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Big Dif Books

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I just looked at Big Dif Books. The information was hard to find (had to jump through a bunch of weblinks first), but apparently, you can choose to sell your children's book for $1.99 per copy if they accept it.

Nothing on the website mentions fees, though I get the definite impression they'd rather you donate your book for free instead of asking to get paid for it. They offer software for you to illustrate your book and paste in your text, etc.

Has anyone checked them out for real yet? Done business with them or knows someone who has? I'm curious as to whether or not they really are legit or the "you can charge money for your book" thing is a front for them trying to get your work for free.
 
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CaoPaux

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No problem, 'tis what I do.

Flipping through their site, I get the feeling it's a "make a book with your kids and share it with others" venture. I.e., a display site for family fun, but probably not for those wanting to build a career writing children's books.
 

DreamWeaver

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I find it incredibly insulting (and unbelievable) that they imply writing a children's book is something a novelist can simply toss off as relaxation. Really good children's books, yes even the 236-word Dr. Seuss variety (maybe most of all the 236-word Dr. Seuss variety) are an art form in themselves. Was it Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain who wrote to a friend, "I'd send you a shorter letter, but I don't have the time?"
 

CaoPaux

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My bad, I'm a bit behind updating.
 

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They're not presenting as "publishers," as much as "this is a fun activity for parents or schools to do with kids. "

Most of the books on the site are free downloads; the books are .pdf files.
 

MacAllister

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My impression from talking to the site owner is that the $1.99 option is primarily for classes/clubs/etc. using the project as a potential fundraiser. As for acceptance/rejection, my impression (which may or may not be accurate) is that they reserve the right to refuse to be used for uploading/hosting offensive or illegal materials.

If you're looking for a career as a children's author, then this isn't the way to go.
 

CaoPaux

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This reminds me. It's been months since I gushed randomly about how freaking awesome CaoPaux is. The linking. The indexing. Srsly.

You rule.
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(And I've now completed the weekly update.)
 

Medievalist

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This reminds me. It's been months since I gushed randomly about how freaking awesome CaoPaux is. The linking. The indexing. Srsly.

You rule.

It's a phenomenal amount of work, and deserves extensive gushing.
 

euclid

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This reminds me. It's been months since I gushed randomly about how freaking awesome CaoPaux is. The linking. The indexing. Srsly.

You rule.

I agree.

I suggest these posts, recognizing the hard work the CaoPaux does should be diverted to a thread of their own and stickied.

I don't know how you do it, seriously.

I've spent two days picking my way through CaoPaux's publishers index. Today, I checked out half 53 out of the 800 listed.

Of those 53, 3 look like viable options for submission for my work.

I have another list (of UK publishers who accept submissions) to check out. I got these from Writers' & Artists' Yearbook (the book, not the web site) 2009. Only 4 of these are in the AW index for some reason.
 

CaoPaux

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Thanks, guys.

The Index is who/what's been asked about here in B&BC. If you want to check out someone/thing not listed, then post a new thread. It'll be added the next round.
 

writenow3000

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Apologies for not finding this thread earlier. I'm the contact at BigDifBooks.com and am happy to answer questions. I think we've set up a pretty good model for sharing kids' stories, but maybe we're not explaining it as well as we should. We built the site to do two things:

1. Provide really cheap ($1.99) or even free access to original kids' stories.

2. Provide an outlet for people -- inlcuding kids themselves -- to share their stories and maybe make a few dollars.

For background, I did an interview at macaronikid.com that will provide additional background. some important things to note:

1. Author retains any and all copyright
2. If we accept a book, author (not us) chooses to share it for free or sell it for $1.99. Whichever is chosen, the books are treated exactly the same way. They are made available as an on-screen, page-flipping book -- or they can be printed at home. There is a small chance (we haven't done it yet) where we may ask someone to consider offering a book for free vs. $1.99. The only way we could see that happening is if someone (probably a grade-schooler) submits a three-page book and wants to sell it. We then would ask them to offer it for free probably or save it and make a collection of short stories or something ...
3. If we accept a book and an author chooses to sell it, the author makes one dollar of the $1.99 price. A 50+ percent royalty. Traditional publishers typically pay 7 - 12 percent. BigDifBooks makes 99 cents. Actually, we make 84 cents (PayPal gets 15 ... I think). And, truth be told, we're going to have to sell an awful lot of books just to pay for development and copyright attorney fees over the past year ...

Obviously, the whole reason we can offer the stories for very little money (or none at all) and pay an author a much larger royalty is because we are distributing the books as digital files. We don't have to print, distribute, buy back, pay Barnes & Noble etc. etc.

I really started the idea after working on some picture books with my kids' third-grade classes. and after getting frustrated at seeing some of the stuff on today's bookshelves for young readers. How many Dora the Explorer books can there be? They all stink (in my opinion). We own every Dr. Seuss book (including my favorite, The Butter Battle Book). Now my kids are a little older and they're writing their own stories. And some of them are really charming and funny. And I thought the idea of creating a place where they could share them -- and other creative people could share their stories -- was a good idea.

That's the nuts and bolts. I'm going to try to answer specific questions from above real quickly, but will come back here and check in more often if anybody has anything else. Starting at the very top.

There are no fees to the author. Unless you count snail-mailing the book to us, instead of uploading it.

We don't prefer donating books for free over offering to sell them. Selling them puts 99 (umm, 84) cents in our pocket. We don't prefer either way over the other though. Both ways are treated the same.

We do think "family fun"is part of the idea. Families getting together, writing and illustrating a book, then (if we accept it), putting it up for friends and relatives to see from all over the world is a cool idea. And a good way to keep kids interested in reading -- and writing.

Don't mean to imply for one second that someone can just 'toss off' a good children's book. As the author of a few on the site, I don't think that's possible. As someone who writes for a living (marketing, advertising and speechwriting), I do know it's nice to take a break and work on something for my kids -- and a break that I enjoy from other writing.

There is a fundraising component for good causes. We envision it for school classes mainly. We change the royalty to 75% (So BigDifBooks makes 49 cents ... umm, 35 cents after PayPal). There are two books that raise money for schools on the site right now -- and one (Miss Mila Can Do Anything) that goes to Noah's Wish, which is an animal rescue organization.

We're legit. We're not some kid-friendly front for a corporation or Penguin or a printer or something.

Can't attest as someone who has used the site -- I'm a little biased. We went live a few months ago and the first couple months of that was for testing. We've posted about 10 new books from new authors -- and we have quite a few in the pipeline. The people who try the idea seem to like it very much.

Man, this is a long post. Happy to answer more questions now that I have found the thread.

Thanks.
 

Mark_Young

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So you're a nice little place that offers exceedingly cheap books at 50% royalties mostly geared towards kids or people just wanting to write about it for fun. And materials are digital?

But you do recognize that you do not do any publicity at all, and are not a true publisher? Because e-books make up a 1/10th of 1% of the total book market.
 

Medievalist

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So you're a nice little place that offers exceedingly cheap books at 50% royalties mostly geared towards kids or people just wanting to write about it for fun. And materials are digital?

But you do recognize that you do not do any publicity at all, and are not a true publisher? Because e-books make up a 1/10th of 1% of the total book market.

They're really not at all looking at themselves as a publisher in that sense, or even in terms of making money.

If you look at the site, it's pretty clear that's it's a .pdf file that's generated once you upload. The site is quite self-explanatory, though it's not really happy with Chrome as a browser.
 
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writenow3000

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Not really sure how to reply to the past couple of posts.

The idea is, yes, to provide an outlet for writers who might want to take a stab at a kids' book. They can share it for free or choose to sell it for $1.99. If they choose to sell it, then we'll pay them a 50% royalty. Author retains all copyright.

We started up about four or five months ago and are now on pace to add a book a week -- and actually are doing a little better than that the past month or so. Kids -- or parents or caregivers -- can go to the site and download all the free books they want or can get a few for a couple of bucks, as well.

We've tried to be very up-front about what we are. But apparently that's not getting through. That's okay, I guess. The folks who have worked with us -- some teachers, kids and other writers -- seem to really like what we do.

Maybe it's the nature of the business. There are so many scams out there -- 'editing' services, self-publishers, agents -- that it makes perfectly good sense to not trust the idea.

We're not pretending to be Knopf. We're simply trying to share original stories with kids and parents who might be sick of finding two dozen Hannah Montana books at Barnes & Noble. And, yes, we can only do it because it's digital. But we like to think our e-reading program -- with page-turning and printing capability -- is pretty cool ... especially since you can get about half of what we offer for free.

Chrome doesn't like us? We'll look into testing that and making some improvements.
 

Medievalist

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Chrome doesn't like us? We'll look into testing that and making some improvements.

I think the site and what it does is pretty cool.

I'd certainly download and check the site out with Chrome, but it's still early, and the problem may very well be with Chrome, which is not a final product, and not with the site at all.
 

Stacia Kane

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Yeah, I have to say, I think this is a really cute little site/idea. It's the sort of thing I would be/am extremely tempted to do with my girls.

Can I make a suggestion, though? Maybe a little less wording on the site about "traditional" publishing (A, that isn't a real term; and B, you mean "commercial" publishing) and a little more about family fun and encouraging kids not just to read but to write.

I'd also emphasize a bit more the age/reading levels of the books. Heck, the thing that bugs me the most in the children's books sections is that it's often hard to know what books are appropriate for what age. It's easier when you get into MG but for young readers it can be difficult. I think it would be great to see books listed by age. Perhaps when a user uploads their story they tick a box? Age of writer/age of audience?

Just my thoughts. :) Welcome to AW, by the way!
 

writenow3000

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Thanks for the comments and suggestions. Age sorting is a good idea -- and actually something we have the info on: The author does tick a box and choose the age category they want their book targeted toward when they submit their story. We just haven't brought it to the front of the site as a sorting mechanism. Phase two probably ... hopefully.

I get the 'traditional' comment too. We sort of do that to make certain that everyone understands what we're not. But maybe it's a little too much.

We're also in the midst of offering our first 'traditional' book ... go figure. Just a paperback of one of our favorite titles. It's called, "Miss Mila Can Do Anything" and the money goes to a cool animal rescue place called, Noah's Wish, which goes into places after natural disasters and saves pets. They wanted a few books to use at fundraisers and we can't really give them a digital file for that purpose, so we found a little independent printer to work with. So, we're actually going to offer a traditional book on the site too and can envision doing something similar with a few other favorite titles. Bulk of site will be digital downloads though ...

Would love to see a submission sometime from you and/or your daughters ...

Thanks for taking the time to bounce around the site and pass along your thoughts.
 

Medievalist

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I think Big Dif has enormous potential for homeschoolers; I can see lots of potential for lesson plans not only on writing and illustrating a story, but in terms of a travel book for a field trip, or a science log with observations and illustrations.
 

CaoPaux

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Closed late '12; front page is currently farewell note.

As a footnote, some of the founder's books have picked up by HarperCollins.
 

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