ILLUSTRATION + INSPIRATION
ILLUSTRATION + INSPIRATION
I became an author because the Holy Spirit lead me to do so. I still seek God's guidance on my journey and have learned so much about the publishing industry in past 2 years. It has been an eye opening experience to say the least. Here are some insider secrets and tips on how to make the most of your time and budget as a self published children's book author.
Find a mentor. It's not as difficult as you may think. Head over to your child's bookshelf and pull some of your favorites. Do a little recon work about the authors. Do they offer mentorship services? My mentor is Marianne Richmond who has written over 50 books and has sold over 6 million copies. Over the years we have become dear friends and even teamed up to do a live event entitled The Art of Bravery in the winter of 2020. She is a wonderful human. Here is information on her rates and availability.
Find a local printer. When I published my first book, Your Angel Army I utilized a giant self-publishing service called IngramSpark. They seemed like a good fit for a first-time author and they were able to get the ball rolling for my career. However, there are major downsides to utilizing services like IngramSpark. First of all, they print your books "on demand". At first I loved this feature because I there was little financial risk (meaning you don't need to obtain a huge inventory of books). It costs the same amount to print 1 book or 50,000 books. And to be totally transparent, when I printed Your Angel Army I was paying nearly $10 a copy! I'm here to tell you that you cannot make a living on selling books if your cost is $10/book. The other major flaw is that IngramSpark does not offer an account manager. You do not have a point of contact to ask questions or to check on the status of your books. When you need help, you are basically directed to a FAQ page. That was very, very frustrating.
When I was preparing to launch my second book, Sunshine, I received a solid piece of advice from Kevin Lovegreen. Kevin is a very successful self-published author who takes inspiration from his personal hunting journals to write juvenile fiction. After meeting Kevin at my son's school, he agreed to meet me for a cup of coffee. During our visit, he taught me the importance of keeping control over your own products. He even shared his vendor list with me and connected me with Corporate Graphics, a Minnesota-based printing company. Through CG, I am able to print my books at a fraction of the price of IngramSpark and the quality is even better. I have worked directly with Mike Schmitt (Sales Executive) and Annette Boeck (Account Manager) to find the best solutions for printing my children's books.
Find a book distributor. After my books are printed by Corporate Graphics they are shipped to Itasca Books. This is where my inventory is kept. When an order comes through my online store, I pay a small fee for Itasca to pull the books and ship them directly to my customers. It is worth every penny. When I launched Your Angel Army, I set up an account with stamps.com and basically turned my living room into a post office. Let me just tell you that shipping out thousands of books from your living room is not ideal. It was time consuming, messy, and not exactly sustainable. Using a distributor/fulfillment center has been a game changer for the sale of Sunshine. If you are looking for more on how this process works, contact Mark Jung at Itasca Books. He is kind, patient, and a wealth of information.
Talk about your book. Unfortunately, even the best books will not sell themselves. You are going to need to put yourself out there and tell the world about the book you've created. Utilize social media, contact schools about visiting classrooms, connect with the local library to set-up readings, reach out to your favorite nonprofits to see if you are able to team-up in someway, the possibilities are endless. Networking has led me to unforgettable classroom visits, incredible speaking engagements and fundraising for Metavivor, teaching art lessons to grieving parents at Faith's Lodge, collaborations with Brave Soul's Photography, and so much more.
Ditch the big box stores. I was so incredibly proud to see Your Angel Army on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. That was an unforgettable moment of validation for me. But here's the deal, big box stores take between 40-55% of your profit margin! It is insane. You need to sell A LOT of books to make an income if your vendors are taking half of your profits. Retailers like Target or Barnes & Noble can order as many books as they please with the option of returning them at any time. So let's say Target decides they'd like to carry your book on their shelves and they order 10,000 copies to disperse around their stores. But unfortunately, after a few months sales are not doing what they had hoped so they ship all of them back. You are then stuck with the cost of thousands of books!
Don't even get me started on Amazon. They can take your books and decide to sell them for whatever price they'd like. They can drop the price so low that no one would ever be inclined to purchase directly from the author or from a little local book shop. Free 2-day shipping on Amazon will eventually be the end of nearly all small business owners. I know it is convenient for customers to open the app, click "order now", and the product magically shows up 2 days later. I get it. I've done it for years but I'm over it.
Here's the harsh truth: You are never fully financially stable with the current book industry. It is designed to protect corporate America not the creatives.
Here's the hopeful truth: I currently sell all my books directly from my website and and have total control of their pricing, distribution, and content.
Your Angel Army will continue to circulate via IngramSpark to major book retailers simply because I am gaining exposure on their shelves and I am all tied up in contracts with them. I hope you are able to learn from my journey and are feeling empowered to publish your work!
If you loved the recommendations found in 13 Children's Books With Good Vibes Part I, this list is right up your alley!
More Must-Read Books ...
Did you know that Your Angel Army was written on my extremely messy kitchen counter?
Watch as I share my creation process for the children's book that is changing my life.
There is nothing glamorous about chasing a huge dream. It is a combination of hard work, letting go, asking for help, and praying. A lot. My inner circle knows that when they come into my home, there will be dishes in the sink, at least 2 blanket forts in the living room, dog hair on the floor and Lauren Daigle blasting in the background. I probably haven’t brushed my hair (or teeth for that matter), I am most certainly wearing a graphic and there’s always coffee.
If you were to pick up my phone, you’d be alarmed by the 94 unopened emails and you’d smile at the butt naked picture of my baby girl on the home screen.
You see, my friends, I absolutely do not do it all. I mess up picture day at school- even though they send home
45 reminders. I love him fiercely, but I don’t remember what team my husband was coaching against last night. And I only remember if they won or lost by recalling his patience level with our kids at bedtime.
My secret weapon to not lose my mind on a daily basis is thanking God in all circumstances. I talk to Him all day long. I try to stay on the path He’s made for me and ask for forgiveness when I lose my way. This keeps me centered among the chaos. I also believe in the power of a great planner and do my best to make a list of todos each day. I’m on year 2 of utilizing Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner. It’s baller.
Yesterday, I wanted to make a short video explaining my book creation process. My kids refused to be silent while I did the voiceover. (I was literally hiding in my closet trying to find quiet...they found me.) So I made the executive decision that I needed to let go of my “perfect” vision for this marketing piece and embrace the hot mess. I asked my kids to collaborate with me on this video and they stepped up! I had to edit out the crying in the background but their little voices just warm my heart. Check it out below. ❤️
The month of September has been insane. Like many of you, there is the hustle and bustle of getting kids back into the school routine and the shock of having such a schedule takes its toll on everyone. My husband is a high school football coach and this is by far his busiest time of year. Oh... and I published a children's book. No Bigs.
In the past 2 weeks, I've learned that major online retailers like Amazon and Target have picked up my book - crazy, right?!? It has also been ordered by several hospital gift shops - in fact, you can find it at any CentraCare gift shop in Minnesota. It is also being cataloged into libraries across the U.S. (If it is currently not available at your local library, just put in a request and they can find one for you). I have ventured to small businesses in my community and gave them the opportunity to sell my book as well. No one has said no yet! I literally stumble into these shops with my daughters - who are 4 and almost 2 - and hand the owner a copy of Your Angel Army. I tell them I wrote and illustrated a children's book, ask them to read it and tell them to come find us in the store when they are done. Meanwhile, the girls have nearly broken at least 7 items off the shelves and are tugging on my sleeve asking me for juice. Not even joking.
This process may seem unprofessional to some of you, and as a businesswoman I can see where you're coming from. But here's the truth. I wrote this manuscript on the kitchen counter with my kids. I illustrated the paintings with one on my hip, one dumping Legos all over the floor, and one peeing in her pants. That is my life. It is busy and crazy and messy. But it is also the life God has planned for me. So when He put it on my heart to get this out into the world, I listened. He has shown me how every job, every hardship, every relationship, every loss and every victory has lead me to the creation of this book. It is my heart. And I am incredibly honored to share it with you.
You can learn more about Your Angel Army: A Book of Hope at www.yourangelarmy.com. If you are a small business owner and are interested in selling my book in-store, you can easily obtain wholesale pricing and ordering by clicking here.
Thank you and God Bless!
Your Angel Army is out in the world!
You can currently purchase the Ebook and PRE-ORDER your hardcover version (available October 1st, 2019) on www.yourangelarmy.com!
Stay tuned for upcoming events - including details on my book launch party at Milk & Honey Ciders on Sunday, October 13th!
Thank you for all of the love and support! xoxo - Kate
A lifetime of mistakes, insecurities and anxieties lead me to an uneasy feeling about organized religion. In December of 2016, I decided that I really wanted to get right to the source and started studying the bible on my own. It transformed my life in so many ways and has ultimately healed my heart. Understanding scripture within its historical context is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Here are 5 ways that I continue to grow in my faith and stay connected to God all day long.
The First 5 App
Take a Hike
I'm just a small town girl, living in the suburbs of Minneapolis. I'm married to farm boy-turned gym teacher, raising 3 little kids, a dog, a cat and whatever other random animals my children fall in love with. In January of 2016 we purchased a Spanish-style home on 4 acres just outside of town. It has required A LOT of TLC but it is exactly where God wanted us to be. One of the most calming things I can do is take a walk through our woods. I bring my coffee, my pup and my phone for music. This is my happy place and my favorite way to reconnect with God. I've created a playlist via Spotify just for these morning adventures so that I don't get distracted by what I want to listen to and waste this precious time scrolling on my phone. Some mornings I just want to tune into my favorite radio station and listen to whatever God throws my way. You can listen to 98.5 KTIS anywhere in the world when you download the app. Isn't technology magical?!?
I understand that most people don't live out in the woods, but I can almost guarantee that you can find somewhere awesome to walk wherever you are planted. So put on your kicks and get out there! If you really want to make things easy, you can even poach my Spotify playlist: Cool Your Jets.
BONUS POINTS if you bring your fur baby with.
Brush Your Teeth
Yep, you read that right. If you're looking for a way to strengthen your faith, practice good dental hygiene. Okay...that's really only part of the deal. My life is mostly complete chaos and I need all the help I can get. So one habit I have formed is reading a daily devotional from Sarah Young's Jesus Calling while I brush my teeth each day. I leave it right on my bathroom counter and read it whenever I get a free moment to actually brush my teeth each day. (If you have small children, you can probably relate that some days this doesn't happen until like 11am.) Technically you are supposed to brush those pearly whites for 2 minutes, twice a day. However, I have committed to brushing them for as long as it takes for me to read and process the daily devotional found in this book each morning and then for 2 minutes at night. I hope the American Dental Association approves of this system...
Meal Time Prayers
My family and I are pretty darn good at remembering to pray before each meal, even when we are dining out. It can feel a bit awkward to bow your heads and pray at Subway, but I've grown to be totally fine with the strange looks we get sometimes. My dear friend, Pastor Lee, taught me that if everything you're doing in life feels comfortable and easy, you aren't doing it right. Being a Christian should feel a bit like like paddling your boat upstream and going against the social norms of this world. If you're going with the flow and are afraid of standing a part from the crowd, check-in with yourself. Try to lead by example, let your light shine and show the world you aren't ashamed of your faith.
Some of our favorite meal time prayers:
A Good Night
Bedtime routines can be a hot mess. I'm tired, my hubby is tired, the kids are tired (and they don't want to admit it). But we try our best to read 2 books and say prayers as a family before tucking them in at the end of the day. It usually includes a long list of thanking God for all of our loved ones by name and asking Him to watch closely over those who are struggling with health concerns. We recently started implementing a prayer written in my children's book, Your Angel Army (coming Fall 2019). I am so excited to share this little piece of my heart with you. I pray you'll hang it up in your home as a gentle reminder to trust in God's plan for you - you've got a whole army of angels on your side!
CUSTOM PAINTING GIVEAWAY!
God is blessing my journey and it is the best feeling in the world. The amount of support I have received is overwhelming, beautiful and inspiring on so many levels. I am celebrating by giving away a custom original painting of your family! The winner will be announced on August 18th, 2019.
How to enter?
1. Subscribe to the Fisch Tales blog.
2. Comment on my latest blog post 5 Ways to Pray All Day!
I tend to surround myself with only the very best people. The kind of people who lift me up, encourage me and laugh with me when my life is complete chaos. When I was hired by Toni Bradley to create a series of watercolor paintings for her daughter's nursery, I was beyond honored. Toni is one of the most loveable people on the planet and I was thrilled to be chosen for this project. She requested that the paintings highlight "...finding the core of who you are, being unique and loving that (about yourself)". Toni claims these are traits that she does not possess and wants her little girl to grow up having them. You guys, Toni is GORGEOUS. One of the most beautiful women I have ever known. It breaks my heart that she struggles to see that in herself. So when I sat down to work on this piece for little Miss Kenna's nursery, I wanted to send a message to both her AND her mama.
"You are beautiful. You might not see it, but I do."
As I am deep in the middle of writing and illustrating my first children's book, I spend an insane amount of time reading and researching. It is the perfect excuse to throw in a load of laundry, snuggle with my three crazy children and feel incredibly productive.
Have you ever found yourself at the library with your kids, looking for a worthwhile read but end up coming home with Ninja Turtles and (yet another) Disney Princess book? Yep, me too. But not to worry, my friends! I have created a list of 13 exceptional children's books full of good vibes and beautiful illustrations. These titles encourage kindness, explain emotions, demonstrate love and boost self esteem. You're going to adore them, I promise.
I believe in the power of friendship. Kayla Axsom has been my friend for over 20 years. There are few things that she does not know about me and by the grace of God she still loves me. Yesterday, my daughter Loretta and I spent the afternoon creating a piece of art for our dear Kayla in memory of her beautiful mother, Laurie Petermeier. Laurie struggled with serious health issues for most of her life. A wonderfully warm, beautifully goofy and love-filled mama, she was a friend to many. Laurie is best represented by the sunshine; for she was known for letting her light shine everywhere she went.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:16
Delivering creative work with integrity since 2009.
Little Fisch specializes in collaborating with fellow small businesses. Through logo design, packaging, websites and marketing material, the goal is to create brand identities that capture the attention of audiences on all platforms.