Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goodreads Book Giveaways

Dear Reader,

I forgot that I wanted to let you know that I have entered Zephram and Good Sport into the Goodreads Book Giveaways.

The deadline to enter to win a free copy of each is January 15th.

Check out Goodreads to find out more. There are many books entered in Giveaways -- so you may find quite a few that you like.



A busy, book-filled, 2010

Dear Reader,

The Marketing Blitz has continued on the slow side with first the December Nor'easter blizzard and then the run-up to the holidays, and now the holidays themselves. However, I more than doubled book sales from November to December, which was great news!

Needless to say, it will be a busy New Year distributing bookmarks when I finally get the time to start my visits. They have, however, started appearing in Louisiana and South Carolina and Georgia (many thanks!) -- so keep your eyes open if you live in those states!

Also, press releases will be sent out about both books in January. I've had to make 2 more websites -- separate ones for Zephram and Good Sport in addition to the Press website (and my author site) that lists them together.

Several days ago I joined Goodreads -- a great site for book lovers. I belong as both a reader and as an author. I'm slowly getting the hang of it. If you love to read, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Next I'll be adding goodreads badges to put next to the books on my various sites, along with the badges for the Facebook fan pages (and stumbleupon, etc.).

Meanwhile, I've been reviewing my next book that I hope to have published by the end of February.

Hum -- I've actually done more than I thought I had! I think that deserves a break!

Once all the craziness of the holidays is over (we are hosting a New Year's Eve Party for 100+ people -- maybe they'll be leaving with book marks or autographed copies of the books) I am looking forward to using the 2 book store gift cards Christmas presents I received.

Until my next post, here's wishing you Happy Reading and Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Blizzard halts book mark distribution

Dear Readers,

Today's blizzard brings the most perfect, unexpected moment of downtime, unimaginable just 2 days ago when I faced a jam-packed holiday weekend filled with pageant practices, tennis lessons, 4 parties (with the family scattered all across town), shopping, wrapping, an historical meeting at Valley Forge Park, a breakfast with an out-of-town friend, trimming the tree, making a rice krispie treat gingerbread house, attending a comic panto at Peoples Light and Theatre, and cleaning.

Instead, we are settled in for the snowstorm with our bread and milk, the new Harry Potter Half Blood Prince dvd, and extra candles and logs in case we lose power. Unfortunately, I can still clean. But what a nice surprise to be able to enjoy unexpected quality time with our family!

Sadly, the one really important thing I was going to squeeze into this jam-packed weekend was dropping off my book marks at stops along the way of our travels. So that major PR step has been postponed! However, book sales have been slowly building on Amazon, and they are not all from family and friends! I've been working on links, joining more networking and other sites (such as Goodreads), and getting fans on Facebook for the two books, so all momentum for Good Manners Kids Stuff Press has not been lost. Plus, my press releases are going to start in January, which I hope will give me the biggest blast of exposure yet.

Ooh -- just had a thought: Maybe I can squeeze in a few moments of reading. After cleaning of course!

Wishing you "Happy Reading" until I post again,


P.S. Unabashed plug: Need a holiday gift? Our books are available! Just click the links above.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Next steps

Dear Book Lovers,

I just wanted to give you a quick update on Good Manners Kids Stuff Press.

Sales are starting to trickle in on Zephram and Good Sport! (As you can imagine, I watch Amazon like a hawk.) And the good news is, by my calculations, that more people than just me and my friends and family have bought copies. (Not that I don't appreciate those known purchases -- it's just that it will be even more satisfying when lots more people who are completely unconnected to me buy them and enjoy them!)

My bookmarks are ordered and should be here by the end of the week.
Once I receive them, I'll have to incorporate networking with my Christmas shopping: asking every store, gym, daycare, library that I visit or pass if they'll display them.

My daughters are dropping them off at their school libraries. And friends and family in other geographic locations will be doing the same, bless them!

My Zephram Facebook Fan Page is live and is starting to get friends. (I still need to finish Good Sport's page and get it moving.

The tagging is going quite well. And I've started to get some links for site. I'm sending some minor press release changes to my publicist. (I have to squeeze in a visit to a local photo place so I can get a decent photo to send along with the press release -- yuck, I've avoided photos for years!)

So -- although I might have ultimately missed the biggest part of the holiday rush, I hope that I am planting the seeds for a widely-read 2010!

Wishing you some great reads until I post again,


P.S. Forget to mention I'll be tweeting as soon as I publish this post.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our second book launches on Amazon!

Dear Reader:

We did it! Our second book, The Kids' (and parents', too!) Book of Good Sportsmanship, just joined The Month of Zephram Mondays in our Fall line up.

Good Sport was published on November 27th, and became live on Amazon this morning. It will take a couple of days until the Look Inside feature is available but otherwise it is perfect! I've added the link and cover on the side of the blog. Isn't it cute?

We sure had a lot to give thanks for this Thanksgiving! And now, the even harder part starts: getting the word out about our books.

So what are we doing? I haven't the faintest idea. (I thought if I built them, they would come, right?)

Well, okay, seriously, I've got some ideas.

The websites I've mentioned in an earlier post are up and running, and they've been site-mapped and meta-tagged and Google-analyticed and submitted to the search engines. I've also started Google Ad-words on a very, very, very, very small budget.
Did I say very small?)

I'm starting to work on link exchanges with pertinent content sites.

I've built 1 fan page on Facebook for Zephram that I am starting to have friended (is this a new word?). (I've started 1 for the press and 1 for Good Sport, too - I'm just having trouble getting thumbnails of my images, so they aren't published yet). I'll need to put the Facebook buttons on the websites once they are all working.

I've been playing "tag my book on Amazon" with some other writers, which should help our books rank with certain key words.

I'm slowly figuring out all the things that are available on Amazon and hope to someday soon make them all work for my benefit.

I've started visiting forums AND making comments.

I've tweeted.

My artist, Kecia, is working on book marks that I will be handing out to anyone who will take them (I've started asking shopkeepers everywhere I go. I've been pleasantly surprised how many say yes.)

My publicist (doesn't that sound grand) sent me drafts of two releases that we hope to have go out next week.

I've listed the books at, a group of fellow Createspace writers who joined together under the brilliance and guidance of two gentlemen, both named Steve, who hope to turn the publishing industry on its head.

I've told every friend and family that I see ... even my dad sold 3 copies of Zephram to family friends at Thanksgiving dinner!

And, obviously, I've been blogging!

(I'm also at work on another book about manners that I hope will be available by March of 2010.)

Looking at everything that's going on, when oh when am I going to have time to do my holiday shopping?

Oh, that's right -- I'm giving books!

Ho, ho, ho,


P.S. I'll keep you posted on which of my efforts work best. (I sure hope at least one of them does.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Our first book launches on Amazon!

Dear Reader,

It's been a whirlwind!

I am incredibly excited to announce that our very first book, "The Month of Zephram Mondays," has launched on Amazon, and that our second book, "The kids' (and parents, too) Book of Good Sportsmanship," becomes available at the end of November!

I've also launched an author page for Leslie Susskind, a website for Good Manners Kids Stuff Press, opened the Book Store on Good Manners Kids Stuff and activated my author page on Amazon's Author Central. I'm also in the process of listing it on Bowker's Books in Print so that it's available to all distributors worldwide.

It has taken me so long to get to this point that I can hardly believe it. Wow.

But then again, there's so much more to do! For instance, just minutes ago I finally replaced the type-style brand name at the top of the page with my real logo. And I figured out how to include the book cover and Amazon link for Zephram.

I have to send (hopefully) final copy revisions to my artist for the sportsmanship book. (We have the proof copy and it is really, really, really cute.) I have to get the postcards/bookmarks designed and printed, and meet with the woman who is going to help me with press releases and kits.

I have to figure out how to make a "become a fan" page on Facebook and how to send tweets from Amazon. And I have to continue sending out announcements to everyone I know. (I hate doing this -- but if I don't, who will?)

My apologies that this is not a very informative post, but I hope next time I'll have even more to tell you.

Until then, Happy Reading!

Your new author and publisher,


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Almost there! Plus, Harry Potter fan fiction

Dear Readers,

I can't believe how long ago it was since I last blogged! I have a lot to tell you, the most important thing  being that I can't seem to find spell check in this new format on Blogger.  Uh, oh.

First: I have submitted The Month of Zephram Mondays for publishing! I hope within the next week and a half that my e-store will be up and running on Amazon. I've been designing my author page and the real Good Manners Kids Stuff Press site along with the book store page on the Good Manners Kids Stuff site. Hopefully it will all go live at the same time in about two weeks.

Second: I approved my cover artwork and interior layout for my other book. That one will need a little more effort to push it through but it should also be available VERY soon. (It has become a template for a non-fiction manners series so the extra time it has taken to finalize was put to good use!)

Three: Okay, I'm no J.K. Rowling but I (like thousands) had the nerve to try my hand at Harry Potter fan fiction. My fan fic After the Bezoar was just published on It is a missing moment of what might have happened after Ron was poisoned in Half Blood Prince. In canon, we don't know if anything was ever said between Ron and Hermione -- we just know that they became friends again. This is about what might have happened. The reviews I've gotten say that they think it fits into canon AND answers the question -- so I'm pretty excited that people like it and think it makes sense.

Four: I went to the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) meeting and lunch last weekend. Met lots of nice people and also got the all important 'get out of the slush pile free' pass from several editors and one agent.

Five: Well, there is some stuff going on for Five but I think it's a little premature so I'll save it for next time.

Happy Reading!


P.S. Just read The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan. I liked it very much.

P.P. Don't forget -- for some reason, spell check isn't working. I've proofed, I swear!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Update on formatting, new logo, covers

Dear Reader,

As I write you today I am just getting over a bad case of poison ivy that I picked up when I did the weeding right after I wrote my last post to you.

I did not, however, let that interfere with the ongoing tasks associated with my publishing house and book launch. Wait - although "ongoing" is true, possibly I should also say "never ending" as that seems to be the reality.

I have been in formatting Hades (a polite substitution for H***) and I can't say with any certainty when it will be over. (This is when I repeatedly realize, Dear Reader, how lucky lucky lucky lucky published authors are who have an editorial and design and layout staff to take care of these steps.)

In spite of the frustration at having to go in and remove the double spaces (throughout over 150 pages) I habitually type after periods they way they taught us back in the dark ages, The Month of Zephram Mondays is just about there and I'm excited at how it is coming to life. (That is if the darn headers and footers aren't the death of it!)

My artist, Kecia, has formatted a logo for me that I can't wait to use. Hopefully you will see it on my next post up at the top of the page instead of where Good Manners Kids Stuff Press appears now in plain old type. (This will entail me changing - or corrupting as usually happens - the html code of my blog site. Wish me luck!)

Kecia and I also made some changes to my non-fiction children's book. Because it is about a timely topic, I hope to have final revisions within the next week so I don't completely miss the season and the relevant news cycles.

Once I have the final cover graphics and new logo I can activate my Good Manners Kids Stuff Press site and start the presses rolling, so to speak.

Oh, Dear Reader, I am almost close enough to taste it. I'm trying to be patient, I really am. Rather than twiddling my thumbs while I'm waiting for the parts over which I have no control, I started putting the second of my Zephram tales in the works so that I don't have too much of a time lag once I've launched.

Also, instead of twiddling, I sent changes to my Harry Potter Fan Fiction to my Beta at last night. I hope to be able to tell you next time that it has been posted there in case you're a Harry Potter Fan and would like to read it.

(I also stopped at the library and picked up People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and I'm looking forward to reading it.)

And that's just about it. Until my next post, I hope you enjoy some reading and writing of your own.

Your wannabe publisher and author,


Friday, September 4, 2009

Book publishing doesn't stop with Labor Day

Dear Reader,

Happy Friday!

As I write it is the Friday before Labor Day weekend. While I am excited to have some time off, I have a feeling that there won't be much down time. We have 2 parties/picnics and also lots of end-of-summer weeding and garage clean-out on the agenda.

I also hope to squeeze in some personal time with one of my book's format.

Let me rephrase. "Hope" is not actually the right word. "Hope" would imply something that I would be looking forward to do.

So ... I also plan to force myself to reformat the interior of my children's fiction novel, "The Month of Zephram Mondays."

When I say that weeding and garage clean-out are more appealing than frustrating myself with the reformatting -- well, that's saying a lot. Especially when you consider that I had horrible poison ivy the last time I weeded. And we can't get any of the cars in the garage because there is too much junk!

But, my book dream calls -- and my publishing empire will never launch if I don't concentrate and muddle through the hard stuff. Ugh.

As for the easy stuff: I bought several more urls to link to my website and blog in anticipation of announcing my books' publications. Eventually I will have my publishing site (with links back to Good Manners Kids Stuff) and an author's site and e-stores on Createspace and Amazon all linking together and these urls of the book titles will also send traffic. Hopefully these threads will turn out to be an integral part of my comprehensive web strategy for marketing and building a brand.

And I will look like a genius!

(Probably one with poison ivy, though!)

With best wishes to you for a nice holiday weekend,
I remain your wanna-be publisher and author,


Sunday, August 23, 2009

The helpful Createspace Community, Twitter, among other things

Dear Reader,

How are you?

I've been continuing with my summer's "books made into movies" movie viewing trend that started with Julie & Julie, and I saw The Time Traveler's Wife with members of my book club. (Actually, the trend started with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, a couple of weeks earlier.)

We cried. But we didn't sob. Or run out of tissues. Or have runny mascara. To be honest, we teared up more during the previews of The Lovely Bones and something else with Sandra Bullock and a foster child who changes her life.

Regardless, though, how cool would it be to have your novel turned into a major motion picture? I remember that the movie rights were bought by Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston's production company -- and I guess Brad Pitt got it in the divorce because he was listed as a producer or something in the credits.

Besides going to the movies, never fear -- I've been continuing my seemingly never-ending preparations to publish my first two books with Good Manners Kids Stuff Press. Sometimes it's just baby steps, but they are steps nonetheless.

I wrote and posted blogs on two of my other blog sites: Good Manners Mom Blog and Good Sport Bad Sport Blog. These posts/blogs support my main website Good Manners Kids Stuff and are also -- I hope -- going to be hugely instrumental in building excitement and networking for Good Manners Kids Stuff Press.

I then went onto the Createspace Discussion Boards, where I've been learning so much recently. The members are incredibly generous with their advice, and they're very talented, too! I don't think I could have found a better place for my launch.

From formatting help to setting up an estore to reviewing books to marketing suggestions to royalty questions to shipping and handling -- all the help and guidance I need can be found right there.

Later today I came across an article, "Five Industry Success Stories that Inspire," mentioning Laura Duksta, self-published author of "I love you more."

(I ran upstairs to route through my daughters books to see if we had it. We did.)

I logged onto her site to read more about her and the Children's Author Academy she runs to share the secrets of her self publishing success.

Unfortunately, I am working with a budget of, oh, about $0 -- so I won't be signing up for her next teleconference series.

Switching gears, right now the show Shark Tank is on ABC as I write this, and people are coming in to pitch their ideas. One was a woman with a book to help children alleviate their stress. She got a deal for an investment of $250,000 by giving up 50%of her ownership. It made my wheels spin wildly -- should I go on the show?

That lasted just a moment. Now I'm back to reality.

You know what? As I look back over what I've shared here with you, I think I actually have moved things ahead, even if they weren't the actual books.

I can't wait to have some real progress to report to you. Hang in there -- it'll get exciting soon!

In the meantime, I'm reading "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." Too funny. (I just finished "Mr. Darcy, Vampire." Maybe I should be including some vampires or zombies in my books.

I'll think about it.


P.S. I forgot to say I've also been twittering. And, coming up with 140 characters is just about as hard as coming up these blog posts!
Follow me for random good and bad manners observations if you'd like -- GoodMannersMom

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Julie and Julia

Dear Reader,

I don't have much to update other than that I've been proofing my books. Again. I don't believe that you can proof something too much (although I hate doing it). There's always a typo that will become glaringly obvious as soon as it is in print. (Or posted on a blog site, hee hee.)

So that isn't very exciting to share. Necessary (sigh) but not very exciting.

The only other thing appropriate to share with you because it's related to books and publishing and blogging is that my mother and I went to see Julie and Julia.

We enjoyed it but I was also so completely filled with jealousy that I could barely stand it!

Spoiler alert: if you have seen it (or read Julie's book or (even) read her original blog -- I'm sure it's in those because it is the thing that every aspiring author would give everything in the world to hear), there's a scene where she comes home from work after an article about her and her blog appears in the New York Times. Her husband says that there are (I think) 54 or 63 messages on the answering machine. When she starts playing them, they are messages from editors at publishing houses and literary agents. Wow!

I got goosebumps -- I can't imagine how the real Julie felt. (The Amy Adams Julie was sure excited!) Oh, to get just one of those calls!

End of spoiler alert.

Then, the other thing I thought was, how did she get her audience? Now, the blogosphere is much more crowded than it was back in 2001 when she started. But I am posting and linking out the you-know-what -- with just a handful of loyal followers (and a few random hits now and then).

I haven't read the book yet (although I was tempted to buy it when I was in Barnes & Noble today, or at least page through it) but I did a Google search trying to see if she talked about it anywhere. (In the movie it seemed that she didn't do anything -- the followers just came.)

It's important I figure out how to get the exposure because a big part of my marketing strategy for the Good Manners Kids Stuff Press and books is via the web and I am in the process of building an infrastructure of websites and blogs to support it.

And no visitors means no book purchases!

So ... until I find out the magic answer, it's back to the e-drawing board and some more hit and miss attempts at traffic building and exposure.

If any of you have any advice, I hope you'll share. I'll be eternally grateful!

In the meantime, I'll try to find something else more interesting to blog about than my proofing!

Until then,

P.S. I'm looking forward to seeing The Time Traveler's Wife next week as I continue my chic flick movie viewing.
P.P.S. Haven't had my Missing Moments Harry Potter Fan Fiction reviewed yet over at What's up with that? Seems my publishing career is on hold in every direction!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Busy with book and writing projects

Dear Reader,

Since I last posted, I've had a busy weekend spilling over into this week with book and writing related projects!

I tidied-up and word-smithed and second-guessed myself but I managed to get my 10 page manuscript (and synopsis) into the mail for critique at the Fall Philly SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). Hopefully I made it in time before all of the slots filled up!

I also tidied-up and word-smithed and second-guessed myself but managed to submit a Harry Potter fan fiction to Still waiting for it to be picked up by a Beta for review but I hope it will be available soon. (It's a missing moment between Ron and Hermione. My user name there is Mom4Stories if you ever want to check it out.)

I also tidied-up and word-smithed and second-guessed myself but managed to get some revisions to my artist, Kecia, for my book. I can't wait to see the next pdfs!

Then, after having done enough tidying-up and word-smithing and second-guessing, I spent some time on the CreateSpace site, reading forum discussions and getting my feet wet by starting to participate in one on Middle Grade Fantasy books.

I can't do much right now in terms of setting up my author's page or e-store until I upload my books but I'm making notes and picking up some great information about marketing and distribution. (My user name there is StoryMom.)

I'm trying to figure out how to connect this blog to my account there. I suspect I can't do it just yet -- I may have to wait until my books activate my presence there. I'm also trying to figure out the best strategy for linking this blog, my 2 other blogs and site, the Amazon site and my site (which is under construction, too) as part of my grand master plan.

So, while I've accomplished a lot, there's still much more to do.
I'm hoping to have just as productive a time next week (and the week after that, and so on -- you get the picture).

Oh, before I forget, here are a couple of little ISBN number tidbits before I leave you:

Apparently there was some sort of snafu recently with those authors who used the CreateSpace ISBN numbers (remember I mentioned in an earlier post that using the free CreateSpace ISBN number makes CreateSpace the publisher in addition to being the printer while using your own number makes you the publisher and gives you more control) -- there was something printed in their books about self-publishing (advertising the Breakthrough Novel Award) that upset some members because they didn't want it obvious on their books that they were self-published. I believe it has now been removed.

Then, it seems that some authors with their own isbn numbers publish on both CreateSpace to get into Amazon and and then use the identical ISBN number and book at another POD (print on demand) such as Lightning Source, which gives you access to Barnes & Noble and other distributors. Having control of the number as the owner/publisher lets you take it anywhere. CreateSpace is more affordable, so they see if their book has "legs" there and then take it elsewhere to expand its reach across the industry.

That's it for now. Happy Reading and Writing until I post again.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators ... and more

Dear Reader,

I'm so glad to be in touch with you again.

My family just returned from a wonderful trip to England. Our daughters were on a Choir Tour and my husband and I were chaperones. We are still a little jet-lagged but things are returning to normal.

As a parent, an avid reader, a singer, and a history buff I can't tell you how overwhelmingly wonderful the trip was. And how creatively inspiring it was, too -- a new story idea popped into my head while another story idea was solidified. (Plus, it was great fun to watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince once we got home and recognize all of the famous sites and locations in the movie that we had just seen the week before during the trip.)

Ironically, as a chaperone, I can't begin to tell you how overwhelmingly awful the trip was -- but that's not a topic for here -- you can check out The Good Manners Mom Blog if you're at all interested in how awful middle school girls can be! I'll be posting there later today!

But I digress.

I am still working through revisions with Kecia (my artist) so I don't have any new updates on the book progress. Fingers crossed I'll have some progress to report on my next blog post.

In the meantime, I registered for the Fall Philly Conference of the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). Just got my confirmation emailed to me. It's being held on Saturday, October 10th. I love this conference! In years past, I've picked up some great contacts, met a lot of nice people, and received some good advice and positive encouragement. What's not to love!?!

As part of the conference, I can submit up to 10 pages of a manuscript for review by an agent, editor or author from the panel of presenters. I need to get my manuscript out asap -- slots fill up fast. I hope to drop it in the mail this weekend. (Just as an FYI, this story is different than the two books that Good Manners Kids Stuff Press will be publishing soon.)

If any of you are aspiring authors/illustrators of childrens books, I highly recommend joining SCBWI. There are 2 national conferences (in CA in August and NY in February) along with local chapters and conferences. I've been to the NY one, too -- although I prefer the local one because the panel members are much more approachable due to the smaller size of the crowd.

One last item to tell you about: I (or, more accurately, Good Manners Kids Stuff Press) received an invitation to be part of the Frankfort Book Fair! Sadly, with no actual books published just yet, my attendance would be a little premature. And hard to explain. Here's hoping that next year I'll be there (and at other fairs and trade shows) with our line of books.

Until my next post, I wish you Happy Reading and Writing!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Book marks and bar codes

Dear Reader,

The wheels have been turning very, very, very, very, very slowly here at Good Manners Kids Stuff Press.

Who knew that it would take so long to get my books published?

(Now I can see why it can take 18 months to 2 years or more when an author gets published.)

I am disappointed that I don't have any updates to share with you other than that I received a nice sample package from an online printer who prints bookmarks, among other things.

I plan on using bookmarks as a marketing tool, so I'm glad to have the information. But until I get my book designs finalized, I won't have anything to put on the book marks!

So, I'm still at a standstill!

I am still hopeful that I'll launch by the end of August or beginning of September. The timing could work well for my sports book as it coincides with fall sports such as football and soccer.

In the meantime, I'll just keep proofing and planning -- and enjoy our family vacation. But before I go, I wanted to circle back to something I had mentioned in my last post about bar codes and pricing that would have totally disrupted my narrative if I had tried to explain it then.

(As an English Major, I had to toss in that "disrupting my narrative" stuff to show that I totally and completely should be recognized as the next literary great -- maybe even a JK Rowling!)

So, about pricing and bar codes: I discovered that in addition to showing the ISBN number, bar codes are used to show your price. And, distributors will want one on your book. But what if you don't know what your price should be when you go to print? Or you think your price will vary depending on where you're selling your book. You don't want to print up books with bar codes for a certain price because you can't change it without printing again and using another ISBN number.

The answer is to use a bar code with 90000 -- a code that indicates that the book has no suggested retail price. That way any price can be assigned to it by the distributor.

This will give you two bar codes on your book -- one for the ISBN number and the other to show there is no assigned price.

Good stuff, huh.

Here's hoping that next time I post I'll have more interesting -- and exciting -- information to share.

Happy Reading,


P.S. I'm off to get some books for vacation! Got any suggestions?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lions and tigers and IBSN#s -- oh my!

Dear Reader,

As promised, here is another fascinating and scintillating post about the launch of Good Manners Kids Stuff Press.


First, an update: Kecia started sending me illustrations earlier this week. They are adorable. (Did I mention before that there are about 30 little character heads she has to draw?) I can't wait to have the whole book in my hands. And I can't even begin to imagine how I will feel when I can make it available to you!

Now, Dear Reader, where did I leave you last post? Ah, yes: with my halfway laid-out children's fantasy novel and no clue what I should do next.

I had been checking out to self-publish my books -- both the children's fantasy and my good sports book that Kecia is illustrating. While it seemed a good resource to print my books if I didn't want them to be available elsewhere than my website or their online store, I suddenly realized that I would definitely want my book(s) to be available to as many people as possible.

To do that you need to have an ISBN# for the distributors to use to list your book. And it's also not just the #. It depends on who is printing/publishing your book as to whether they will/can list you.

Oh, the murky, murky world of publishing and distributing.

Blurb doesn't have ISBN#s to give you. If you want one, you have to go and get it yourself along with the bar code that all the distributors need. Then, once you have it, you can add it to the Blurb template. From Forum comments, that appears to be problematic because Blurb has their own bar code (which has nothing to do with ISBN) and the placements can be wacky.

(There was also some confusing stuff about including price on a bar code -- as I said, the murky, murky world of publishing and distributing. But for clarity's sake, I think I'll cover that on another post. Just know that it is confusing to get to the bottom of, and makes you wish, for the millionth time, that some one would have just published you and taken care of it for you!)

Apparently you can purchase your own ISBN#s at the Bowker Agency and then when you print the book, Blurb would include that number on your book and you would become the publisher. You would then have to pay extra to have the Blurb logo removed that would still be there because Blurb was still the printer. Once you did that you can try to get the book picked up by distributors to put on their lists which they make available to retailers such as Barnes & Noble.

Sounds great, right? But those distributors don't include Amazon.

So I was sort of back to the beginning. If I wanted more exposure, I certainly think that I would want to be on Amazon.

More murky details and thoughts to consider:
In the Help Forums, people mentioned Lulu and Lightening Source and Createspace as other print-on-demand resources that did offer listing with those distributors (only Createspace, which is part of Amazon, automatically lists there) and the option to use their ISBN#s (which makes them the publisher) or use your own, which makes you the publisher.

Suddenly, a light bulb turned on in my head: As my Good Manners Kids Stuff site grew in scope, I'd come up with other manners topics for books. Granted, I have yet to print or publish my first book, but all the pieces were falling into place for a much bigger picture. Why not have them come out through my own publishing line?

During this time I started checking out Lulu, Lightening Source and Createspace, checking out their forums, looking at their templates and processes. And I visited the Bowker site, hemming and hawing until I finally committed and bought a block of ten ISBN#s listing Good Manners Kids Stuff Press as the publisher.

I've hit the big time!

Suddenly I am getting mail and emails addressed to the Press. Hee, hee.

Maybe someday I will be a powerful force to be reckoned with in the publishing world. But for now, I'm just excited to be about to come to life with the launch of my first two books!

I think that's probably enough anyone cares to read about ISBN #s today. So, until my next fascinating and scintillating post, Dear Reader, I wish you happy reading!


Monday, June 8, 2009

The self publishing journey starts

Dear Reader,

While I wait for Kecia to start sending me the illustrations to my book, I've been re-proofing a children's fantasy novel that I started writing back at Gettysburg College for a creative writing course with Dr. Clark. (Oh, no, that's as good as admitting how old I am!)

(FYI: This will be the second book that Good Manners Kids Stuff Press will offer. Although it's not about good manners for children, it is about children (brothers and sisters) who aren't the same as everyone else ... and how everyone learns to appreciate and value them.)

I've proofed it a gazillion times -- and each time it's not that I see a mistake, it's that I just can't help tweaking it. I plan on publishing several books in this series so I'm excited to make this one available to kids beyond my own kids, friends and family. Then I can start on the next story!

When I posted last I wrote that I'd tell you more about how Good Manners Kids Stuff Press came into being. Well, it's really quite simple -- it just did.


Isn't that interesting?

Okay -- here's the real scoop, down to the last boring detail:

As I've mentioned before, I am a wannabe author. Or, more correctly, a wannabe author of the literary type. Since I write tv commercials and direct mail kits and newsletters and brochures for my day job, I refer to myself as a writer. And I'm actually not bad. Really. It's just that I want to be an author, not a writer.

Parallel to my launching I've been writing, writing, writing. Books for toddlers, books for middle grade, romance novels, science fiction -- all kinds of books. And I've been slowly and carefully sending them off to editors and agents. I've gotten some positive feedback and also a couple of nibbles (and requests for changes) from an agent. Maybe some day soon, one of them will be optioned and I'll have made the change from writer to author that I've been working for (and dreaming of) for so many years.

In the meantime (parallel-ly -- as I mentioned above, if I can use the word that way -- or should I just say at the same time) I've been having a great time launching my site and developing products for it. A logical new product line would be manners books. Of course, it made sense that I would and could write these books. But who would produce them for me. How much would it cost?

A friend of mine who is a real, published children's book author mentioned that he had used a company called Blurb ( to make a book of his family's trip to Disney World. He said it was easy to use and that he only paid for the copy he needed.

Now, he was an artist before he wrote and illustrated his books, so I was a little leery about my ability to get something usable on Blurb. So I started with baby steps.

I searched Blurb on Google. I clicked on it, poked around, and several days later (and trips back) I finally got the courage to pick a user name, password and sign up!

(I told you -- baby steps. It's amazing I get anything done in a timely manner.)

Finally, I downloaded the template. I went through the tutorials. I thought -- I can do this! I decided to try my children's fantasy first because I still needed the illustrations for the other book. I managed to flow the copy into the format and make a cute little novel-sized book. I was so excited! And, it was all free!

But I wasn't finished -- I still needed to get the cover designed and give all the copy another read through to make sure the sentences and layout weren't messed up when I flowed in the text. I also had questions about the information I needed to put on the cover page.

I started reading all the forums and stumbled upon questions about copyrights and barcodes and isbn #s and distribution -- and how Blurb didn't handle any of that. Apparently, if I wanted to be able to distribute my book, I needed to purchase my own isbn #s. But,that wouldn't put the book on Amazon or with other distributors. And I would want my own name as the publisher rather than Blurb (which I could do for an extra cost). And there seemed to be some issue with Blurb barcodes that were different than the ones that came with isbn #s -- and the placement was weird.

Hum. Interesting. Suddenly I was confused. And, suddenly I was thinking that I might want to have more than just a stockpile of printed books available to sell on my site. Suddenly I realized that what I did to produce the book could limit or expand what I could do with it -- where I could take it and where it could go.

So -- there I was with a halfway laid-out novel and no clue what I should do next to figure out the right solution.

And that, just as it's getting so interesting, Dear Reader, is where I'll leave you tonight.

I hope you'll check back soon for my next fascinating and scintillating post on my launch of The Good Manners Kids Stuff Press.


P.S. Although I did not ultimately choose Blurb, I do want to say how impressed I was with their site and tutorials. Their templates were very easy to use (easier than what I am doing now) and the books on their site were beautiful. You can sell your books on their site in addition to your own. It's just that the more I learned about self-publishing and print on demand, and determined that I wanted to control my books' destiny, I realized I needed a more retail friendly source.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Design Time

Dear Reader,

I met with my artist, Kecia, on Wednesday and I can't wait until she works some magic with my words!

We met at the Iron Hill Brewery in West Chester. The weather was beautiful and we were able to eat outside. I had a Bistro burger -- an assortment of wild and exotic mushrooms and boursin cheese. Yum! Kecia had a portabella mushroom sandwich. That was my second choice although I am not a fan of red peppers, which is problematic because they always seem to pair portabella and peppers at restaurants. Oddly, I only like yellow and orange peppers, not green or red. (My other choices were a turkey guacamole burger with pepper jack cheese and turkey with cranberry and brie on multigrain bread -- I'm making myself hungry!)

But back to the Good Manners Kids Stuff Press update:
Kecia is illustrating approximately 30 little heads for me and laying out my text into the Create Space template. The heads are used with the 30-ish captions/situations in the book. 20 are children and 10 are grownups. We laughed at my attempts to draw them. ( I wish I could draw, but I can't even print/write neatly! I'll just be sticking to words.)

I'm sending off the manuscript for a copyright from the Library of Congress so it's safely on record there. (I've sent all of my work off, regardless of whether it's been published. Not that I think I'm so wonderful -- it's just that I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it all and want it to be protected.)

In the meantime, I've assigned a Good Manners Kids Stuff Press ISBN to the book (one of a set that I purchased for the publishing company). As I was researching how to self-publish or print on demand, I decided that my best option was to own my own numbers. It was so exciting to get the official information -- each step brings it closer to becoming real.

In my next post, I'll explain how and why Good Manners Kids Stuff Press came into being. Right now, I am enjoying the weekend (even enjoying the cleaning and yard work) while the book is out of my hands. A little time away from it will help me have fresh eyes when I see it again.

Until then,


P.S. Spell check wouldn't tell me if portobella (the way I orginally spelled it) was spelled right -- it only offered potbelly, portable, paella as suggestions! Not too helpful. Had to go onto Google and type it in to see it was "portabella."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Meeting with my artist

Dear Reader,

I'm still having issues with "Claiming my Blog" on Technorati -- so I'll probably try that again tomorrow.

I'm in the process of printing out my final draft of my book. I'm meeting with my artist on Wednesday to go over the layout and illustrations. My plan is to be launched in June -- which is closer than you would think.

Did some practical things -- had my url redirect to a page within my Good Manners Kids Stuff website where the book will be featured once available.

Read some more articles on line about how to market books.

Started a blog on wordpress to (hopefully) work along with my other blogs and my main site to get more exposure, links and traffic. I like the appearance of that blog but I think the Google blogs are easier to work with so far (the wordpress blog is I am confusing myself, I may need to re-think my naming strategy). The idea is that once I launch there will be many outlets in which to spread the word. Or, I'm just making much more work for myself. Either way, I'll let you know how that goes!

Last, I had an idea for another book -- I jotted it down on a yellow sticky note -- let's just hope I can find it again once this first book and publishing house launch is history!

This whole virtual reality is exhausting and busy! But it's also so very cool making my dreams come true! (A dream that started way, and I mean way, back in 6th grade.)

I'll catch up with you soon!

President (really!!) Good Manners Kids Stuff Press

2nd Technorati claim attempt

Technorati has been a mess, going through, maintenance. I wasn't able to get this blog up and running there so I trying again.

Technorati Profile

Please check back for my next blog post about how my grand plans for Good Manners Kids Stuff Press came to be.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dear Reader,
Just putting a technorati code in to get this blog listed there.Technorati Profile

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good Manners Kids Stuff Press -- The start of, well, something!

Dear Reader,

Although I said "Welcome" in my first blog post, that was really just a "Welcome" to get the template started.

This is really my first "Welcome" post where I am actually going to write and publish some content.

My name is Leslie Susskind and I am getting ready to launch Good Manners Kids Stuff Press. I thought it might be fun to share my journey of starting a publishing company and selling books with you.

This blog may end up telling a cautionary tale -- or it may chronicle the start of something big. Either way, I'm going to talk about it here.

I'm launching Good Manners Kids Stuff Press so that I can self-publish books that I have written for my website business, My site sells products that helps teach children good manners. I've designed and produced the other products (placemats, water bottles, plates, thank you notes and invitations) and I wanted to tell some stories about good manners, too.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that I am a frustrated author who has had some nibbles from agents and editors for my non-manners themed children's books -- but I'm still toiling away at my day-time job in Marketing as a Creative Director while working on my website at night (while being a full-time wife and mother, too).

So when I wanted to have some books to support my good manners brand and ideas, there was no question that I would be the one to write them. The question, instead, was how I would go about doing it.

The answer was to self-publish it/them. I started writing the stories and researching how to get the books made. In my next post I'll share in more detail what I learned, what I ultimately decided was the best option for me and how Good Manners Kids Stuff Press was born (although, with a name like that, it clearly won't need a big leap of logic to figure it out).

I hope you'll check back from time to time to see how my self-publishing journey is going. Feel free to sign up to have updates emailed to you or to become a follower. I'd love to have some company while I figure this whole thing out!

Your wannabe author and publisher,

Leslie Susskind

P.S. You may want to visit my site to understand my product designs and brand message. Or, if you like reading blogs, you may want to see my other two blogs: and Both deal differently with good and bad manners and I have a lot of fun writing them!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Just trying to get the template designed while we prepare for our first book launch.

Hope to have some news about our book for you very soon!