Amazing Books for Children of All Ages

Sunbelievable Children's Book about Sun

Sunbelievable Pre-Book Launch News

Sunbelievable Pre-Book Launch News

Several cartons of books arrived early this week. After almost 3 years in the making, they’re REAL!  Seeing them on my computer screen thousands of times doesn’t come close to holding the finished book in hand, inspecting every detail. Or best of all, sharing them with friends and family. Here’s Frank, my co-illustrator showing it off. We’re all proud, excited, ready for the next phase of bringing the book to life.

So, what are the next steps? While packing up books for awards and reviews, I grabbed every second I could to listen to the “Third Annual Book Marketing Conference Online” presented by D’Vorah Lansky: How timely! Great information about online marketing, Amazon sales, distribution and so much more.  You can pick up some tips from the conference on Facebook:!/BookMarketingMadeEasy?sk=wall

Now, I’m trying to prepare a book launch, incorporating many of the great ideas from the conference. If only I didn’t need any sleep!

Just so happy we’re moving forward on the next leg of the journey. Thanks to Frank and all who made it possible! Oh, and you can find it now on Amazon: Try “search inside the book.” It always works on the MAC, but not always on the PC. One more thing to check out!


Getting Ready for Book Launch: 3 Do-it-Now Self-Publishing Tasks

3 Do-it-Now Self-Publishing Tasks

My book, Sunbelievable should be ready to ship from the printer today. Cheers!! But self-publishers beware… there’s no hiatus while waiting. The Capricorn goat in me plodded through the book creation process for well over 2 years.

While working on the book, I wasn’t thinking about anything else except story and design work. Once the book was ready to print, I realized how far behind I was with just about everything else. So I thought I’d share my 3 top priorities and tasks (like a good Capricorn)–the ones I wish I’d started months prior to print-ready.  Here’s a bit of advice, from one who’s (still) learning:

1. Start a list of book reviewers in your genre. “A good review placed in the hands of the reading public by a competent reviewer is the most effective and least expensive publicity/promotion instrument available to the independent publisher,” according to Midwest Book Review’s Editor-in-Chief at  As early as you can, start gathering all possible sources of information about reviewers, entry forms and guidelines, qualifications, cost per category and entry. The major book reviewers for self-published books are easy to find using a simple Internet search. Don’t forget well respected book bloggers! Of course, follow all submission guidelines to the letter. Of the 1500+ titles a month received by Midwest Book Review ” . . . about half (750) get assigned, and only around 450+ get reviewed. That’s about 1/3 of the total submitted.”  Faulty entries are one of the biggest reasons books get sent to the trash pile. I’ll do my best!

2. Research book awards in your genre. Similar to book reviews, awards demonstrate your accomplishment to the public.  Are award programs worth the money and effort? According to the Independent Publisher Book Award at, “Entering your titles in awards programs does take time, money, and effort, but the possible pay-offs include financial reward, personal satisfaction, and prestige. Awards are a great morale boost for all those involved, and they influence reviewers and buyers.” Again, start early. The list of awards isn’t available in one place, so searching and good detective skills–and time–really matter! I’m submitting to quite a number of book awards. Stay tuned!

3. Organize marketing/PR strategy. I surfed the net, read lots of books about marketing, invested in one-on-one telephone coaching sessions. All have been great sources of how-tos for me, and helped sort through the maze of opportunities. I dove into social marketing and networking. As much as these can be a time drain, it seems we can’t live, or work as publishers, without them. On my iGoogle home page, I subscribe through RSS feeds to at least a dozen web sites that offer tremendously useful marketing ideas. Whenever I’m on that page, I can readily see what’s new and how I might use that information for my marketing campaign.

Sound easy? Maybe I should have been a Taurus!

What would you add as #4 to the list above? We can all learn from each other…

Sunbelievable available on Amazon

YAY! Sunbelievable is on Amazon.

Sunbelievable cover page

Maybe the Sun will ride a roller coaster tonight! Is it sunny enough for a bubble bath on the sun porch? Will fireflies be sure not to miss Professor Sun’s shining star class? Need some sunshine magic? Check it out on Fresh off the press today!

My new website

My new website is at

Jo Ann Kairys, Children's books writer

Countdown – 2 days


YAY!  More and more exciting things happening with Sunbelievable!

Books ship September 20th!

Sunbelievable Book Trailer

I’ve completed my book trailer, but will probably revise it several times. As I’ve composed this post, I’ve already learned a lot about how to improve it! Here’s the current version:

Sunbelievable Sample Pages

The book is in the print, and I should have books in hand within 2 weeks!


I invite you to preview the book sample pages at

The first 100 hardcover books ordered will be signed by the author and include free shipping!

At you can place your Pre-order. Please used the coupon code YAYALEEN to get the book signed and free shipping.

Sunbelievable is at the printer!

My first post in this blog was Sunbelievable–a Children’s Book about the Sun

On the earlier post, the cover is quite different. This is the new cover, professionally designed. The book is at the printer (YAY!), and I should have books in hand by mid-September!



The book Title

The title came into my head while stopped at a red light near my home.

The late afternoon light was remarkable and I couldn’t help thinking it was truly unbelievable—Sunbelievable!

The Final Touch, Part 3


The Final Touch, Part 3

I left the IBPA conference with renewed determination. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and want to scrap the whole project, but I’d gone too far to abandon it. I tried making some of the experts’ suggestions myself, but finally recognized I was spinning my wheels. By the end of May 2011, a full year and a half after starting the book, I started again.

But not from scratch. After all, I had accomplished a great deal, learned much about the technical aspects of independent publishing, and started my own small press—Story Quest Books, LLC: I had the book converted to the iBook format and placed it for sale on iTunes at the end of May.

I took an online course about writing children’s books—Write4Kids:—revised the story yet again (draft #20), solicited lots of feedback from parents who read the story to their young children, and revised, revised, revised.

At that point, I turned the project over to TLC Graphics They started working on the new design and layout in June, keeping the illustration style pretty much intact. They used background texture and color to help make the story text stand on its own and easy to read on each page. Also, we enlarged the book to 10×10 inches vs. the original 9×9.

One of the most important changes made was creating my author platform—Connecting Children with Science and Nature. This will be the theme for each next book! More emphasis was placed on the educational piece contributed by NASA’s Chief Technologist about the real Sun. This opens many opportunities for classroom teaching and library interest.

So now Sunbelievable is at the printer! The title came into my head while stopped at a red light near my home. The late afternoon light was remarkable and I couldn’t help thinking it was truly unbelievable—the genesis of Sunbelievable!

I should have books in hand in a week or two. That will be the final touch!!

More than a final touch, The Final Touch, Part 2


The Final Touch, Part 2

Publishing University offered many opportunities to interact with publishing industry experts. I set up 15-minute appointments with book marketers to get feedback on my digital copies and learn what next steps to take. I was in for a big surprise.

While much of the feedback was positive regarding the illustration approach, I also received a lot of constructive criticism. Here are some highlights:

  • Placing real children in digital backgrounds isn’t “standard”—use a cartoon effect instead.
  • The book is too small at 9×9 inches—better to make it larger to stand out.
  • “Branding” was missing—what was my author platform to distinguish the book in the marketplace?
  • The story text was “lost” in the vivid illustrations—redo the layout to make the text easier to read.
  • The characters didn’t have a problem to solve, some adversity to overcome—revise the story plot and make its message clear.

Feeling much deflated by the end of the second day, I attended a presentation by a professional book design company, TLC Graphics They featured many “before” and “after” book designs, and that’s when I had my “aha” moment. After the presentation, I spoke with Tom Dever, owner of the company, showed him my book and described the experts’ feedback.

I realized that I needed professional help to improve the book. I couldn’t do it myself, and TLC Graphics seemed a great fit to take my book to another level if I wanted to compete in the crowded children’s book marketplace. Although I’d been working on the book for over a year, and was impatient to finish and move on to the next book, I was yet to begin the final touch!

The Final Touch, Part 1


The Final Touch, Part 1

I began creating a children’s picture book during the winter of 2010. My son Daniel, father of daughters ages 3 and 5, wrote a story draft about how the girls interact with their wonderfully playful spirits and imagination. They made up a fantasy about the Sun—how it rides roller coasters, takes bubble baths and teaches fireflies to shine. We read it to the girls who laughed at all the funny ideas and enjoyed their own storytelling.

Back then, I was learning Photoshop CS3 and taking lots of pictures of the girls for photo books they could read and enjoy. As I grew proficient with the software, I became more and more inventive. I have no formal training as an artist, but Photoshop and digital scrapbooking allowed me to create what seemed like art. I was amazed by the infinite possibilities and results.

After Daniel wrote the story, I started illustrating it with Photoshop’s digital collage techniques at my fingertips. I created magical landscapes but kept the girls “real” in each image. I thought this was important for 2 reasons. First, they are multicultural children, and I didn’t find many books in the major retail stores with a focus on multiethnic or cultural diversity. Second, the illustrations were unique as style found in children’s books.

I continued to create the images to match the story. But the story changed as we revised and expanded it. I have over 20 years experience as a medical/science writer and thought, mistakenly, that crafting a children’s story couldn’t be as difficult. Wrong!

After many months of working with a Photoshop instructor and graphic designer to help make the illustrations and layout complement each other, look professional and appealing, I had a few digital copies printed by a quality printer and was happy with the outcome. I thought we were done. Wrong!

At this point, I decided to attend the Publishing University sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) in May 2011 in NYC. I thought it would be the best place to meet others relevant to the industry of writing, illustrating, publishing. Most of all, I needed to learn how to market my books as a writer and self-publisher.

I had no idea what that experience would bring. Let me share some insights and lessons learned—more than I bargained for or was ready to accept. Basically, it was back to the digital drawing board!

What they said about Sunbelievable iBook

sun on the roller coaster

Customer Reviews at iTunes iBookstore

Incredible book, by Karl Rossman

Sunbelievable has it all: beautiful and original illustrations, a funny and charming story, great characters, and an appeal to all audiences, but especially to children.

I’ve read many children’s stories, and this one is definitely one of my favorites ever. It is truly a unique and innovative children’s story. I highly recommend it to all parents and children.

Sunbelievable, by Saulnique

Beautifully written and illustrated. A must have for every child’s library.

Robert D. Braun, Ph.D., NASA Chief Technologist

sun on the roller coaster

What they said about Sunbelievable book

by Robert D. Braun, Ph.D., NASA Chief Technologist

“The Sun in the book Sunbelievable is a magical sun in a fictional story. Our Sun is actually a star, a yellow dwarf star. It is over four and a half billion years old. Our Sun looks small because it is 93 million miles away from Earth.

The Sun gives light and heat to Earth. The temperature of the Sun is nearly ten thousand degrees Fahrenheit. Think about how hot it feels in the summertime when the temperature outside is 80 degrees Fahrenheit! All life on Earth needs the Sun to live and grow, and we need just the right amount.

Each day the Earth rotates once on its axis. Just like a spinning top, the Earth spins around to face the Sun every day. This makes the Sun appear to rise up above the eastern sky in the morning and sink below the western horizon at the end of the day.

The Earth revolves around the Sun once a year in its orbit. As it circles the Sun, it tilts toward and away from the Sun’s rays. This is how we experience our changing seasons. It tilts away from the Sun to give us fall and winter, and tilts toward the Sun to warm us in spring and summer.

Because of the Sun’s importance to life on Earth, scientists have tried to better understand it through space travel. NASA is planning a daring mission named Solar Probe Plus that will get closer to the Sun than any previous mission. You can learn more about science missions like this and about our solar system by visiting the Web site”

Robert D. Braun, Ph.D., NASA Chief Technologist. (To read more about Robert click here)

What they said about Sunbelievable book

sun on the roller coaster

Why Sunbelievable Delights Children of all Ages

by David Broughton, Contributor to the Stories for Children Book Review, Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review, and American Chronicle Book Reviews.

The illustrations in Sunbelievable use digital photo collage to create a world full of vibrant color, bridging real-life images with an imaginative landscape full of wonder. Children love exploring the images for unexpected details that make the story alive.

The artwork is truly exceptional, a brilliant melding of art and photography. Each illustration projects an almost three-dimensional quality. The writing tells the story boldly through the imagination of two curious children, while the real message of the book—recognizing diversity in the world around us – is quite subtle. Printing is done in the USA by a company that makes sure it’s child safe and lead free. As a professional book reviewer, I see hundreds of children’s books a month; most I cannot in good conscience recommend on any level, but Sunbelievable surpasses all my benchmarks of a great children’s book.

A gift from Jo Ann

The musical accompaniment to the Firefly Lullaby poem heard was composed and performed by Jeffrey DiLucca with vocals by Shayoni Nag.

Firefly Lullaby

Firefly Lullaby poem by Jo Ann Kairys

firefly lullaby


Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight golden sun

Will you come back in the morning?

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight golden sun

Will you come back in the morning?

Don’t fall off the coaster tracks

So you can help all of the fireflies flash.

Linger long in your bubbly bath

And scrub your rays all gleaming.

We need sunbeams to warm up the sky

And help all of the sunflowers grow tall and high.

We need your light so strong and so bright

To help the sleeping birds take flight.

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight golden sun

I’ll see you in the morning!

Sunbelievable iBook

Sunbelievable iBook available on the iBookstore

Sunbelievable  iBook epub format iPad Jo Ann Kairys

From Jo Ann’s blog:

“We couldn’t ignore the e-book revolution. I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, but quickly realized the limitations for an image-saturated book on an e-reader. In the fall of 2010, only iBooks for Apple’s iPad offered color illustration capability. Fortunately, expertise to employ the required epub format was close at hand. Drazan Lapic, our webmaster and SEO professional for and, stepped into the fray.

It took about 2 months to create and produce Sunbelievable as an iBook. After experimenting with the epub format, we created a digitally signed version that lays out perfectly on the iPad.

We submitted Sunbelievable to Apple’s iTunes Connect program, and passed Apple’s internal quality inspection procedures in about 2 weeks. It’s quite an accomplishment, considering the 2-year plus process involved in (almost) completing the print version.”

To read her entire article please click here. For more details about the book, sample pages and how to order please visit the book page at The book is available on 6 international iBookstores: AU, CA, FR, DE, UK and USA.

Sunbelievable, children’s book about Sun

Sunbelievable cover page

Sunbelievable is a humorous and educational children’s picture book about the Sun.

Sunbelievable is a humorous, educational/science children’s picture book about the Sun for ages 4-8. Does the Sun ride roller coasters? Teach fireflies to shine? Take bubble baths when eating pizza? To help her younger sister Leen fall asleep at bedtime, YaYa tells her about the Sun’s amazing exploits. Skeptical Leen challenges YaYa’s tales and invents her own hilarious twists and surprises. Together, they create not only a wildly funny story, but also discover the power of shared imagination. The illustration style, using digital photo collage, features real children whose dialogue unfolds in brilliant, magical landscapes.

An educational piece with facts about the real Sun is contributed by NASA’s Chief Technologist. Sunbelievable is uniquely geared toward young readers, helping them connect storytelling with science and nature. If the Sun can ride roller coasters, anything is possible!

Please sign up and follow our blog. The blog is dedicated to the book promotion. More details about the book and how to order can be found at or at the publisher website

Thank you for visiting!

Jo Ann

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