Learnings about Kickstarter book funding

Hi,

As a brief background, I have to date written and published two books in the Sean Yeager series – DNA Thief and Hunters Hunted – which have received good, honest reviews from readers in the target age group (8 to 14). My favourite being a Canadian teacher who praised the books. For more information please see the Sean Yeager website.

So my latest experiment in the realm of reaching readers through book publishing and promotion is with Kickstarter. Here are my learnings so far:

I set up a Kickstarter project for Sean Yeager Adventures Claws of Time to ask for advance sales for my third book and to fund some of the costs. The rewards to backers being printed books.

Here is the Kickstarter Project: Link to Kickstarter SYA Project

1. Set Up

This was fairly easy, the trickiest parts were with deciding on reward levels and the dreaded video. It also took many hours to fine tune and complete the copy. It is like an extension to both your author biography and your book blurb with a pitch on top. I should though be able to re-use the same copy in future.

2. Kickstarter usability

The website is pretty straightforward to use. It’s quicker to prepare content in Word and then paste in, but you still need to reformat in Kickstarter which is a pain. Regular saving is also important in case your session freezes. It took me a few attempts to understand how to edit a project, because I was looking for this option. You actually need to select the project a couple of times and you return to the set up tabs. It would be better to have an Edit Project option in my view. Overall though I found the set up screens to be usable.

3. Learning materials

Kickstarter offer plenty of videos and guides for the basics of how to create a project and run a project. Mostly they are useful and fun. They also help shape your planning. I began by modelling my project on another which was doing well, this helped with formatting and the content themes to cover. The usual challenges of how to promote your project effectively became a recurring topic and an area I am still grappling with.

4. Effectiveness in raising funds

So far, so bad. It seems you have to promote heavily to gain any kind of traction, now where have I seen that before?  The idea that people will browse your project and offer help in exchange for a reward (a printed book) seems to be a pipe-dream. And to be honest that is what I set out to test as an experiment.  I have Tweeted and Facebooked the project link a couple of times, I draw the line at begging from family and friends.

On the plus side, I have received thirteen marketing approaches from people willing to take my money to promote my Kickstarter project on social media. Hmmm. So I could pay money to a stranger in the hope of gaining promises of funding and perhaps breaking even? Not an attractive deal. With Kickstarter (and many other crowd fund sites)  if you don’t make your entire funding target you collect zero funding, therefore you could easily be out of pocket with such a paid promotion scheme. A regular catch-22.

5. Next steps

The project has 22 days left to run at the time of writing so obviously I’ll continue to spread the word as best I can. It remains to be seen how easy a re-list is on Kickstarter, I may try this or call it a day on this particular experiment.  I will probably try Patreon next or a book specific fund raising site. On the plus side, I have the copy and a refined view of how to pitch Claws of Time. However, I remain to be convinced about the effectiveness of crowd funding for a middle grade book. It could be that it is too early or too wide of the target market in terms of what people are willing to crowd fund.

6. Conclusions

It’s a little early yet, but it does seem that Kickstarter is unlikely to work for my funding aims. I seem to lack the reach on social media and traditional media. One successful campaign I saw had TV coverage and (through my own research) links to a religious community group. All great to have and beyond my current spheres of connection.  I am also unlikely to trust a stranger with publicising my cause, because their reach could easily be bogus and unfocused – you can still buy followers on Twitter etc. I am therefore looking at options to test the parent buyer market further when promoting my published books. Next stop Facebook.

I have also realised that you pretty much need to have your book ready before running a crowd funding project. It would be a real distraction to be constantly tending a promotional campaign while writing. Ironic given my stated funding aims.  I noticed this with several other projects which gained traction. Several had book covers and piles of books ready to go.

7. Meanwhile, Sean Yeager Claws of Time….

I’ve been writing Claws of Time anyway in between bouts of social media and real life activities. I am very happy with the plot and the quality of what I am writing, which is just as well all things considered. I find it ironic the constant circles that spiral back to ‘how good is your book?’  It really is a matter of believing in your work long before other people ‘discover’ your books for themselves. I will continue to learn the art of promoting books in parallel.

Best

D.M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager Adventures website

Sean Yeager Kickstarter project

www.seanyeager.comHunters Hunted Text 2l

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 learnings about self-publishing from a dedicated independent

Hi, here are 7+ things I have learned about self-publishing by doing it myself, researching, talking to professionals and discussions with other authors (independent and traditionally published).

Now before we start, I am the living embodiment of ‘learning from not yet succeeding’ at this point, so please consider these thoughts and how they apply to you. In other words, I do not profess to have the magic gift of how to sell self-published books, yet. I have succeeded in progressing this far and the genuine positive feedback from readers has been what has sustained me to this point. That said these are honest findings from the coal face without sanitizing to suit my sponsors. (My little joke – I don’t have any sponsors).

I have self-published two books for 8 to 14 year olds and here are some things I’ve learned along the way. Check out my books online here and here, If you know readers in this age group please support me by reading free samples of Sean Yeager Adventures either on my website here or with Amazon’s ‘look inside’ feature. If you feel inclined please purchase a copy.

  • Yes you can self-publish
  • The mechanics are relatively straight forward to execute, learn the ropes and DIY with CreateSpace, Smashwords and similar. Do not pay someone else huge amounts of money to format or create your book. If you need some help with e-books it can be worth a modest sum £60 / $80 to resolve formats with a first edition. You will however need a cover designer and help with editing your book, because different perspectives will help you to increase your book’s quality. The cover in particular is critical to how your book is perceived. I suggest budgeting according to how complex your cover needs to be and negotiate good terms. Editing is all about raising your game to professional writing standards, for which you will need to find a good editor with knowledge of your genre.
  • Self promotion is challenging
  • There are numerous articles on the internet about how to promote books. Essentially you need to have a promotional plan and ‘reach’ to sell books. I define ‘reach’ as the number of people you can put your product in front of with a promotional message. That can be real world, online or through paid advertising.  I have found promotion to be a challenge. You also need to clearly understand your target market and make sure you can reach them.  (e.g. mine is mums & dads buying for children aged 8 to 14 who like adventure books)
  • Twitter – does not sell books. It is too noisy and full of pushy self-published authors and promoters of the same. I have also heard it said that people go there to dump emotions not to buy. If you find an exception go with the flow. You can gain interest about yourself as an author and possibly clicks to your website. None the less, Twitter users are reacting and want to say something, direct sales for books are less likely.
  • Facebook free – rarely sells books unless your reader audience is online, typically aged 20 to 35. You need genuine organic word of mouth to encourage people to buy your books.  I have also heard it said that people are checking out their interests and connections, browsing rather than buying.
  • Facebook paid advertising – is good for targeted visibility, but rarely sells books in my experience.  Now that may again be due to the ‘mode’ people are in when using Facebook. Browsing rather than shopping. Clicks to your website will help, your website then needs to convert the interest to actual sales which is the tricky part.
  • Google Ads paid – rarely sell books, but will send traffic (briefly) to your website. It is complicated to use Google Ads and it can be expensive. The click-through location is where the selling would really happen, hence the challenge. Can you set up a compelling shop to convert traffic for your books into sales? It is worth remembering that you can not advertise your own website and also direct traffic to your Amazon page in the same Google Ad.
  • Goodreads – can sell books, if you receive good word of mouth, reviews and give away books. Again your target audience need to be using Goodreads for this to be effective. The Goodreads audience is broader than Facebook and book-centric which helps. The rest is down to how you engage with your Goodreads audience. Claim your works, add a blog, run some giveaways, contribute to some forums, but never argue with anyone on Goodreads about your own works.
  • Book blogger reviews – might sell books. I honestly would not know because hardly any book bloggers with good reach are open to reviewing new books in my genre. It seems the market is saturated and traditional publishers are targeting book bloggers. If you can have your book reviewed by a book blogger within your book’s target market I recommend it.  The visibility is probably worth the effort.
  • Face to face selling – does sell books, but in limited quantities. The buyer is buying ‘you’ as much as the book. It can be embarrassing the first few times, but it is satisfying if the reader genuinely likes your book and gives you balanced feedback (which I am pleased to say has happened to me).
  • BookBub (newsletter) does sell e-books, but only if they accept you and you are targeting an adult reader market. And yes it is not a given that they will accept your book, they price and prioritize based on the market reach for your book’s genre. It is worth reading their price list alone to understand the market size you are dealing with.
  • Your own Newsletter – can sell books, especially when you are launching a new book to an established list of people who have signed up to hear more about your work. You will though need to incentivise them and add the links into the promotion you send out.  I suggest treating your subscribers as you would prefer to be treated, with relevant, infrequent and genuine offers. I do not propose spamming with news updates or trivia because this tends to annoy people and they will most likely junk your emails.
  • Your own website – might sell books. I see a steady trickle of traffic to my website www.SeanYeager.com . (Most people think I am Sean Yeager which is entertaining.) You can control your own content on your website. I suggest using a relatively cheap provider who can support what you need and where you control all the content yourself, hands-on – blog, pictures, about, product information etc. If you need a shop you need to be more careful, because it is more complex to set up a compelling store online, especially for mobile phone users. Likewise for video blogs and storage. Shop around and trial some.
  • Your own blog – can sell books. However you need ‘reach’ and ‘relevance’ for this to be the case. Often authors become ‘author helpers’ or ‘consultants’. When this happens I wonder to what extent their viewers perceive them as a service provider or advisor instead of a book seller and author. In fact they may well make more income from services & advertising than books. Or from books about ‘how to self-publish’, no pun intended because it is an industry in its own right.
  • WordPress is a really good platform and the free offering is great. If you need more features, I suggest shopping around for the right balance of price and ease of use. If you plan on becoming a professional blogger / expert, it is important to have enough storage for your video blogs and articles.  I have no such aspirations at this time, so I stick with WordPress Free. (And no they do not sponsor me).
  • Don’t give away free e-books
  • This will be controversial to some. I suggest keeping a price and protection on your e-books at all times. Firstly, because it puts a value on your work. Secondly, because people will pirate your work more easily otherwise. I do not believe that people who take free books are inclined to buy future books. Also, you would need to have a lot of different books available to benefit from any halo effect caused by your first free book. Instead, I suggest making free chapters available on your website. Or consider cheaper offers for your book for a limited period. Smashwords are good with offer codes which you could combine with your newsletter for a new release.
  • Learn to think like a marketeer
  • At first you need to think like a writer, because let’s face it you need a lot of good ideas and hard work to complete your book.  However, you also need to embrace thinking like a marketeer for your work as a product as well. This will be needed for all the strap-lines, brief book blurbs, the back and inside covers, your website text, how you position your work and of course your promotional plan. Fortunately it is possible to learn about marketing, advertising and promotion online using resources in YouTube and on career marketeer’s websites. This will speed up your learning curve.
  • People will discriminate against a self publisher because you are not ‘published’
  • Rightly or wrongly people will assume that your product is not as high in quality as a traditionally published work. The truth is that no matter how emotive you may be about this lack of fairness, it is going to happen. You therefore will need to dig deep and find your coping approach and support. There are successful independent authors who self publish and as far as I can tell they will sign a deal with a multinational to gain reach and a better deal once they have gained attention. And to be honest I would be tempted myself depending on the nature of that ‘deal’. In the meantime, you can sell books despite the discrimination, only don’t bank on leaving your day job for a while and best of luck with the selling.
  • Book fairs – I was asked for my publisher to forward my back-list before even being considered to be part of a book fair. It was the published authors’ subtle barrier. Now if I knew what a back-list looked like and had a publishers’ letter head I could play along.  Most likely they would then have me marshal a car park.
  • Book bloggers – most do not want self-published books to review and they say so. You could try to bypass this, but honestly you could equally annoy them into a poor review.
  • Book stores – pretty much struggle as it is. Those that do not are probably open to local authors to some extent. However, if you mention self-published / independent you can pretty much see their eyes glaze over. Best tactic is to not mention it and put forward your charm to sell yourself and your sale or return books.
  • Book store head office – will routinely ignore your self-published book unless you somehow manage to meet someone sympathetic to the qualities of your book. They already get bombarded with books from traditional book publishers who offer all kinds of incentives, so the competition is fierce.
  • Libraries and e-libraries – may take a free gift of your book. They may also tell you that someone has to vet it first before putting it on the shelves. It’s worth a try. However, e-libraries are now locked down by a handful of suppliers who only deal with publishers who offer a minimum of 6 plus books. So you’ll need help to get around the restriction and gain an account with them.
  • Book giveaways often do not lead to book reviews
  • Book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads make a difference. Getting them and keeping them is tough. I do not recommend attempting to rig reviews because people notice and Amazon has been known to remove them. I do recommend asking anyone who is willing to write an honest review and post it on Amazon and Goodreads. Now, giving away a print copy on Goodreads may lead to a book review. The odds are about 10%. Goodreads prefer that you do not contact the winners or entrants, which is not so hot. I suggest you write a note when you send out the physical book to winners and ask for a review from them. It does not always work and sometimes the receiver can be mean in the review. However, it is still a review and decent people will give you a fair review in exchange for a free book.
  • You will need trusted beta readers
  • It’s a tricky balance – who do you trust?  Well you can start by trusting yourself. Next, hopefully your partner, though be aware they could become jealous or dismissive, it happens. What you need is a set of beta readers who are interested in your genre of book. Ideally you need them to be balanced in their feedback. That said, if you have some overly critical, some more relaxed and plenty of mistake and typo spots, you are onto a good thing. I suggest you follow-up on everything they spot even if it does not make sense at first sight. I have known five people to overlook the same typos and plot holes before now. And you need all the help you can find to maintain high quality writing for your book. Also thank them and gift them a signed print copy, it’s a win win.

Hope these thoughts help you on your quest. Best of luck. Remember to share this link with people you know and feel free to drop by www.SeanYeager.com .

Thanks for visiting.

D.M. Jarrett

www.seanyeager.comHunters Hunted Text 2l

 

 

 

 

Readers love Sean Yeager Adventures books

Sean Yeager books are written to inspire and excite readers. I often hear feedback from parents and I ask what their child likes and ‘why?’ Here are some highlights.

If you are considering buying a present for a child in your life (8 to 15) take a look at a free sample of the first chapters: DNA Thief and Hunters Hunted .

Verbal feedback about DNA Thief:

Mike:  My son raved about the DNA Thief, he said it was the best book he’s read. He loved the action and insisted on writing his own Amazon review. He’s quite selective about what he reads and he took his time reading it because he didn’t want to miss anything. I was taken aback, we’ll buy the second book as a special present.

Alison: Our son was up until late reading DNA Thief and he wouldn’t put it down. He finished the book within two days. He says it’s his second favourite to Percy Jackson. He loves all the gear and gizmos. He asked if there can be more machines and gear in the next book? He wants to know what happens next.

Anne: My son read both books from cover to cover in a few days. He’s now read it twice and raves about the characters. He’s been designing pictures of craft and bases inspired by  the book. He can’t wait to read the third book. He’s asked if there can be more jokes and lots of incidents. He loves the characters and wants to know more about what happens next.

Here are some Amazon.co.uk reviews in the words of the reviewers:

It is sci-fi and an action thriller rolled into one, and centres on Sean Yeager, who believes he is fairly ordinary until a burglary at his home reveals he is anything but. The boy is spirited away by a protector he didn’t know he had – The Foundation. From there the plot unravels at terrific speed, and reveals secrets about Sean’s Dad and his own status.
My only comment would be that the title and cover graphics might not be as enticing to kids as they should be – this book deserves to be read! The other character names, such as Major Clavity and Greerbo – are certainly spot on.
Both tongue-in-cheek and seat-of-your-trousers thrilling, it is cleverly written ‘take’ on the ‘Boy Fights World’ philosophy of more well known titles and, in my view, stands up just as well. Love2readuk

There was so much action in this fast-paced thrill ride that I kept seeing it as a movie in my head. Never sure where the story was going, I decided to sit back and enjoy the ride. What would have helped was to have put on some popcorn first! Although I understand that this is the first in the series I wanted to know more about Sean and indeed his mom who is quite the character and I laughed every time she shows up. I hope we see more of her in the series. What I also really liked was the fact that the bad guys really are bad guys and not some laughable buffoons like we tend to see in so many other kid stories. DragonOne

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief is a fast-moving action-packed novel containing lots of exciting, humorous and thrilling scenes. This book is a must-read and a worthy competitor for James Bond. The story is about an organisation that has set out to protect a boy named Sean Yeager, who has special powers. Although he is only a boy, a lot of trouble was spent to kidnap and protect him and it’s fun finding out why. This book has really excited me and I can’t wait until the next book comes out!:-) LavaMitts

And a review from Goodreads USA:

I will put this book into my reading cupboard for my high school students as they will enjoy it. This story had action and an interesting storyline and I want to know what is going to happen to Sean and why he is so important to the Founder. How do I get this next book?  A, Goodreads

 

Wishing you a great holiday season and a Happy New Year!

I’ll be busy preparing for the celebrations, while finding time to develop book 3 Claws of Time which is now plotted and in progress. There are so many ideas I’m struggling to fit them all in!

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

www.seanyeager.com

 

 

 

Sean Yeager Adventures website

Buy Sean Yeager Adventures books

What next after Harry Potter? 5 Great middle grade to tween book series

Well it had to happen, our son has read all the Harry Potter books and we’ve been searching for other great book series. In no particular order here are 5 great book series for middle grade to tween readers. (I have omitted Young Adult titles deliberately).

1. Harry Potter Click here

Obvious really. If the first three books don’t grab your child’s attention I guess they don’t like Harry Potter. Stand by also for the comparisons and proclamations of the things not in the films which are better presented in the books. Strangely the shorter books were voted the best by our son, perhaps they were better edited?

2. Percy Jackson Click here

Now you do need to allow your child to settle with the idea that Greek and Roman myths have been ‘borrowed’ and transplanted to the US. (Not my idea of plausible I have to say). Apparently the books are an easy and exciting read with lots of action. I would add that they seem to be easily read in next to no time. Good news for the author and publisher, not such great news for the parents asked to buy the next book in a matter of hours.

3. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Click here

Perhaps a push for middle grade and pretty heavy in volume. We started with The Hobbit and it was very well received. A budding fan is born. I await the film and book comparisons. LOL. Given the length of both that could be some years away.

4. Sean Yeager Adventures Click here

Fast paced, exciting and full of ideas. Our son and several of his friends have been up all hours reading and re-reading books one and two. Be prepared for an explosion of ideas, designs and follow on stories.

5. Bear Grylls Mission: Survival  Click here

Apparently these books are non-stop boys own adventures with all the details added in. Useful if you are ever stuck in a jungle and need survival skills. If only there was an episode for commuters and office workers.

6. Artemis Fowl Click here

Technically this is the sixth book series, though I did say ‘after Harry Potter’. We have had a mixed reception with this series. Son loves the action and humour, he’s not so keen on the faeries. Nonetheless a worthy addition to our humble book series list. Lots happens and there are plenty of books in the series.

So there you have it parents, grand parents, aunts, bloggers. We hope you find this list of book series useful when seeking purchases for the children in your life.

Happy reading.

D.M. Jarrett

 

10 great boys’ books to encourage reading and fun

As a parent it can be tricky to find great books for your boys to read. You want books to help develop and encourage your child’s reading and you also want books that your child will enjoy and want to finish. We have found this with our own son from the age of 6 to 11. Here is a list of 10 great boys books as voted for by the person who matters – our son – who read them all (and rejected several others). We hope you find this book list useful for the boys in your life.

In no particular order

1. Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo

A boy’s own war-time adventure through the eyes of a horse. Now also a film and play, but apparently the book is the best format of all.

2. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

The original and best. If your child likes this book there are plenty more in the series…

3. Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

A Roman adventure and page turner, with lots of suspense and historical references. If you want to inspire learning about Roman life, what better way than to introduce this book?

4. The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

Before they managed to massage this story into three films, this book was the best introduction to the world of J R R Tolkien. It is action packed and surprisingly short, unlike the giant saga that followed.

5. Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief by D.M. Jarrett

Non-stop action and mayhem. Like a cross between James Bond and Star Wars or as the reviewers put it ‘a rollercoaster ride’ in book form. It also has a great sequel to follow-up.

6. The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall

Another boy’s own story, this time set in World War II England. What would your son do if he discovered a crashed German Bomber complete with machine gun? Action and surprises all the way.

7. Alex Rider Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz

One of several great stories from the popular Alex Rider series. An orphaned James Bond like child sent on dangerous missions.

8. 8000 Things You Should Know by Mile Kelly

Our son and his friends were given party gifts of this book after a birthday bash. They were all so immersed in its pages they had to be prised away. This is how all factual books should be presented. (It’s presented like ‘information mapping’ and is highly effective, amusing and addictive.)

9. Stephen Biesty’s Incredible Cross Sections

A hero in our household, Stephen Biesty is an incredible illustrator and this book is simply breathtaking in it’s detail and layout. For any budding designers or boys who like to take things apart.

10. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The original and best, provided of course you can suspend disbelief about the Greeks not moving to the US. And of course there are plenty more Greek myths elaborated on throughout the series.

Hope you find some great reading in our list to inspire the boys in your life. Above all we hope they have fun reading and developing their curiosity for learning.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager Adventures website

Buy Sean Yeager Adventures

Amazon reviews:www.seanyeager.com

Fast-moving, action-packed and humorous

Make this into a movie now!

Buckle your seat belts!

This story reads like an action ride and I enjoyed the ride

Son inspires Father to write children’s book series

It all began on a foggy Saturday morning one autumn. I was driving my son to a football match along a winding country road. The fog was so thick we could hardly see the next bend, let alone the trees standing silently on either verge. Fortunately, the traffic was light and there were no wild deer wandering around. It seemed so surreal and closed-in that it made me feel like we were completely alone in the world. Two explorers on an empty trail.

‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we were kidnapped by aliens?’ I joked.

My son laughed and asked me what kind of spaceship they had. I invented a story as we drove along. It was a bit corny and very Close Encounters, but my son loved it. A huge ship with bright lights levitated our whole car into the sky, swallowed us whole and sped away into space.

‘And then what happened?’ asked my son.

We arrived a little late for the football match and I think the result was a hard-fought draw. On the way home my son again asked about the aliens. Over the next few days he asked for more  details, which I dutifully made up on the spot. And he drew pictures of the aliens, their home world and their ship. The mushroom headed aliens from the orange planet had been discovered!  As a surprise, I wrote a short story about an elaborated version of the adventure and printed it out, My son was only 5 years old and it seemed like a great way to encourage his reading. Sure enough, he read the twenty page story several times over and asked for more. He continued to request more information about the aliens and wandered around the living home inventing elaborate details. He invented their home world, their food, how they communicated and where they lived. A creative professor was appointed.

We still talk about that first story to this day. I have the printout tucked away in a folder somewhere. Over the following months I wrote several other short stories. A fairytale, a mystery and a spy story. Each was studied and my son acted as editor and critic. He was honest and articulate. We also shared the stories with one of his closest friends. Two of the stories stood out for them. The aliens and spies. They enthused about them and developed intricate details of the gear they used and how they outdid their enemies. It dawned on me that these two boys enjoyed nothing better than reading about gizmos, gear, ships and of course adventures.

Fast forwards several years, I am in the process of plotting Sean Yeager books 3, 4 and 5. My son, now 10, introduces inspired ideas. Sometimes accidentally, often with great precision and deep thought. He is the self-appointed ‘chief designer’. If a craft or building is referred to in a scene he designs it. Factions, tactics and missions are declared regularly with requests to talk about the ‘Golden Era’ or the ‘Foundation Commandos’. A timeline was invented pitching the  first two books firmly in the middle of an epic saga. So far so Star Wars and yet not at all.

We are both fans of James Bond, Star Wars and numerous films and characters. Monty Python and Johnny English for example. With a twist. Many are the times we debate where all the Stormtroopers have suddenly arrived from and why they can’t hit a barn door at five paces? Austin Powers is another favourite for making fun of the baddies and their huge private armies. We are convinced that every base must be wired with self destruct devices from day one.

Without giving away plot spoilers, it is true to say that my son has now inspired at least three major plot points in book 3 and most of the outline plot for book 4. Book 1 was drawn in part from two early short stories, while book 2 was I have to say mostly my own creation to surprise and stretch the genre. I have long since decided to stretch the SY world as far and deep as I can. With some humour and plot twists thrown in for good measure. The back story is about spies and two factions attempting to defeat each other and leave Earth. Hence the tagline James Bond meets Star Wars. Of course Sean Yeager Adventures are also original with a flavour of their own.

In the Sean Yeager world nothing is what it seems. For a start it is superficially just like the town you live in. Things break and go wrong. There are no massive armies or heroes who survive certain death for implausible reasons. You see, none of these plot angles would survive my number one muse and critic. And I find that the confines of constraint are far richer veins to explore than heroes and enemies with infinite resources. Perhaps those are variations on the ‘unstoppable force and immovable object paradox’? Or the similar ‘slap shot syndrome’.

Looking ahead, I am pleased to have entertained my son and his friends. Long may it continue. They have pretty much demanded book 3 with helpful hints such as: ‘more gear and vehicles please’.  They have role played the heroes and villains and taken them far further than the existing plot lines. Lego ships and paper drawings abound. We once made Kimbleton Hall in plan view out of basic Lego bricks. It was great fun. Book 3 is overdue and the plot is already well-defined. All that remains is the many hours of writing, refining and editing. LOL.

It seems that inspiration is circular, from author to readers and around again. From father to son and now son to father. One day who knows we may be watching a Sean Yeager film together and debating the finer points scene by scene. Now that would be fun.

D. M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager Adventures website

Buy Sean Yeager Adventures

Amazon reviews:www.seanyeager.com

Fast-moving, action-packed and humorous

Make this into a movie now!

Buckle your seat belts!

This story reads like an action ride and I enjoyed the ride

 

Do children learn better with less screen time?

Do you remember a time before PC’s, laptops, tablets and computer games? When making a phone call meant using a fixed line device that could only ring and click? Times move on, progress we are told is a good thing. But wait, did anyone ask whether all this technology is helping our children’s learning in their early years?

I have long been concerned about the length of time young eyes and postures spend hunched over controllers, tablets and computers. It seems to me that learning how to write with a pen, draw with a pencil, paint, sculpt, take things apart, make models and, fix bicycles are equally valid skills to learn and develop. To which we can easily add: play sports, read books, swim, run, learn musical instruments, sing, act, imagine, converse, play, explore and so on.

Do we want all our children to end up in offices staring at screens all day every day? Is that a good set of disciplines to be training children as young as 7? I think not. I believe that children can easily learn these skills in a few hours a week when they are ready. Let’s face it they are likely to use many devices at home anyway. And they have a knack of running rings around their parents when they do.

An OECD report published recently ( BBC link ) makes for interesting reading. It suggests that technology is not the panacea to learning that we have often been led to believe. It states that screen time does not help reading skills either. Surely some mistake? Isn’t the internet the ultimate answer to all our questions? Yes. And is it also the ultimate distraction? Smart phones are incredible, but do they encourage better grammar or conversation? Hmm, that’s worth thinking about isn’t it? Are we encouraging short attention spans and instant gratification instead of true childhood development?

My theory is this. Let’s develop our young children’s minds, their physical skills, their social skills and their spirits first and foremost. Let’s keep the tools in their place. As tools, not as primary skills. Technology is a helper it is not the font of imagination, solving the world’s problems or nurturing new talent. It has a place and can help sure, but it does not make the person.

The alternative is that we risk creating a generation of one-dimensional people if we limit their development to how to swipe a screen, search the internet and touch type. What about the myriad other skills and abilities the world needs every minute of every day? Isn’t it more sensible to balance children’s learning and maintain a mixture of practical, theoretical, vocational, factual and technological skills? Of course some children will become gifted programmers and in time many will use computers as tools to support their trades. But which comes first? The human being with the drive and ability to achieve great things or the blinking screen demanding attention every second of every day?

Roald  Dahl expressed a similar thought eloquently in his poem  Mike Teavee : ‘(TV) rots the sense in the head, it kills imagination dead’. And computers are in my experience every bit as limiting. They are great for the execution of tasks and ideas, but I find they stop creative thought dead in its tracks. Give me a pencil and piece of paper every time. It is the process of writing, reviewing, adjusting and repeating that helps me. Talking things through with another person is better still.  I’m sure it uses more neurones and connections. I’m convinced that more lateral thoughts result from conversation and sharing ideas socially.

Seriously though, there has to be a balance don’t you agree?  Moderation in all things. Too much screen time really could make Jack and Jill dull boys and girls. And that would be two genuinely missed opportunities.

D.M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager Adventures website

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Fast-moHunters Hunted Text 2lving, action-packed and humorous

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This story reads like an action ride and I enjoyed the ride