Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Interview with kids and YA author Karl Beckstrand

I’m interviewing author and international publisher/presenter Karl Beckstrand about Butterfly Blink: A Book Without Words.

Karl Beckstrand is the award-winning author of sixteen juvenile books and more than 40 e-book titles (reviews by Kirkus, The Horn Book blog, School Library Journal, ForeWord Reviews). Raised in San Jose, California, he received a B.A. in journalism from BYU, an M.A. in international relations from APU, and a certificate from Film A. Academy.

Two publishers produced his early multicultural children’s books; since 2004 he has guided Premio Publishing & Gozo Books. An engaging speaker, consultant, and workshop facilitator, Beckstrand has experience in high tech, public policy, film, radio, and TV broadcasting.

He teaches media at a state college—including scripts, speeches, and Web content—and contrasts traditional publishing with digital book publishing. His YA fiction, ebook mysteries, nonfiction/biographies, Spanish & bilingual books for kids (with ESL/ELL pronunciation guides), short stories, wordless books, and picture book app feature characters of color and usually end with a twist.

He has lived abroad, been a Spanish/English interpreter, and enjoys art and music. Beckstrand has presented for SUECON (education conference), Taiwan’s Global Leadership for Youth, California's Capital Book Festival, Utah Educational Library Media Association, Salt Lake City Book Festival, PCI Webinars, Utah Humanities Council, Murray City Writer’s Workshop, Utah Housing Coalition, Midvale City Reading Program, Utah Office of Education, professional groups, and schools.

His racially diverse work has appeared in: Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Border’s Books, Brodart, The Children’s Miracle Network, The Congressional Record of the U.S. House of Representatives, Costco, Deseret Book, EBSCO, Follett, iBooks, Kobo, LDS Film Festival, Papercrafts Magazine, SCRIBD, various broadcasts, and PremioBooks.com. Find: “Karl Beckstrand” on FB, Twitter, KarlBeckstrand.com, https://karlbeckstrandblog.wordpress.com/

Please tell us about Butterfly Blink: A Book Without Words.
It's more than a quick read and is the winner of Promoting Picture Books' cover competition. This wordless picture book fantasy helps kids cement vocabulary as they describe the action. It includes diverse kids, special concern species, and insect habitat conservation information. Blink—and they multiply. Blink—and they’re gone! (22 pages, ages 2-6)

What do you enjoy most about writing kids’ stories?
I like the idea of sneaking learning into an exciting story. Most of my stories have characters of color, and many are bilingual with a pronunciation guide in English and Spanish.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your stories?
I have a series of bilingual/Spanish books with pronunciation guide in English and Spanish, a wordless series, and a mystery series

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
I enjoy putting together biographies (mostly family stories that have inspired me) and mysteries are great fun.

What exciting story are you working on next?
True stories of immigrant kids, and a kid’s earning book

Where do your ideas come from?
I’ve never had writer’s block. I am constantly ambushed by story ideas—things I see people do, or things my family says; I scribble them on scraps of paper and file them. I try to use the cleverest ones (I have more ideas than time to write).

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In college, writing news stories and kid’s stories

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
While I write for children, my target audience is educators, parents, and librarians. This I learned via trial and error.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love to kayak and play volleyball (not at the same time).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An architect, a rock star, an artist

Why do you prefer the self-publishing process? Can you outline the pros and cons of self-publishing for our readers?
Technology has turned publishing on its head. Instead of sending a manuscript to a publisher and waiting several months for a response (often a rejection), authors can publish at very little cost and retain control of content and profits. It’s easy to find an affordable Print-On-Demand service online. This way, you can get a good idea of demand before you invest in a large print run (e-book demand is a good indicator too). All of this depends on the quality of your work and on your marketing efforts (which publishers always required of authors anyway). I’m excited about the books we have coming up.

Can small publishers make a mark on literature and the book market? How?
I have found that technology has revolutionized book sales. My revenues were low until I started POD and e-books. Fortunately, these technologies are available to even small publishers (and are growing in global reach).

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I illustrate some of my books. I love to share stories in person (and with groups). I write scripts and speeches, and I do free 20-minute Skype sessions anywhere.

Titles available via Amazon/Kindle, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble.com/Nook, Brodart, EBSCO, Flipkart, Follett, Gardners, iBooks, Ingram, Inktera, Kobo, Library Direct, Mackin, OverDrive, Quality, SCRIBD, and txtr.

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