If you have ever read articles on “how to write for children”, many will tell you to steer away from writing obvious lessons. The advice has merit and is true for most of us… but what do you do if you have a completely different perspective and approach of the “how” to of dealing with common behavior issues in children? What do you do if you have a background in Psychology, a know-how in conflict resolution and an interest in helping children? You take on a direct approach.
This is true of this week’s featured Indie Author, Shimrit Nothman, who has taken a straighforward approach with her children’s books: Give it Back! , No it’s Mine!, and Justine, We’re Late!
The books aimed at children age 3-8, follow Justine and her brother Benjy, as they learn to deal with common childhood troubles. Problems such as: sharing, taking without asking, sibling rivalry and common arguments. The children’s toys will offer different approaches to dealing with a conflict, and the children are left to decide what advice to follow. The books have a clever twist, Give it Back! is written from Justine’s perspective, while No It’s Mine! from brother Benjy’s.
I can imagine the nitpicking that would be done to this book by traditional publishers, but the reality is, as parents we appreciate a little help. At the end of each book is a “Parents Guide”, and “Tips for Resolving Problems with the Little Ones.” You get two books in one, and it might just be one of the best well-spent .99cents.
We sat Author Shimrit Notham to answer a few questions as well as give us a little advice…
Tell us a bit about your academic background?
I received my BA in Psychology and Communication at Haifa University, where I was also elected as the president of my university’s Debating club.
After working for a few years in the ‘Debate Ltd’ company, I attended Tel Aviv University, where I received my Masters in Conflict Resolution.
What/who inspires you to write for children?
One of my most cherished childhood memories is my mother telling us bedtime stories. Some were stories read from a children’s book and some were stories she made up on the spot. My love for stories never ceased, and when I found myself at the age of 30 writing children stories of my own, it felt just right.
Why write books that aim at teaching children conflict resolution?
‘Conflict Resolution’ may seem like a very heavy concept that only applies to grown-ups, but really it is a general name to any fight, argument or disagreement that we experience in our life. Children are no different to adults in that regard. They deal with several different conflicts at school or kindergarten, and at home everyday.
On top of that, studies found that adults tend to carry on using the same conflict resolution skills they’ve developed at childhood.
For both these reasons, I’ve written children’s books, on the basis that the effective conflict resolution skills they learn today will help them tomorrow and for many years to come.
What have been your biggest challenges in self-publishing?
The first big challenge that I had was figuring out the basics: Where do I find a good illustrator? How do I upload my book on Amazon? and How do I use the KDP free promotion days effectively?
The second biggest challenge that I’m facing is motivating myself. When it’s only you behind the wheel, you must wear many hats: you’re the writer, you’re the publisher, you’re the strategist and the promoter. You need to decide what portion of your time goes to what task, and there is no one pushing you forward and encouraging you to ‘keep up the good work’.
This is the reason why I’ve joined a few different support groups for authors, aimed at helping self-published authors tackle some basic self-publishing issues, and also offering mutual emotional support to all the group members.
What advice would you give someone looking into self-publishing a children’s book?
Find a good illustrator! I guess it goes without saying that nicely illustrated books sell better than poorly illustrated ones. The problem is that generally good illustrators charge more for their work. Self-publishing authors have less funds available than big publishing companies, and so new authors normally look for every option to cut costs, illustrations included. However good your book is, the book’s cover is the first thing that catches the eye of your potential readers. Many times it’s the deciding factor for them whether to purchase your book and read it or look for something else.
Therefore, my advice is- find a good illustrator! It will pay itself back in due time.
where can we find your book?
You can find my books on Amazon
Are there plans for a new book?
I’m currently in the midst of writing a conflict-resolution themed book aimed at adults. I’m also considering adding another book to my children’s book series about little Justine who faces conflicts wherever she goes.
What is your advice for parents who deal with young children and sibling rivalry?
The short answer is – try keeping out of it! It may be the hardest thing for a parent to do, but has potential to yield the best results in the long run.
Here is an article I wrote for The Jerusalem Post about this exact problem just a few weeks ago:
Also, each of my books available on Amazon contains a Parents’ Guide, with suggested methods of helping their children learn to deal with conflicts, through use of the books and in daily life.
Thank you Shimrit, Indie Author of the week for her theme choice, direct approach and great book reviews.