Writing & Selling Children’s Books: with Matthew Ralph

Matthew Ralph

Join Laurie and author Matthew Ralph as they talk about handy ways to get that writing done… it’s not where you’d think!

Inspired by Sloths

…I mean… aren’t we all?

Matthew is working as a full-time writer and freelancer and has released a sequel to his bestseller, titled “The Adventures Of Sam The Speedy Sloth: Playtime in the rainforest”.

He always loves hearing from his lovely readers. Please feel free to reach out to him through his website or his social media accounts. (listed below!)

Advice for authors:

Don’t put it off until ‘later’. Later will never come. Force yourself to write something, because something can be edited. A blank page can’t! Don’t worry about making mistakes or thinking your book may be bad. We’re all bad at the beginning!

Matthew Ralph

Have a listen to the show to see if you made the same mistakes Matthew did!!

Contact Info

Instagram: @mattralphthewriter
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/mattralphthewriter
Twitter: @mattralphwriter www.mattralphthewriter.com

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View episode transcript

Connecting with Readers is his favourite part!

Laurie: [00:00:00] Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the Writers Way podcast!. I am here with Matthew Ralph. Welcome. 

[00:00:07] Matthew: [00:00:07] Hello. Thank you for having me. 

[00:00:08] You’re 

[00:00:08] Laurie: [00:00:08] welcome. Do you go by Matt or Matthew? 

[00:00:12] Matthew: [00:00:12] Either one is what most people call me, but I put Matthew on my books the same, slightly more official, but that’s fine. 

[00:00:23] Laurie: [00:00:23] Okay, good. Cause I saw that your name on here is Matt. Then I thought I’m going to call them the 

[00:00:27] Matthew: [00:00:27] wrong name. 

[00:00:28] No, that’s fine. Call me whatever. 

[00:00:30] Laurie: [00:00:30] Okay, cool. How about you start off by just telling us your journey or about your 

[00:00:39] Matthew: [00:00:39] books. 

[00:00:41] Sure. So just a bit of background, if anyone doesn’t name me. So I’m, you may have guessed from the accent I’m from England. I’m currently living in London, and I’ve been writing books for BI. I’ve been writing books for a long time, but officially, I guess for about two years.

[00:00:56] And then I got, my first book came out in, July. I think it was the 2018, but my sat was, my festival test. Books children’s books. I made myself online software and then my sort of first proper book I used to call it that came out in 2000 in September, 2019. So my journey actually was a little bit, slightly unusual perhaps in the, I got into accident me.

[00:01:23]I never really thought by writing children’s books. Properly. It was never, I’ve been writing lots and by was younger. Yeah. He liked writing, but I never thought actually writing a book myself or how you would do that. And then one day I was in 2019, I was traveling to Germany for a long weekend. and I was walking through the Aqua.

[00:01:44] I sold this poster of a slop. I don’t remember what the posted while I remember there was a slop on it. And then on the plane, I would obviously don’t have any inspiring things. You can’t use your phone when I was a bit bored. So I suddenly had this idea of a speedy slot and how that would work.

[00:02:01] And I love rhyming and applying some funny words. So I got my phone. I wrote the first couple of lines of the book on my phone. Then by the end of the fight, I’ve written most of the book. And then I looked into publishing how to do it, and I listened to some. Different podcasts like this one and a few other ones that are quite self publishing figured out how to do it, call it an illustrator and yeah, put up the book.

[00:02:23] And here we are a couple of years later and I’m now full time writing and freelancing. 

[00:02:29] Laurie: [00:02:29] And what’s the freelancing, 

[00:02:31] Matthew: [00:02:31] just so I do some writing. So writing proofreading, editing those sort of services, plus self publishing consultation, I guess you’d call it to advice. Copywriting for say my background before being an author was marketing.

[00:02:47] I worked in marketing five or six years. I was the marketing manager for. Several different funds, throughout my career. so yeah, marketing is my background. And then I went into children’s books and using those skills on the side, as well as writing. 

[00:03:03] Laurie: [00:03:03] Yes. So you were really well set up because you had those skills already.

[00:03:07] Did you ever consider for a minute traditional publishing? Like you said, you went right into researching self publishing. 

[00:03:13] Matthew: [00:03:13] I think when I first wrote Thomas beauty stuff, which was my first, I called it, quote, unquote profit book. I got the illustration. I started by applying, submitting to publishing houses, traditional and I didn’t really, I didn’t get anywhere, unfortunately.

[00:03:29] So I then. Went onto an online website, fiverr.com. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. which is where I do my that’s, I we’ll say, by Hyatt and illustrated through Fiverr and then got the book done and then. That’s when I went into South publishing, I did try the traditional route that unfortunately didn’t work.

[00:03:51] Very good. So I think they made a mistake. 

[00:03:55] Laurie: [00:03:55] Does it hurt you then? So many people have negative things to say about fiber. I found my illustrator on five or two and so I always highly recommend it. And then I, so many people just dismiss it. Yeah, yeah, cause you’re working through it. if a buyer B were always for everything, but 

[00:04:13] Matthew: [00:04:13] yeah, my, no, my, I looked into an illustrators of quite expensive.

[00:04:18]they’re obviously very good and everything, but I just didn’t have the funds or anything, especially on a project. I wasn’t sure, but no work. So I find a one Oh five and obviously it was quite economical financially to do it. and she’s amazing the girl that does mine, she’s, I control it, saved my life so I can barely do sick men.

[00:04:34] So there’s no way I could do it. I very much envy people that could do it. 

[00:04:39] Laurie: [00:04:39] Yeah. I hear you. 

[00:04:41] Matthew: [00:04:41] So you wrote 

[00:04:43] Laurie: [00:04:43] five is great. Yeah. and you’re working full time through that. 

[00:04:46] Matthew: [00:04:46] Yeah, that’s nice 

[00:04:48] Laurie: [00:04:48] working at home. 

[00:04:50] Matthew: [00:04:50] Yes, it is. 

[00:04:52] Laurie: [00:04:52] What was I going to ask you? Oh yeah. you wrote that you have 10 books now.

[00:04:55]is that published though? Or is that just written 

[00:04:59] Matthew: [00:04:59] published? So yes, I do. I think it’s, I think it’s eight and then two of them are like a bundle and. I also, technically if you count all of them, I have more than 10. Cause one of my books I translated into quite a few languages. So I technically have, so I have eight unique books, I guess you’d call them.

[00:05:16] Laurie: [00:05:16] Oh, okay. And what languages and how are they selling? 

[00:05:21] Matthew: [00:05:21] So my first book, the one I said, I created myself, I guess I didn’t quite my first proper book. It was called, go on, press it. It’s going to say, I’m a bit on the front of the cover. So I just. I’ll actually show you. I know people can’t see this, but I’ll just show you.

[00:05:36] So yeah, it’s a big, it’s a yellow cover, the big red button on the front that says, go on, press it. And on the inside, that’s different. it tells you to do things, but, blow out the candle on the cake. And then on the next page, if you make a wish and the candle blow night, and they shake the book and there’s an Apple tree and the Apple now on the next page.

[00:05:55] So it’s for younger children, reactions. and I hadn’t seen a book like that, really, that kind of interactive. but I create it myself using Canva. Yeah. 

[00:06:05] Laurie: [00:06:05] Oh yes. Yep. It’s a favorite tool for sure. 

[00:06:09] Matthew: [00:06:09] Yeah. Yeah. I great. I love it. so I created that and I did, I then translated it cause I speak a couple of different languages anyway.

[00:06:15] So I, I did get professional translators to do it, but I do speak several languages because I studied languages at university. so I have to translate them to, all the regular language like German, French, Spanish, Italian. And then a couple of more unique ones. Like Swedish was one of them. so many Swedish and they did it.

[00:06:33] And Japanese. Yeah. Yes. Just for that one. Yeah. they’ve been ice in 2018. 

[00:06:46] Laurie: [00:06:46] Okay. Okay. And do they sell 

[00:06:49] Matthew: [00:06:49] the beginning? I feel like they probably dropped off after a while. I wasn’t really pushing them anymore. Cause then I got the CD. Yeah. 

[00:06:59] Laurie: [00:06:59] I know you have to STEM the speed. Yeah, 

[00:07:01] Matthew: [00:07:01] I do have my two thoughts.

[00:07:06] The second one came out last month, quite recent, sorry. July two months ago. So it was quite recently. I’ve been at that one. They’ve been going really well. That’s my best sellers and everything. I’m really proud of those books. 

[00:07:20] Laurie: [00:07:20] Yeah. They look great. And do you have plans for more and more do you still have that creative?

[00:07:26] Matthew: [00:07:26] I do. I haven’t had a chance to actually do it yet. Cause I’ve been face time with the marketing side of it, but, No 

[00:07:31] Laurie: [00:07:31] once you get a handful of books, it’s like some inevitably drop off and then some you focus on, but then that’s where I’m at. I’m like, okay, no, I have to fully Mark it. What I have before I put up new things. And I just saw somebody else. I think Josh Becker on Facebook saying, what do I do?

[00:07:47] Do I put up new market? What I have because you really it’s a real, Tunnel of energy, like your focus. So you’re either focusing so hard to put some posts, so it’s like you have to do one or the other yeah. A magic weapon 

[00:08:00] Matthew: [00:08:00] would be, 

[00:08:00] Laurie: [00:08:00] we need to go on push it. Marketing button. 

[00:08:03] Matthew: [00:08:03] Yeah. I wish that’s my next project.

[00:08:05] I guess, 

[00:08:06] Laurie: [00:08:06] please get that out for everybody. That’d be great. what would you say like with all these books and all your creative energy and all that, what’s your big, what’s your big, hairy goal? 

[00:08:18] Matthew: [00:08:18] I guess the goal is to be a full time writer and getting a full time income, and being able to do that.

[00:08:25]cause the moment I’m doing my freelancing as well, cause the books haven’t quite made enough pale to do it full time, but also to, grow my audience to platform. I really like. Talking to the readers and stuff like that. And I’d love to have the opportunity to do that more. I don’t really get to the, as much to the men because of my books as well, known at the moment.

[00:08:45]like the dream, is to be the next, JC rolling or, that’s a very lofty goal, something like that. Yeah. Yeah. That’d be great. 

[00:08:51] Laurie: [00:08:51] Rich and famous. But also, still, also, still speaking to the children and signing the books.

[00:09:00] Yeah. And counting your money. 

[00:09:05] Matthew: [00:09:05] That’d be great. 

[00:09:08] Laurie: [00:09:08] What advice do you have for someone maybe who hasn’t finished 

[00:09:11] Matthew: [00:09:11] their book? I think. You just gotta get on with it. I think it’s a little bit of tough love and I had the same thing. So when I first wrote the fan, but I wrote, like I said, most of it on a, the plane journey since because I was bored, I guess I didn’t have anything else to distract for me.

[00:09:30] It was actually quite good method. Just don’t have any distractions try and do on a plane or you didn’t have wifi. Yeah. yeah, you just got to get it done either. Send me times I was. Putting off editing it because I didn’t know how to edit it. and you’ve just gotta, I just forced myself to do it.

[00:09:47] Cause you can edit that was you can’t edit a blank page. So you just got to get on with them. You can’t say tomorrow. Cause tomorrow and avocado, they say you’ve just got to push us out. 

[00:09:59] Laurie: [00:09:59] They love it. Are you a very like disciplined person? Somebody listening might be on. That’s fine for him, but yeah. 

[00:10:07] Matthew: [00:10:07] no.

[00:10:08] I’d like to say yes, but no, I’m not actually, I’m very easily distracted. which is why working from Hayman. Probably not the best place to eat to get distracted by something. But, I think it’s more, I realized what I wanted, which is to be a full time author and all of that. So I think. To get to it.

[00:10:28] I knew why I wanted to quit my day job and do that. And I knew that to do that. I had to write the books and get them out. Sarcastic was almost, you can put it off. It’s easy, but if you actually, in the end, you’re only hurting yourself because you’re not getting what you want, which is fine. If you want to do it just as a hobby upset.

[00:10:45] Totally fine. But for me, that was the goal. I wanted to be a writer into it for time. Yeah, that was a good motivator for me to really push myself 

[00:10:54] Laurie: [00:10:54] like it wasn’t necessary to get the work done. Yeah. 

[00:10:56] Matthew: [00:10:56] Yeah, exactly. 

[00:10:58] Laurie: [00:10:58] So you mentioned that you have all this background in marketing. Do you feel like that really helped you or did you still make some mistakes along the way or, 

[00:11:07] Matthew: [00:11:07] yeah, I’m sure I’m probably still making mistakes even now.

[00:11:10] I think it definitely helps in the sense. I obviously knew a lot. As the background of how to market West to do it. And obviously social media and stuff. A lot of people don’t really know that much about social media or doing it as a business or as obviously I did a loss of fat. so it did help, but obviously things like advertising on Amazon.

[00:11:30]you can do pay per click advertising. I’d never, I’d done a little bit of it, but not. To the extent and not books anyway. So that was a learning experience. I don’t, I think I wasn’t, I didn’t really have a huge advantage. I basically had to just muddle through and figure it out as the host going on.

[00:11:46] So I think anyone else can do that. As long as you’re willing to watch endless hours of YouTube tutorials 

[00:11:52] Laurie: [00:11:52] learn and ask, 

[00:11:54] Matthew: [00:11:54] would you say, 

[00:11:55] Laurie: [00:11:55] did you make any big mistakes? 

[00:11:58] Matthew: [00:11:58] on the marketing side, you mean. I think so early on, I didn’t look advertising. I just assumed in my book, what’s going to sell, which maybe it does something he told me and I focused it so well, but I had to push the needle a lot to get it going.

[00:12:15]whether that was, being in the Facebook group, which I know you know about and, advertising and getting people to, download and look at the book and recommend it and all that kind of thing. Again, good reviews. The more reviews you’ve got. The better your book club. And I didn’t get into advertising for a long time.

[00:12:30] Cause I. Just spending money and obviously I don’t want to spend money. I want to make money. that was my pride. My big mistake. I think I did look into emphasizing straight away and I think I could have got more momentum if I started sooner, but you need to know about advertising before you do it.

[00:12:45] So don’t just go into it because you have to, you really have to know about it. 

[00:12:49] Laurie: [00:12:49] Yeah. You need to watch the videos or they’ll YouTube or take a course or do something or you’re either going to be frustrated cause you don’t. Spend money or you’re going to spend too much money. Yeah. 

[00:12:58] Matthew: [00:12:58] Yeah, definitely.

[00:12:59] I don’t pay the bed. So when you do advertising on PaperClick advertising, they suggest a bid per click, 50 cents, whatever it might be, don’t pay it, except that put it way down low, like 10 cents, just to say, otherwise you’ll end up like me. I spent, $5 in. An hour or something we get to just, it was, yeah.

[00:13:18] And I quickly had to turn them off and figure out what I’d done wrong 

[00:13:24] Laurie: [00:13:24] because all your profit 

[00:13:25] Matthew: [00:13:25] for 

[00:13:26] Laurie: [00:13:26] the future week for, do you have advice for people like how to show up on social media?

[00:13:35] Matthew: [00:13:35] Yeah. And I think I definitely made the mistake of first on social media that I was being to look at me, look at my book, please buy my books that I’ve taken. No one really wants to be sold to, I think, like maybe my mum was something probably my biggest fan and she was liking everything and also nice about, but actual people weren’t really interested in that sort of thing.

[00:13:59]so you know, you definitely, I think you’ve got to do a mix of obviously promoting your book, but don’t make it too salesy, try and in some way, incorporate and give people actually what they’re interested in. I might post a picture of my day, but somehow get in there mentioned about my books and then it links my book, And it doesn’t have to be everything about selling either. You can’t just put up pictures of your day or, something interesting he’s seen or whatever it is. people want, people are obviously following him cause they’re interested in you. so I think that’s. That’s great is command. I then started getting into, doing a lot more kind of outreach to influencers.

[00:14:35]that’s the thing that kind of, to me, made a big difference. 

[00:14:38] Laurie: [00:14:38] So can you tell us a little bit about that? 

[00:14:41] Matthew: [00:14:41] Yeah, so basically, so obviously for my books, children’s books, the main, I guess if you look at statistically who’s buying books, really usually mum, mothers. Yeah. And obviously they would usually fall into a.

[00:14:53] A particular age bracket as well. I won’t say what age pack is. Okay. If I offend anyone, but people with young children let’s put it that way. and then to what I did, I basically spent on Instagram is my main. Is what I personally focused on as a little bit of Facebook as well. And I just looked for people who had the word mum in that title somewhere went, people had a decent number of followers, maybe 10,000 or more, and then basically reached out to him and said, I’d love to send you a free copy of my book in exchange for a review on your page.

[00:15:24] And a lot of the time you that you don’t hear back, or some people say, no, you have to pay for it. But then if you go for kind of the people that aren’t. Instagram famous, but they have a decent number of followers. Then they’ll usually be happy to get a free copy. And I’ve met some people, they’re actually really lovely and you get to know them and they really, yeah.

[00:15:41] Happy to work with you and get free books. and then they obviously promote it to their audience and, That’s how you can increase your followers a lot. 

[00:15:49] Laurie: [00:15:49] Yeah. Oh, that’s good that’s worked. I left that strategy. Okay. So if any others listening, maybe want to get in touch with you for the copywriting you mentioned or help actually even getting their book up there.

[00:16:01] You said you did that. How would they find you? 

[00:16:04] Matthew: [00:16:04] So my website is Matt Ralph, the writer.com. so I have, yeah, that’s my website and I’ve got all my books on that links up to my books. I’m freelancing stuff is also on that fiber. 

[00:16:17] Laurie: [00:16:17] Cool. Okay. And I’ll make sure to put all that stuff in the. In the notes for the show notes.

[00:16:22] Thank you. Thank you so much. It was really nice getting to know you and your ups and your downs. You wins and fails again. Okay. 

[00:16:34] Matthew: [00:16:34] Thank you very much.

[00:16:36] 

[00:34:30]

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Laurie Wright

Laurie Wright

Teacher turned author, turned children's mental health advocate. Laurie has given a TEDx talk, gives workshops for parents, teachers, and children, and has published five books in the Mindful Mantras series, all to help combat the crisis kids are currently facing. Teachers can't stop the urge to teach! A course for creatives who want to write for kids is coming soon!
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