Posted by: nancyisanders | October 8, 2018

Educator’s Guide: Reader’s Theater

Jane Austen for Kids official cover.jpg

As many of you know, I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of my newest book, JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS. Its release date is February 2019.

As with many of my other books, I’m creating a free educator’s guide to go along with it.

If you write for children, it’s a good idea to create an educator’s guide to go along with your book too. Some publishers provide this, but many don’t, so for the ones who don’t, I make it myself. I’m starting to work on my educator’s guide for JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS, so I wanted to share the steps I’m taking, here on my blog, so you can learn how to create one for your book as well.

An educator’s guide serves many important purposes. For one thing, it gets your book into the hands of teachers and teachers are a key buying force–a vital target audience for you to market to.

For another thing, somewhere in your educator’s guide you can market your book (and other books you’ve written) so that it increases your marketing exposure.

And most of all, it helps bring your book to life for kids. The activities in an educator’s guide can be fun and exciting and help add interest and connect with the hearts of kids so they become even more enthusiastic about your book.

The first component of my educator’s guide that I’m going to create will be a reader’s theater story about Jane Austen. Here in the upcoming days on my blog, I’ll be taking you through the process I’m going through, step-by-step, to write it.

Readers theater stories are AWESOME! They are fun for kids to perform. They bring your topic to life. They are always a favorite in an educator’s guide. Plus, you can write these puppies even if you do not yet have a published book and sell them yourself on the site, TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS.

I highly recommend you join TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS. (You don’t have to be a teacher to join.) It’s an amazing place you can self-publish various products and stories and SELL them for teachers to use in the classroom. It’s also a great place you can post your free teacher’s guide for your published book to get it in the hand of teachers everywhere.

Go to the TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS site and register to join. It’s free and anybody can join! Registration is simple–it will ask you for your name, e-mail, username, and password. Plus, it will ask if you’re a teacher, but if you’re not (like me) just click “not a teacher.” If you write for children, this is a must-have site to join. You can browse on this site and discover what teachers are teaching in classrooms and get tons of ideas for writing new stories and books for kids. CLICK HERE to go to Teachers Pay Teachers and register. (If you’re already a member of TpT, you can skip this step.)

While you’re at it, go to my store TEACHER PLUS WRITER and click “Follow me!” I’d love for you to follow my store and learn about new products I’m creating for kids as I post them several times a year. CLICK HERE to go to my online store and follow me.

And if you have a store on Teachers Pay Teachers, I’d love to follow you, too! Just post a comment here with the name of your store and I’ll follow you, too.

Stay tuned…as we get started on learning how to write a reader’s theater.

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 30, 2018

Author Platform 101: Q and A

Here’s another question from my cyber writing friend, Jarm:

My upcoming book will resonate with home educators, church librarians, Christian schools and others who enjoy MG historical/Biblical fiction. So I’ll look for those groups on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve already joined a few groups on Goodreads. How do you keep track of them all? And do you mostly watch their comments or actually interact with them?

Again, these are great questions. And again, there are no right or wrong answers.

I have writer friends who spend a lot of time on social media interacting with their friends and followers. They love it and they really maximize their author platform online.

After several years of participating in online social media, however, I have learned that it is not the best fit for my interests, personality, or time. I’d rather write a teacher’s guide and post it in my store, Teachers Pay Teachers, where teachers can get it for free and learn about my book and hopefully purchase copies of it for their classroom.

So for my strategy for building up my social media on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as I’m getting closer to the release of my book JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS, I’m not planning on interacting with people every day. I’m planning on holding one to four marketing campaigns throughout the year to market various books of mine. So there will be times when I’m very active with my followers and friends for my target BUYING audience (this includes mostly teachers and librarians). But the other months of the year, I’ll probably not interact much with those platforms at all. That’s just my personal preference.

The bottom line:
My writing comes first. I am constantly writing fresh new content for new picture books or new teaching resources or new nonfiction children’s books.

Then after that, as I have time, or as I purpose to do, I’m spending time on my author’s platform in the realm of social media, helping to promote and market my books.

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 29, 2018

Author Platform 101: Time Management


That’s my cat Pitterpat sitting at my computer. I think she’s trying to friend all the cat lovers in my Facebook groups.

Social media. It’s got its benefits. And it’s got its issues.

Social media can drain our time and creative energy without generating much income in return. Yet it can also hopefully help generate sales for your books.

A couple of years ago I read a survey that interviewed published authors. A few years ago, these published authors earned a certain amount of income and spent a certain amount of time writing and a certain amount of time marketing on social media.

More currently, these same authors spent significantly more time on social media and less time actually writing, and their income also dropped significantly.

I wish I could remember where I saw that survey so you can see the results for yourself.

But this was an eye-opener to show me that I need to spend quality time on my writing first and foremost. I need to keep landing contracts to earn income.

But I also want to spend time marketing on social media because that’s what authors in today’s world need to do. Our role is to help get the word out about our books. So people can buy them and get them into the hands and hearts of children. That’s why I’m working on building social media as part of my author’s platform for the upcoming release of my newest book, Jane Austen for Kids.

The key is time management. Here are some ideas to help you manage your time on social media marketing so it doesn’t drain your creative energy or time from your actual manuscript and writing.

We could spend 10 minutes every day working on social media to build our author platform.

We could spend one hour each week on social media.

We could pick one day a week to focus on social media.

We could focus on a task instead of the time. We could just pick one task, one bite-sized chunk, to accomplish. Then do it. When that task is done, we pick a new task to accomplish.

What are your strategies for managing social media so it doesn’t drain your time or your creative energy?

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 28, 2018

Author Platform 101: Twitter Tips


Want to get your ducks all lined up in a row on your favorite place to tweet?

This past year I attended a writer’s retreat and my roomie was the amazing author, Lisa Amstutz. (I LOVE Lisa’s books about gardening and nonfiction topics for kids. Lisa’s also a fellow Chicago Review Press author who will have her debut book out with them soon!)

Here are some tips on Twitter from Lisa’s desk:

“Just a note for those struggling with Twitter. It’s helpful to install the app on your phone as well as your computer.

I have gotten up to 1700 followers without much effort by just swiping through it once every day or two and ‘following’ several new people each time, usually people Twitter suggests. Most will follow you back.

I follow mainly other children’s writers, teachers, and librarians, as these are the primary people I want to see my book posts.

As I scroll down, I also retweet, comment on, or ‘like’ a few things that look interesting. And on very rare occasions, I actually tweet something.

It really doesn’t take long – like 5 minutes – and you can do it on your phone while watching TV, riding in the car, or whatever.

I could probably build my numbers faster, but they keep growing without much effort this way. So – if Twitter’s a platform you want to use, that’s my suggestion!”

Thanks bunches, Lisa! We appreciate you sharing real info about how you’re really building your author platform.

Lisa Amstutz is a children’s book author and freelance editor. Follow her on Twitter at @LJAmstutz or visit her fun website at

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 27, 2018

Author Platform 101: Goals

P1060867 PUMP

This is the pump in the Pump Room in Bath where Jane Austen and her family (and the characters in her novels) came to drink the healing waters. The pump is probably not original, but it’s still very old and very beautiful.

As I’m moving forward on my journey to build my author platform for the release of my upcoming book, JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS, first I thought long and hard about LONG-TERM goals I want to achieve.

Here are some of them:

Build 2000 email list on MailChimp
Send out 1-2 newsletters each year to help market my books
Build 1000 followers of my store at Teachers Pay Teachers
Build 50,000 borrowed platform
Build 1000 Twitter followers
Build 4000 Facebook followers (mostly of my BUYING audience)
Pinterest: Learn How to Maximize Boards for Marketing

As you’re taking notes in your composition notebook or other note-keeping format, take time to brainstorm your longterm goals for building your Author’s Platform.

Your goals may look very different than mine. You may want to do 1 author signing every month or do 4 school visits every year, etc.

After you jot down ideas for your longterm goals, organize them into a more formal list that you can refer to over time.

Next break those down into bite-sized chunks for your first set of SHORT-TERM goals. Here are some of mine:

Set up a MailChimp account.
Read a tutorial on how to create an email list on MailChimp.
Add 100 emails to my email list on MailChimp.
Build 100 more followers on Teachers Pay Teachers
Contact 10 writer friends and ask them to be part of my borrowed platform.
Build 100 more followers on Twitter
Friend 100 friends on Facebook from groups I joined from my BUYING audience

Now here’s an exciting idea:

After you write down some concrete short-term goals, pick one.

Just one.

Pick one bite-sized chunk and work on it over the next week or two or three. Then cross it off your list.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting about time management so you can work on this without drowning in the ocean of social media.

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 26, 2018

Author Platform 101: Q and A


A couple of days ago, Jarm, one of my enthusiastic blog followers, asked me the following question:

“I’m having trouble building my list. All the components are there on my website, but evidently, I’m not drawing people to sign up. Do I need to offer something, or is following my author’s journey enough?”

These are great questions, Jarm! And these are issues I struggle with as well. There are no right or wrong answers, but this is how I try to handle these things for my own career. Maybe you’ll find some helpful ideas for managing your own sites.

I use my website as my calling card. Meaning I set it up and I refer folks to it. But I don’t count on it to generate sales of my newest books. I use my website to let people know about me as an author in a general way.

I decided long ago that I would use my blog to target one group of people: other writers. So that’s pretty much what I talk about on my blog. I post tips and tricks of the trade and actual “look at my author’s journey” here on my blog. I enjoy building this writing community here. But I don’t expect my blog to generate sales of my newest books.

Here’s how I plan on using social media to generate sales of my newest books.

First, I identify my target BUYING audience. Who will buy my newest book? (Each of my books has a slightly different buying audience.)

Next, I’m trying to find out where these people hang out on social media.

One of the biggest groups of people who will buy my upcoming book, JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS, is teachers. So I’m learning where teachers hang out.

Teachers hang out at a site called TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS, so I’m working on building a store there where they can download free teachers’ guides to my books. Plus they can buy several resources I self-publish for teachers to use with their students. I’m trying to build my followers here so they can see when I have a new product come out.

There are also teacher groups on Facebook and on Twitter so I’m currently working to join groups on these sites. And after I join them, I am friending teachers in these groups. That’s so I can reach out to them when I’m ready to share posts about my book’s release in Febuary.

And finally, I have various friends who are teachers. So I’m creating a free e-mail list on MailChimp of teachers I know through cyberspace or as personal friends. I’m planning on sending out a newsletter next February to let all my teacher friends know about the release of JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS.

All of this will take time so I’m working very slowly. I’m trying to manage my time so that I work on my current manuscript projects first in the day and save this social media for my slower times of the day. And I’m giving myself 6 months (and longer) to accomplish each baby step I’m taking.

So to answer Jarm’s question, it’s good to share your author’s journey on your website. Or blog. But to help generate sales for your books by building your author’s platform, it’s important to identify your target buying audience, then find where they hang out on social media, then take steps to connect with them so you can share with them about your book.

Hope that helps!

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 24, 2018

Author Platform 101: Strategy and Goals

P1040490 website st nicholas chawton cassandras gravestones.JPG

This was me, on a misty morning in England, standing at the graves of Jane Austen’s sister and mother. What an amazing journey that was gathering research for my book, JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS, as well as taking photographs that will be featured in it.

The journey is continuing as I’m building my author’s platform for the book’s release in February. Here’s my overall strategy:

1. I’m building an e-mail list.
2. I’m designing a newsletter to start sending out about twice a year to my e-mail list.
3. I’m building followers on various social media sites of my target BUYING audience.
4. I’m building a Borrowed Platform.

One of the main goals I’m focusing on as I’m developing my author’s platform is the level of maintenance this platform will require.

Since I want to focus most of my creative energy and time on my actual manuscripts and writing new content, I have determined that I want a LOW level of maintenance for my platform. I want to set it up and then post to it 2-4 times a year.

How about you? What do you want to add to your author’s platform to help sell your books? What strategy do you want to use to get the word out about your books?

Some authors like to do school visits. Some teach at conferences. Some do bookstore signings. Yes, I do all that. But right now I want to focus on building the 4 areas I listed above.

In the composition notebook you got or in your notes you’re organizing, take time to think about what level of maintenance you want to focus on for your author’s platform at this season of your life. Your list may look very different than mine and your level of maintenance may be very different than mine. That’s okay. The important thing is to identify your strategy to build your author platform and your basic goal to maintain it.

We’ll talk about long term goals and short term goals next.

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 22, 2018

Author Platform 101: Identify Your Target Audience


It was so much fun to drive in our tour bus and discover this information booth in the English countryside with info about beloved author Jane Austen. Isn’t that a cute idea?

As I’m working to build my author platform in preparation for the release of my upcoming new book, JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS, I’m asking myself, “Who will want to buy this book?”

Who will want to buy your book?

There are general groups of folks such as librarians, teachers, parents, grandparents, and kids.

But there are also more specific groups who are passionate about the topic of your book. For example, there are lots of folks who love Jane Austen. And these people form groups on various social media sites.

Make a list of people who would want to buy YOUR book. This is your target audience. For example, here is my list of my target BUYING audience for JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS.

Homeschooling families
Janeites (people who love Jane Austen)

In your favorite social media site (or sites), discover where these folks hang out.

For example, there are various groups of Janeites on Facebook. Plus middle school teachers who have a store on Teachers Pay Teachers (where I will be posting a free educator’s guide). Plus homeschooling families, etc.

Update your profile to reflect how you tie in to each of these groups you want to target.

For example, I updated my “About” section in my Facebook profile to say:

“I am a children’s book writer and teach workshops on writing. I also write resources for teachers (and homeschooling families) to use in the classroom and sell these in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers. My husband Jeff (a retired elementary school teacher) and I live in Chino, CA with our two kittens, Sandman and Pitterpat. We attend and are involved with Calvary Chapel Chino Hills. We have 2 adult sons, love our 2 daughters-in-law, and adore our grandkids who are almost old enough to start their homeschooling journey!

I am a Janeite and enjoy all things Jane Austen. Jeff and I traveled through England during the celebration of 200 years of Jane’s legacy in 2017. I took lots of photos that are featured in my book JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS.”

Join social media groups that seem like a good fit where your target audience hangs out.

Start a process of friending and following other members in your new groups. Why? Because when I post marketing blurbs about JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS, these new friends will get them, too.

In upcoming posts we’ll talk about setting goals and time management so that this stays do-able and doesn’t turn into a monster that eats all your time and creative energy.

And just a heads up. I’m starting to build my author’s platform in preparation for my book, JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS, here in August. My book will be released in February.

Yep. I know I can’t do this overnight. I’m giving myself 6 months to take baby steps and build my platform one piece at a time while I’m continuing to work on my current manuscripts/writing projects.

Posted by: nancyisanders | August 19, 2018

Author Platform 101

P1050156 website jeff and nancy and bench.JPG

Last summer Jeff and I toured England to research famous English novelist Jane Austen (think Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Darcy). Here we are standing behind one of the beautiful benches painted to celebrate all-things-Jane during the gala events surrounding the 200th anniversary of her death.

Right now I’m building my author’s platform as I prepare for the release of my new book, Jane Austen for Kids.

I’ve peeked into various strategies on building my author platform but most don’t really address my needs as a children’s author or my interests in social media or my level of technology.

So I’m developing my own strategy for building my platform. With the help of some writing friends. (Thank you friends!!!!)

A writing buddy asked if someone could write “Platform for Dummies,” so I agreed to post the steps I’m taking here on my blog. Hopefully you’ll find useful tips and strategies to build your own children’s writer’s platform, too!

I want to say this:

NO! You do NOT have to do it all.

Whew! Breathe a sigh of relief.

Don’t look at anyone else’s platform and cry because you’ll never be able to do it all. You can’t. I can’t.

Start in the Social media you already have. Build your platform first in the arena you’re comfortable in. Then try some new ones on for size. If they fit your personality and goals, go for it! If not, move on and try something new.

The steps I’m going to share are steps I’m really taking. And they are BASIC. The very beginnings of author platform. That’s why I’m calling these posts AUTHOR PLATFORM 101.

If you like a strategy I’m doing, you can do it too. In your own way. That works best for you.

LAST OF ALL (and most important!)
Manage your time.

Social media can suck up all your time and creative energy.

So I prioritize my writing projects and spend my time writing fresh new content during my most creative time of the day.

For me, this means that I write and work on my current manuscripts every day before noon.

Then, in the evening when I’m thinking of zoning out and watching a movie or reading, I try to spend time working on building my author platform instead.

How will you manage your time?

First of all, here’s what I did: I got a composition notebook to organize my strategies and thoughts.

Right now I’m really enjoying using composition notebooks for brainstorming sessions and writing first drafts and organizing my ideas. Use whichever method you like to use in this current season as a writer…but plan for a place to keep handy notes and jot ideas as we’re building our author platform.

In my upcoming posts, I’ll share:
*How I identified my buying audience for my genre
*My overall plan to start to build my author platform
*Short-term and Long-term goals

PS. For those of you who want to continue with my posts about creating worksheets to sell on your Teachers Pay Teachers store, thank you for your patience! I will continue to post ideas for creating an educator’s guide to help market your book, as I develop the educator’s guide for my upcoming book, Jane Austen for Kids. I’ve been busy editing and finalizing stuff like first pages (this week!) but that is now behind me and next on my plate will be the educator’s guide. I’ll post as I work on it so you can learn how to create one, too.


Posted by: nancyisanders | August 2, 2018

Help for Writers

lake fulmor reflection

Are you looking for help as a children’s writer? Do you want a paid critique, one-on-one coaching, or some other service to help you take the next step along your writing journey? Some of my writing friends provide various services that could just be the helpful hand you’ve been looking for. Check out the following information and get connected today!

Michelle Medlock Adams

Michelle Medlock Adams is the president of Platinum Literary Services and PlatLit Books.

Services include:
Marketing consultations
Book proposal services
Premier editing

Mini-Conference Prep Packages:
This service is provided to help writers get ready to meet with editors and publisher at an upcoming conference. Cost is $99.

Lisa Amtutz

Lisa Amstutz is the author of more than 80 children’s books for the educational and trade markets, including Applesauce Day (2017), Finding a Dove for Gramps (2018), and Amphibiology (2019) Her work has also appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers. Lisa serves as a volunteer judge at Rate Your story and as Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI: Ohio North. She enjoys sharing what she’s learned and helping other writers to succeed.

Lisa critiques:
Picture books
Nonfiction proposals for any age
Work-for-hire packages (resume, cover letter, writing samples)

Lisa also does proofreading and copyediting.

For more details, please visit Lisa’s website.

Susan Kralovansky

Susan Kralovansky started writing for the children’s magazine market and published stories and poems in places such as Cat Fancy, Our Magic Window, The Mailbox, and Humpty Dumpty. Her first book, There Was a Tall Texan Who Swallowed a Flea,was released in 2013 from Pelican Publishing along with her first nonfiction series, Library Resources, with Abdo Publishing. Susan has written twelve nonfiction books and illustrated her second picture book, Twelve Cowboys Ropin’, which was released in 2015. She has three books forthcoming, two with Pelican and one with TCU Press. A former librarian, Susan has led writing workshops and served as the Austin SCBWI Picture Book Mentor.

Critique Services:
Picture Book Manuscripts
(under 1,000 words, although higher word counts can be prorated) $125.00
Susan will review your manuscript multiple times and will touch on the strengths and weaknesses of the following:

Age appropriateness
Voice, pacing and language
Overall story concept
Possible mentor texts to study

A 30 minute Skype or telephone call is included with every critique.

Second Looks
For a look at a manuscript I’ve already critiqued – $50.00.

Nonfiction Picture Book Work-for-Hire
(up to 1000 words, although higher word counts can be prorated) $125.00

Nonfiction Work-for-Hire Submission Package
(up to 1000 words, although higher word counts can be prorated) $200.00

Susan will review your submission package multiple times and critique the following:

Query letter
Outline and or project summary
Writing samples

Susan will check for age appropriateness, voice, flow, and reading level. She will provide recommendations for submission strategies.

Posted by: nancyisanders | July 11, 2018

Unsolicited Children’s Book Submissions


I love learning about open doors for us as writers.

And I’m excited to learn about two small publishing houses that publish children’s books.

Isn’t that great news? To discover new places that are publishing books for kids?

But even better news is that both of these houses…yes, I repeat BOTH…are open to unsolicited manuscript submissions!

So if you have a children’s book that you want to submit, check out these amazing presses. Read their current and past book catalogues. Follow them on social media. And READ. THEIR. BOOKS.

Then submit to them if you think your manuscript would be a good fit at their house.

Drum roll please.

Little Lamb Books

Ripple Grove Press

CLICK HERE for the links to get their submission guidelines and explore a list I’ve collected of publishers who are open to unsolicited manuscripts for kids’ books.


Happy submitting!

Posted by: nancyisanders | June 29, 2018

Beginning Readers

cover front

I know a lot of you love to write and many of you have a special heart for beginning readers.

Today I want to share about a writer friend who just discovered that one of her stories begged to be a beginning reader instead of the picture book she started out to write.

CLICK HERE to read more about her journey where she also discovered my book, HOW TO WRITE BEGINNING READERS AND CHAPTER BOOKS.

And CLICK HERE to read the very helpful and informative post she shared with tips on readability!

Thanks, Jean Matthew Hall, for the shout out on my book. And best wishes on your writing journey!!!


Posted by: nancyisanders | April 23, 2018

Happy 20th Anniversary, Sleeping Bear Press!


Happy 20th Anniversary, Sleeping Bear Press!

It’s a joy to be part of the Sleeping Bear Press legacy with my nonfiction picture book: D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet.

Wishing the best to all the authors, illustrators, editors and every other person who has worked hard over the years to get quality books into the hands of young readers. It’s great being part of the family!

And if you’re not yet part of this wonderful publishing family, I hope one day you’ll be able to get your book published by this great press and celebrate milestones together, too!!!




Posted by: nancyisanders | April 19, 2018

Teachers Pay Teachers: Basic Worksheet


This past weekend I attended an amazing writer’s retreat. We all taught each other and critiqued each other’s manuscripts. Someone snapped a photo of me during my time to teach. (Yes, they had a tiara there that we took turns wearing!) During the retreat, we talked about using Teachers Pay Teachers as a platform to promote your published books.

The very first thing you will need to post in your store at Teachers Pay Teachers is a freebie.

If you’re super techie and comfortable with art programs such as Inkscape or Photoshop, or if you like to use a platform such as Powerpoint to create visually stunning presentations, this will be easy peasy. Just create a product in the platform you’re familiar with, save it as a pdf and upload it to your store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

However, if you’re already sweating in your socks at this very idea, click below for a basic worksheet you can create in a word document. No graphics. No frills. No fuss. But it gets the job done. As long as you know how to type in a word document program and save it as a pdf file, you’ve got all the technologocial savvy you need to know.

Jane Austen for Kids worksheet

(And yes! Now the secret is out!!! My upcoming book will be Jane Austen for Kids!)

The great thing about learning how to create this basic worksheet is that even if you do know how to use awesome graphics platforms, you can still create a bunch of these  basic worksheets to pad your product if you want to make educator’s guides to promote your published books or bundles or units to sell to teachers on topics you love best.

Here’s how to create a basic worksheet:

Please feel free to copy this entire worksheet, word for word, if that will help you overcome your fears about creating it. Just tailor your worksheet to either support your own book title that you’ve written, or a topic that you want to sell products for on Teachers Pay Teachers. (If you want this worksheet to support a topic, just change the wording to say something like: As you’re reading books or articles about this topic, look for three key things. etc.)

Be sure to include a space for students to write their name at the top.

Make your title in bold at the top center.

Underneath that, if you want your material to support Common Core or another educational standard, list the number of that standard. The letters CC.RA.R.10 is the anchor standard for reading informational text (nonfiction or fact-based text) or fiction. Basically, this anchor standard, R.10, just means that students are reading material that is geared for their age level in school. CLICK HERE to read this standard at the Common Core’s website for informational text. CLICK HERE to read this standard at the Common Core’s website for fiction.

At the very bottom of my worksheets, I like to include a footer. Open the footer of your document and type in the following information:

A title for your educator’s guide (In case you make more worksheets to go along with this book or topic)

Copyright info with the symbol, year you wrote this worksheet, and your name if you own the copyright (which you automatically should unless you are under contract with a publisher that states otherwise).

Your personal website or your book’s website so they can go look for more of your products and books.

The main thing to remember when preparing this worksheet is that this will be in the hands of the children. You want to keep it visually appealing to them and not put in extra info you want their teacher to see.

When you’ve typed out this worksheet, save it as a pdf file as that is a common file Teachers Pay Teachers uses.

To see what this looks like in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, CLICK HERE to see a worksheet I wrote for my book, Frederick Douglass for Kids. (Note that when I wrote it Common Core wasn’t yet adopted and I didn’t know to add my website at the footer.)

Once you reach this point, you have options. You can opt to upload your worksheet as it is, as your very first freebie in your Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Or you can opt to make a cover sheet for it. Look for other products on Teachers Pay Teachers to see what kind of style and format you’d like to use.

And you can opt to include a page or two after it that lists your books for sale or other products you want to sell.

If you’re already keen on that, go ahead and add those extras! But don’t feel like you have to. Feel free to just upload your basic worksheet to get your store started.

In upcoming posts, I’ll share how you can make even more worksheets to sell on Teachers Pay Teachers as part of an educator’s guide to promote your book or topic you love, using only your basic word document program.


Posted by: nancyisanders | February 26, 2018

Teachers Pay Teachers

This past week several of my writer friends met together with me at my house.

I think the greatest joy was to sit with friends face-to-face and chat together instead of on Facebook. We shared hugs, laughter, lunch, manuscript critiques, encouragement, inspiration, and friendship.

For the first hour or so we discussed Teachers Pay Teachers. It’s a site where teachers can purchase stuff to use in their classrooms. Why were we talking about this site in a writer’s group?

Good question!

There are 4 main reasons as writers we can benefit from Teachers Pay Teachers.

    1. IDEAS: It’s a great place to get ideas. Do you want to write a nonfiction picture book for ages 4-7? Browse through Teachers Pay Teachers and see what nonfiction topics teachers are teaching in the classroom. Can’t think of how to word a scene in your historical fiction novel you’re writing? Go to Teachers Pay Teachers, look up that historical event in their product line, preview various products and see if you can find mentor texts that word your topic well. This will help you formulate your own words better.
    2. PROMOTE: Teachers Pay Teachers is an awesome place to promote your published children’s book. Whether your book is fiction or nonfiction, you can create a grade-appropriate educator’s guide that goes along with your book and post it for free to teachers. Inside the guide, be sure to advertise your author’s website and published book to go along with the material. A super bonus perk is that some teachers might purchase classroom sets of your book to use with their students! Or they’ll order your book for their school library. At the very least, it’s a practical way to get the word out and promote your book. CLICK HERE to see the educator’s guide I offer for free for my book, A Pirate’s Mother Goose.
    3. SELF-PUBLISH: Teachers Pay Teachers is an amazing place to self-publish. Just think of it…you’ve got ideas for children’s stories or children’s nonfiction. Imagine not needing a contract, not needing an agent or an editor, and getting your material out to the public while keeping all your rights. If you’re an illustrator too, you’ve already got that covered and can produce the art for your own stories. If you’re not an illustrator, there are oodles of folks on Teachers Pay Teachers who offer their illustrations or clipart for very reasonable prices in package deals. If you’re super techie, it will be a snap, and if you’re not you can still create a wide range of products using the basic skills you probably already have.
    4. EARN INCOME: Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) is an opportunity to earn income. Yes, that’s right. You can set up a store of your own on TpT and start earning money pretty quickly. Some folks have even earned over a million dollars selling their material on TpT! For folks like me who just post a few products from time to time, I get enough money to pay for my ink and paper supplies, which is a big help for me.



Click here to check out my store, Teacher + Writer, on TpT. (Please follow my store, and if you have a store, let me know the name and I’ll follow you, too.)

Now, the first question everyone had in my writing group that met was this: Can you join TpT and set up a store if you’re not a teacher?

If that’s you, do like we did. Go on the website for Teachers Pay Teachers. Scroll down to the bottom and find the “Contact Us” link. Send them an e-mail. Explain that you are not a teacher but you want to write materials for teachers to use in their classroom. Ask if you can join.

Hopefully they’ll say “Yes” and you’ll be on your way! The first product you have to post on TpT must be a freebie.

In upcoming posts, I’m going to share some simple worksheets you can make to post your first freebie and then sell on Teachers Pay Teachers. These can be on any topic you choose or go along with your published children’s book to help promote your book.

I’m busy right now creating an educator’s guide for my newest book that will be published in October 2018, so I’ll share with you some of the steps I’m taking along the way.

Posted by: nancyisanders | February 7, 2018

Submit Your Manuscript Today


Now that I’m done with the h-u-g-e book project I’ve been working on for the past year and half, people are asking me…what’s next?

For starters, getting a book published continues to require work even after it’s submitted to the publisher. There’s a website to build, edits to work on, first pages to proof, etc.

But in between all of that, I’m also getting back to other manuscript projects of mine. I’m finishing up some picture book projects and starting others.

And I’m also back into submitting.

Yup. Submissions.

Whether you have an agent or don’t have an agent, you’ve got to get your manuscript(s) out of your computer hard drive and into the hands of someone in the publishing industry.

See the photograph at the top of this post? It’s a caterpillar that will one day turn into the biggest butterfly in North America, the Swallowtail. It was on our orange tree in our back yard last summer. (It’s self-defense is to look like a bird dropping in its caterpillar stage, which is pretty funny if you think about it.)

If you leave your manuscript on your computer and never submit it anywhere, your “caterpillar” will never have the opportunity to turn into a beautiful butterfly.

So there’s good news for those of us who don’t have agents…there are oodles of publishers who are taking unsolicited manuscripts right now.

CLICK HERE to see the page on my blog where I list these publishers along with a link to their submission guidelines. I’m going through this list this week and submitting my manuscript and I encourage you to do the same.

So if you haven’t done so recently, make it your goal to submit your manuscript to at least one place today.

Best wishes on your journey! Hopefully one day soon your caterpillar will turn into a beautiful butterfly flitting and floating around the world.

Posted by: nancyisanders | February 3, 2018

Welcome to My World

14.2.P1020392 Nancy

(Photo: Here I am standing at the Arch of Triumph on Bastille Day 2017 in Paris France)

It’s been more than a year since I last posted on this blog.

A lot can happen in a year. Life gets busy, as it did for me, and I know it was for you, too.

Life was busy for me in many ways, but most of all, this past year I spent working on a book that took me on a greater journey than any book has taken me. That’s mostly why I never had the time to post here on my blog–this book consumed all my time.

This book took me to places I’d never been to before…the site of the Bastille in Paris and Winchester Cathedral in England, among others, to be exact.

But now the book is done. The deadline (extended twice!) is finished.

But really, it’s only the beginning. The book is already undergoing the production process and will be published in October of this year. So you’ll be hearing about it as it takes on a brand new life of its own.

And I’m looking forward to hearing about the new beginnings you’re looking forward to in your own life as well.

May you find joy in your journey!



Posted by: nancyisanders | May 15, 2017

Local Writer’s Conference

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Isn’t this a beautiful setting? It’s the cherry blossoms in a local garden near where I live in southern CA.

Setting is important. It’s important to us in special events and important to us in our day to day lives. It’s also important in the stories we write.

Do you live near me in southern CA? Are you free this coming Saturday on May 20? Then come join me at a local Christian writing conference in Chino and take my setting workshop. We’ll be doing setting exercises with your personal writing project in mind, so hopefully you will get some great strategies to make your setting as meaningful and well-written as you can.

Most of all, however, the goal of this conference is to connect local Christian writers with other local Christian writers. So come on over and get connected!

CLICK HERE to see the Facebook page for the event, CHINO VALLEY ASPIRING WRITERS’ CONFERENCE.

CLICK HERE to register. It’s just $20. What a great deal for connections and information that can make a difference in your life as a writer.

Mark your calendar. Hope to see you there!



Posted by: nancyisanders | April 7, 2017

Faith Building Friday: Strength


My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:26, NKJV


Dear Scribe, beloved of your Master. Do you feel like a failure as a writer? Perhaps you struggle with a chronic illness or a physical weakness that limits your capacity to write. Perhaps your daily commitments are so taxing that you have no physical strength left at the end of the day to write. Or maybe instead of your flesh it is your heart that has lost hope, and you are overwhelmed with the idea of ever acquiring the skills to get published. The thought of experiencing breakthrough in the published market feels like an impossible task. Or you might be a seasoned writer but can find no fresh creativity to move forward in your calling. You might even be experiencing burnout and are too tired or heartsick in this challenging industry to submit anything just to receive yet another rejection. Yes, our cry can often be, “MY flesh and MY heart fail!” But wait! There is a higher power that is not bound by human flesh. There is a greater strength that is not chained to human emotions. There is an infinite resource that is not limited by human frailties. This is none other than God Himself. God—the Creator of the universe whose Word spoke the galaxies into existence—wants to speak life into the dead places of our writer’s heart. God Himself is the strength of our heart. He will lift us up on eagle’s wings and carry us in His arms close to His heart as a shepherd carries an orphaned lamb. He is our portion, our daily bread, our new mercy every day, our joy that comes in the morning even when weeping lasts for the night. He will be our strength when we have none: today, tomorrow, and each new day into eternity.


Dear God, restore my hope and renew my strength. Thank You for Your promise that Your power is perfected in my weakness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 4, 2017

Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s On Its Way!

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Easter’s coming! My favorite time of year!! I love celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This year my hubby and I are singing in the worship choir on Sunday for all four services. What a wonderful day of rejoicing that will be!

For Easter this year, I wanted to give you some choices of items you can put in your child’s Easter basket to help them remember what Easter is truly all about…Jesus’s death and resurrection to offer us the free gift of salvation.

Here’s a free, colorful tract you can download and print out yourself to tuck into your child’s Easter basket. This also makes a great handout for your church to distribute in children’s ministry or along with your bulletin. It’s a great classroom resource as well if you teach at a Christian school. Please feel free to use this in any way you want. Let’s teach our children about Jesus and the free gift He offers to us because of what He did on the very first Easter! (And if you like this tract, please take a minute to rate it…I appreciate that…thanks!)

Do you have a two-year-old or preschooler in your family or neighborhood? Or perhaps you have a little one who is just learning how to read. These 3 boxed sets are the perfect size for tucking in their Easter basket. Plus, they’re the perfect size for little hands to hold and little hearts to learn from. My two-year-old grandson loves these books and asks to read them again and again!

This series of nonfiction books teach second through sixth graders the TRUTH! Using historical documents, artifacts, and true facts, young readers learn how God has a plan for the world that includes Jesus, the Bible, and us. These are great for Easter baskets for kids in elementary school. Visit the website for these books for free printables you can also download and print out to put in their baskets: puzzles, crafts, and more!

He is Risen

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