Saturday, August 10, 2019

Panel: Publishing Options in 2019—Donna Beasley

Donna Beasley is the author of Family Pride: The Complete Guide to Tracing African American Genealogy and several other books. She is also president and publisher of KaZoom Kids Books, an interactive children's digital publishing company that publishes books for readers ages 3 to 8.
Donna Beasley, president and publisher
of KaZoom Kids Books

Her company is seeking original manuscripts and not repurposed ones that their competitors publish, because there aren't as many manuscripts for and about the black and Hispanic communities.

Donna is passionate about independently creating new works for this audience, which has traditionally not been well served (or served at all) by traditional publishing. This doesn't serve kids.

"Our children need you. We need you not only to write these books, but to self publish these books. This industry is a 100-year-old industry that has been slow to change."

She invited writers to "join the revolution" and write diverse books and self-publish those books.

"If we just wait on the Big 5 for this category, we're going to be waiting for a really long time," she said. "We need you. Over 50 percent of children from 5 to 9 are multicultural." And those kids needs books about their lives.

Donna busted a myth: "If you get your book with a big company, you don't have to market it. WRONG. You are still responsible for marketing and promoting your book. If you're responsible for marketing with a big company, you can take those skills to your self-published book."

Donna assured us that you can make more money if you self publish it. "If you can get yourself relief from your fear and embrace the joy of having your book arrive at your door ... you will get further, faster, in my opinion."

Family Pride by Donna Beasley
What's a subscription model for books? 

Just like Netflix. The app for KaZoom is free, as are the first two books. Then it's either $9.95 a month or $75 a year.

What can writers who submit expect? 

KaZoom hires an illustrator and a designer, just like a big publisher. But the company is small, and so response times are quick.

As they move into 2020, they're looking at putting together a team of writers and illustrators to develop more products, with the hopes of having global impact, because the lack of diversity in children's books is not just a U.S. problem. When she went to the Bologna Book Fair, where there were thousands of titles, only a few meet the diverse book criteria.

What's your submissions policy? 

They are a storybook company, which means their stories have more words than a typical PB (up to 1,400 words). You need to email a complete story to the company to submit.

Donna recommends Publishing University as a way to learn more about self-publishing.

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