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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kids Kindle Magnets 2 - Review

Kids Kindle Magnets 2 is - no surprise! - a follow-up to the original Kids Kindle Magnets, which I reviewed in this post.

Both products come from Deborah Drum and Amy Harrop, and are intended for people who want to try their hand at writing illustrated children's books for the fast-growing Kindle e-book market.

Debbie and Amy were kind enough to allow me a review copy of Kids Kindle Magnets 2, so here's what I found. KKM2 (as I'll call it from now on) actually has a variety of components. They include three PDF guides, several worksheets and a mindmap file, and a series of training videos.

The main manual goes into much more detail than the original on coming up with ideas for your children's e-book. The authors look at methods such as brainstorming and storyboarding (the latter in two different ways). They also discuss the role of conflict in plotting, the importance of emotion in children's books, and how to come up with clever and original resolutions for your stories.

The other PDFs include a Quick Start Guide (basically a step-by-step "recipe" for devising, outlining, illustrating, and publishing your book), and Story Starters, which sets out some ideas you could use if you're struggling to get going. There are also plot and character worksheets, and a plot development mindmap (designed to be used in conjunction with the open-source Freemind mind-mapping software).

The video training is accessible via the members page. It's divided into two main sections, Creating Your Story and Creating Graphics and Artwork. The videos are based on screen captures, and are clearly narrated by Debbie or Amy. They are designed to be used in close conjunction with the PDF guides and worksheets.

The videos in "Creating Your Story" cover using Freemind to brainstorm story ideas, how to use the plot and character worksheets, and a method of storyboarding using Microsoft Word. I thought the latter was quite a clever application of a basic Word function. I imagine it would also work with alternatives such as OpenOffice.

The videos in "Creating Graphics and Artwork" look at various ways you can create and manipulate artwork for your picture book using free software. I found this section particularly informative.

Topics covered include how to edit and remove backgrounds, how to create artwork from photographs, and how to lay out artwork and text in the finished e-book. KKM2 doesn't go into any great detail about formatting and publishing your book - this subject is covered in the original Kids Kindle Magnets, of course, as well as my own Kindle Kash - but an illustrated children's book template is included, which you can easily adapt for your own project if you wish.

Overall, I thought Kids Kindle Magnets 2 was a valuable follow-up to the first guide, providing more detail on subjects such as plotting which weren't discussed much in the original. There are also some great tips on preparing artwork for your book. Even if you're not a graphics person, Amy and Debbie reveal how you can easily use free software to get very acceptable results (though they do also discuss commissioning artwork). And, just as in the original KKM, they use examples from their own published e-books to illustrate the points they are making.

KKM2 is currently on offer at an even lower price than the original. In my view, if you're interested in this subject, you should buy both, as they complement each other very well. But if your budget is very tight, I would probably go for Kids Kindle Magnets first, and maybe order Kids Kindle Magnets 2 later if you need additional inspiration.

Just bear in mind that the current special offer prices probably won't be available forever!

Disclosure: Some links in this review include my affiliate code, so if you click through and make a purchase, a proportion of the fee will go to me. This hasn't influenced my review, but you should of course complete your own due diligence and read the sales page (and this review) carefully to determine whether this product will be relevant to your needs.

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