What I Did with My (Last Week of ) Summer
The idea of writing a children’s book about a teddy bear grew out of a small disaster in my own family. When I first started thinking about becoming a writer after retirement, this was the story that came to mind. i did my homework. i learned about page sizes and font sizes and the seemingly unbreakable rule that a picture book must have exactly 32 pages. I found that almost all children’s publishers worked with agents, not authors, and that agents who handled children’s books were hard to find. I discovered that most picture books were illustrated by professional artists hired by the publisher, not the author.
All of this sounded like a lot of work for a 32-page book, but i gamely set out to give it a try. I plotted my 32 pages and squeezed the story into a 1000-word bundle. I sweet-talked my husband into invading a local motel with me so that we could take pictures that I could show to an illustrator . And I started the long, thankless task of writing query letters to agents and publishers. Only a few even bothered to respond, and every one of them turned me down because I had never written a children’s book before. Sigh!
So I wrote grown-up novels instead -- six of them -- and published them. Meanwhile, the little story languished — paper copies in a desk drawer, and the powerpoint files I had used to design my pages lost among the files of an old laptop. . . . Until! . . . Until last week, when Amazon sent out a short announcement that they were making available a free Kindle-based program that could take a powerpoint file and format it for a new section of Amazon called Kindle Kids. It was the solution to my every problem.
I ordered the free download, dug out the old laptop, and found the teddy bear story. It was an amazingly simple process: open the powerpoint and make any needed changes — save it as a .pdf file — open it with Kindle Kids Book Creator — make any other changes — save it as a .mobi file (which it does automatically) — and upload ti to Kindle. Unless you decide to do a complete re-write, the whole thing can be done in about two hours. Then the KKBK guides you through setting the price and the reading levels. I found only one glitch: right now the page-counter doesn’t work, so it labels all books as being one page long. You’ll have to take my word for it that this is a regulation 32-page picture book.
And here it is— “Teddy Takes a Road Trip” — available only on Kindle or other electronic devices with a Kindle reader. It is listed as being for children from 3 to 6 years old or for pre-kindergarten through first grade. (I would add that it is also for any parent who remembers a beloved teddy bear!) The list price is $3.99, but you can get it with free shipping through Amazon Prime, if you are a member, or read it for free if you belong to “kindle unlimited.”