Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Doing the cover design for your ebook

Doing the cover design for your ebook

Keeping it simple (or at least I will try to from now on!)


I seem to have spent way too much time messing about with my cover designs, so I thought I may as well do a post about it too.

Basically, for each story I tried to create an image that would capture at least a part of the main theme, while also including something that would catch the eye or help a potential reader notice my books.

After a long and occasionally awkward  process (I had to ask the graphic designer to amend a few things due to the fact that I can be pretty dopey / indecisive at times), I finally narrowed the process down to this:

1. Brainstorm / doodle a few images.
2. Sketch the final choice.
3. Send it to someone who can do ‘vector graphics’ on adobe illustrator (I don’t have the patience to learn it myself!).
4. Ask for any revisions.
5. Send the .ai file to a graphic designer.
6. Make sure it is a jpeg with 1600x2400 and 72dpi, and again ask for revisions if necessary (or in my case whenever I realise I’ve made a mistake – see the ‘pooh versus poo’ post!)
7. Upload it with your book to be published (for instance on Kindle Direct Publishing or Smashwords).
8. Add the image on Pinterest, Flickr, Goodreads, your facebook page and twitter feed, or wherever else you so choose.

One obvious piece of advice which some people still fail to follow is to never start the design process until the story has finished being written – as stories can evolve and the cover can become a bit of a distraction too. If you're in a rush, you can use the design time to further edit your story.

To find a good, affordable designer I suggest shopping around on Fiverr to see who suits what you're looking for. You could even send the same gig to a few different sellers and whoever seems to be the most skilled and cooperative, you can then use them more exclusively in the future.

Fiverr - best cover illustrators and designers
Fiverr - best for cover illustrators and designers
Fiverr is a great resource that can offer real value for money - from what I could find, anywhere else appeared rather expensive for pretty much the same service, relatively speaking...

I can personally recommend a few, though of course please don't hold me responsible if they don't quite suit you as well as they did me:

Artists for the image / illustration:

Rissa88 (who turned my rubbish sketch into a cool and funny cartoon):

Cool vector graphic designs on Fiverr
Billbig (see an example of his work below):

Great Adobe Illustrator on Fiverr
Cover designer:

Fluxydesign (great style and service):
Excellent book cover designer

As an example of how I did one of my covers (in a rather around about sort of way), this is the process I followed for ‘The Poo Princess’:

new version cover design drawing
With a little help from a friend, I changed it to something a reader might recognise!
vector graphic adobe illustrator print out
I sent it to another illustrator and this is what he did with it - much better!
ebook cover design for kindle
The cover designer then did her thing and I was very happy with the final product!
Too bad I have to alter it yet again due to the Pooh versus Poo controversy! Ah well, at least the change will be just in time for my 'Smell of Poo' children's book collection on 'createspace'  ;-)

And here is the final version:
smell of poo princess allerton
The final version!
If you have any advice or recommendations of your own, feel free to share them here...


Monday, 29 December 2014

Pooh versus Poo!!!

The Battle of the Online Dictionaries!

winnie the pooh boxing gloves  poo boxing gloves

 Pooh versus Poo!


Well, while the title of this post may sound like a gruesome fight between poo(h)s, it is in fact a question that I have been wrestling with for the past 24 hours! Don’t I have anything better to do, you ask? Well, yes I do! So this is quiet a frustrating situation.

I recently published my ‘Smell of Pooh’ children’s chapter book collection, and while hiding behind a pseudonym some of my friends still insisted on ‘sniffing me out’. One such amigo called me last night to complain that he’d just done a thorough search for pooh-related children’s books on Amazon kindle and couldn’t find anything.

While he was on the phone I typed in ‘smell of pooh’ and all of the books in my collection appeared. I asked him what he was playing at and he did the same thing while on the phone, typing in P, O, O!

smell of poo versus pooh
The 'Smell of Pooh' will soon become The 'Smell of Poo'!
I was laughing at his innocent mistake of doing the childish spelling of Pooh (he didn’t appreciate that much), when to my horror I then typed in POO and realised that I had been using the wrong spelling all along!

I made an excuse and hung up on my exasperated friend, then investigated further. As it turns out, the spelling of POO in this context is correct, while POOH is only acceptable depending which dictionary you check!

The best one in my favour was the Oxford English Dictionary, which supports my use of pooh as a noun and verb:   

collins oxford free online dictonary
Oxford Online Dictionary: Acceptable use of 'pooh' as a noun or verb! (also supported by Collins, right).
However, in the ‘rival’ Cambridge Dictionary, if simply said that ‘Pooh’ can be used as an expression of disgust or derision, but not as a term for excrement or defecating (which, as cultured and subtle as my stories are, is a theme running through my ‘Smell’ collection! ;-):


macmillan oxford free online dictonary
MacMillan also does not support my original use of pooh!
So, please forgive me – I have since gone with ‘Poo’ over ‘Pooh’ to help avoid confusion with the chubby yellow bear or when saying ‘pooh’ when smelling a ‘pooh’.

However, in my Amazon widget in the top right corner of this blog is the last remnant of my alleged misuse (according to Cambridge not Oxford, though having visited both amazing Universities there’s little to choose from between the two) of the word Pooh.

Incidentally, some people believe Poo to be the slang version of Pooh, and as such shouldn't feature in a dictionary. However, thankfully most visitors to Collins live in the real world:


I hope nobody else ever has to go so deeply into the thorny issue of poo versus pooh – a battle of our time!

The only real downer is having to have all of the covers remade – luckily my graphic designer is more patient than I am! Urgh. Marketing. My least favourite aspect of being a self-published author...

I suspect that if you have managed to read this entire post without already losing the will to live, you may be as tired of the 'idiosyncrasy' of the English language as I am!


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

'Doctor Gremlin and the Battle of the Brats' children's chapter book is out now!

'Doctor Gremlin and the Battle of the Brats'

children's chapter book is out now!

The first of the 'Beastly Bullies' children's chapter book collection has arrived!

Follow the links here to buy 'Doctor Gremlin and the Battle of the Brats' - a 'Beastly Bullies' children's story book - on Amazon:

Michael, Harry and Sam are brats. Their teachers know it, their classmates and the other parents know it, even their own mothers know it! They are so rude and naughty that their mothers go looking for help from the most unlikely of characters, but when their plan starts to go horribly wrong, they must try to save their sons - and themselves - before it's too late!

Follow the 'Battle of the Brats' in this funny children’s chapter story book for Primary School kids of all ages to enjoy. Parents and teachers will also like reading this humorous story, while it’s suitable for reluctant readers too.

(for ages 7-11: 7400 words)

Here's an excerpt from Chapter Four: 


‘Hello to you too, my dears’ croaked the creature, his long pointy ears and nose moving as he spoke. ‘I believe we talked on the phone.’
The three mothers stayed silent, too shocked to talk.
‘Hmph, it’s always the way with you humans. Screaming and staring. But it’s alright, you’ll get used to me soon enough... They always do.’ He gave them a wink with one of his big round eyes.
Still the mothers didn’t speak. They didn’t even move. They just stood there staring at the creature, mouths wide open.

‘Is it my green skin? Or is it my rather pointy yet handsome features?’ As he smiled his face became full of wrinkles. His skin looked rougher than sandpaper. ‘Come now ladies, I am a respected Doctor. Now tell me, what is my name?’

'Doctor Gremlin and the Battle of the Brats' is on Amazon:


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

'Smell of Poo' children's story book collection: Half price!

Fun Children's Story Book Collection: Just half price!


For just half of the combined total price, you can enjoy the full 'The Smell of Poo' children's story book collection:
funny children's books box set
The Smell of Poo children's book collection on Amazon


'The Smell of Poo' Children's Book Collection: All FIVE 'Smell of Poo' stories!!!!!
(19000 words altogether, ages 6-11)

These funny children’s chapter story books are for Primary School kids of all ages to enjoy. Parents and teachers will also like reading these humorous stories, while they are good for reluctant readers too! They are might sometimes be disgusting but they may also make you think a bit, too...

Included:

The collection also includes the bonus poems (or 'Pooems'):

Who Dunnit? (A smelly classroom mystery)
A ‘who dunnit?’ rhyming mystery about a boy who suspects his classmates of making a smell, while phonetically covering the alphabet at the same time!

Your Poo & You
A poem about our differences and self-acceptance in the shape (literally) of our poos!

All the stories and poems feature a set of 'follow-up questions' at the end. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!


'The Smell of Poo' children's chapter book collection is available here:

smell of pooh children's book collection amazon
Get 'The Smell of Poo' children's book collection here!

The 'Smell of Poo' Children's Book Collection is also available in print, here:


smell poo funny children's book print
The 'Smell of Poo' is now out in glossy paperback!

Monday, 22 December 2014

'Ghost Poo and the Haunted Toilet' children's chapter book is out now!

'Ghost Poo & the Haunted Toilet' children's book is Out Now!

The longest 'Smell of Poo' children's chapter book is here!

funny ghost children's story book
Ghost Poo & the Haunted Toilet on Amazon
John is in a happy mood as his parents are about to take him away on a mystery Christmas holiday. However, the trip is much more mysterious than anyone ever planned and John soon finds himself in danger in the most unlikely of places!

funny children’s chapter story book for Primary School kids of all ages to enjoy. Parents and teachers will also like reading this humorous story, while it’s suitable for reluctant readers too.

(for ages 7-11: 6700 words)

Here's an excerpt from Chapter Three: 


Suddenly, the light disappeared. ‘It’s gone out now dad.’
‘Well yes I can see that.’ His voice became a whisper.
They waited for a moment.
Tap, tap, tap.
‘AARGH!’ they screamed. Albert barked.
They all turned around and looked through the back window. The light suddenly came back on to reveal an old lady’s face right outside the car.
‘AAARGH!’
Albert’s bark turned into a whine.
She gave a toothless smile, deep wrinkles creasing all over her face.

‘Can I help you?’ she croaked.

'Ghost Pooh and the Haunted Toilet' is available here:

ghost pooh and haunted toilet children's book
Get 'Ghost Poo and the Haunted Toilet' here!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

'The Secret Adventures of Fart Boy' children's chapter book is here!

'The Secret Adventures of Fart Boy' children's book: Out Now!

Another Smell of Poo children's chapter book is here!

funny superhero children's story book
The Secret Adventures of Fartboy on Amazon
Little Stevie Stark has a secret superpower. However, he has only ever used it in his imagination but one day at school he has to use it for real! Can he save himself and his friends from big bullies, mean teachers and overly friendly girls? Will he survive his most difficult day ever without anybody discovering his secret?

funny children’s chapter story book for Primary School kids of all ages to enjoy. Parents and teachers will also like reading this humorous story, while it’s suitable for reluctant readers too.

(for ages 6-9: 4500 words)

Here's an excerpt from Chapter Two: 


‘Fartboy’ Stevie secretly called himself. Sometimes, when his parents were out, he would draw a large ‘F’ on the front of his pajamas and wear a sheet around his shoulders like Superman’s cape, flying around the house by using his jet-butt and fighting imaginary criminals with his amazing bottom smells.
His biggest dream was to do this in real life. Stevie wanted to be able to use his clever little bottom to fire a smell in any direction – and at almost any distance – he liked. He tried practising his smell-making skills whenever he was alone, which meant his bedroom eventually smelled so bad that nobody ever went in there, not even his pet dog!

Then one day at school, Stevie found he needed to use his rumbling powers again, and more than ever before. It was a day that he would never forget...

The story also includes the bonus poem (or 'Pooem'):
                       'Who Dunnit? (A smelly classroom mystery)'
A ‘who dunnit?’ rhyming mystery about Stevie's classmates whom he suspects of making a smell, while phonetically covering the alphabet at the same time!

'The Secret Adventures of Fartboy' is available here:

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Poo Princess children's chapter book: Out Now!

'The Poo Princess' children's chapter book is out now

Another 'Smell of Poo' children's chapter book is here!

funny children's princess story book
The Poo Princess now available at Amazon
A poor farm girl gets unexpected help from a gremlin, with surprising results! There's humour, romance and drama all rolled into this not-so-traditional children's fairytale with a twist!

funny children’s chapter story book for Primary School kids of all ages to enjoy. Parents and teachers will also like reading this humorous story, while it’s suitable for reluctant readers too.

(for ages 6-9: 2500 words)

Here's an excerpt from Chapter One: 



The girl lost her balance, tripped and fell backwards, landing on something soft and squishy.
To her surprise, it shouted ‘Get off me!’
‘Woah, a talking snake!’ she said in disbelief.
She looked down and noticed a pair of pointy little green ears poking out from under her bottom. Attached to the ears was a little round green head, with a long pointy nose, big round eyes and chubby little cheeks.
‘Urgh! What kind of snake are you?’ she shrieked.
‘I’m not a snake! I’m a gremlin, and now I’m a rather flat gremlin – so please get your big smelly bottom off me!’

'The Poo Princess' is available here:

Friday, 19 December 2014

Stanley and the Poo Monster children's chapter book is here!

Stanley & the Poo Monster children's chapter book is out now

A new 'Smell of Poo' children's chapter book is here!

funny children's monster story book
Stanley and the Poo Monster at Amazon
A boy’s attempts to stop being bullied at school go wrong in a big way! From being teased to trying to save the people teasing him, Stanley has an adventure he will never forget!

funny children’s chapter story book for Primary School kids of all ages to enjoy. Parents and teachers will also like reading this humorous story, while it’s suitable for reluctant readers too.

(for ages 7-10: 2850 words)

Here's an excerpt from Chapter One: 

One afternoon, after being teased all day at school, and on his way to being teased and ignored all evening at home, Stanley didn’t want to carry on walking. He stopped somewhere between his school and his house, sat down and began to cry.
‘Why do people tease me?’ he sobbed. ‘What did I do to them?’
Suddenly he heard footsteps, they were coming closer. He wiped his nose, rubbed his eyes and was about to stand up when a strange looking shadow appeared before him.
He had seen that shape somewhere before. ‘Wow’ he whispered.

'Stanley and the Poo Monster' is available here:


Mr & Mrs Poo children's chapter book is out now!

'The MisAdventures of Mr & Mrs Poo'

funny children's story book poo adventure
The MisAdventures of Mr & Mrs Poo on Amazon

A new 'Smell of Poo' Children's chapter book is here!

A couple of Poos find themselves in danger after being ‘born’ into the outside world. They have to survive a variety of unexpected problems while also trying to 'stick' together!

funny children’s chapter story book for Primary School kids of all ages to enjoy. Parents and teachers will also like reading this humorous story, while it’s good for reluctant readers too.

(for ages 6-9: 2250 words)

Here's an excerpt from Chapter Poone:



'Maybe we can find another dog’s bottom to hide inside?’ Mrs Poo wondered.
‘Ah, that’s a fine idea!’ Mr Poo gave his wife a squelchy hug, then shouted ‘Look out!’ and threw her to the ground.
Out of nowhere, a gigantic pair of two-legged monsters came running towards them. The Poos froze on the spot, terrified. The monsters were moving too fast for them to get out of the way.
‘Urgh, dog poo!’  one shouted as she saw the Poos right in front of them.  ‘Argh!’ screamed the other as she jumped over Mrs Poo. ‘That’s horrible, I nearly ruined my new jogging shoes!’
‘Hey, less of the horrible thank you, that’s my wife!’ Mr Poo shouted angrily after them.

This book also includes the bonus poem (or 'Pooem') 'Your Poo & You':
A poem about our differences and self-acceptance in the shape (literally) of our poos!

'The MisAdventures of Mr & Mrs Poo' is available here:


Friday, 5 December 2014

'The Smell of Poo' children's book collection is coming soon!

Smelly Children's Stories are here..!

pooh children's book collection box set amazon
The Smell of Poo children's book collection!
Don't be alarmed, the books don't really smell - but they are about quite smelly things...


'The Smell of Poo' children's stories are nearly here! A funny collection of short chapter books for Primary School children of all ages to enjoy (particularly for developing / newly-confident / reluctant readers).

They will make kids laugh and hopefully think a bit as well! Parents and teachers will also like reading these humorous tales...

There are five stories and two poems altogether, all of which feature a set of 'follow-up questions' at the end (and for just half of the combined total price you will be able to enjoy the full collection):

‘The Smell of Poo’ Children’s Books:

The Misadventures of Mr & Mrs Poo
A couple of Poos find themselves in danger after being ‘born’ into the outside world.
PLUS: Bonus 'Pooem': 'Your Poo & You'
(2250 words, ages 6-9)
funny children's story book
The MisAdventures of Mr & Mrs Poo
Stanley and the Poo Monster
A boy’s attempt to stop being bullied at school goes wrong in a big way!
(2800 words, ages 7-10)
Funny children's story book
Stanley and the Poo Monster
The Poo Princess
A poor farm girl gets unexpected help from a gremlin, with surprising results!
(2500 words, ages 6-9)


funny children's story book
The Poo Princess
The Secret Adventures of Fartboy
Stevie has just one talent but uses it to good effect during a difficult day at school!
PLUS: Bonus 'Pooem': 'Who Dunnit? (A smelly classroom mystery)'
(2850 words, ages 6-9)
children's humor chapter ebook
The Secret Adventures of Fartboy
Ghost Poo and the Haunted Toilet
A boy desperately needs to do a poo - but ends up getting the fright of his life!
(6700 words, ages 7-11)
funny children's story book
Ghost Poo & the Haunted Toilet



Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Top Ten Best Ever Books!

The Top Ten Best Books Ever!

In my humble opinion...

It's difficult to choose a top ten best ever books, as there are so many great ones out there (and some not so good ones too!) - but I'm going to give it a try, let's see which ones you've read. Will you agree with my choices???


1) I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in one day and found it hard to sleep afterwards. JK Rowling is a genius.
The goblet of fire Jk Rowling

2) 1974 by David Peace is an exceptionally dark book that kept me awake for different reasons (but Peace should still take credit).

3) All Quiet on the Western Front (EM Remarque) was may favourite book as a teenager and made me think about the 'other side' of a story.

4) The Lord of the Rings I read on buses, in canteens, even in the factory I was working at the time! Brilliant how Tolkein switched between characters in a way that kept me even more hooked (try reading the Silmarillion - it gives you a whole new appreciation of a balrog!).
lord of the rings tolkein

5) Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: if I was more talented and less lazy, that is the book I could have written! Fantastic concept of cluelessly 'hitchhiking' the way across the galaxy - something we probably all wish we could try...

6) A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill Bryson, as good a travel writer as he is, stunned everyone with this highly educational, funny and interesting history of science as we know (and sometimes don't know) it! Perhaps the book I have read and listened to the most (though I still can't remember most of it! - a shorter, illustrated version is also available):
short history of nearly everything bryson
No.6: A Short History of Nearly Everything
7) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. With some of the best character descriptions you will ever read, this story drew me in to a world that felt very real despite having a minimal frame of reference for it!

8) Lord of the Flies; William Golding. An expose of human nature that nearly made me cry reading it as a child. Having taught children for a long time I can see that this story is all too realistic.
lord of the flies golding

9) Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: Haruki Murakami. This tale was so bizarre, but the way the author links two opposite worlds into one drew me in until I couldn't put the book down.

10) Are you Experienced? by William Sutcliffe - not a classic by any means, but still hilarious! One of the few books to have actually made me laugh out loud in public (a good way to get to sit alone on the bus).

Honourable mentions must go to:
Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins - it's not so much the writing as the depressingly true content. It should be on the book list at every secondary school on the planet.
A People’s History of the Vietnam War, by J Neale. It is as informative as it is heartbreaking...
vietnam war books
And finally, a note on the worst... Actually it's unfair to pick on just one author, so I'll just say 'Every Overrated Book'! Whenever I see on the back of a book something like ‘I laughed out loud 3 times and cried twice!’ I’d better put it straight back on the shelf to avoid the usual disappointment!

To be honest I could quite easily change my mind about the top ten - no opinion is ever fixed is it? What would make it into your top ten?

Coming soon: The Top Ten Best Ever Children's Books..!


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The online Writing Guide is here!

The online Writing Resource Guide is here!


Writing Resource Guide


I've been writing for a while now but only as a hobby. However, having taken a break from the day job to be able to spend some real time producing stories and poems, I first had a look all over the web for hints, tips, guides and courses that would help me hone my craft and learn more about the publishing process.

Well, there was so much information out there it took a while to separate the 'wheat from the chaff', and to help save other writers precious time (which would obviously be better spent writing), I've compiled the best courses, links and resources I could find into a list that can be found in the page entitled 'Writing Guide' at the top of the screen.

writing guide


There's something for everyone in there, covering everything from the best free online writing courses to advice on all aspects the writing process. There are also resources for poets and plenty of valuable information on marketing and publishing.

I've also included a page full of links to fun and effective language and literacy resources for young learners to check out.

Ok, that's enough from me, just click on the 'Writing Guide' page at the top of the screen and away you go!

P.s. If you have any other such useful links, please add them in the relevant comment sections, thanks! And if you're still struggling with the whole thing, just remember...


Writing Quote