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Brooke Gansemer Of BiblioKid Empowers Children’s Book Authors: Creating Better Books Podcast With Howard Lovy

Brooke Gansemer of BiblioKid Empowers Children’s Book Authors: Creating Better Books Podcast with Howard Lovy

In the latest episode of the Creating Better Books podcast, ALLi News and Podcast Producer Howard Lovy interviews Brooke Gansemer, CEO and Publisher of BiblioKid Publishing. The discussion offers a look into the world of children's book publishing, providing practical advice for authors and illustrators. Gansemer's insights into the current state of children's literature and the importance of balancing quality and engagement in storytelling make this a valuable listen for those involved in children's book creation.

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Listen to the Podcast: Brooke Gansemer of BiblioKid

On the Creating Better Books podcast, @howard_lovy interviews Brooke Gansemer, CEO and Publisher of BiblioKid, offering a look into the world of children's book publishing. Share on X

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About the Host

Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and now amplifies the voices of independent author-publishers and works with authors as a developmental editor. Find Howard at howardlovy.comLinkedIn, and X.

Read the Transcripts: Brooke Gansemer of BiblioKid

Howard Lovy: My guest is Brooke Gansemer, CEO and publisher of BiblioKid Publishing, an American hybrid-publishing house founded in 2020 that specializes in children's books.

Hi, Brooke, and thank you for joining me.

Brooke Gansemer: Hey, Howard. Thanks so much for having me.

Howard Lovy: Before we go into what BiblioKid does, tell me more about your background and where you grew up, and then why was your company formed?

Brooke Gansemer: I am from Iowa. For the international listeners, that is near Chicago. So, it's the middle of the United States and I grew up being a big book lover.

I am one of seven kids, so we went to the library a lot. We had tons and tons of books and I always wanted to be an author. When I started my career and I actually started working for a living, I was really trying to find that place where I fit and where it would make sense and what I wanted to do, and I really kept coming back to books, and kept coming back to children's books specifically.

So, I started as an author. I just started working through trying to get my own books published and writing, and learning every single thing I could about the industry, and what I kept coming back to was this gap between traditional publishing and self-publishing, that authors just weren't being served. It's what led me to start BiblioKid Publishing because I just wanted to bridge that gap.

So, with traditional publishing, we get such great help, and you have all these experts that can help you, but it just felt like there was a lot of time that an author had to wait, and with self-publishing, it felt very overwhelming. There are so many steps you have to do to complete a book, which is why I love resources like ALLi because they help simplify it.

So, we wanted to help give people access to the experts that you would get at a traditional publishing house while still have the speed and the customization that you would get from self-publishing.

So, we started BiblioKid Publishing in 2020, and it's been really fun.

Howard Lovy: So, that's what you mean by hybrid; I think hybrid sometimes means different things to different people.

I have an empty nest now, so I'm out of it when it comes to children's literature, but what do you think? Is the current state of children's literature now?

Are we in a good time or for a bad time? Are there good quality books out there?

Brooke Gansemer: Yeah, I think we're in one of the best times. I think that's because I've been doing a lot of research because I also teach on how to write children's books, and so I've been researching the competitiveness right now of your quality of your story.

If you think 50 years ago, or 70 years ago, there weren't as many children's book authors, there wasn't as much competition, and today so many people have access to all sorts of resources.

We have thousands of writers that produce a book every single year, not just through BiblioKid, but through the entire world through all sorts of different mediums and platforms. So, access for readers for children's books and for books in general has never been at a better advantage for them. So, you have so much more diversity when it comes to the stories themselves of just, where you can read them, how you can read them, who's starring in them, who's publishing them, like where they're coming from?

So, I think that's really great.

From an author's standpoint, it does create a high volume of noise. So, how do you find that niche reader? How do you get your book seen? How do you increase your sales? That's becoming a little bit more challenging, and that's why it becomes even more important to create quality books and to create books that, especially kids, want to read when it's a children's book.

Howard Lovy: Is there added pressure to get the books in schools or libraries because they're for children?

Brooke Gansemer: There is, but honestly, Amazon is the biggest seller, the biggest producer for your books. So, most people focus on that. Libraries and schools obviously would be great, but it just depends on your story and if it fits that setting too, because they have such limited shelf space you want to make sure that it's something that they would want to stock.

Howard Lovy: What are some of the biggest mistakes you've seen from children's authors, either from a business or content standpoint?

Brooke Gansemer: There's one really big one when it comes to children's books and it comes from a place of good thinking, but the execution isn't the way that we want to see it as children's book consumers or publishers, and that is a lot of authors actually come at it from a message driven approach, so they almost get a little too preachy or didactic in the actual story, where I think authors sometimes forget that these are kids books and they're intended to be read by young readers and they should be fun, they should be engaging and entertaining. You can still have very important messages and values and takeaways, but going back to the core of who your reader is and how you can create something that they're going to enjoy is one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of authors miss. They just get sometimes in a hurry and want to create this book and get it out as quickly as possible that they forget sometimes about the reader.

Howard Lovy: And it has to be a good story whether there's a message there or not?

Brooke Gansemer: Exactly.

Howard Lovy: So, for aspiring authors and illustrators interested in working with BiblioKid, what do you look for in submissions and what advice do you give them to stand out?

Brooke Gansemer: We have a coaching program that I run, so we get a lot of authors from there.

Just because we really want solid stories when it comes to BiblioKid books, we're looking for those stories that are going to be unique to the author, to the character, to the point of view. But also, that are going to be engaging and entertaining for the young readers. So, we're always looking for something that's going to capture our eyes, something that's pretty solid, something that we feel can be turned into a book.

Especially if you're coming to us with a finished manuscript or with a story that has been fully finished, we have opportunities where if you've already gotten the illustrations done, we can help you publish it, but we are really particular on what we want to see because we just want to make sure that it's something that's going to be worthy of our reader audience.

But to get prepped for that, an author could just understand the stories, get the basics for it. We have a free children's book template that we give people, but just making sure that your story structure is there. Have you read recent comp books? Do you understand the voice for if you're writing, let's say a picture book, and have you had it vetted? Has a critique group read it? Is it for sure solid before you go and submit it?

Those are the keys.

Howard Lovy: Do you help them find things like beta readers and editors or do you handle all that in house?

Brooke Gansemer: Yeah, we have an editing team in house that we can help with, so we take care of that for you.

Howard Lovy: Now, I noticed on your website that you do support local bookstores and libraries and schools.

Do you have any examples of successful collaborations you've done with local stores?

Brooke Gansemer: Yeah, we've done a big donation portion for Orchard Place, which is a local thing to where I'm from in Iowa. They help disadvantaged kids who've been misplaced from their homes. For a long time, we've done a lot of promotions with BiblioKid books and given back to them, especially for their holiday drive, so that way they have them when they're doing their therapy sessions, or if they can just take them home and do them as gifts. So, we do a lot with that.

We've also done just helping authors get in touch with their local areas, asking them to reach out to their local bookstores or their libraries and doing talks there. That normally gets the biggest buzz. We always say think local and then move global because it's the biggest support from your small town.

Howard Lovy: Now, you've also partnered with Small Press United for wholesale distribution. Does that open it up for wider distribution?

Brooke Gansemer: Yeah. So, they are part of IPG, the Independent Publishers Group, which is one of the biggest distribution sources. So, they're really great. They're wonderful to work with and they help guide, especially when we were newer, they were helping us with their sales team to actually get it into those retail markets and to connect us with ways to get into the school libraries, because you have to have specific levelling when it comes to your school.

So, it was really helpful, especially when you're starting out as a small publisher, just to understand a lot of the things that are going to increase sales, that someone who's been doing this for years was really helpful for.

Howard Lovy: So, we're the Alliance of Independent Authors, and many of our listeners are members of ALLi. Are there specific opportunities or benefits for indie authors?

Brooke Gansemer: Yes, if you are wanting to independently publish your book, we have different options for everyone within BiblioKid because our goal is to help you create this as a career. So, we want to make sure that you feel completely confident in your abilities to publish books and to do this multiple times. So, whenever we're approaching this, we're coming at this from how we can teach you about the publishing process just as much as we are from giving you this book as the end result. So, we keep our authors very hands on and we offer discounts if you do multiple books and things, but ultimately our goal is, how can we help you succeed with your dream of creating as many books as possible.

Howard Lovy: I guess another content related question. In an era when digital media is so prevalent, how do you work to keep the magic of physical books alive and engaging for young readers?

Brooke Gansemer: Yeah, it's actually surprising, most people who are purchasing children's books don't actually purchase the digital. They prefer that tangible copy. There's something about reading before bed or reading after school and things that parents still enjoy and teachers still like to bring them into their classrooms.

So, print media actually Is a higher sale selling point, but for digital, it's always good to have other options. So, we always create that.

It also can be used as a marketing tool. You can give them to reviewers. That's a really good tool to use for your launch team. So, we like to use it in those ways, especially when we're building up to a launch for the digital.

Howard Lovy: What's your advice for others, not just authors, but other entrepreneurs who might want to do something similar to what you're doing?

Brooke Gansemer: So many people think about children's books as just a side hobby or you can't really make money on it, and I think if you're wanting to be an author, you're wanting to be someone who's going to pursue this as a career and you want to make this a full-time income, it's totally possible.

You just have to have more of those rights where you can earn more per book, if you're going to be doing the royalties or the print sales. So, that's how a hybrid or a self-publishing option helps you.

Plus, if you start thinking about what do you want to do or who do you see as your brand? Are you somebody who does a lot of school visits? Do you do talks? Is there a niche that you offer? Are you a voice for a specific idea or a value or a group that you are trying to create a platform for? There's a lot of different ways you can grow that create a lot of other income streams too.

Howard Lovy: Like I say, my kids are grown now, but I remember clearly that I read to them an awful lot, and the book has to be entertaining and interesting to the adult as well, especially if you're going to read to a child. Is that something you keep in mind during the process?

Brooke Gansemer: Yes, I actually just had my first child this past year, and we're even more aware of the parent because when you're sitting there and you have to read the book and you have to hold the attention, you're the one who's picking what's getting read or you're picking what's getting purchased. So, that definitely goes into the appeal.

It has to be just as engaging and entertaining for the adult as it does for the kid reader, and that's where we've tried to pull away from the message driven and put it into a back matter and create that awesome story that's going to keep that attention span.

Howard Lovy: I guess I should ask, how do you define child? Are you 0 to 18 or is there a cut-off?

Brooke Gansemer: 0 to 18. Board books all the way up to YA.

Howard Lovy: Okay. Is there anything else that you want to add that I didn't ask about children's books in general or about BiblioKid?

Brooke Gansemer: No, I think this has been really successful and I really enjoyed getting to talk with you and hopefully if anyone listening is wanting to create their own children's books or getting a children's book literature, just to do your research and to really be keeping in mind the reader audience and that end result, and check out all the resources that either BiblioKid has to offer or ALLi, because there's tons and tons out there before you rush off into the publishing process.

Howard Lovy: And they can find you at bibliokidpublishing.com, right? Wonderful. Thank you, Brooke, for appearing on the Creating Better Books podcast and talking about children's books.

Brooke Gansemer: Yes. Thanks so much for having me, Howard. This has been wonderful.

Howard Lovy: Okay. Bye.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


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