Episode 63: How to Write, Market and Sell Kids Books with Kim Thornton

September 14, 2020

In this episode, Kim Thornton, #1 bestselling children’s author, illustrator, filmmaker and actress shares how she comes up with stories for her books, why she’s creating a book and a film for her next project, her tips for tapping into your creativity, and how she markets and sells her books in the children’s market.

Resources mentioned


Fighting with Monsters, How to Help Kids Overcome Fear Using the Armor of God.

3 Key Points

Churches, schools and libraries are great places to get in front of kids and sell books.

If you have a good story that can be told in book and film, consider doing both-more delivery systems reach more people.

Always carry a pen and paper so you don’t lose creative ideas when they pop up.


[00:51] Ellen: Hi everybody. And welcome to episode 58 today. My guest is Kim Thorton. Kim is a children’s book, author, illustrator, and filmmaker, and she’s been writing all her life. She writes really wonderful stories. I know because we helped her make one of them, a number-one bestseller, and her hobbies are writing, acting, cooking, eating, and learning new things. And when she’s not writing, she’s learning real estate working on passing her exam to get her license. And she’s been married to her husband for twenty-four years. And as the mother of two boys, nineteen and fourteen, and she is one of the most positive and loving people that I know.

So, the reason I invited Kim to the call was I saw a comment where she said she was writing a book and it was tied to doing a film she was making. And I thought that was an interesting concept. We haven’t talked about that yet. And so, I wanted to hear more about that. So, welcome to the call.

Kim: Thank you. I’m glad to be here. Thank you.

[1:53] Ellen: Well, why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your story, how you said you’ve been writing all your life. So, how old were you when you started?

Kim: Goodness. My earliest recollection,  I will have to say, I think I was like in the fourth grade and I think it’s even sooner than that, but, my teacher, we had a writing assignment and I don’t even remember what the subject was, but I found myself just sort of immersed in the story and before I know it, she loved it, and she helped me get my points out a little bit better cause I was all over the place I guess. And I never forgot that moment. And so, once we got it, I guess, together, if you will, and she read it out to the class and she’s like, you know that this is, she said, she even said something like, “This is a writer’s mind right here.” And I thought, “Huh.”

[02:53]: You know, and that really stuck out to me. I didn’t think much about it. And then throughout I’ve always kept journals and stuff; got to have my little, pretty little journal, has a lock on it and stuff like that. And I was just getting out all kinds of feelings and everything. And next thing you know, I’m turning stuff into stories. It’s just like, I could just see it. You know, anytime I was alone and didn’t have anything else to do or just whatever it was just something I would just sit and do. And I decided it was just kind of common. people did these things, you know? Anything that comes easy to you, you think everybody’s doing it.

Ellen: Right.

Kim: You know what I mean? When you find out later that’s tenth grade, I wrote this story;  it was a very short story, but it won, it went to a competition somewhere, ended up winning and got first place in the category.

Ellen: Oh, that’s awesome.

Kim: It was just kind of “Ooo”, you know?

And I actually ended up turning it into a chapter of a children’s book later. Anyway, so, it just stuff like that. It’s just always stuck with me. And  I didn’t really ever think much about it because like I said, it just came easy to me. And so, every time I think of something, every time I read something, I’m one of those people that it takes me forever to read something just because I’m analyzing it.

Ellen: Oh, yeah.

[4:20] Kim: I’m getting every bit of nugget out of this. Somebody else has already read it, and I’ve gotten more of the sub subtext of this story. And that’s what actually helped me become a good actor is because I could really put myself into the character. And I started out going to school for acting, ended up finishing my degree in writing. And so, the two has emerged and I’ve been able to do that.

Well, fantasy fiction is definitely my favorite subject. And now with all the technology, even the free stuff that’s out there and stop-motion animation and all kinds of things. All the mediums are just really cool. And I have been sitting there. I’ve been raising my kids writing and doing all this stuff for nineteen years. And I have learned a few things along that route and have been able to do it and have been relatively successful both on and offline with that. And you had mentioned something about the real estate.

[5:20] And so now I’m doing that as well, but my mind will never stop thinking about stories. It’s where my mind naturally gravitates to, and now with dealing with a film and illustrations with it, it’s just the mediums that I have been learning, and that I have personally been fascinated with, and the challenges that I love to put on myself to do that, and I get to bring my acting to, I guess into the pieces, because my voices will be the characters. So, it’s just really kind of fun. I feel like I’m the kid sitting in the corner. you know, you left me alone for a little while.

[6:00] Ellen: So, is the film animated?

Kim:  Yes. It’ll be animated.

Ellen: Nice. Okay.

Kim: Yes.

[6:07] Ellen: And then are you doing all the voices or are you going to have other people with you or?

Kim: Probably me probably all just me. It just depends if I can get someone else in there, but it’s just, you never know. I don’t know. I’m kind of, I don’t know. Just a perfectionist, I don’t know. When it comes to that, I know what I want. I may not be able to really direct you into that completely. I don’t know. We’ll see. That’s all in the works.

[6:35]: Ellen: Well, I want to know how they fit together. I mean, is the book and the film the same? Are they complimentary? How is this working?

Kim: Well, the story and the subject is definitely the same; between the story and the screen, it’ll be slightly different variations. So, somebody always goes, “I read the read the book and the book said this, this and this.” And then, by the time you get it to the screen, it always, it seems less, or they’ve taken away or they’ve changed it to kind of fit maybe a little more visual, like the visual story. So, I kind of understand the concept of that, and your imagination in a story is so completely different than anything that you see on the screen.

Ellen: Right.

Kim:  When you’re writing a story for a book versus a screen, you know, the, screenplay is so completely different, but the whole concept is the same, and it’ll go along with each story together. So, I don’t know.

[7:33] Ellen: So, do you write a book first or do you write a film first?

Kim: The book first?

Kim: Yeah. I’m always thinking about the characters. I’m always thinking about the story, especially in the kid’s genre, I’m always looking to find out what’s number one, what people are buying, what people are looking for, and doing word searches, like you’ve taught us to do.

Ellen: Uh-huh.

Kim: All of these elements are being considered. I’m reading other books under the same type of topic, what’s maybe missing in this topic, and what can I bring to the table that is a little more unique, maybe a little more enriched that the other books may or may not have.

Ellen: I love that. Cause that’s what I pound into people’s heads over and over.

Kim: Well, I guess, where I learned it?

Ellen: YAY! I’ve gotten through to somebody,

Kim: Yes. Woo-hoo!

Ellen: Sometimes, I feel like a broken record, you know?

Kim: No, no, no. It takes a while to retrain your brain to think that way, because I’m like, “I’ve got my stories and da da da da da, and it’s really great.” But if you’re trying to sell books, you’ve got to appeal to what people are looking for.

Ellen: Exactly.

Kim: Because why would they read it otherwise? I mean, we’ve got too many other things to distract us, so yes you have taught me well.

Ellen: I did not know she was going to say that by the way.

Kim:  She’s not paying me for this, by the way.

[9:09] Ellen: So, is this the first time that you’re doing a book with a screenplay?

Kim: Yes.

Ellen: Okay. So, why this one?

Kim: Well, like I said, I have been playing around with different animation, especially stop-motion. I don’t know what it is. I’m incredibly fascinated with it. I don’t know. I’m not to be doing clay cause I’m not that good, but I can use different toys and cutouts and all kinds of things that you can do for stop motion. And I’m sitting here, I was watching all these tutorials and all these little kids are doing it. And I’m like, “Oh man, they’re so fascinated. Like, okay, if they can do this, I can do this.” So, what makes it better? How can I do that? The lighting and all these things. Cause there’s always a lot of technical issues that you have to consider. So, why am I doing that? Well, I don’t know, cause a lot of people like different mediums, if you will. Some people like to read, some people like to watch and some people like both, you know? So, why not appeal to all audiences, the best way that I can? And it’s fun.

Ellen: Well, that’s the main thing. If it weren’t fun, you wouldn’t want to keep pursuing it probably.

Kim: No, no.

[10:26] Ellen: So, what’s the best money you ever spent as a writer.

Kim: Education. Like when I invested in writing for children a long time ago, definitely your courses, and I’m not saying that to plug that. Like I said earlier, it really has stuck with me, you know? If I’m going to appeal to people online, how am I going to do that? And I guess that’s really, really about it. And, yeah, yeah, I would just have to say the education.

Ellen: Boy. I sure agree. I mean, when I first got on the Internet, there was a course called Teleseminar Secrets with Alex Mandossian. And that was like the big thing back then. And I took that course, and I started making money right away. And if I had had to figure that out on my own, God only knows how long it would have taken me.

Kim: Wow.

Ellen: You know? So, yeah. But I’m a big proponent of education too. I mean I’m in three courses right now, so…

Kim: Oh, wow.

Ellen: Yeah.

Kim: And you’re a busy lady.

[11:37] Ellen: Yep. But you know, something about, I think being an entrepreneur, there’s that thing about lifetime learners. I think we’re natural learners, and we gravitate towards it. And the only thing that’s bad about it, sometimes, you can get so into the learning that you forget to do the doing.

Kim: Yeah. It’s hard to find that balance. It really is.

Ellen: Or, you find yourself, “Oh yeah, I’m learning so much, but I’m not monetizing it,” or, you know?

Kim: Yeah.

[12:04] Ellen: So, how do you market your books? What’s the best ways that you market your book?

Kim: Well, you know, initially, obviously it’s on Amazon. You’ve taught us some secrets and, truthfully, because mine is a more of a Christian genre, I’m able really, I am able to do online, and I found a huge success offline, being able to go places and create workshops, and create, I don’t know which call it like I don’t know, we play and we have fun. And then, it’s like bringing the books to life and stuff. And I don’t know, just people tended to really like that. And it’s fun. It’s really fun-a lot of work. I ain’t going to lie. It is a lot of work.

[12:49] Ellen: So, you do it so that you’re with the kids, right?

Kim: Yeah, yeah.

Ellen: So, how did you figure that out?

Kim: Libraries do a lot of reading.

Ellen: Oh, Uh-huh.

Kim:  And you think about that. And even as a kid, I remember watching the crazy older ladies when the reading, and you’re taking in about what their reading. And I remember when I was a little kid, there was a Matilda book that was being read, you know? about the I can’t remember;  I can’t recall the name of it, and I’m sure somebody will at this point, but it was about when she was working for a family and she went and dusted the furniture literally, and in all kinds of stuff. And it was just really funny. Well, they did an illustration, like a reenactment illustration when we were there, and that’s always stuck with me. And I guess too, that’s where I really, really enjoyed the fact of acting with that.

Well, I got to do that, and I got to act, and I got to do the things that I love. And you get to sit there and watch these little faces just light up or look at you like you’re crazy, but they love it. And it’s just so much fun. It’s so energetic and fun. And eventually, the word got out, well since the current virus, obviously haven’t been able to do any of that.

Ellen: Right.

Kim: But you know, even you had mentioned before about doing stuff like this online, which that’s kind of in the works a little bit later, but um…

[14:18] Ellen: Yeah, it’s interesting because a couple of the courses that I’m in where, you know, they’re used to doing live events. And because they couldn’t do a lot of events, they took them online and it cracks me up like they were shocked that rather than getting a thousand people, which like Jeff Walker got before, now he got 2200 people. So then, they go, “Wow. You can reach a lot more people online because people don’t have to travel.”

Kim: Yeah.

Ellen: I mean, it’s different with yours if it’s local, but I mean, but even so, if you can take things online, you can reach people all over the world.

[14:57]  Kim: Well, and now with kids staying home, it is a little bit easier too.

Ellen: Yeah.

Kim:  And parents, especially, I noticed during the time of the Corona virus, I was able to do just readings of my book. I did it locally from my church, and then some other churches that asked. I just had to record it or we were able to do a Zoom or whatever like that. And then, I didn’t get paid for it. I was just doing it because kids were, you know, it was a scary time. Nobody knew what was going on, and just to, bring some type of joy and comfort.

Ellen: Yeah.

Kim: And, I felt like I was giving back, in my own way, even if it’s just for a moment. And then, it just sparked other ideas of where to go with it from there. So, I guess, like you said, as an entrepreneurial mind, you’re always thinking of ways to monetize, ways to learn. You’re always learning and your mind doesn’t ever shut off, you know? But really, by the end of the night,  I’m one of those people that pass out. And I think it’s just because I have used every brain cell I can find; I’m exhausted; I’m done. Goodbye world.

[16:06] Ellen: Well, so would you say that finding the offline, you started with the libraries and the churches, right? Is that right?

Kim: Oh, well, no, I didn’t do it at libraries, but I did mostly at churches.

Ellen: Oh, un-huh.

Kim:  And then I had some other spots. The library is what helped, like these ladies doing library readings is what sparked…

Ellen: Right, it gave you the idea.

Kim: It gave me the idea. It was a free event, and then people were able to purchase my books and stuff. So, it was pretty cool.

[16:37] Ellen: So, do you find that’s a really good way to sell your books?

Kim: I do. Cause I do enjoy the, the live event. I guess it doesn’t bother me to be, I mean, I am nervous around other people, but as an actor, you’ve learned that you just kind of learned how to tune people and just enjoy yourself, and then get into the character, and get into the moment. So, yeah.

[17:00] Ellen: You said that you said there were a few other places. What were the other places besides the churches?

Kim: Well, some of it were schools.

Ellen: Uh-huh.

Kim: But I mean, they were private schools, those were very few, but they mostly churches.

Ellen: Well still we want to give listeners as many things to think about as possible. That’s why I’m asking you, you know, beyond the…

[17:24] Kim: Yeah. I mean at schools are,  especially and I have decided to make, I mean, there’s still like a Christian theme, but the stories that I have now are just a little more, just well, more of a moral thread than just the spiritual side or whatever of that. And that way, it also gives me not doing it just for this, but it does help open a door for other places.

Say, for me, schools are huge, huge, especially if you’re a children’s book writer, those are huge places to go. And schools are always looking for events, that PTA is always looking for people, and events, and stuff. And, it’s really great. And now I don’t know about people are looking for opportunities for their kids to learn. And I mean, online  is even more prime than ever before. So, I think it’s just another good resurgence of opportunities out there. We just have to be looking for them. You know?

[18:26] Ellen: Right, right.  So, what’s your vision for marketing the book with the film, or have you thought about it yet?

Kim: Well, you know, I guess, at the moment, it’ll be just online because a lot of people, like I said, aren’t really going out. As far as the how, not particularly, I guess probably get on that, but I will work on that, I promise.

[18:55]  Ellen: I have another question for you, how do you come up with your ideas for children’s stories? I mean, where do they come from? They just pop into your head. How do you…

Kim? That’s a  good question.

Ellen:  …come up with your ideas?

[19:08] Kim: So, a lot of it, I guess is it just pops in my head or I just kind of think that way. I don’t know. I mean, I always say sometimes if you want to be where you are, you got to train your brain to get there.

[19:23] Ellen: Do you ever find that when you do the research, it gives you ideas.

Kim: Yes. Oh gosh. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And as a writer, I mean, even on my phone and in my  notes, I’ve got a million ideas to go research later. You’ve got to always keep something available for yourself, so you can always jot it down, and then go do the research. And then, like even with marketing, I think once, you’ve done all that research, I think the marketing actually, it would be easier.

Ellen: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. That’s why I always say do that first. Yeah.

Kim: Yeah.

[19:57] Ellen:  That’s why I call it a marketing and visibility study.

Kim: And you really have taught me that. Cause I used to be very worried about my own stories and people are going to love it, and I’ll just create it. Woo-hoo. That’s fine. And people would jump on it. And that’s fine, that’s great.

Ellen: Yeah. And then, people would come to me and say, “How come it’s not selling?”

Kim: Yeah, it’s fine. I have done relatively well, but it could have done better because if you’re using your gifts and talents for what people are looking for, that’s how you make money.

Ellen: Right.

Kim: You know?

[20:29] Ellen: Well also, what you just said before is so important.

I know that’s something I learned when I started in the music business, you have to have a pen and paper with you at all times. Absolutely. And one of the things is a lot of times people will think, “Oh,” they’ll a lot of times you’ll come up with something right. When you’re going to sleep…

Kim: Yeah, yeah.

Ellen: …because your mind is open at that time. And you think “I’ll remember this, I’m going to tell my mind, I’m going to remember this.” Then, you wake up in the morning and you have no clue.

Kim: No clue. Yeah. You will not remember. I mean, they say inspiration hits the weirdest times and that is so true.

Ellen: Yeah.

Kim: It is so true. I’ve been sitting in other seminars or like even right now studying real estate, and all of a sudden, something pops in my head, and I’ll just say, “Hey, remind me at blah, blah, blah time, to look up. Yada, yada,” whatever it is. Just so I can get it real quick, and I’ll go back to it later and it pops up on my phone. “Oh yeah. Hey, look at that.”

[21:26] Ellen: Yeah. My best times are either my meditations in the morning or at night, or in the shower. Those are my best places. What are your best places? And then we’ll wrap it up.

Kim: Shower. Shower’s good, watching something. And a lot of times, we’re watching a movie or whatever, at the end of the evening. And things like that will pop up, in the car. I mean, thank God for our phone. I mean really.

Ellen: Yeah.

Kim: I think it’s God’s gift, because…

Ellen:  Definitely.

Kim: … because it can keep you organized and, you know..

Ellen: Oh yeah, you can write yourself little notes, and you can do little like Vox, and speak into it or whatever. Yeah,

Kim: Absolutely. And it’s mindless, effortless moments. Thank you, Lord for that.(Laugh)  It made my life easier, seriously, especially for somebody who’s not super organized; I’m not unorganized, but not super organized, Some people just…

Ellen: Well, most people are not super organized, most creative people like us are not super organized.

Kim: Nooo.  I mean, I am a clean, tidy person, but there are moments that I just would rather shove it in the closet.

Ellen: Yeah, yeah.

Kim: And worry about it later.

[22:38] Ellen: Okay. So, do you have any final tips for people who are thinking of doing a book, doing a film, doing them together?

Kim: Before any, I mean, even if something starts in the idea process, you got to do your research around all of that. You’ve got to see what your competition is doing. You’ve got to see what is making what, how it’s making what, and even what your top competitors have done to make that, you know. I may not necessarily, just to put this out there, like Harry Potter, well, I’m not going to be as big as Harry Potter right away, if ever, but I certainly learn a few things.

Also go to, like I said, when I do the keyword searches and the number-one searches and what what’s selling on Amazon, and those kinds of things, I want to know, I want to find out about the author. I want to know maybe what that person’s doing. And thank God for Google, and we can research and YouTube. and we have all kinds of things. We have all kinds of resources at our fingertips, and there’s a gazillion and one ways that you can do things, but you just have to do with what really fits into your comfort zone. Or, if whatever, you’re willing to learn.

[23:57] Ellen: Well, this has been really awesome. So, how can people contact you?

Kim: Oh, you can email me, I guess that’d be the best place to do that. You want me to give ‘em my email?

Ellen: Sure.

Kim:  It’s Kim Thornton, T H O R N T O N. Books@Outlook.Com.

Ellen: Well, they can definitely check out your books on Amazon. And the one that we did is called…

Kim: Fighting with Monsters.

Ellen: Right. Fighting with Monsters. And what’s the subtitle?

Kim: You know what? Since I have so many books in my life, hang on, that’s a good problem to have.

Ellen: Yes, it is.

Kim:  The Armor of God,  Fighting with Monsters, How to Help Kids Overcome Fear Using the Armor of God.

Ellen: Yeah, so check it out.

[24:45] Kim: The best place to find me. So, you know more about me, which is definitely more out there, is on Instagram.

Ellen: Ah, okay.

Kim: … with my personal blog, and it’s got the link to Amazon.

Ellen: Okay, great. And what’s that one? Instagram.com/?

Kim: Instagram.com/bookauthorkim

Ellen: Okay. So instagram.com/bookauthorkim

Kim: Mmm-huh.

Ellen: Okay.

Kim: That’s me.

[25:14] Ellen:  Okay, great. Well, that’s it for today to get the transcript go to www.books, businessabundance.com/podcast. You’re also welcome to join our Facebook group and the link is there on the podcast page. And also, on that page is the Book Planning Secrets, A simple 4- step Guide to Writing a Bestseller.

So, if you’d like to write your own book or if you’re already writing a book, but want to write them faster with more ease, be sure to check that out. And you can find my website at booksopendoors.com, and you can contact me if you need to from there. So, till next time, Bye-bye.


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About the Author

Ellen Violette

Ellen is an 3X award-winning book, including being named one of the Top 20 Book Coaches of 2022 by Coach Foundation. She's also a multiple #1 bestselling author, a 3-time eLit award winner, podcast host, and a Grammy-nominated songwriter. She has been helping entrepreneurs increase their credibility and expert status, become #1 bestselling authors, and make a bigger impact in the world since 2004. Her mission is to make the world a better place one author and one book at a time!



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