Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.

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Creating the perfect cover for your book

Formatting your book primarily the front cover can be a scary first experience, but it is the glue that binds it all together. It is the first thing that customers see as they roam the aisles in the bookstore. A unique, colorful, and intriguing cover might prompt the customer to pick it up and buy it, which for the author, equates to dollar signs. And an amateur or dim cover will most likely get overlooked.

New authors seem to rush intricate parts of the book due to time restraints or limited budget allotments, but every nuance of your book deserves the appropriate time to flush out any kinks it might have.

I roam down the book aisle at least twice a week. I’m always curious to see which books catch my eye. It’s something about the font, cover design, or even the positioning of the author’s name that captures my attention. This is the reaction you want your customers to experience when they see your book!

Keep in mind, every book cover must have the following 3 items!

1. Your title
2. An illustration
3. The author or illustrator credits

Some authors include the publisher’s name or series title, but for the most part, these three items are the only things that you must include. If you are unsure of your cover, then hire a book layout developer or graphic designer. Or visit a local bookstore and just place your book on the shelves and ask customers for their opinion. If they like it, then it might be a winner, if not, then go back to the drawing board and try again!

RELATED ARTICLE:
Book Format: Front Cover

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Are book awards worth it?

You’ve published your book and now it’s time to enter into a writing contest.

But wait!

Before making a definite decision, you should weigh the pros and cons and determine whether winning a book award has any bearing on your writing career.

I’ve entered into tons of contests and actually have won a few, so therefore I have firsthand knowledge on how tedious, but yet rewarding some of them can be. Each contest is different and comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Some contests tailor to children’s books and others are designed for self-publishers. Some contests have affordable entry fees whereas some others are extremely expensive.

Take your time and research which contest will offer you the most for your money!

PROS OF WRITING CONTESTS
1. Prestige – Your name is now attached to this well-known literary prize so therefore you can begin to market yourself as an Award-Winning Author.

2. Award Ceremony – You and a guest will be invited to an award ceremony which is usually held in conjunction with some sort of book event or festival. At the event, you will be able to network with other authors, publishers, and librarians.

3. Publication – Many contests are connected with magazines and online newsletters and therefore will publish your award-winning status in their upcoming edition.

4. Prizes – You have the ability to win a medal, certificate, trophy, and sometimes a cash prize.

CONS OF WRITING CONTESTS
1. Entry Fee – Most writing contests charge between $69 to $89 per category per book. If you want to submit your book for two categories (since it appeals to multiple age groups or genres) then you would need to send in two entry fees. Unfortunately, if you do not win, the money is not returned to you.

2. Minimal Prizes – Although a few contests offer medals or trophies, and sometimes even a cash prize – many just send you a certificate plus offer to charge you an additional fee for book seals.

3. Lack of Prestige – Some of the smaller contests don’t offer any publicity for your book. It’s great that you’ve won the award, but it doesn’t always open up the doors to the big retailers.

4. Competitive – There are tons of people in desperate need of validation for their book and therefore apply for these sort of contests every year. Unless your book is unique and well written, it’s a small chance that your book will get the recognition that you’re looking for.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS
1. Research the upcoming contests and look for those with affordable entry fees.
2. Go with a larger contest that offers some sort of publication or acknowledgment in their newsletter or website.
3. Pick the contest that offers a tangible prize – cash, medal, trophy, or at the least, a certificate.
4. Sign up for the early bird special – you normally save about $30 if you register way in advance.

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Building Voices at OC Book Festival 2015

Each year the Orange County Children’s Book Festival features popular authors, illustrators, storytellers, entertainers, and exhibitors that support reading and education along with fun activities for families. This years event, held on October 4th at Orange Coast College, showcased tons of authors and exhibitors.

Building Voices ™ was one of the few publishers that attended this years event. They are an independent publishing company that specializes in Children’s Fiction and Non-Fiction resources for home and school. They publish coloring books, chapter books, interactive journals, and more. Check out their award-winning Broccoli Chronicles, now available on Amazon.com and BN.com.

If you missed this years event, be sure to attend next year for tons of fun and books!

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Reading-out-loud-for-15-minutes-per-day-with-daughter-pic-1-300x168

Reading Builds Character is a reading program and nationwide initiative which encourages kids to read at least 15 minutes per day. Building Voices is working with Read Aloud, TCD Kids Foundation, and local parks in order to promote reading and provide free books to kids. They also participated in the 2015 Read for the Globe and Read for the Record campaigns.

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva reads to kids to support Reading Across the Globe

On November 19, 2015, Building Voices is searching for educators and parents to read to various children across the world. With your help, Reading Builds Character will inspire children to embed reading into their daily routine. You can get involved by hosting your own reading event or partnering with another organization. Contact Building Voices for details.

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Aspiring writers need to build their audience

Many writers make the mistake of building their author platform at the last-minute instead of starting the process prior to the books publication date. In order for this to work, your timing and understanding of “platform” must be in tack.

Platform has less to do with self-promotion and more to do with building your audience, authority, exposure, and consistency. Many authors are concerned with recognition and popularity, but forget to focus on building long-lasting relationships with their readers and becoming an expert in their field through research and experience.

Take a look at the following questions. They should serve as a guide for you in building your own platform in the future.

1. What communities, writing groups or memberships are you apart of?
THIS SHOWS YOUR COMMITMENT TO YOUR CRAFT.

2. How many Facebook or Twitter followers do you have?
THIS SHOWS THE SUPPORT FROM YOUR COMMUNITY AND READERS.

3. Do you blog or guest blog? How many subscribers do you have?
THIS SHOWS YOUR ABILITY TO CREATE NEW CONTENT.

4. Where has your work been published or seen?
THIS SHOWS YOUR WRITING AND PUBLISHING ABILITIES.

5. What are your credentials and qualifications?
THIS SHOWS YOUR CREDIBILITY AND EXPERTISE.

6. Have you been invited to speak at a conference or convention?
THIS SHOWS YOUR AUTHORITY ON THE SUBJECT.

7. How much website traffic do you get?
THIS SHOWS YOUR ABILITY TO REACH AND KEEP NEW READERS.

Suggestions on how to build your author platform
1. Speak at conferences
2. Network with publishers
3. Join writing groups
4. Obtain a MFA in writing
5. Create a blog
6. Publish articles in magazines
7. Attend ALA and other book conferences
8. Gain blog and email newsletter subscribers
9. Take courses through UCLA Extension

Tips to remember
1. Blog weekly and tweet daily.
2. Remember that people buy books so try to connect with your readers.
3. Don’t chase money, chase the vision. The money will come.

RELATED ARTICLES:
Advice for Writers: Find a Quiet Room to Write
Advice for Writers: Find the Right Editor

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Too many hats

Some say that there’s a downside to wearing multiple hats. Their argument is supported by the figure of speech Jack of all trades, master of none which indicates that some people are knowledgeable in many areas, but never master any of them.

They also argue that wearing multiple hats is a deterrent for customers because it confuses them. They feel that customers should understand the product and the brand messaging right away. And if there’s confusion on who’s the author or publisher, then this can deter them from purchasing your product.

But if you’re the illustrator as well as the author, and your product and brand messaging are clear then multi-tasking or wearing multiple hats shouldn’t be an issue for your customers.

Wearing many hats has become the basis for some startup companies and new indie publishers. At the inception, business owners crave those that can wear multiple hats (check emails, answer phones, attend events, handle the bookkeeping, etc) because they usually don’t have the funds to pay people individually. In the indie publishing world, the author and publisher or the editor and marketing specialist are often the same people. This creative technique saves time and money, which are valuable to small companies.

So…is multi-tasking characterized as ADD-like behavior? Can it cause more stress and less productivity or is it the sole basis of a new company? Please share your thoughts!

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Parrot in the Oven - Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva's book review

Title: Parrot in the Oven
Author: Victor Martinez
ISBN: 978-0064471862
Publication Date: 2004
Publisher: Rayo; Reprint edition
Paperback: 224 pages
List Price: $8.99
Book Description: Dad believed people were like money. You could be a thousand-dollar person or a hundred-dollar person — even a ten-, five-, or one-dollar person. Below that, everybody was just nickels and dimes. To my dad, we were pennies.

Fourteen-year-old Manny Hernandez wants to be more than just a penny. He wants to be a vato firme, the kind of guy people respect. But that′s not easy when your father is abusive, your brother can′t hold a job, and your mother scrubs the house as if she can wash her troubles away.

In Manny′s neighborhood, the way to get respect is to be in a gang. But Manny′s not sure that joining a gang is the solution. Because, after all, it′s his life — and he wants to be the one to decide what happens to it.

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva writes book review for Parrot in the Oven

Book Review: Parrot in the Oven follows teenage Manny and his complicated, yet somewhat troubled life. The father has lost his job which has prompted him to drink more and become more abusive – all of which drive Manny into the wrong direction.

Manny believes that they only way to find respect in his neighborhood is by joining a gang. Despite the good people in his life – his younger sister Pedi and his old history teacher, Mr. Hart – Manny still tests his courage by joining the gang later in chapter ten. Fortunately, at the end of the book, Manny discovers that his home and his life is where he should be.

This book covers some controversial topics such as: gun control, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, gang initiation, immigration, and domestic violence – all of which add to the diversity of the story. I really enjoyed the symbolism and metaphoric phrases used to describe the father’s drinking problem and the brother’s inability to keep a job. The vocabulary in this book is appropriate for students at the high school level.

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About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Self-publish with Lightning Source

There are many reasons why publishers should use Lightning Source as their preferred fulfillment service and/or POD (print on demand) provider. The need for these services is increasing everyday and LSI’s free online tools put them at the forefront of publishing. Their free cover generator, publisher compensation calculator, and complete fulfillment services, distinguish them from the competition. Since they are owned by Ingram, one of the world’s largest distributor, every book will be available to bookstores around the world.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Lightning Source or IngramSpark?

Lightning Source is not a self-publishing company geared towards helping authors – their primary focus is to assist publishers with their printing needs. Lightning Source prefers working with publishers instead of authors because it minimizes the need for customer support. It is assumed that publishers are more experienced in this field and therefore need less assistance.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Ways to Publish Your Book: Self-Publishing, Traditional Publishing, and Independent Publishing

Enjoy Free Standard Shipping on book orders over $35! Shop The Scholastic Store Online!

HERE ARE THE TOP REASONS TO PICK LIGHTNING SOURCE
1. Distribution channels
2. Comparable prices
3. Trained customer service reps
4. High quality printing
5. Quick shipping and fulfillment services
6. Free book cover generator
7. Publisher compensation calculator
8. Spine-width calculator
9. Detailed compensation reports
10. Well-known reputation
11. Flexibility with wholesale discount
12. Ability to return books
13. Ability to choose 3 BISAC codes
14. Quality compensation tracking systems
15. Nonexclusive relationship

REASONS TO EITHER HIRE A BOOK DESIGNER OR NOT CHOOSE LIGHTNING SOURCE AT ALL
1. If you are foreign to technology and don’t understand directions very well
2. If you are a self-publishing author and not a publisher
3. If you do not have the budget for setup fees, proofs, and revision uploads
4. If you don’t have access to Adobe Indesign
5. If you are not familiar with standard publishing guidelines

Lightning Source is obviously the preferred route for many publishers, but it isn’t for everyone. Do your research and remember to weigh the pros and cons.

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Build voices through reading

This year’s National Book Festival highlights the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and the Library of Congress. Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “I Cannot Live Without Books” sold his personal collection to the Library of Congress two hundred years ago.

The National Book Festival is free to the public and takes place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Sep 5, 2015 from 10am until 10pm. It features over 170 authors, poets, illustrators, and presenters. All book lovers in that area should attend this event!

For a list of presenters, please click here!

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


book format - book binding - spine

The spine is a large component of the book’s format. It is the outer material that binds and holds the pages together.

Bookbinding has been around for centuries. Whether you use a perfect bound or saddle stitch binding, having a professional spine will distinguish you from the amateurs.

RELATED ARTICLE:
The Front Cover

Here are six things that are needed on a spine:
1. The title
2. The series title and volume number (if applicable)
3. The author’s name
4. The illustrator’s name (if applicable)
5. The publisher
6. Your logo

The spine is part of the book's format

In addition to your spine including certain information, it should be visually appealing, clean, crisp, and readable. Here are three things to avoid!

RELATED ARTICLE:
The Back Cover

1. Do not use fancy fonts that are too hard to read. It is very important that your customers are able to quickly locate and read the title of your book.

2. Do not use a background color that drowns out your title. Customers are often antsy and prefer to locate things immediately. A hidden title can hinder your chances of closing a sale.

3. Do not put too many items on your spine. Your title, authors name, publisher, logo, etc are pretty much all you need. Too many words or items can cause your spine to look busy and a busy spine can be unappealing to customers.

RELATED ARTICLE:
The Copyright Page

macys.com

Four tips to remember!
1. Make sure that your spine is full of color.

2. Make sure that your spine is appealing – be careful of using too many different fonts and fonts that are hard to read!

3. Make sure that your spine is cohesive – be sure to hire someone with experience in Adobe Indesign.

4. Make sure that your spine is professional – be sure to hire a company that specializes in binding.

RELATED ARTICLE:
The Blurb

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.