Oh, What Big Eyes You Have (make reading fun)

Big Eyes Mouth


As you can see, my daughter had some fun with a magnifying glass and a camera.

Which gave me an idea…

Wouldn’t this be a cool, interactive way to involve kids in stories.

Obviously, this story would be about Little Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf.

Use the magnifying glass to make Big Eyes, a Big Mouth, and Big Ears.

It wouldn’t be a bad thing to get more kids to enjoy reading.

More than that, this is a marketing opportunity for children’s authors.

I don’t mean Little Red Riding Hood. I mean the idea of making the storytelling fun and interactive. Not necessarily with a magnifying glass.

Surely, you can think of some other prop relevant for your story.

When you interact with kids in person, that fun moment that you create may help to get the kids—or more importantly, their parents—interested in your brand of authorship.

Online, your cool idea for making storytelling may help your marketing. You can post cool pics (with permission, of course) showing your idea. You can market the idea of helping to make reading fun, while indirectly benefiting your book and your brand as author. Or you might create a viral Facebook post or YouTube video.

Or just mentioning the prop and its use for your story might prove to be a valuable merchandising tip.

It’s all about inspiring more kids to enjoy reading. But if you’re a children’s author and can benefit from helping to achieve this, there is a possible bonus in there.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

A Storytelling Secret



Of course, there isn’t just one tip toward becoming a master storyteller.

You don’t necessarily need to be a storyteller to appreciate the art of storytelling. A master storyteller can pull it off, but any reader can appreciate the art—and can tell which kinds of storytelling please him or her.

This article will just focus on one of the many aspects of storytelling.

One thing that many great stories do well is this:

Make it cool to be different.

It may be a plus if this is something that much of your target audience can relate to.

Here are some examples:

  • Rudolph, with his bright red nose, is a favorite misfit reindeer. He fit in with misfit toys in a popular Christmas special.
  • Shrek is one cool ogre, and Donkey is pretty cool, too. Fiona’s fate is a cool twist to the usual ideals, too.
  • Cinderella and Harry Potter show that orphans can be really cool.
  • It can be cool to be nerdy or geeky. Look at Velma from Scooby Doo, the Nerds movies, or Mr. Peabody. Then there is the evil genius, like Lex Luthor battling the Man of Steel. This last one doesn’t relate to storytelling, but I love Best Buy for making it cool to be a geek with their Geek Squad. I love the Geek Squad as they’ve helped me solve numerous problems.
  • You can probably think of many romantic stories where the protagonist would be far from fairest of them all based on common perceptions of what’s outwardly handsome or beautiful. You don’t need tall dark and handsome to fall in love with a perfect ten, and many target audiences may prefer it otherwise. (I don’t want to give any specific examples here and possibly insult anyone by making it seem like someone with any particular trait isn’t beautiful. Christina Aguilera has a song about that.)

After all, everyone is different. It should be cool to be you. It is cool to be you. 🙂

I bet you can think of some other good examples of where being different is cool.

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of Self-Publishing with Amazon (Boxed Set: 4 Books in 1)

Now available for pre-order for Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00O6MT158.

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Readability: So Very Important

Imagine that a t.v. series of 24 one-hour episodes has your interest. It’s a big commitment. Once you try it out, whether or not you continue watching the series depends very much on its ‘watch-ability.’

If you watch a lousy movie, you might just sit through it since it’s just a couple of hours long. But you probably wouldn’t persevere through a 24-hour t.v. series if it wasn’t highly watch-able.

What makes a movie watch-able?

  • Acting that isn’t lifeless, but also isn’t overdramatic for the style of show. You might not even notice good acting, but you definitely notice when it doesn’t suit you. You like to feel that the actor or actress is a perfect fit for the part. The characterization must be good, too.
  • The right pace for the genre. Action should keep a fast pace; suspense may have slow points. If the audience expects the movie to be action-packed, for example, the moviegoers will become restless if it isn’t.
  • Good storyline to engage the audience. It shouldn’t be too predictable, yet shouldn’t upset the moviegoers either. The plot should be easy to follow and should make sense to the audience.
  • Entertainment. The movie must suit the audience who shows up, which means packaging and marketing to attract the right audience. The audience must enjoy the movie.
  • Looks realistic. I was watching a horror movie once, where about halfway through almost everyone in the theatre burst out laughing at the special effects. The girl was supposed to look possessed, but it just wasn’t pulled off right; it produced laughter instead of dread. Very often, the special effects are amazing, but when they aren’t, it makes a huge difference.
  • Excellent cinematography and sound effects. Try to make your own movie and you may discover some of the possible problems. It’s amazing how incredible the audio and visual tends to turn out. Normally it’s so good that we just take it for granted. It is very important, however, because if this turned out lousy, it would kill the viewership. Imagine if a movie cut into scenes at the wrong moment, filmed scenes from a poor angle, or didn’t have the lighting right, for example. There are many ways to mess up a great movie through amateur filming mistakes.

If any of these points doesn’t suit you, would you commit to watching a t.v. series of 24 one-hour episodes? That would be silly, wouldn’t it?

Reading a book requires the same level of commitment. A book must be highly readable to make that commitment worthwhile.

If a movie lacks any of the points above, would you recommend that others watch it? Similarly, a book needs a high level of readability to generate valuable word-of-mouth recommendations.

Here are some factors which make books readable:

  • The words flow smoothly, except perhaps in rare situations where a little stumbling may be relevant to the story. Like. This. You have to know your target audience. Use suitable language for your audience. Most people want an easy read, where the words flow nicely for them and they understand quickly. There are people who do want a more challenging read, but they may not comprise a large part of your target audience. If you just write the book any way you please, you might discover that the audience it suits turns out to be really tiny. Writing and focus groups can help you gauge such things in advance.
  • The length of the sentences, paragraphs, and chapters are important, too. Some readers get overwhelmed if many paragraphs exceed the viewable region of the device (which may be a cell phone) or if the chapters are too long. Again, this depends very much on your target audience. The sentences should vary in length and structure, but in a way that the words flow smoothly when they are read.
  • Every spelling and grammatical mistake that a reader notices is like a little hiccup. Such hiccups must be rare or they quickly make the book difficult to read. Another kind of hiccup is repetition of words; variety is the spice of writing. (There may be a few exceptions. For example, some authors prefer “says” for just about all dialog, but not all agree on this point.)
  • Good writing tends to show rather than tell where it makes sense to do this, and tell rather than show otherwise. You don’t want to interrupt the action to show some minor point that could be simply told, but you do want to show many main points rather than tell them.
  • The storyline must engage the audience, not be too predictable, not upset the target audience, be easy to follow, and make sense to the audience.
  • The audience needs to love the characterization.
  • Just like movies, the pace needs to be just right for the genre, the story must feel plausible, the audience needs to enjoy the storyline, and the audience needs to be engaged throughout. The packaging and marketing must attract the right audience for the book.

People do read Thomas Pynchon and Franz Kafka, whose books are not too readable for many people. I do, and I love their writing. People do read classics, both the readable ones and the challenging ones. However, it’s really difficult to write a modern classic and find a significant audience for it. If you want to write with Pulitzer Prize style, the wiser route may be to first develop an audience and reputation writing at this level as a journalist.

Writing mistakes are like cinematography mistakes – they can kill sales. Both books and movies must flow smoothly.

It’s hard to walk out of a theatre when the movie watch-ability is fantastic, and it’s hard to put down a book when the readability is fantastic. When it’s lousy, many people may walk out of the theatre or stop reading the book.

There’s more to a good book or movie than just having a great idea. The way the story is told is at least as important.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)