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Writing and Publishing Childrens Books

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My Experience as a self-published children’s book author

In September of 2011 after teaching for eleven years I did not go back to the classroom. I decided to take a leave of absence to try my hand at writing children’s books. As a former primary teacher I have found that writing the stories has not been the difficult part, it is everything else that has pushed me to my limits and then some. If you are thinking about self-publishing a children’s book here is what I have learned. Hopefully the mistakes I have made and knowledge about this process I have learned will help you in your venture.

After I had my story completed I started looking for a publisher. I was not able to figure out a way to get a traditional publisher to pick me up.  What I found was to get picked up by a traditional publisher I needed an agent and to get an agent it helped if you had already published something, plus agents are terribly expensive, and I did not have those kinds of funds. Finally on October 31, 2011 I found Friesen Press, a publishing company who also does print-on-demand. Print-on-demand seemed like the best economic choice for me because I did not have to have thousands of books printed and then hope to sell them. My husband and I drove up to Canada to meet them in person, which in hindsight was a total waste of time but I was so excited to meet the publisher! They did not even look at my story, not even the title and agreed to print my book…and take my money! That day we paid them $3,272.00.

My experience with Friesen Press was not a positive one. I am a very understanding person and someone who likes to have things done in a timely manner. Unfortunately, I did not like nor understand their policy that did not allow their designers to talk to the author and the constant miscommunication and lack of knowledge from their staff. After 8 months of frustrating conversations and not a single proof, I decided I had to find a different company. Of the $3,272.00, they reimbursed us $766.00. Expensive mistake.

In June of 2012, I found Lightning Source. It is a printing company, not a publisher. They do not offer the coaching aspects that Friesen Press did, but they do do print-on-demand through Amazon, so my book is available on Amazon. Lightning Source was a wonderful company to work with and they were able to print my book in about 8 weeks! I ordered 250 books at $7.72 per book to print. I needed to sell each book for $18.99 so I could make some profit when I sold them to bookstores. The other problem was Lightning Sources, as with Friesen Press, was not able to print on the spine of the book. Bookstores will not sell books that do not have the title on the spine. So all of my books are over priced, and I have to put a homemade sticker on the spine with the title and my name. Needless to say, these books are not doing too well.

In November of 2012, I met a published children’s book author at Costco! We ended up having coffee, and she informed me that $7.72 a book was WAY too high. She gave me the name of Leo Printing. Their headquarters happens to be only 15 minutes from my house, so I went right away to meet with them and fell in love with the company and the quality of their books. The only problem with Leo is you have to order a minimum of 5000 books. Unfortunately, I do not have the space for 5000 books or the funds to pay that stiff bill. Hopefully someday I will be able to do business with Leo Printing.

Not being able to work with Leo was unfortunate but on the positive side, it did light a fire in me to find a cheaper printer. I had already self-published three board books through Spectrum Print Group and decided to see if they would be able to find a printer to print my hardback book. My contact got a quote from Golden Cup for 2000 hardback books for only $2.39 per book, plus they print on the spine!!! Done.

Now selling the books has been no picnic. Learning new things and doing things out of your comfort zone can be a scary thing. I have had to become a salesperson, an accountant, a web-designer, and a social media and marketing guru…I have no knowledge about any of these professions and to sell books I have come to believe I have to be awesome at all of them. I have gone store-to-store, sent flyers to elementary schools, have asked all my teacher friends to let me read my story to their students, have had Wine & Sign events at friends restaurants, and I have given my books away for free. I still have a lot to learn, and I’m sure a lot of mistakes to be made, but one thing I do know for sure…this has been an awesome experience. I continue to reach for my dream of becoming a famous children’s book author. It is an uphill climb, but I know when I get to the top the view is going to blow my mind.

Here are some important things that I have learned:

  • Doing print-on-demand can be cheaper than paying for thousands of books to be printed, however, the per-book cost is higher which makes your retail book price go up.
  • Just because multiple people whom you believe know or should know what they are talking about tell you something does not mean it is true. I have learned that if you do not get the answer you want, keep looking until you do.
  • Bookstores will not buy books that do not have the title on the spine. They also do not like books that have a homemade sticker with the title on the spine!!!
  • Do lots of research before you make crucial decisions.
  • When the quote comes in at $1.82 a book keep in mind that you have to add on proofs, shipping and handling, and any tests that might have to be done. All of these can add up to over a dollar a book!
  • When you sell your book to a bookstore the most they will pay is 50% of the retail price.
  • Finding an illustrator…my first illustrator is a friend of mine, not sure if I would suggest doing this. Working with friends can be tricky. I found Shane on Craigslist. I had gone through three illustrators before I found Shane. It was easier for me to tell someone that their drawing was not a fit for what I was looking for over the computer than telling a friend!

Here is the breakdown of costs for my latest book How Much Do You Love Me? illustrated by Shane Burke. Golden Cup is printing 1500 books.


Illustrator                                 $1650.00

Graphic Designer                       $400.00

Golden Cup (1500 books)          $4755.00

Misc                                         $250.00

Total                                        $7005.00


Shelley Sleeper

I love painting portraits!

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I offer many creative products at Beezink. Logo Design, Video Production, Children’s books, Illustration, Graphic Design, and Fine Art. Every now and then I am asked what I like doing most. There are many projects that have been more satisfying than others, but nothing is more rewarding than creating a hand painted portrait on canvas. Although it is not always an option, I love to hand the portrait off to my customers in person so I can see the look on their face when they see it. And more than anything, I love to see their eyes tear up.

Family photographs are great. But there is something special about a hand painted portrait hanging proudly on the wall, and it is definitely a special honor to create the work. Painted portraits are a unique and timeless gift that will last a lifetime, and for me, the most rewarding part of my job. Fine Art collectors value the work much more than design customers. I have never created a logo or ad layout that brought tears to the eyes of the new owner!

Above is the second piece I created for a great guy in San Francisco. I worked from an I-Phone photo (not normally a good idea) and was a little nervous that the painting did not look close enough to his grandson. After I received this photo shortly after Christmas, I think I nailed it.

Below are two adorable little girls created in pencil. These are two of my favorite pencil portraits and were given to their grandmother as a gift.


Looking for something a little different? Below are a few unique portraits I have painted in different styles over the years.

Check out more of my work in the gallery page.

Shane Burke,

Why Choose Beezink?

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Beezink isn’t just interested in creating your design; we want to create a great design by understanding your business and reaching its customers! Having a great customer experience keeps customers coming back, and sending referrals.  Beezink builds strong and meaningful connections with its customers and believes in honest business, fair pricing, and innovative designs with every customer, every time.

 Beezink specializes in Logo Design, Illustration, and advertising, but that’s not all. Beezink has a wide range of multimedia products and offers a one stop shop for all your marketing and design needs. From start to finish, the client deals with the designer so nothing is lost in translation. Design revisions are made quickly, because nobody likes to wait.  Beezink takes pride in each assignment, and always offers friendly customer service and open lines of communication. Extremely high standards are set to take care of every customer, no matter how big or small the project is.  With many years of industry experience, as well as high quality technical training in design, illustration, and broadcasting, Beezink  will earn your business,  and show you why customers come back.

Click here to see what customers are saying.

P. Diddy’s Making his band winner Jaila Simms new album

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P. Diddy's Making his band winner Jaila Simms new album cover designed by Shane Burke at

P. Diddy’s Making his band winner Jaila Simms new album cover designed by Shane Burke at

Jaila Simms the winner of P. Diddy’s Making his band, GLAAD Award nominee, and back up singer for Faith Evans is now an emerging solo artist breaking down barriers while staying fierce and fabulous. Shane Burke and had the opportunity to work with Jaila and design a kick ass album design for Jaila Simms’s new album TransSex and theEmeraldCity.

Every now and then I receive a call or email from potential customers from the entertainment industry, and every time it takes all I have got not to sound star struck.  I recognized the name but it took me a few minutes to recall the outspoken and unique voice from the show.  Jaila wanted an in your face design with Apocalyptic theme.  After a few revisions we came up with a great design with a dark and gloomy background that completely contrasted from Jaila’s trendy night out on the town outfit.  I believe the contrast worked well, and she got the effect she was looking for.  Working with Jaila was a lot of fun, and a great opportunity for my designs to reach a wide audience, and get some extra exposure.

Check out the new album and design at




Shane Burke,

Choosing the right colors for your design

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As important as the subject and the flow of the design may be, the wrong color combinations can cause the design to be less effective than desired.

All colors have the ability to impact the senses, so it is very important to select the correct color for the project.  Three primary colors make up the color wheel and all other colors are created from those primary colors. When designing a logo or planning a remodeling project, colors need to work together in order to create a pleasing visual experience. Colors are responsible for evoking emotion from the viewer. When combined with the overall design, the reaction can be one of comfort or contentment to jarring attention.

By understanding what colors represent, a designer is able to translate that into powerful feelings from their design.

Reds are dynamic, strong and can be considered angry when used in a design. Red is for grabbing attention and engaging the viewer. Reds can be used to signal danger, such as what is seen in a stop sign, or they can be as attention grabbing as a Coke can. Red requires the viewer to act. They need to stop the car or pick up the can of Coke.

Reds can be used in designs that have many sharp angles or bold strokes of outlined black. Reds are hot and send a warning.

Yellow is bright and hot, like the sun and bring warmth to a design. Like red, yellow engages the viewer and used to signal danger by declaring one should pay attention. Designs that are created to bring the viewer to attention use yellow. A warning street sign will be yellow because it is visible.

Yellows are perfect for designs and areas of the home that need brightened up like a kitchen or a dark hallway. Yellows are bold and should be used in designs that are required to be demanding. Yellow can be used with rounded edges or sharp angles.

While reds and yellows are hot and warm colors, blue is calm cool and collected. Blue brings peace to a design and is well suited for designs that are softer and required to be easier on the eyes. A logo that is a cool blue is authoritative and is commonly used in the logos of financial institutes to convey trust and solidity.  Blue does not evoke a strong emotion; it calms the senses because it is not a hot color.

These three colors are powerful and can be overwhelming in a design if they are the sole color or used adjacent to one another. There are times for a primary color design, but a Denver Graphic Design studio will use these colors in combination with each other to create secondary colors that are better suited for the design’s purpose.

The key to using the right color for the design is to know what the design is supposed to do for the viewer. Once the purpose of the design is understood, the color choices will be obvious.

Shane Burke,

Childrens Book Illustration

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How much does a children’s book illustrator cost?


Over the last few months I have been receiving many quote requests for children’s book illustration.  How much would it cost to illustrate my 32 page children’s book?  The answer is never the same twice, and always depends on what exactly it is you are you looking for.

A standard children’s book is 32 pages.  The average rate for Children’s book art is $225-$550 per page.  Yes, that is $7200- $17600 average.  Before you freak out and loose all hope with your budget, let’s compare the art for my two favorite books.  The Giving Tree, and I Love You Forever.

Take a look at the Art from the Giving Tree.  This is one of the most popular children’s books ever written, and the artwork is iconic.  It is also very simple.  I would guess it took the artist an hour to create each image.  Now look at I Love You For Ever.

My Mother still cries every time she picks this book up.  The artwork has a lot more detail; it’s realistic but still a little whimsical.  It has full color, and detailed backgrounds.  I would guess each image took 6-10 hours for the artist to create, or around 300 hours, not including research time or creating rough drafts.  Children’s book illustration takes a lot of time.


So how much will it cost to have my children’s book illustrated?

A standard 32 page children’s book with simple but appealing artwork similar to the Giving Tree:

$800-$1200 or $25-$38 per page

A standard 32 page children’s book with full color and detailed backgrounds similar to I Love You For Ever:

$4000-$6000 or $125-$185 per page


I can’t afford to pay that much.

No worries, there are still ways to get the price to drop.  Passing on the detailed background for example could drop the price per page by up to 30%  Everyone has a budget.  I can find creative ways to shave design time without cutting corners.  BeezInk also offers payment plans.

Below is a simple price guide to reference.  Remember, each project has its own requirements and will need its own quote.

Full spread $250-500

full page: $100 – $250

1/2 page: $75 – $200

1/4 page: $50 – $100

spot $35 – $50


I need an illustrator, and would like to commission Shane Burke.  How does it work?

I will need a copy of the manuscript and a written description of each scene to get an accurate quote.  Once the author and illustrator agree on a price a 30% deposit is required before any work starts. This covers materials, and secures your spot “in line” to complete your work by your deadline.  I will start with very simple thumbnail pencil sketches to make sure placement of each element is correct and to allow for feedback.  From there I will create a more detailed sketch of the scene.  Once the sketches are approved the final product will be created.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.


Shane Burke,

Design for a Target Audience

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No matter what you’re designing, there’s nothing more important than keeping your target audience in mind. Understanding who you’re marketing to and how to best approach the process is an essential part of relaying the right message, and should never be underestimated. While it may seem difficult, there are a many simple tasks a designer can do target the right viewers. Consider all of the following tips for best results.

Choosing your Target

Defining your target market is more important than ever.   Narrowing down your target to a specific or small niche can be far more effective than trying to reach a broader market.  Not everybody will be interested in your products.  Find out who is, and market to them.

Understand  Your Audience

The statistics of your audience are essential to understand when creating a design that will speak to them. Their age, sex, location, education, technical knowledge and other traits all hold a great deal of importance for the artist, and should never be underestimated. A targeted design in San Francisco would surely be different than a design in Denver Colorado.  Designs with the Golden Gate Bridge may be replaced with Rocky a Mountain Design.  The more research you can do in order to fully analyze these aspects of your audience, the better your chances of successfully producing great returns on your marketing investments.

Choosing the Right Design

In order to accomplish your goals, you need to have a solid idea as to what will likely appeal to your target. Something dark and gloomy, for example, will not appeal to a client who is in the health-care industry. A lot of this knowledge is fundamental and will come with experience, but understanding from the very beginning what works for certain audiences and what does not is the first step towards choosing the perfect design for the audience that you are trying to reach. Look at designs by your competitors. Can you tell who their target audience is? How do their designs work?

Keep Your Team on the Same Page

If you intend to work with more than one other person, make sure everybody on your design team is on the same page, and targeting the same audience.  There’s nothing worse than a variety of individuals working on the same project with different ideas of who the audience is.  Brainstorm and create a bullet list for everybody to reference.    This should minimize frustration and reworks for the design team.

Not everybody wants or needs your products.   Find out who does,  and market to them.

Shane Burke,

Logo Design on a Dime

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Logos are an important process to produce brand awareness for your customers. 

Logos can get a little tricky with pricing, as every project has different requirements.  Here is a quick reference guide to use when commissioning a logo by

$150-$250 Logo Package 1
You have an existing logo designed by hand, or in an unusable file format and need it professionally recreated.  Beezink will take your sketches and turn them into a print ready vector image in 2-3 days.  This package does not include reworks, and estimates are based on reproducing an existing logo into the correct format.   Reworks or changes will be billed hourly.

$350 – $500 Logo Package 2
You have a detailed description of the design and there will be little for your designer to interpret.  You know what you want, but need a little help with the design.  Napkin sketches or doodles are a great help.  Beezink will create 3 pencil sketches based on your description and send them over for approval. Your chosen initial sketch will then be developed into three finished vector art versions.  Your final choice from the three vector images may have one final revision to complete your logo.  Any changes made from that point will be billed hourly.   The complete process takes 1-3 weeks.

$500 – $800 Logo Package 3
You have a few ideas, but would like the designer to create a few samples to pick from and begin development from there.  You will provide information on your company and its products or services for the designer to visually interpret. You will receive around five sketches with the designers interpretation of your logo.   Provide your feedback on the initial sketches and receive a few more sketches with your idea in mind.  After approval, Beezink will create three finished digital logos to choose from.  Chose your future logo.  One more round of editing should finish it up.   Any changes from that point will be charged hourly.

Remember, all estimates are based on an hourly rate.  Detailed information and guidelines will save you time, and prevent extra hourly charges for unplanned reworks or revisions.  Let me know if I can help with anything.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.


Shane Burke,

Save Money On Graphic Design

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When it comes to graphic design, prices vary.  Cheap prices often come with cheap results.  Moreover, higher prices don’t necessarily guarantee the most stunning results.  Nonetheless, hiring an exceptional and reputable graphic artist doesn’t have to drain your wallet.  To better afford and receive high-quality results, this guide will provide tips on how you can prepare your materials before commissioning a graphic designer, and save some money.


When you sit thinking of ideas for a logo, brochures, book cover, etc. you should think of every minute detail until the image or product is perfectly clear in your mind.  This is crucial because you know precisely what you want while the graphic designer doesn’t as he or she cannot read your mind.  The designer can only use his or her best judgment to echo your instructions.  The final product is as good as your efforts to describe it as thoroughly as possible.

Provide the designer with precise details beforehand if you know what you want.  If you don’t know exactly what you want, brainstorm, perform an online search for relevant examples, and ask for input from others because if you don’t have a clue what you want, you will pay significantly more than a person who knows.  Furthermore, being precise will minimize reworks and excess hourly charges.  It doesn’t matter if you have drawing skills or not; if you can sketch, doodle or create a concept with stick figures, your attempted illustration is still very helpful to the designer and will benefit you cost-wise.  Any illustration is better than no illustration at all.


Write down exactly how your content should read, grammar-checked, spell-checked and all.  It is not exclusively the designer’s responsibility to switch career fields and become a copy editor. Most of your text will be copied and pasted into the design, and your mistakes may go unnoticed.  It is also your responsibility to write your content out as it should appear on/in the product, be it brochures, flyers, posters, etc.  The more errors found in your content, the more time will be needed for corrections. Hence, additional charges will apply for content editing.


Graphics to be used should also be readily available to the designer to help speed up the process.  If you don’t’ have any graphics available the illustrator will have to take on the additional task of searching for relevant stock images, or creating original images, which can be pricey.  As a result, you will be required to compensate the designer for this extra time.  This may perhaps be the most expensive mistake of all.

Purchase Package Deals

Purchasing a package deal is a wise, economical choice.  Typically, businesses need a logo, and many don’t consider other coordinating correspondence to go along with it.  However, coordinating correspondence portrays an image of professionalism and authority.  Rather than purchase business cards or a logo at one point and then return for a letterhead and brochure subsequently, it is best to purchase a package to avoid separate transactions and extra expenses.  The Corporate Identity Package is available and includes a logo, letterhead, brochure and business cards.

Be Direct

If you know what you want and are adamant about getting exactly what you want, let the artist know whether or not they are free to use their judgment, or if they need to follow strict guidelines.  This will avoid any confusion and of course, extra fees needed to rework the project.  If you provide strict guidelines and still wind up with something other than what you wanted, reassess your preparation tasks to confirm that you’ve provided enough details to allow the designer to realistically create your requests visually.

File Formats

It is also crucial that you be clear in your specifications of file formats.  The designer will deliver whichever file formats are needed.  Changing files formats can be time consuming, and more labor equals more money.

Know Who You’re Working With

There is no need to hire a large marketing firm to create your business correspondence if you’re on a budget.  A freelancer or small business can be more suitable.  Regardless of whichever you choose, know who you’re working with in order to avoid unnecessary costs due to being misguided.  It is important that you check references and portfolios.  Perform an online search for reviews or testimonials.  Linkedin is a great resource for testimonials.

In the world of business, image means everything.  Professionally designed products, such as corporate identity and correspondence, portray professionalism, quality, and even high standards. Professional design work can also promote stability. A high-quality authoritative image is possible without breaking the bank.


    Shane Burke,


Branding with a Logo

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When marketing a product there are three major elements to carefully consider.  Your brand, identity, and logo.  With equal attention to these three elements, your marketing efforts should produce great returns.

Your brand is your company’s perceived corporate image as a whole.  This is not how you see your company, but how customers see it.  It is the overall picture of your company, to include the identity and logo.  Your brand is your company’s personality, reputation, and image.  A successful brand is well thought out and triggers positive feelings towards your product or service.

Your identity is a visual representation of your company, not to be confused with the logo.  It is consistent with color schemes or fonts that are recognizable to your brand.  Think of Coca Cola’s font and color, or the script Disney is written in.  With my information typed out using their colors and scripts, you will still identify with their brand.

Your Logo identifies your company in its simplest form using a mark or Icon.  Many people get carried away with elaborate and complicated designs attempting to describe every aspect of their company and what it offers.  This is not always a good idea, and not necessarily a logo’s purpose.  Busy designs may not be recognizable from a distance, or in a single color format.  The Logo should be a recognizable flag to your brand, and serve as a mental bookmark to your company.  It is functional and identifiable after a customer is familiar with your company.  Some of the most recognizable logos are very simple icons that do not illustrate their companies products.  Would the Nike logo be stronger if it somehow depicted sports apparel?   What does an apple have to do with computers?  Does the face-book “F” illustrate any sort of network?  There are of course exceptions to every design rule.  The recycle logo creates an immediate visual representation of its service.  A combination of simplicity, function, and design is key.

Why do you need a logo?  Lets face it, people do judge a book by its cover.  A professional look indicates an established credible company, and can help round up return customers, create brand loyalty, and help separate you from the competition.   A great logo will give potential customers confidence in your company, and help it grow.

Get the right logo!  Make sure it is timeless, memorable, and effective.  It should always be created as a vector image so it can be easily re-sized and manipulated down the road without loosing image quality.  Most printers will require vector files, and may charge a large fee to convert them.  Your designer should supply a few file types of the final image to cover all print and web formats.

Do you need a logo?  I would be honored to help  brand your company with a great logo and Corporate Identity package.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with details on your project.  At, we offer quality work, affordable rates, and fast turnarounds.


Shane Burke,