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.

Award winning author Karl Beckstrand speaks on publishing

Arrival?

I’m privileged to be among several multicultural book authors and bloggers. I’ve also been blessed to work with illustrators from around the world, from Israel to Spain to the USA (and co-author a book with a Canadian author). We are changing the world. I plan to post links to multicultural blogs and sites as we approach Multicultural Children’s Book Day in January 2018—send me your links!

Last year I was honored with the International Book Award for a diverse Western novel (clean thriller). This year, the recognition has been wonderful, disturbing, and humbling.

Along with presenting on writing and publishing and participating in library author panels from American Fork to Brigham City, I’ve been the subject of several interviews and blog posts. Three of my Spanish/bilingual titles have been chosen as “permanent selections” in Amazon’s “MesIndie.”

My original Asian fable, The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living was selected by the State of Vermont for primary financial literacy curriculum (downloaded by educators in multiple states and listed on JumpStart.org). ). If you’d like the curricula—free—go to ChildrenEarn.com. Since the book’s release, it:

  • Has had more than 20,000 downloads
  • Has been #1 in more than 5 Amazon lists
  • Is in FIVE top 10 lists and several more top 100 lists
  • Has received 5 Stars by Readers’ Favorite and more than 100 reviews
  • Has been covered in the Chicago News Journal
  • Has national distribution including Ingram, WalMart.com and Target.com

The true account of my dog (and a friend), Muffy & Valor, has garnered five star reviews from nearly everyone who has read it—FREE on Kindle Oct. 17 – 26 (tear-jerker, but happy; you’ll want to comment:).

I’ve also had the dubious distinction of having my work pirated—possibly more times and in more places than ever before.

DOES THIS MEAN I’VE ARRIVED? Not on your life!

What do I need?

REVIEWS – Some people think there’s an expiration date on a review request. To be very clear: a review is welcome ANY TIME!! Reviews increase sales. I’ll give you the ebook of your choice if you commit to a sincere comment online (YES, this IS Kosher with Amazon, as long as you’re not my mom/brother or paid).

SALES (Sales increase my sales!) – Don’t buy my books out of pity or friendship—buy them because they’re fun, diverse stories that entertain (and teach) all ages. They’re written for grown up fun. Buy them because you have a kid you want to grasp STEM concepts or another language. Buy them for friends or family with kids (and any kid would benefit from new thoughts, ideas, and perspectives). Send them an ebook. I often have a free ebook on Kindle plus a couple 99 cent ones.

RECOMMENDATIONS – Tell people about these nationally lauded (Kirkus, School Library Journal, Horn Book blog, ForeWord Reviews) books. Tell your neighbors and coworkers about my Mini-mysteries for Minors series. Tell your book club about To Swallow the Earth. Tell your media pal about my bilingual, wordless, or money books—that they’re on Walmart.com and Target.com. Tell your librarian friend, kid’s teacher, blogger friend about my non-fiction/biographies for kids … that they’re distributed by Baker & Taylor, Follett, and Ingram.

POST, share, tweet, and pin my books (I’d be thrilled to share any cover with you). If you don’t consider me too geeky–follow me. I’d also be more than happy to PRESENT to your club, school group, library, or organization.

Remember to send me links to multicultural kid’s book sites/blogs for January: Karl@ PremioBooks [dot] com.

Conviction & Accolades

After being named a finalist—but not winning—the Laramie (western novel) Award, and after getting Literary Classics’ seal of approval (but no novel award), I was beginning to doubt there would be any real recognition of my hard work. Yesterday I learned that my novel, To Swallow the Earth, had indeed won in the 2016 International Book Awards. If you know you have a quality product, never give up hope!