How Many??

I’ve finished creating my 2020 multicultural children’s books catalog. I really thought I’d been a slacker in 2019, but—HOLY GUACAMOLE—turns out, I created 17 new products this year (for a total of 130 since 2004)!

Publishing sure has changed! It used to be that getting books to readers required the vast resources of a major publishing house. Today, technology has almost leveled the playing field. While I currently reside and work in (practically) unheard of Midvale, Utah, my books are found as far away as the Philippines and Africa.

The big publishers still have muscle behind their promos. But, with 15 years’ experience, I’ve managed to not only survive in (perhaps) the most competitive genre, I’ve carved out a nice multicultural niche with distribution on par with the book publishing giants. Even top reviewers, like Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal have voiced approval.

Some new products are Spanish/bilingual picture books with pronunciation guide; many are hard cover editions of previous titles. I’m especially pleased with the audiobook release of my western novel, To Swallow the Earth, which won an International Book Award.

So how do I get my books noticed? I’ve considered bribery (but I have some standards). Really, it’s persistence. After ensuring I had quality, professionally edited products, I hounded the major wholesalers used by New York publishers—and got signed contracts for global distribution. My books even found their way onto Walmart’s and Target’s web sites (and I’m not sure how that happened).

It is not as simple as signing with a big distributor. It’s always work. You always have to find ways to make a kid’s book funny, to stand out to parents, teachers, and librarians. My target audience is always aging out. I constantly have to publicize to new readers. My company, Premio Publishing & Gozo Books, has also donated hundreds of books to needy kids around the world.

Inclusion is actually critical to success. My children’s books feature black, white, Hispanic, American Indian, Islander, and Asian characters. I grew up in a cosmopolitan part of the country; I speak Spanish and am learning German. My books simply reflect the world as I know it. These diverse kid’s books also have twists and online secrets.

It is time well spent. It’s always a thrill when a library system or school district includes your books. Amazon sales don’t hurt either. I’ve started using Amazon ads and sales there have doubled.

No Time to Read? Get Western Thrills on Audio

Audiobook sales have jumped 37 percent since 2017, according to the Association of American Publishers. Now busy people can hear an award winning western thriller while on the go. To Swallow the Earth, the novel I co-wrote with my grandfather (and which won an International Book Award), has been available in paperback and e-book formats for a couple of years. Now it transports busy listeners to rough Nevada Silver Rush days as they travel or commute.

My grandfather grew up ranching and exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountains on horseback a hundred years ago. He used that setting for his western novel.

I inherited the manuscript after my grandfather passed away in 1992. My task was to tighten his story and develop the characters while preserving the action, suspense and earthy vernacular. Other than some violence, the book is clean and family safe.

What if you came home after a journey and your family was missing? What if someone else was living in your house, running what you used to manage—and trying to kill you?

The main character is an outcast, half-Mexican, raised by American Indians. But he’s fearless and loyal to his friends and family. In addition to a tough, dark hero, there’s a gutsy heroine—a woman who is unintimidated in the worst kinds of opposition. Each of these people has reason to be wary of the other. Narrator Jack Crenshaw deftly brings these magnetic characters to life in the audio version.

I’ve won other literary awards, but the International one is special. It kind of validates my grandfather’s vision—gives him a nod—even beyond the grave. To Swallow the Earth is getting great online reviews and was named a finalist for the Laramie Award and garnered Literary Classics’ seal of approval.

My 60 kid’s books, e-books and audiobook may be found at PremioBooks.com, Amazon Audible, Apple iBooks and via major booksellers and distributors. See the western book trailer here.

It Came from under the High Chair teaches prepositions in English and Spanish

Multicultural Mystery Book Teaches Prepositions in English and Spanish

My 22nd book, It Came from under the High Chair: A Mystery, almost never got published. I thought the concept of a monster made of spilled food might be too disgusting. Then I saw all those best-selling bathroom/gross humor books and figured the world was ready for my 20-year-old idea. Plus, it’s educational.

LANGUAGE LEARNING

I think kids don’t mind learning if they are being entertained. This children’s picture book teaches parts of speech—namely, prepositions. The bilingual version (out in June 2019) teaches them in Spanish and English with a pronunciation guide in both languages. The English version debuted last month at #1 in its category on Amazon.

MULTICULTURAL

This diverse story book, written in dyslexic-friendly font, includes a counting activity, mixed-race characters (a biracial family—Pacific Islander and Filipino), a wanna-be superhero, a Basset Hound, and a mysterious visitor—all vividly illustrated by Jeremy Higginbotham (for kids ages 4 – 7, plus dual language/ESL/ELL students of any age).

I’ve taught English as a second language as a volunteer for more than a decade; I’ve been a Spanish-English interpreter; and I’m learning German. It Came from under the High Chair is my seventh bilingual book and the fifth in my Mini-mysteries for Minors series (others in the series: Sounds in the House, Crumbs on the Stairs, She Doesn’t Want the Worms, and Why Juan Can’t Sleep: A Mystery?).

I try to include twists and characters of color in all my stories (hey, it’s a competitive genre!). It seems to have paid off. I’ve been fortunate to have my books reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Horn Book’s blog, ForeWord Reviews, and School Library Journal. During the past six months two of my kid’s books have spent weeks at number one in more than one Amazon category (one is currently a free book).

WHERE TO FIND

As before, I have wrung out eight iterations of this single monster book title: English, Spanish, and bilingual versions available in paperback and ebook formats—plus the bilingual and Spanish ones will also come in hard cover. These can be found via Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Brodart, EBSCO, Follett, Gardners, iBooks, Ingram, Library Direct, Walmart.com (perhaps Target.com too), and PremioBooks.com.

You can preview and comment on this book now (free) at https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/167766. See the book trailer video here. Your stars or comments in online venues really do make a difference in our sales. It’s also on Kindle Unlimited starting June 20. Most of my books are free this July on Smashwords.com. Sharing is encouraged!