Author Archives: D.M. Jarrett

About D.M. Jarrett

I write awesome books for bright, young minds. Author of the Sean Yeager Adventure children's book series for middle grade to young adults.

Rebel books for rebel readers

Hi there, passing web traveller,

You have reached the eye candy of Sean Yeager Adventures. Craft, boutique books written for children with a mind of their own. If you are a parent, you really should treat a child in your life to a Sean Yeager book. Why? Because these books ask questions of the reader and encourage children to figure things out for themselves. You see, modern publishers iron out books into – three act plots, plot armor, dumbed down themes, and feed children the current ‘right-on’ adult tropes. I don’t believe in blanding out. I believe in taking children on a rollercoaster ride to places they want to explore. (In an age appropriate way, of course). A world full of gizmos, action and surprises. Modern stories for modern times. Heroes and villains who don’t explain their every movement. Characters who know who they are – there is no hint of cross-dressing, gender fluidity, or tokenism here. A place where mistakes are made and things go wrong. Adventures where children strive to do their best with help from adults and friends. These are rebel books for rebel readers. And the feedback from the real audience – 8 to 14 year olds – has been incredibly positive. They enjoy the craziness and surprises. They relish the mysteries and clues. They want to read these books.

How did I achieve this? Simple. By working with children and listening to what they want to read about. By including characters, twists, subjects, and surprises that work for them. By ignoring conventional ‘rules’ and writing books for children based on their likes.

Your children will get it. Will you dare to be different?

D.M. Jarrett

Explore ‘look inside’ here

http://www.seanyeager.com

www.seanyeager.com

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Reading challenging books quickly, helps weaker readers to catch up – it’s official

Hi,

From time to time I have debates with people who defend easy read books as being fun and a great introduction to reading. And for younger readers (5 to 7) I tend to agree with them. However, what next? What is the best approach to natually coax along young reading skills and maintain their interest in reading while they learn?

I chanced upon a very interesting article in the TES (Times Education Supplement). It reports on a study looking at adolescent readers and their reading progress. The study’s conclusions are interesting – reading challenging books quickly (within 12 weeks) helps weaker readers to catch up. The study also dispels the myth that ‘poorer readers need simpler texts’ and supports the idea of letting the reader crack on with the reading. (It seems so obvious doesn’t it?).

The challenging books referred to in the study were: The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, Once by Morris Gleitzman, and Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams.

Here is the link so you can read directly what is reported about the study:

TES article about a reading study

As you may already suspect, I fully support an ‘aim for the stars’ ethos as opposed to ‘pigeon-holing’  or ‘dumbing down’. There are so many great books out there waiting for enthusiastic young readers. To the above list we could easily add Tolkien, Pullman, Morpurgo, Blackman and so many others. I recommend friendly chats with librarians and second-hand book staff to discover great books. At first, there may be a little resistance along the lines of ‘it’s boring’ and ‘I don’t want to read that.’ However, with the right themes, books and writers, this can quickly turn into ‘light touch-paper and let them get on with it’. Which I believe this study confirms.

Happy reading.

D.M. Jarrett

 

 

10 tips for promoting your independent, self-published books – ideas that work

Hi there,

While there are many tips out there about how to promote your self-published books, I thought I would share some ideas that have actually worked, to help cut through the noise. Perhaps you’d like to check out a Sean Yeager Adventures book for a youngster in your life. Please do.

1.  On your email footer add your book title (or series) and your choice of ‘author’ ‘writer’ ‘publisher’ and your website or blog link

People will then pick up on the fact that you have written books and ask you. They will also research the book out of their interest in you as a person. It’s free. It works. You are a walking person of interest when people are intrigued. And if they don’t say anything – no problem.

2. Run an informational website or blog with an easy to remember title

To tell people about what you do, where it is, why they should care. The benefits and strap lines of your work. It needs to have strong visuals and interesting content. If all else fails, share your learnings about promotion. (Yes, the irony is not lost on me). This blog site can be free or cheap. Obviously, if you intend to attract a lot of traffic and cross-sales (how to guides) you’ll need to build and invest in this website as a brand. Who knows, perhaps you want to video-blog and post to YouTube?

3. HIre a really good book cover designer and hone your book covers and titles

These are two of your most important promotional assets. These images and titles will be used everywhere. Learn to get them honed and professional. Dare to be a little different. If your covers can stand up beside professional equivalents, you have achieved your goal.

4. Go social – on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc.

There is a theory that people who ‘see you’ online will read your books. Frankly, I’ve not found this to be true. I suspect this is because there are loads of social media echo chambers out there of people promoting books left, right and centre. However, when you engage with people as people, over time a tiny proportion of them might become intrigued. Especially if you seem interesting and have something to say about the craft of writing, promotion, life or your favourite themes. And, your covers will be seen when you do (inevitably) add them to profiles, posts and such like.

5. Run paid adverts within your pre-set budget

Big publishers do this all the time. The simple reason is – you need to be taken seriously and your book covers need to be seen about seven times for someone to become familiar with the idea of buying or at least researching your book. Where to advertise? Take your pick based on where you believe your audience to be actively open to buying ideas  (facebook, twitter, goodreads, amazon, instagram, magazines, paper, billboards (pricey), TV appearance (if connected), websites, popular blogs or tours). At the time of writiing, I am running an advert in ‘How it Works’ magazine. I’ll leave you to figure out why when you browse this amazing magazine.

How it Works magazine link

6. Write a great strap-line for each book and tune your keywords

The web is pretty much run by keywords. You need to select a good cloud of words which place your book in the right relevancy bracket. Think of these as like hast tags but for web browsers, web crawlers, internal search engines and the algorithms that power the big sites – like Amazon, Google, etc. It is both an art and a science. You may need help with this – the buzz words are SEO, keyword search and relevance. Go research books in your own target market. Also, align your keywords across all your online presence.

7. Write and edit a really great read

This should go without saying, but there, I said it anyway. If the product, price, promotion and placement are strong, you could be onto something. A weakness in the chain will not help your longer term prospects. A weak book, well promoted will lead to one sale. Not the follow-on sales of your next books. You do have a next book, right?

8. And write another one

If you are promoting yourself as a brand – which is often suggested – your brand needs a number of books. One book looks okay, not great. You might want to gradually ramp up your efforts over three or four books. Many successful independent authors write and publish several books a year. Their catalogue is growing all the time. It helps. Others, myself included, work at a more sedate pace and focus on our own take of quality. Ideally, you want both a good volume and quality of books out there.

9. Giveaways and free e-book samples

These can help. However, be aware of the consequences. You will need a volume of next books to make a giveaway worthwhile. It is all about the cross-sell (to other titles) and up-sell (to your print copies). Another consequence is that your ebook freebie may never go away. It will linger on semi-dodgy sites for a long while.

10. Appearances, visits, talks, stalls

Attend anything you can to gain visibility. But, ensure you have something of interest to say. ‘I am writer’ does not cut it. There are several angles – helping other writers, talking about trends, commenting on your learnings, literacy for children, book clubs etc. A word of caution – a paid for stall at the wrong event could waste both money and time. Flyers given away at a book fair, could help if anyone spends time engaging with your messaging and researches your work.

11. As a bonus – bring it all together with a plan

A clear approach and tag line will help you to focus on your target audience. Who are they? Where do they hang out? What benefits does your work bring them? How can you entice them to be curious about your books? What angles do you have to stand out from the vast swathes of people doing the same? The better you know the answers, the better you can refine your approach across all the above. If one approach does not work, reflect, regroup and try a different angle. For example, if you want to collect email addresses and send out newsletters, you’ll need a plan about what you’ll be sending out – promotions, tips, news, insights.

Best of luck and feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts.

D.M. Jarrett

Author of Sean Yeager Adventures.

www.seanyeager.com

 

 

 

An epic, fantasy, action, adventure series for ages 8 to 14+

Sean Yeager website

 

Smart books inspire smart youngsters 🤗 Say ‘no’ to dumbing down

Hi there,

This is a message to all parents, carers and mentors of children. Children are amazing and talented. They can achieve pretty much anything with guidance, learning and practice. Please inspire them and raise the quality of what they are given to read. As the saying goes – aim for the stars.

My message is simple – rubbish in, rubbish out. You create what you shape. If you genuinely want the best for the children in your care, please think it through carefully. A child of 8 could easily develop a reading age of 12 and be at an advantage in their development. Give them a book with a reading age of 5 and where will that lead? Whereas, inspiring a love of learning and reading will broaden their horizons and inspire them to greater things.

Are you in need of convincing? In case this sounds like ‘elitist nonsense’, here are some links from well established sources expressing their thoughts on the subject:

Anthony Horowitz article

Geraldine MacCaughrean – Carnegie Medal Winner

New York Times – smarten up the kids

Stop dumbing down books for teens

And so, over to you. We can choose wisely and help guide the young minds in our lives. We have that opportunity and there are plenty of great books out there from all eras – often in secondhand and charity book stores, plus libraries. What were your best reads?  I shared Biggles with my 7 year old son, and later a little Shakespeare, Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemmingway and Asterix. Reading can be fun as well as mind food. Next, he read through Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and moved on to Tolkien. Once a love of reading has taken root there is no stopping it.

Enjoy the challenge.

D.M. Jarrett

A message for moms, books to entertain and inspire boys and tomboys

www.seanyeager.com

 

 

 

Hi there,

As a parent, one of the things I’ve noticed of late is how popular books are becoming dumbed down. Now I’m 100% in agreement with equal opportunties and mutual respect. But I am not in favor of talking down to bright, young minds. I prefer to talk about science, mysteries and challenges, which we all face as we grow older. Also, if we’re honest, boy readers are not that interested in unicorns, princesses and the world’s historic struggle for equal rights. Ask them and see the blank or horrified expression spread across their face. So here’s my proposition – give your 8 to 14 year old an intelligent book they will enjoy (gizmos, explosions and chases included) and relax while they read. I present – Sean Yeager Adventures. A epic book series for 8 to 14 year olds with positive messages, lots of real science and historic references and loads of action.

My promise to all moms and dads is that Sean Yeager Adventures will entertain and make your loved ones think and ask questions. There are no fart jokes and the action is age appropriate. I know these books will be well received, because of extensive trialling with (you guessed it) 8 to 14 year old readers. They helped to shape the stories and made suggestions for improvements. In addition, Sean Yeager books are easy to read with a sprinkling of more challenging words to help their reading develop. The clever stuff is in making the reader piece things together by themselves, while giving them a whirlwind tour of Sean Yeager’s world.

The benefits for you? A few hours peace and some enthusiastic readers.

Check out some free samples and see what you think:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Happy reading,

D.M. Jarrett

 

 

 

 

 

10 tips for getting your child away from their video games and productive.

What can you do about your son/daughter’s gaming habit? They spend hours on their device and refuse to come off.

We’ve all been there. I suspect all parents of tweens and teens have. Your son/daughter is passionate about the latest video/computer/phone game and refuses to come off it. When they do, their mood has changed, and all they can think about is playing again. Here are some tips for how to manage the situation and strike a balance. From experience, this approach works provided we as parents are firm, fair and consistent.

1. Change the rules – so your child has to earn all game time on each and every platform.

Yes, that will be a sea change for some. No earning means no game time. The most important currency then becomes ‘how’ to earn game time. It can also be a valuable lever for getting homework, etc. done. It will most likely lead to a reduction in gaming time as well.

2. Enforce the ‘earning’ of game-time by making your child earn it upfront before they play.

No earning = no game time. Harsh at first, but guess what? Your child will learn and adapt provided they know you mean it.

3. Agree start and end times to gaming – and give a count-down ten and five minutes before ‘off-time’.

This is important. It is the deal. It goes something like – ‘it’s now seven o’clock, you need to come off your <device> by eight o’clock. Agreed?’ And when that time arrives – ideally on a clock next to the gaming screen – the session is declared over. Fresh air and exercise straight afterwards is a great idea – to calm them down.

4. Off means off – pull out the plug if necessary and be strong.

When the pre-agreed session is over, it has to end. By reason, then cajoling, and if all else fails by pulling out the plug/broadband. There are limiter devices out there if needed.

5. 60 minutes a weekend day maximum – and mean it – beware the 60 to 90 to 120 time creep. Should there be any game time allowed during the week? Your call.

It’s your call on how long a gaming session is allowed to be. My view is that 60 minutes a day at weekends is plenty. Week day gaming is probably not a great idea, because of homework, focus on school etc. Or perhaps you could agree the frequency upfront. Daily to me is a straight no way. Late night gaming is also a no, no. Sleep is important and gaming impairs sleep.

6. Bring in healthy and fun alternatives as well.

A reading hour – with a physical book (it’s why I began writing btw.). A walk. A sporting activity. A visit to somewhere fun. A fun TV program with the family. It’s your choice. I suggest including some of these as the means to earning gaming time as well. e.g. read a decent book for an hour. Swim ten lengths, etc.

7. Share their passion (within reason).

I suggest it is better to know what games they are playing, and to occasionally join in, than to disapprove of their gaming altogether. If their choice of game is completely unsuitable (e.g. 18 and immoral) withdrawing/uninstalling the game is clearly a good idea. You are in charge and you set the limits.

8. Grounded also means no gaming time.

If our child has earned a grounding that also means no gaming time. It may well be the most valuable currency you have to barter with for better behaviour.

9. No gaming machines in their bedrooms at night. And avoid outright bans if possible.

Whatever we think about gaming, I suggest it is better to suggest/promote a healthier game than to try and eliminate gaming from children’s lives. Prohibition tends to lead to rebellion, stand-offs and finding ways around the ban. Just as with adult bans.

That said, a gaming machine (of any kind) in their bedroom is just asking for an all-night session when you are asleep or the babysitter is in charge. If you allow it, you are allowing free-reign for your child in my humble opinion. Remember, games are fun and addictive.

10. The currency they have to ‘earn’ is what you decide. It is also your biggest bargaining chip.

I suggest it should include a mixture of: doing their homework, instrument practice, chores, having a good attitude, going for a run, working hard at school. walking the dog, tidying their room. Anything within reason provided the measures are ‘fair’ and ‘measurable’. This is where the balance comes in – which is where you set the standards as parents. Work = reward. Just as in life. You may find they work harder to earn the currency they want. If not, take a step back and review your options. Putting the games in the loft for a while is a possibility…

I hope you find these tips useful. From experience, they can lead to a win-win, with a few (inevitable) tantrums along the way.

I write books to encourage youngsters to read (and also because I enjoy it).

Best of luck,

D.M. Jarrett

www.SeanYeager.com

 

 

 

 

12 easy tips for editing your book

www.seanyeager.com

Hi there, after months of editing and updating here are some tried and tested tips for how to edit your draft book. I found this needed multiple passes, constructive feedback and dispassionate discipline. I also needed to re-learn key parts of grammar to understand what ‘good’ looks like.

1. Get the structure right first with feedback from others, check for consistency.

By this I mean – the plot, characterisation, events, scenes, order of events, plausibility of events, story arc for each character, etc.

Consistency of proper nouns, places, character names, etc. is also a key check. Word spellchecker can assist by highlighting those variants which are yet to be accepted into your dictionary. A Find and Replace can bring things back under control.

2. Screen your own writing for overuse of words and phrases.

I recommend running Wordcounter and the Hemmingway app on chapters of your work and noting the findings.

3. Use a tool to find your crutch words, then edit them to a minimum using better alternatives.

Everyone has a tendency to overuse certain phrases and words. Find out what they are with Wordcounter and other tools. Then use a Find and Replace approach to reduce and vary their frequency. One of my pet foibles is using ‘Well,’ to start a section of speech.

4. Aim to cut out thousands of words by using the test ‘does this word, phrase or sentence add anything?’

As you work through chapter by chapter, anything that reads out loud as clunky or embarrassing needs to be improved. Sometimes whole sections. Cutting text which adds little or nothing is normal and necessary. Make a note of your original word count and target reducing it by at least 8 to 10 percent.

5. Reduce all the following to the bare minimum using a Find & Replace approach.

That, then, with, all, up, down, well, really, completely, very, quite, seem, even, just, almost.

Variations of speech attributions: said, mumbled, roared, crowed, guffawed, huffed etc. They add less than a well-written expression of reaction or better speech text.

In addition, reduce your use of adverbs substantially, so that only those which are essential for the story are left. The Hemmingway app is useful for highlighting and counting adverbs for review.

6. Re-write in passes to improve your own use of language, having read good examples.

Having a benchmark in mind helps to focus the mind. I suggest finding a comparable book in a genre aimed at a similar readership. The aim is not to copy their style, more to tune into ‘good’ or ‘better’ writing. The time away from your work is also helpful in gaining perspective.

7. Use a tool to detect cumbersome structures and simplify them.

I recommend Grammarly, Scribens and Hemmingway in parallel. Yes it can be cumbersome to have three tools open at once. However, for spotting all the issues in a chapter in one pass it is quite powerful. After a while, I found that I dropped Hemmingway having addressed the major style issues.

8. Hire a line and copy editor if you can afford one.

An experienced editor can help spot a lot of things the author will miss. My pet gripes are with ‘orphaned’ words and correctly spelt words used out of context. Word, in particular, is rubbish at spotting them.  Again, Grammarly and Scribens can help you to correct most things. However, word and phrase choices are beyond their reach.

9. Copy edit last, once you are happy with what you are saying.

In other words, bear in mind that while you are re-writing your text. There is always another pass that is necessary to spot copy and grammar errors once the text is stable. No matter how amazing the writer, missed commas, etc. will be overlooked in the earlier rounds of re-writing.

10. Use tools to assist your line and copy edits.

While self-editing, your own eyes are great. Word is ok. Grammarly and Scribr are better. I also recommend After the Deadline. There are plenty of other tools out there. They help. I suggest using more than one, because each will have its own strengths and weaknesses depending on how they are programmed.

11. Wait and do a final pass as a ‘distant, disconnected reader’ some months later.

Coming back to a piece of writing after a period of time helps you to see it for what it is. Not what you hoped it would be. If you are embarrassed, you can rectify the situation with a re-edit. If you are impressed, great news – you are nearly ready. After your final copy edit.

12. Be brave enough to go back and re-edit earlier work – it is a learning experience.

Once I’d learnt more about parts of speech and ‘better’ writing, I found it cathartic to go back and re-edit a book from six years earlier. Being a self-published, authorpreneur this was much easier than I expected. It also addressed those fears at the back of my mind.

Hope this helps,

D.M. Jarrett