Right? So it’s after all my expenses are paid after my marketing. So on average, like this month I’m going to profit about 10 grand this month. Everything that I’ve made off my books, I’ve literally bought more books. It’s been horrible. I’m trying to stock up for Christmas. I haven’t had a Christmas yet. This is …my book Scribble will be out one full year in January. So this will be my full year. I haven’t, haven’t really indulged done anything. I mean when I first started making good money I bought new windows, was really excited about it.

Laurie:                                  34:01                     Windows is huge! They’re expensive!

Diane:                                   34:03                     Well and I added the windows so like it was a wall and I made a wall of windows. So that was like my big thing for when I started to actually make money and then I realized I was selling too fast and I needed to bulk up on inventory and so I literally invested all the money that I’ve made, into more books. So talk to me in like four months I can start to see the profit …

Laurie:                                  34:29                     Knocking out a piece of the wall and putting a window in is huge because I think we all as adults know how expensive that must have been, so that, and then you can see that all the time and you had to start by running a Kickstarter and I’ve done that too. And so I understand sort of the,, the feelings that are associated with that because you know, you’re really hopeful but you also feel a little bit desperate and vulnerable and like you’re begging people for money and there’s these different. Yeah. There’s all these different emotions for that. So for you to have the money to be able to turn around and invest it in buying more books without having to beg your friends for money. I think that’s huge. So good.

Diane:                                   35:08                     I was just trying to be smart about it. Right. So everything I made from the Kickstarter run, all the profit I made from that, I literally dumped back in and so I just kept dumping back in. Now what really is put me behind is all the new titles that I have. If I just stuck with scribble, I wouldn’t be technically in the hole because I’m in the hole probably about 20 grand right now just because I had to invest so much in inventory just to get me through Christmas because Amazon was predicting some stupid numbers and I don’t know if it’s gonna come to fruition or not, but you know, predicting right predicting like ridiculous numbers to get me through Christmas and so I figured, you know what? I go big or go home at this point. My husband was very supportive on it. I had a whole entire spreadsheet that outlines all the profit, all the marketing and what also is very interested. I’m an author illustrator, so that’s also something… I’m going to get more profit just because I’m not splitting it so that, that also is a little bit different and I can produce books faster because I kind of do everything with it. I do the illustrations on the writing and the design and pretty much everything of it. Everything. So, but yeah, I think so… It can definitely be a living, like my goal. So when I first had Scribble, I was pocketing $4,000 a month now that I have a now that. So it was funny, now that I launched Splatter, it catapulted Scribble. And so now I’m making more on Scribble and so now I’m making about $10,000 a month and my goal is with every new title it’s going to add more and more because they all sell each other because it’s all part of a series. So if you like one, chances are you’ll like them all. They all have the same, you know, inspire to create type of mentality. So that’s kind of. And that’s another piece of advice too once you have something good going, don’t go into a completely opposite direction. So like it’d be like it’s Scribble, Scribble, Scribble, and then all of a sudden I write a book about plants like, and it has nothing to do. There was no common ground between the two of them whatsoever. Not the same illustrator, not the same story-line. That’s not going to work. Your audience is so important to you. You really need to understand that once you gain that audience, you need to capitalize on that. And that’s when you’re going to continue to release books. That’s why you have people that follow illustrators because they like the style. It’s the style of illustration that they do. So I think that’s really important if you’re doing a series or just stick with before you become popular enough, if you’re trying to write 10 books. I’ve had a lot of people will say, I’ve got a whole series of 10 books. And I’m like, are they at all similar? And they’re like, well no. I’m like, well then at least stick with the same illustrator for all five. Like even if they’re not because you see like, you know, there’s a lot of illustrators like Adam Rocks and, and somebody got, they have different or, or Oliver Jeffery’s that have that specific style would they have totally different stories, but it’s okay because you really liked that style. You love that the way it looks. So I think that’s also really important is to keep something consistent. If your first book takes off, don’t start your second one in a completely different direction would be my advice.

Laurie:                                  38:21                     Good advice. Okay. So you have to come back on another time because you have so much advice.

Diane:                                   38:28                     Ok I will. I will. When I get better wifi.

Laurie:                                  38:30                     Yeah, there you go. When you have better Wifi, come back on. So I’m going to stop us here. Thank you so much. I think you’re brilliant and you have so many ideas and I could listen to you share about them and I look forward to meeting you in person. We’re going to a conference together so I’ll pick your brain lots then. But anyway…

Diane:                                   38:48                     Well thanks for having me too. I appreciate it.

Laurie:                                  38:49                     Oh yes. Well thank you. And I get to say goodbye. Goodbye everybody.

Diane:                                   38:52                     Bye. See ya!

Outro:                                   38:58                     You’ve been listening to the Wrighter’s Way Podcast. For show notes, links to get information, and to learn more about the Wrighter’s Way check out Lauriewrighter.com. Until next week, enjoy this chapter of your life.

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