How To Write A Children’s Picture Book On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Matthew Ralph
Matthew Ralph is our guest today on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots business podcast.
He is a children’s book author from the UK and not just that but an award winning and number one best selling children’s book author.
He knows how to write a children’s picture book and now helps the world to do the same.
He actually wrote his first book on a plane, and turned it into a bestseller, with little to no money.
As he says “I‘ve always wanted to be a writer, even as a child I loved writing little stories and dreamt of having my own book published- a dream I’m still pursuing now at 25!
I recently started writing a Young Adult (YA) fiction novel, which I am currently trying to finish and then (hopefully) get published!
My ultimate dream is to be the next J K Rowling!
Well with many books available in all good bookstores, and perhaps not very good ones too, he has achieved his aim and looks like the dream is coming true.
So with so many unread manuscripts laying on publishers desks across the world, how did he bring his words to life?
And was the hardest thing the doubts that parade in all our heads, or simply understanding the publishing progress.
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Matthew Ralph.
During the show we discussed such deep subjects with Matthew Ralph such as:
How he had managed to get his first book up and running purely as an activity to see how it all works.
Why so many families are quite willing to critique “dreams” and be less supportive of the people closest to them.
Matt shares how he muddled through and learnt the steps to publishing his own book.
We talk about the process of developing yourself and positioning yourself to expert level where your value and prices grow exponentially.
Matthew Ralph Books
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph
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Full Transcription Of Matthew Ralph Interview
Life shouldn’t be hard life should be a fun filled adventure every day. So now start joining up dots tap into your talents, your skills, your God given gifts and tell your boss, you don’t deserve me. I’m out of here. It’s time for you to smash that alarm clock. And start getting the dream business and life you will, of course, are dreaming. Let’s join your host, David Ralph from the back of his garden in the UK, or wherever he might be today with another jam packed episode of the number one hit podcast. Join Up Dots.
David Ralph [0:42]
Good morning to you. Good morning to you and welcome to Join Up Dots. Thank you so much for everyone who’s tuning in listening, sharing, telling their friends and making a difference in their own life. And that’s what it’s all about. Well, you know how the surname Ralph is really sexy, and you all sit out there. If only I could marry a person call rail right now I know you think that? Well, today is the first time ever on Join Up Dots. I’ve got somebody with the same surname. Yes, he is our guest today that we’re going to bring on the show. He’s a children’s book author from the UK. And not just bad, but an award winning and number one best selling children’s book author too. He actually wrote his first book on a plane and turned it into a best seller with little to no money. Now, as he said, back in the day, I always wanted to be a writer. Even as a child, I loved writing little stories, and dreamt of having my own book published a dream that I was pursuing. But now I’ve done it. He started writing a young adult why a fiction novel which he was trying to finish. And his ultimate dream was to be the next JK Rowling. Now, we have so many books available in all good bookstores and perhaps not very good ones too. Why do I always say that available in all good bookstores? Anyway, he has achieved he’s changed his aim and looks like the dream is coming true. And we have so many unread mad manuscripts laying on publishers desks across the world. How did he bring his words to life? And what’s the hardest thing but doubts that parade in all our heads? Or simply understanding the publishing progress? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show, to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Matthew round.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [2:29]
Hello, thank you very much for having me. What a build up. Wow, I liked that intro.
David Ralph [2:33]
It’s funny, actually, because I realised I did that a little while ago, and I was hunting around. And then I realised that you’ve got to Amazon pages one that kind of looks like you now and one that looks like you. You could be in Harry Potter. Basically you you you looked about about 13 years old. So tell me how long have you been going with the actual getting words out into people’s hands part of the business man?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [2:59]
Well, so the the the picture that you were referring to was that Yeah, there is from quite a while ago, I first started I think I wrote back in 2014 15. So I was about 24 at the time, even though I looked back 13. But yeah, I was very nice
David Ralph [3:17]
to you looked about knowing actually.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [3:19]
Yeah, I looked earlier. I said as a compliment. No. See, I started writing, like you said a young adult book. And I never sort of finished it. But I quite liked the idea of writing. And I sort of and I published actually a book about how to create your own website back in 2015. And it was more of a sort of vanity project for myself just to see how it worked publishing on Amazon, how it all worked, if you could make any money from it and things like that. But it wasn’t until my actual first children’s book, which is what I’m now writing that didn’t come out until September of 2019.
David Ralph [3:56]
So what I love about that instantly, and I leaped all over it was the fact that it wasn’t a vanity project, it was you training, it’s you self developing, and I find that so many people now and I’m gonna keep on saying this. People kind of buy a course and then think that’s it. And I always say no, that’s your starting point that gives you like the framework but you’ve got to fill in the blanks and so you wanted to get a book out there you created a book you got it on Amazon was it instant bestseller time did it out? Or was it just as I say a learning part.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [4:35]
So what the like I said the one I did before which was the How to portray the website that wasn’t but in terms of the actual children’s book which I refer to that as my first proper pro No, no,
David Ralph [4:46]
no we don’t know we don’t mess with Join Up Dots. We go back to the early days those so the website book, How many did you sell? Let’s talk about it on that.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [4:57]
Oh, a handful. Not not huge. To be honest, it was more like I said it was more a vanity project or sort of trying to develop and figure out how to do it. Because I looked at so many different exit courses, I listened to so many of the podcasts about, you know how to publish your book and things like that. But I actually wanted to do it to see if I could do it. But I knew it was more sort of, you know, meat affected, almost like warming up before you do the full exercise. I knew that was sort of what it what it was. But no, I didn’t sell that many books, I knew it wasn’t going to be an instant bestseller to to him because it was quite a, you know, just a how to create a website with lots of screenshots of how I created my own website at the time. So I knew it was quite a low content, I suppose book, but it was it was just really useful for me to do it. And it did give me something to talk about when I you know, was applying for jobs that were to do with writing or to do with marketing, because I did have to market it myself. But I knew it was never going to be sort of a runaway success. And it wasn’t until I started publishing my children’s books that I really knew that I had something that could become a bestseller. And that’s when I really started the journey really started for me, Don’t Don’t you think that is brilliant. I think that’s brilliant. But you know, so many people out there have these ideas in their head, and they, they want to do it, but they kind of look at the the end goal they did being the JK Rowling. And instead of bat, you just wanted to learn the process.
David Ralph [6:23]
And I always say to people with online business, but once you understand the process behind it, you can literally do any business you want. But people don’t generally want to get down and go dirty at such a low level. But it’s where success builds from,
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [6:41]
you know, you definitely you have to be humble, and you have to sort of realise you can’t just go from a standing start to running all the sudden you have, there’s a bit in between and I knew I was that was, you know, a very lofty goal is to become the next JK Rowling or something like that very few people achieved that. But I think you’ve, you’ve got to obviously believe in yourself. And I did believe in myself, I thought I had a good idea. But I knew it would take a lot of work. And it still is a lot of work to do it. But also, I think a lot of people listen to these podcasts or do these courses and think, Oh, well, I’ve listened to that. And I can definitely just become the next JK Rowling as long as I, you know, upload the right keywords or, you know, whatever it might be, they think there’s some sort of magic bullet. And actually, really, I know people don’t like to hear it. But actually, the secret is you just have to write a good book and put a lot of effort into it. And there’s no way to get around that, regardless of what you think or what people say, you’re never going to have success if your book is only you’ve only put a little bit of effort into it.
David Ralph [7:36]
Now I wrote a book and it’s sitting on my shelf, actually, and it’s never been published. And it was the adventures of Thomas mouse bird. And it was this little mouse. And it was a kind of Indiana Jones kind of story where this mouse was being sort of bullied and pushed around by his family. And I look back on it now and it was his site. So it kind of cliched. It was it was pre Harry Potter, but had so many elements of what Harry Potter became. It obviously was a story that was out there that anyone could sort of tapped into. Anyhow, I never I let a few people read it. And they said, Oh, you should publish it, you should publish it. But I never had the competence to actually throw it out to the world and really do that. What made you step through those doubts were like all of us any podcast or any novelists, we always look at it and it’s not good enough, I just polish it, I polish it a bit more before I give it out, I do a bit more of it this and you can almost over polish it and and suppress the spark it had at the beginning?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [8:42]
Well, I think you’ve got to be confident in your own, you know, abilities or whatever. But I mean, he said you do have to polish it, you do have to, you shouldn’t just be sort of arrogant and throw something up, you do need to make sure it’s good. I think, for me, I had this idea. Like you said in the intro, I had this idea of writing a book on a plane, an aeroplane. And the idea just came to me one time when I was in the airport about a slot and I thought oh, that’d be a funny children’s book if it was a speedy slot, because obviously, that’s very unlikely and very uncharacteristic of normal slots. And I wrote most of the book on the plane journey because I was bored, frankly. But I then got some people to read it not just my family and friends because they tend to be quite kind. So I got some sort of objective people to read it, who I found on Facebook, or just people who I knew that were sort of had published books previously. And I got their opinion and they said, Oh, yeah, I think you’ve got something here. So that’s really what pushed me and inspired me to actually get it done not just leave it on a shelf somewhere.
David Ralph [9:36]
It’s interesting, you say that your family were crying because I find that most families or anything of that kind and you would think you would think that they were the ones that really going to be your biggest supporters. You know, I’m a podcaster for a living. And my kids won’t tell anyone that dad’s a podcaster my son went on a podcasting course through his media University and he didn’t tell Anyone in eight weeks that his dad was a podcaster? And I said, you know, how unsupportive are you? And he went, Oh, no, no, I just don’t want people. And it’s interesting that the closest to us don’t really want us to fail. So they hold us back somehow I find that families aren’t generally kind.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [10:20]
I think they I Well, I can’t speak for your family for even though we share the same last name. I think we have similar very different families. But um, I think I think, I think my family were definitely they were critical in the sense, they did say some things about it. But I think asking family and friends, you’re never going to get the same honest feedback that you would get from someone completely objective. And sometimes, like you said, sometimes maybe your family are overly critical. And maybe it’s good to get. Because you also, if you ask someone like my family, you know, obviously, they’re all grown up, and they don’t have children, or they didn’t at the time have children. So it had been a long time for them since they had really been involved in children’s books. So they had some thoughts that actually weren’t necessarily reflective of what the industry is actually like query
David Ralph [11:05]
to tell us what what were the viewpoints on that?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [11:08]
So I think I can’t 100% remember this a while ago, but it was just things like they said, Oh, I don’t, you know, my book was rhyming, my book is rhyming, but I think they said, Oh, why don’t you have it, not raining or something like that? Or they said, you know, the rhyming is overdone and things like that. And I thought, well, actually, yeah, that might be true. in some senses, in other senses, it’s not. So I think sometimes you can just be out of touch with it, if you’re not really hugely involved in it every day and things like that. I think, yeah, it wasn’t anything specific. It was just getting lots of different people’s opinions who are not people, people who you don’t know, particularly, it then helps to build a pitch because if they all say pretty much the same thing, then you think, Okay, well, obviously, they’ve all got something if they all say, this rain doesn’t work or whatever, even if you think it does, it probably doesn’t. If lots and lots of people are saying it, so I did change quite a few things about it.
David Ralph [11:57]
You picked a hard one, Sam, the speedy sloth. What does he end up as a golf? That there’s not a lot to rhyme with slop is there?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [12:05]
No. Well, luckily, the word Slav, I didn’t actually use that as the rhyme or most of the time. So in the book. Yes, no, it slot is definitely a difficult word to rhyme itself.
David Ralph [12:16]
Did you find that you naturally rhyme anyway? Because you’ve done it a couple of times in this conversation, that is your brain sort of tuned into those kinds of mechanisms that make a good rhyme.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [12:28]
Yeah, it must be that Yeah, as I was saying to me, I realised I just rhymed. And I didn’t even mean to. So maybe it’s just my natural way of speaking. I don’t know. But I love alliteration and sort of silly words and things like that. And so that’s why the title is alliteration. Sam, the speedy slot. I deliberately designed it that way. But yeah, the rhyme just kind of came to me, I was just sort of, like I said, I was in the airport. And I looked at this slot poster. And then I knew that I didn’t know that much about slots, to be honest. Like, before I got on the plane, I quickly googled and went on to the Wikipedia page for slots and read a few facts about him because I knew obviously what they were, but I didn’t know a huge amount about them. And then the first line of the book, in the rain forests of South America deep lives, a curious creature most often asleep, just popped into my head, just literally Clickbank just came into my head. And then the rest is sort of followed.
David Ralph [13:14]
Now, David Williams, who is a comedian in the United Kingdom, he’s probably not well known across the world, but certainly over here, he’s sort of a household name. He started writing a children’s book just to add something to do. And now I think he’s second behind JK Rowling on the children’s books list. And he always says he tries to get two unrelated things together, and then put them in pebble. So he would take for example, a granny? And then think Wouldn’t it be funny if the granny was a gangster, and then put them in some kind of adventure? And that’s his whole sort of structure, take two unrelated things, put them together, and then put adventure into it? How do you come up with your ideas? So they, you know, page Turners, not only for adults, teaching their kids to read and stuff, but actually for the kids themselves?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [14:06]
Well, I think actually, I said that Yeah. David Allen’s obviously I’m very familiar with his work and Gangsta Granny was where I have actually read parts of that book. So I thought it was really good. But the idea for sevens BD slot was actually sort of similar, I thought, well, obviously a slot isn’t normally speedy. So that sort of two opposites collide. And that was where it sort of came from. And then I’ve actually I’ve written two books in the in the sand speedy slot series. And then I also wrote another book called Jia, the not giant giraffe. And it’s about a giraffe with a short neck. So it’s kind of again, it’s that sort of similar idea that you take an either an animal or something that is not normal is not usually associate with that thing. I flipped on its head and I also wrote them. I also wrote a book for slightly older children, a sort of easy read or chapter book called. It’s by Athena princess Athena and she’s a knight s of the square table. So I mean, as you can guess it’s a it’s a play on words of, you know, Arthur and the Knights of the rounder when it was, it was flipping it on its head and it was having a female protagonist who has to rescue the prince in distress rather than the the damsel in distress. It was the prince in distress. So sort of again, it’s like taking things that you don’t normally associate each other and flipping them. So I suppose I kind of similar to David, Wellington’s in that sense.
David Ralph [15:24]
Now, there’s so many people out there as well, they see things like podcasters, and they see YouTube channels and offers and they like to do. That seems good. And I think all of us and you you wouldn’t be the same, Matt, because I certainly was, I only understood a certain level of I could do that. And on the podcasting sense, apple, I think I’d be quite good at podcasting. It’d be my sort of skill set. But actually, there’s so much behind the scenes that nobody knows about it. There’s the the 95% under the water that actually makes a podcast successful. And the same goes about books as well. So how do you actually tip that iceberg upside down and make that 95% visible to you, so that you can actually learn how to do the marketing the sales getting it out there? Because it is there’s so much going on?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [16:18]
Definitely, I think I’ve definitely didn’t realise at first how much effort actually goes into creating a book, especially children’s books, which I think are almost in the class of their own, because they’re so different to regular books, because of you have to get off the illustrations and things done for them. And so there’s that sort of like an extra thing that you have to think about. Like I said, I listened to quite a few podcasts and courses, but a lot of them were talking about books for adults. So it was sort of quite different. So it was kind of a learning curve. For me, I had sort of muddle my way through a lot of it. And I sort of, obviously along the way you make some mistakes and other things you kind of you, you’re lucky and you sort of fall into doing the right thing in some ways. But it is definitely something that I’ve considered offering my own sort of service that I do actually now, I’m actually self employed now. And I offer freelance services like editing, and proofreading as well as also giving advice for publishing and keyword research, things like that for books. And that’s all, that’s all come on the back of me having to do it for myself. So I’ve learned how to do it. And I’m now offering it to other people on fiverr.com. So that’s how I sort of make my full time salary now is doing that. And I’ve learned that on the back of, of doing all the book stuff, but I am also, that’s definitely something I’m pursuing and thinking about doing my own other costs or something like that, because I think there’s so much stuff that people don’t talk about to do with children’s books specifically. And I think that would be a really useful Practical Guide for anyone wanting to get into that industry, because there is so much stuff to unpack.
David Ralph [17:49]
So what would be like the first thing, but you look back on it, and you slap your head and think God, I had no idea. But a listener out there who was intrigued to start writing should really think about,
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [18:02]
I think at the start, you’ve got to be realistic about whether you’re going to get traditionally published because that’s what most people think about when they think of publishing a book they think of, you know, getting a publisher like Penguin Random House, or one of the big, you know, the big ones who are going to take your book and turn it into the next Harry Potter. And I think, you know, that’s a very lofty dream. And maybe some people can do that. But it’s, you know, I think you have to be realistic and say that’s extremely unlikely. So I think from the start, you’ve got to think, okay, I’m probably going to have to self publish, that’s I can try the traditional route. But don’t be disheartened when you get rejections because that’s what happened to me. So you’ve then got to make sure you educate yourself of how you self publish and how you self publish in a not too in a cost effective way, I was lucky that I looked into getting a professional illustrator and realise it was going to cost me 1000s of pounds or dollars. So I sort of looked for alternative means and that’s when I found fiverr.com. And I found an illustrator on Fiverr, who was, you know, a fraction of the cost of someone who I found online. And she did amazing work. She’s based in Indonesia. So she it all sort of bait we all we talked just on the channel because the time difference. So I think that’s something that back when I first started, I thought it was going to be a lot easier in a way than it was and less expensive than I realised it was actually going to be quite expensive. But I managed to sort of offset that slightly by finding a cheaper illustrator, but the actual process itself, I should have done more research in terms of how you get the illustrations done and how you put the book together and then put it up onto Amazon. I didn’t even know anything about Amazon KDP. I didn’t know what that was. I had to just someone mentioned it to me in a Facebook group one time I didn’t know what KDP was. So I googled it and then read up about it. But if they hadn’t told me that I wouldn’t have known about that at the time. So yeah, I think you just need to make sure you educate yourself and know what you’re doing to self publish before you start thinking about that but you’re the first thing you need to do is make sure the book is well written and make sure that there’s no spelling mistakes. If you’re going to do writing, make sure that it’s good rhyme. If you’re not sure about the rhyme, don’t do it wrong, because nothing worse than bad rhyme. So I think you’ve just got to be really honest with yourself. And that was a mistake that I made that I was, I think I was kidding myself slightly at the beginning.
David Ralph [20:19]
So if you’re, you’re basically saying, if you can’t do the crime, you don’t do the rhyme. Is that what you’re saying?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [20:25]
That’s good. I should have. I’ll use that as a rhyme for my next book. Thank you.
David Ralph [20:28]
But that could be in the sexy podcast. No, that doesn’t work. Because you’re taking two opposites. It is, how would that work? How would you write a book about a sexy UK? podcaster? Is that is that? Is that doable? Is there a story there?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [20:41]
Oh, maybe? I don’t know. I’m not sure if that’s beyond my skills? No, I don’t I don’t know perhaps one day.
David Ralph [20:48]
Right. And that is the end of the show. I’m cutting it off here. Let’s bring Oprah on
Oprah Winfrey [20:52]
the way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this stuff. But what is the next right move. And then from that space, make the next right move, and the next right move, and not to be overwhelmed by it. Because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment, you know, you’re not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you. Because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [21:24]
Now, one of the things I do, Matt, and I don’t really share this, I think this is the first time I’ve ever shared it. But on a Monday, I come up to my office, I have no clients, I have no podcast recording, I have nothing. And I basically have got a list of things that people have mentioned in interviews that I’ve done that I think, Oh, that’s interesting. I don’t know anything about her. And I spend my time just reading websites and blog posts, and watching YouTube videos, and really kind of just going down the rabbit hole of what intrigues me. And more often than not, you once again, you find some piece of gold that you didn’t know, but then develops. And once you’ve got that knowledge, that extra knowledge, you can’t lose it, can you you just build more and more gold. Now, going back to actually starting on Amazon? Would you have been better to have hired a coach? Or as somebody who’s been there before you? Or are you still pleased that you actually worked it all out yourself?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [22:25]
What I would say is, I think it’s good to get some help. But definitely don’t look at if you’re going to go down the publishing route, as in traditional publishing, make sure it is a proper traditional publisher, not a vanity publisher. There are a lot of them out there that basically if if a publisher tries to get you to pay to publish your book, run the other way. Like there’s no way that some people might try and disagree with that. But do not you should never ever pay a publisher to publish your book, because you could do it for free. If they’re not doing anything other than publishing your book. If they’re paying for the illustrations, things like that, then maybe it’s worth it. But I would say definitely, if I made this mistake, I didn’t know anything about vanity publishers, I went to a couple of publishers. And they said, Oh, we’d love We love your book. And I was all excited. And they said, Oh, and for the small fee of you know, $2,000 or whatever, 2000 pounds, we will publish your book. And I was thinking, Well, you know why? I’ve already done the illustrations, what are you actually bringing to the table. So definitely don’t go down that route. But I think it is good to hire people or at least get seek advice from people who have done it before. So for example, that’s why I you know, I’m offering services on fiverr.com, for that exact reason. So I’m not charging people 1000s of dollars for advice I’m giving, you know, if someone’s unsure about something, I will help them and I can, you know, for example, keyword research, so many people don’t know that much about the keywords that go in and the sort of the SEO factor on Amazon, I certainly didn’t know about it. And now that I’ve done it so much, I kind of know what works and what doesn’t, it’s good to help. It’s good to seek someone out who can help with that, because it’s relatively low cost. And it’s also useful, whereas things like vanity publishers, I would argue, and not only expensive, but they’re also just unnecessary. So I think definitely getting some advice is good, but don’t throw your money thinking that it’s going to produce a good result because often it doesn’t, you’re just spending money. You could just do it for free or little cost by doing all yourself. And you’ll learn more in the process by doing it that way anyway.
David Ralph [24:23]
Now when I’m in your book, and I’m flicking up and down, and it looks like the kind of book that I would have read my kids and my kids hated us reading stories they they like me making them up as soon as I got a book out now just make one out just make one up. Is it one of those books that is repetitive you read it time and time again, certain kids get into the same one and they don’t want any of the others they just want the speedy slop over time. Is it one of those ones that has got a kind of almost hypnotic trance on kids dinner.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [24:55]
The feedback I’ve had it’s been really nice people have said they really liked the children really like and they read it Because it’s, I think the rhyme helps because it sort of obviously stains lyrically nice. And also in my books at the back, there are activities, internet interactive activities, which I think a lot of children’s books don’t necessarily have. So I’ve got like a spot the difference, find the hidden pictures. So in each picture in each illustration on every page, there’s hidden fruits, and at the back, it sort of says, you know, go through and find the fruits, and it has the answers. There’s fact files by each of the animals, you know, by where they live, what they eat, and things like that, and some fun facts about each animal. And I’ve had really good feedback on that people saying, Oh, that’s really good. And it’s really educational at the same time without children, realising that’s educational. So I think that’s why people have been going back to the book again, and again, because it’s, even if the child already knows half of the facts, or has already done the word search, to know how old they are, they might have either forgotten, or they just like doing it again. And again, I know, when I was a child, there are a couple of books that I got my parents to read endlessly, just because they thought they were funny.
David Ralph [25:57]
I started reading Narnia books, when I was a kid, I, I liked the line, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And my daughter got the box set, I don’t know about 1010 of them by CS Lewis. And I thought to myself, I tell you what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna go back and read them all, and then see how the wardrobe got there and Join Up Dots. And I read the first one. And I thought it was it was pretty good. I got to the line, which in the wardrobe, which I used to love as a kid hated it. I couldn’t get past it. It just bored me. And I thought to myself, This is interesting. How do you buy it so that our children loves it? But we have an adult? You can’t get through more than two pages a day? It blew my mind, but I wasn’t loving it in the same way. Is it a different kind of skill? Do kids have different types of brains that you’ve got to focus in on?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [26:48]
Yeah, definitely, I think so children’s books is a unique challenge, which I’ve said before, because you’re writing the book for the child, and then who are the end user, but ultimately, the parent is the gatekeeper in it, then that’s going to buy the book, so you got to appeal to them as well. So I think I wrote the book, obviously, with a child in mind. So that’s why I got Ryan. That’s why I wanted to make a kind of a bit silly, but also relatable. I think most children can relate to, you know, Sam, who’s speeding feels different to other slots, because everyone else, all the other slots are sort of lazy and sleepy. And they are and you know, he’s not he’s speed in feels different compared to others. I think all children can relate to that. And also parents can as well. So I think that’s why in that sense, it kind of, you know, kill two birds with one stone and so to speak, in terms of the goal. I think that’s why it appeals to adults, because it appeals to them. Not only when they were children, I’m sure they felt that way. But also as adults, we can also feel that way. And I think then obviously the child themselves, they just, they don’t necessarily see some of the hidden meanings. They just see a cute picture of a slob on a nice background. And it’s sort of a funny story in for them the idea of a talking sloth and a talking monkey or a Jaguar or a catfish, which are the other animals in the book. That’s kind of, you know, especially if you’ve never really been exposed to some of those more exotic animals, unless you live in the rain forest, which some children might but I think most people don’t. I don’t
David Ralph [28:09]
think I have a lot of podcast listeners in the rainforest.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [28:12]
To be honest. I don’t know. Maybe that’s maybe that’s a spin off?
David Ralph [28:16]
Yeah, I think so we might be able to get there with me. I’m looking at your book, and it strikes me You said this earlier, but I didn’t pick up on it. You said the words in the rainforests of South America deep lips, a curious creature most often asleep. And I’m looking at it and I think it follows on it naps in the day and slumbers all night. A fast moving slop is an unusual sight. That first line, that first line is unusual, because it actually doesn’t make sense does it in my brain. I’m looking at it in the rainforests of South America deep. That’s a strange line to just come out of instantly in an airport.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [28:51]
Yeah, my brain my brain obviously works in unusual ways. Obviously, that’s, that’s the proof on the page, I suppose. But I just think I just I don’t know why I think the idea just came from I when I was a child, there was a children’s book, I can’t 100% remember what was called, but it was about skeletons. And it sort of it said, in a deep, deep word lives has a deep deep house, and that he will run and it says that, you know, the deep deep cellar is skeletons, whatever, I can’t remember 100%. But it’s quite a famous book. And I think maybe that’s where the idea of the deep came from. And then obviously, asleep just was the obvious rhyme for that when he talked about a slot. So I think that’s how it that’s how it came to my mind. I think with children’s books, as long as it vaguely makes sense. It doesn’t really matter because children aren’t going to really pick up on that. It’s just as long as it’s something they can vaguely relate to which I think obviously they know the word sleep and they know potentially what a rain forest is. or a forest so I think Yeah, just it is slightly unusual, but maybe that’s just the way my brain works.
David Ralph [29:48]
When I was a kid, and I’d forgotten this until recently, and my favourite book was the magic tricycle. And it was a story about this kid who had a tricycle and then got like a magic mud guard. But you could put over the show. And then when he pedals, he could fly. And he used to fly off to season and down in Brighton. And I remember this, I used to love this book and read it all the time. And as an adult now, and I’ve been sort of dissected by many people, one of my sort of core elements is my, my desire to escape, and be free, and be off grid and be having adventures. And it’s real fundamental to me what I am now. And it touched me deeply. And I’ve tried to find it online, I’ve tried to find it, because I would buy it again, because it was such a sort of powerful image. But getting it to where we are now is one of those things that people have to look back at their childhood, yet to see really what their essence is, for moving forward. I think we all get into that part each, where responsibility takes control. And people tell us that we should be doing good stuff. And we allow ourselves to float in directions without actually looking back at the young kid, or you’d be laying on the floor drawing and writing stories or whatever and thinking to ourselves, that’s what I should be doing. I should be doing something more like bat. Do you feel like you’ve connected those dots? Do you look back at the young mat and think, actually, I’m as close to the five year old version as I possibly could be in adult life?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [31:26]
Oh, yeah, definitely. I think. Yeah, most people that know me would say select, like a five year old sometimes. So that that definitely is true. But no, I, I think for a long time, I thought, well, I have to get like a inverted commas. proper job. So I was I was working in marketing. And I worked in marketing for about six years. And then I sort of decided I thought I want to this publishing thing, I’d written my first book, and it was doing well. And I just knew that that was, that was what I’d always wanted to do. But it hides almost forgotten about it until then. And then my I remember telling, I remember when I first wrote the book, and I told my mom about it, she said she sort of reminded me and said, Oh, yeah, you wrote all of these stories when you were younger. And yeah, you used to love doing all of that. And she and I think she found some of them in like a notebook somewhere. And, yeah, it’s I think it’s sort of an that, like you said, that joined the dots for me. And that was when I really decided to leave my, quote, proper job, and my adult job and really pursue what I wanted to do. And then like I said, I’ve managed to make it into a into a full time career for me now.
David Ralph [32:27]
And I think most people can really do if you really connect that passion. And I mentioned this quite a lot of times on on the show. But there’s evidence of me as a nine year old, eight year old, going round to banks and stuff knocking on the door and saying, Can I interview the bank manager, and that the butcher, and there’s an a vicar and there was all these kind of real adults. And I think to myself, I remember doing that. But it blows me away that I had the confidence as a little kid to take my tape recorder around to a bank, knock on the door and get an interview with a bank manager. But there was obviously something that really intrigued me about people that now translates onto a podcast and I built my whole sort of livelihood around it.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [33:11]
Definitely, I think they said I mean that that for you. That’s obviously joining the dots is now from going from interviewing bank managers as a child to now doing a podcast. I think the same for me, I used to write little stories and stuff. I always used to write books, or like little little stories, even just not anything to do with, you know, a school assignment or anything like that. I just did them because I liked them. And I remember Yeah, my mom just said, you always you always said you wanted to become a writer one day, and I sort of completely forgot about it until I got, like I said, until I got into my mid 20s. And I suddenly remembered something that I had said when I was, you know, 20 years before when I was about five. So yeah, I think it all kind of comes around in the end and the dots join but you’ve got to push for it. And I think obviously it also depends on if you’ve got commitments or if you’ve got a family or whatever, obviously you’ve got to think about that side of it. financially speaking obviously for myself, I don’t have a family or anything at the moment. So it was a bit I guess easier in that sense that I do like some
David Ralph [34:05]
of my kids that they’ve got the same surname it’d be easy you can just pass them off as your own and won’t even need to adopt them and everyone would just believe it.
Just Just move them in and mean Yeah, you’ve got a ready made family. There now we’ve where you are now obviously you are moving along. And what we see all the time and every person that I’ve spoken to their first kind of being is getting up and running, then their next thing is to earn a living from it. And then almost a real dream starts coming because they they understand the environment they’re in they understand what’s possible, and then they start building forward. Where are you now with Sam the slop in your writing business? Either dreams getting bigger and bigger in your head.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [34:53]
Yeah, there’s the goalpost definitely move. I when I first decided I was working in marketing and a full time job Up until June of last year, and I decided to leave so I sort of stopped my notice in February boxy that was when Coronavirus hit so sort of not really the ideal time so then I went into being self employed during lock time and I have been ever since I haven’t really been self employed in normal situations I’ve only been during current during you know, lockdown quarantine everything. But yes, definitely at first it was, can I make a living out of it. And I, I think I knew I couldn’t make a living just on my books alone because they weren’t making enough money. But I that’s why I started doing the freelancing. And it’s into freelancing at first, sort of, as long as I make enough to cover my costs and pay my bills. And then once that I got to that point, it was okay, now I want to earn enough to be able to, once we come out of lockdown, I want to go on holiday or something, I want to be able to pay for it and not have to worry about having some money saved up to pay my tax bill at the end of the year. So there’s always these goalposts and they’re constantly moving depending on when you where you are. And I think you’ve got to be a pilot, you’ve got to plan in a way, I’m not particularly good at planning, I’ll admit, so I sometimes have to be pushed to do it by you know, people who I know who are more organised than I am. But then you know, they’ll say, Well, you know, you’re earning this much at the moment, which is nice, but it’s not a full time salary. So what can you do to get to the next level? And then to have, I’ve had to sort of think about, okay, this is where I am now, where can I, you know, I’ve gone from A to D to what you know, to cave. And now if I want to get towards that, how do I get there, you know, you continue to move along?
David Ralph [36:34]
The key thing I would say, yeah, stick with it at the moment, get off of Fiverr Fiverr has gold there, but move over to somewhere like Upwork, which is much better for freelancing Fiverr is cheap and cheerful. That’s why it’s got the name. And yes, I know they’ve improved their pricing. And there is gold on there, that podcast intro that you’ve just heard on Join Up Dots that was done on Fiverr. And I went over there pay 30 pounds bloke did it, bang, it was done. But I think if you really want to move this into the area where it’s not just a nice to have income, you’ve got to actually set yourself up as a proper business. And most people on Fiverr are the kind of side hustle people that are just doing a bit of bass and a bit of that to earn some income. So you obviously know your keyword stuff, which is great. I would certainly think about how you can separate yourself by actually having it as a proper business and not just as a sort of side thing.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [37:33]
Yeah, definitely I’ve that’s exactly what I’ve thought and I have dabbled in Upwork a little bit, but I find that I haven’t had the same traction. But I have a bit at the same time. I haven’t probably given it the same amount of effort and attention as fibre, just because fibre was easy axos getting more orders. But definitely I want to set myself up as more of a proper Well, I say proper, I mean people on Fiverr still proper, but as in, you know, an independent Freelancer as well, where I’m having actual clients not through Fiverr, but just through my own networking and my own means and creating my own company as well.
David Ralph [38:06]
And then the key thing is, and I heard this podcast many years ago, and it struck me as amusing. But now I think it was bang rolling. And these two guys were having real life coaching calls. And this American person came on and said Oh, and I’m so stressed, I just don’t have a moment to myself, What can I do? And they said, Why says oh no, I can’t I can’t do that I will lose half the people. Yeah, you lose half the people, but you’ve got half the time free and you’re earning the same amount of money, double your prices. And every episode I listened to was basically w prices w prices. And I know we go through that stage in business when we think but like the American lady, you can’t do that you’re gonna miss out, you’re gonna miss out. But it then gives you the space to increase your value and become more worthwhile anyway. And then you’re up and running. And I think most people say, you know, a normal salary in the United Kingdom. I think the average ones 25 grand a year. Most people who are if you could have just one customer pay you 25 grand a year. I think most people will say yeah, brilliant. I just I just I just have bad events sort of build from that point. But we all start at $5 the $10 the $50 and you need a lot of people taking up your time to get that need to focus in on your value and your value is already there. It’s already there. The fact that you’re published you’ve got your books out people are loving them. You’ve got you know, loads of reviews on Amazon, but it’s a totally different ballgame so you shouldn’t be sort of scrambling around you should just be going above me prices and get me free time back.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [39:51]
You definitely i’ve i’ve I have definitely increased my pricing. Since especially since I’ve played offsetting I had low prices at the beginning. deliberately because I knew I’d be able to get reviews that way and obviously, then build a name for yourself. Because the more reviews you have the more clients again, I’ve definitely started increasing my pricing. And I’ve also become a five a pro seller now okay. Yeah, she’s, which is, um, you know, I think it’s only 1% of Africans get into, you have to be sort of hand vetted, professional, obviously, because I’ve got a background in marketing and in publishing. And I’ve sort of I’ve, you know, got the receipts and the goods to show that I can I have, I’m a best selling author and everything. That’s why I that’s how I got accepted. So I’m now doing a lot of sort of more high price and high value work. But no, definitely I agree with what you’re saying, I’ve that’s how that’s in my plan is to increase my costs. And also sort of may eventually transition away from Fiverr. And just go towards working with clients myself and getting a name for myself as being you know, someone within the industry who you go to to help you with your book and help get it published and carving a niche for myself within that area to definitely, you need more time to be able to do the things you actually enjoy not just being bogged down by doing keyword research or proofreading for $5.
David Ralph [41:06]
Now, the big question is, if you only had to write and you made a living on it, say you will Williams, you was rolling, you were Stephen, King, whatever, and everything got taken away from you. Is that the dream? Or are you actually intrigued about the nuances of publishing,
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [41:27]
I am definitely intrigued, because my background is in marketing, like I said, before I was went into publishing. So and I guess I sort of similar, and obviously, there are marketing elements. So I do enjoy the marketing elements, there are some parts they probably could do without. So I think it would be nice to, I think it would be nice in some ways to have it taken away in the sense of, you know, someone else dealing with it, and you don’t have to worry about it, you can just focus on the writing. But I think I’m, I’m still quite happy doing a lot of the marketing things because it actually intrigues me. And as long as you’re earning decent amount of money that you can afford to do that. It’s enjoyable. I think if I had to do nothing, but right, at the moment, at least, I think I would, I would enjoy it probably up to a point. And then I might get a little bit bored. Because I’m someone that I need a lot of things to do. And I like sort of making my own destiny. But I definitely would be intrigued at least or having some part of it. So you know, even if just a couple of my books were published, and that that was taken away and dealt with. And then I only had my new books to deal with or something like that, I think sort of almost like a hybrid model would be quite interesting. Because I
David Ralph [42:35]
am exactly the same when I started my dream was just a rock up to the microphone and do podcasts and then walk the earth. And the more you get into it, the more interested you are about, as I say that part of the iceberg that people don’t see, and digging around and seeing how these mechanisms work. And I always say to people, online business is really, really easy in principle, but you have something that people want. So you need to find the people that want it and give it to him. And there’s not much more to it than that. But of course, there’s a mechanism for all those parts behind the scenes. And I don’t think I could just podcast anymore. I think I need to understand more and more about those mechanisms. Because there’s certain areas that you think to yourself. I haven’t quite grasped that. That’s still pretty good. But there’s an expert level here that needs to be got. And that’s my challenge. I have a challenge every week to learn something new.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [43:34]
That’s a very good challenge. What do you do, apart from podcasting,
David Ralph [43:39]
basically, coach and mentor people very few, I only choose two people that I love working with. And I’ve got some offline businesses that I run as well. So there’s just sort of loads of things. But genuinely, I sit in my office and I, I learn. And I say this all the time. self development is probably 90% of my time each week, you know, I can come back and say I haven’t done anything today. But I’ve spent all day reading. And I saw that Warren Buffett actually spends 99% of his time just reading before he makes a decision. You know, he doesn’t do anything. He just locks the door and reads. And then once he’s got enough information about something he invests, and I think that once again is part of the puzzle that people don’t do we’re so busy on our laptops building and creating things and thinking we got to do YouTube videos and all that we don’t actually stop and read and understand why are we doing these in the first place?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [44:37]
Definitely, and I think I’m, I’m one of those people that I since becoming self employed especially, I’ve really had to think what if I’m just watching random YouTube video has nothing to do not education in any way if I’m just watching TV, I always in the back of my mind, I’ve got this bit of this sort of voice saying you could be doing something educational and self development and some sort of self development and I have to sort of tear my myself away from being lazy and watching, you know, whatever, and actually reading something that would be useful to me, whether it’s about self publishing, or whether it’s just in general reading a book, because, you know, every time you read a book, or at least I do, I always find something or a word that I’ve never heard of, or an idea that I’m really intrigued by. And then you sort of look it up and learn more about it. So definitely I’ve, I’ve got into that mindset of trying to limit the amount of non essential things that I’m doing in terms of non educational, non developmental
David Ralph [45:33]
is the way to go. Let’s hear from Steve Jobs. And we’ll be back with Matt,
Steve Jobs [45:37]
of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards, 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future, you have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [46:12]
So we’ve already alluded to the fact that you think that the dots do join up looking back, but can you take those dots, and then build them into steppingstones get by by knowing what’s worked on the five year old to where you are now? Can you just project them forward? You think, man?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [46:30]
I think so I that’s something that it’s a difficult question to answer. But I think it definitely is possible. But I think you’ve got to accept, there’s not going to be kind of a perfect, sort of the stepping stones aren’t always going to be the same distance apart, they’re not always going to be in in a straight line, they’re always you might have to jump from some to the other. And some you might have to, it would be a short step. So I think you’ve just got to accept that it’s not always going to be a perfect path. But it is definitely there is going to be sort of light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, or an end goal that you can reach, it’s just going to be a journey to get there. But that’s how I’ve always looked at it I’ve always looked at it is possible to achieve your dreams. And it is possible to do whatever you want, but you just have to put the determination in to do it. And what would be your big dots?
David Ralph [47:16]
When you look back on everything you think, Oh, yeah, that was that moment that really kind of made me realise where I was heading.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [47:24]
When I first published my my book and became an IC went to number one in its in its category. That was when I thought oh, yeah, this is for me, this is definitely I can make a living from this or I can at least I think I because I got a lot of praise from people who I knew. And a lot of my initial reviews for the book were from people who I knew because I put the book on free promotion, obviously, as a way to try and get reviews. I think the first handful of reviews were from people either who I knew or just people who I promoted it in a Facebook group. So I was I was sort of pushing that needle. But then as soon as I started to get reviews from people who I didn’t know, people who just randomly found the book and liked it, and they genuinely enjoy it. And then you know, I had emails, people reaching out saying, Oh, I read my book with my child, and we love it and things like that it made it feel actually real. It wasn’t just me sitting in a room, writing a book and talking to my illustrator on Fiverr. It was like this is an actual book, this is an actual thing that people are enjoying. And that was really what the moment for me when it turned. And that was when I it really pushed me to get to the next set the next dot the next step stepping stone and keep go forward.
David Ralph [48:34]
That’s it just keep moving forward, you don’t know where they’re heading. But as long as you keep moving forward, we’re gonna head somewhere. And I think it’s always better than where you were. Well, this is the part of the show that we have been heading towards. And this is the part we called a sermon on the mic, when we’re going to send Matt back in time to speak to his younger self. And if he could go back in time and speak to him, What age would he choose? And what advice would he give him? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the theme and when it’s paid, it’s their time to talk. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [49:11]
We go with the best bit of the show.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [49:30]
So I would like to address five year old Matt, when I first started thinking about writing, what I would say is do what you want to do go down the route that you want, because eventually it’s going to lead you to a point where not only do you have knowledge of things other than writing and what you originally planned to be, but you’ve also developed yourself. And those skills are things you probably didn’t even realise that you needed like marketing, working in a company. having to deal with boxes that you don’t particularly like, all of those things are going to get you to a point where you can achieve your dreams. Just keep thinking about what you want. Keep writing middle stories, be silly. Be childish. Think about rhyming little things, write down everything you can think of, because one day it will all the dots will join up, and you’ll be able to turn it into a real dream and a real career for yourself.
David Ralph [50:27]
And on on that line, great advisor course I’ve got a question for you, man. I’ve got a question. Now when it pops, you done. That little book of jokes for Funny Kids? 400 Plus, and I went over to Amazon, I’ve been thinking about one of the jokes in it. I don’t get and I need to ask you, I need to ask you. And the question The joke is, what didn’t say to eight? Nice belt. I don’t get it. What? What is that? How is that a joke?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [50:58]
Because if you if a zero had a belt on in the middle of it, it would constrict almost like a waist and it would look like a number eight.
David Ralph [51:06]
Say that again? I’m still confused. Right. So. So So Zeebo is a belt. And he knows it.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [51:13]
If you imagine the number zero, yeah. And then you put a belt horizontally across it, it would constrict it and then it would look like as an eight, it’s almost like two zeros on top of each other. like as if it were to imagine if it’s almost like a you know, like a very large round person, if they had a very tight belt on they would have a sort of like a, an hourglass shape.
David Ralph [51:32]
I get it now I get it. Now. Did you write that one yourself?
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [51:38]
To be honest, I think most of the jokes were things I remember hearing when I was a child. So I think there’s not many jokes that are really written and original these days. But that one I can’t 100%. Remember whether I wrote that one, whether I’ve sort of found online, but it made sense to me, hopefully, other people.
David Ralph [51:56]
I think he was high on drugs. I’ve been I’ve been looking at that for about six days now thinking well, I’m gonna have to ask him because I don’t get that one as well. Well, we’re doing now but we’re doing another one, which is, which is a good one. Okay. What? How do bees travel to school, they get on the school bus. Now. That’s good. That’s good. You see that? That’s my nephew. That’s my level, I get that. But the What did not say to a totally past. Matthew Rao, thank you so much for being here. On today’s episode of Join Up Dots, what is the number one best way our audience can connect with you.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [52:29]
And if you go onto my website, which is Matt Ralph, the writer.com. And that’s Ralph Ra, l Ph. to Matt Ralph, the writer calm. And on there, you can find my social links, and also my link to my Fiverr if you’re interested in my professional services, to help with marketing, publishing, things like that. So yeah, that’s the best way to get ahold man. Also, you can obviously contact me on the contact section as well.
David Ralph [52:53]
We will have all the links in the show notes to make it as easy as possible if you want to come over to Join Up Dots and look for max show. Matt, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots. Please come back again, when you’ve got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our pasts is the best way to build our futures. Matthew Rao, thank you so much.
How To Write A Children’s Picture Book With Matthew Ralph [53:13]
Thank you very much for having me.
David Ralph [53:19]
Mr. Matthew, Ralph, Matt, Ralph, no relation. But if he becomes really, really famous, vain, yes, he’s my son. He’s my son. And he’s done well for himself. So he started his book, he wanted to write a book. And so he came up with the idea and he did it. And he found an illustrator online, but it the images and it’s out there, and now he’s helping other people. Now, none of these was like part of the big plan. And that’s what I keep saying to people, you can’t go, Oh, I want to go there. You’ve just got to start with something and then work and develop and do something else. Everything that I’ve done, but I bring into my life wasn’t part of the dream, it really wasn’t my dream was just turning the microphone on and seeing what happens, everything else comes but you’ve got to start and then keep on moving forward. If you stop, you stay in the same point, if you keep moving forward, you will end up somewhere better, I promise you. Now for everybody out there that wants help building their online businesses and whatever. That’s what we do here at Join Up Dots, you can come across to Join Up Dots and go to the contact form and book, a free consultation with us. And we will help you move forward to policies new like many of the other people that are building online businesses nowadays through our coaching platform. Until next time, you look after yourself. Look forward to speaking to many of you, and I’ll see you again soon. Cheers. Bye bye.
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