How does a tiny local publisher reach readers in the Philippines or Africa? Technology. In past decades, only large publishing houses had the resources to get books to the masses. Today, anyone with Internet access can upload a novel to the connected world.
Still, getting readers to notice and buy is another challenge altogether. The big publishers still have muscle behind their promos, but with 15 years’ experience — and about 130 book products under his belt — publisher Karl Beckstrand has carved out his own multicultural niche. Even big reviewers, like Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal have voiced approval.
And he’s garnered awards. His 2016 Western book, “To Swallow the Earth” won a 2016 International Book Award. The State of Vermont selected his earning book “The Bridge of the Golden Wood” as business/financial literacy curriculum for grade schoolers. “Polar Bear Bowler: A Story Without Words” was called ‘charming … full of … polish and physical comedy,’ by Publisher’s Weekly. “She Doesn’t Want the Worms – Ella no quiere los gusanos” was named in the top 10 ‘Best Books’ of 2011 by ForeWord Reviews magazine and was featured in School Library Journal.
This year alone, Beckstrand has released 17 new products. “Some are bilingual; many are hard cover editions of previous titles,” he said. “I’m especially pleased with the audiobook release of my western novel.”
So how does he get noticed? “I’ve considered bribery,” joked Beckstrand, “but I have some standards.” Really, it’s persistence. After ensuring he had quality products, Beckstrand hounded the major book distributors used by New York publishers — and won signed contracts with large global wholesalers.
Now Beckstrand’s bilingual picture books/e-books with pronunciation guide (consistent best sellers) can be found in India, Australia and Germany. His work is even found on Walmart’s and Target’s web sites. Beckstrand’s publishing company, PremioBooks.com, has also donated hundreds of books to needy kids around the world.
“It’s always work,” said Beckstrand. “Kid’s books are in perhaps the most competitive genre. You always have to find fun ways to stand out — and your target audience is always aging out — so you constantly have to publicize to new readers.” His books have twists and online secrets found at https://premiobooks.com.
Inclusion is actually critical to success. Beckstrand’s diverse children’s books feature black, white, Hispanic, American Indian, Islander and Asian characters. “I grew up in a cosmopolitan part of the country,” said Beckstrand — who speaks Spanish and is learning German. My books simply reflect the world as I know it.” For more details on multicultural books, see https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/23/health/diversity-in-childrens-books/index.html.
“Really, my target audience includes teachers, librarians and parents,” said Beckstrand. “But getting your work in front of those eyes is a never-ending chore.”
It is time well spent. “It’s always a thrill when a library system or school district includes your books,” said Beckstrand. Amazon sales don’t hurt either. Hear the audiobook at https://www.amazon.com/Swallow-Earth-Western-Thriller/dp/B07VGP9DC6.
As a kid, Beckstrand wanted to be a rock star — not a publisher. Before publishing he worked in human resources, hospitality and public policy. His first publisher died the day his book was to print. Even after getting a master’s degree in international relations, Beckstrand feels his most valuable education has come from running a business and living abroad. “I did get to sing professionally — in a wedding band,” he said. So his bucket list is mostly complete.