I finished my first children’s book, Negan the Stardust, and published it on Amazon!

I spent a lot of time on this book, started about 5 years ago. The first year I taught myself how to use a computer and photoshop for the illustrations. I then spent the next 4 years “finishing” my book about half a thousand times (literally), but always having to tweak something somewhere. The finished product has layers upon layers in photoshop. I finally decided it was done, to my husband’s relief, after over 8,000 hours logged into the project.

The book is an illustrated story of an atom named Negan whose home is in a star. On one day her star goes supernova and she and her two friends are suddenly speeding through the universe. They arrive to Earth and are met by other stardust atoms.

I wanted to write this book for my son as a way to explain to him how he came to be. He very early on started asking questions like “Why are we real?” and “How did I get here?”. When I went to look for such books for very young children I couldn’t find anything that gave the big picture from a purely factual and unbiased viewpoint. Any books that I did find that presented this were boringly filled with facts and had nearly no story plot. In other words, not very awe inspiring. So I created Negan, a girl stardust atom whose story shows how everything is made of stardust and how everything is connected. I hope the book can be part of making the next generation curious about the world and inspired to learn.

I obviously like the book and so does a few Harvard and Columbia professors who have given appraisal reviews. Admittedly, I am immensely proud of that.

I’m open to take any questions about the process of teaching yourself illustration, book formatting, and marketing techniques I’ve used to have well-known scientists endorse my book.

My Proof: https://youtu.be/t1FIqmjanMU
Edit: Better proof! https://www.facebook.com/NeganStardust/

Comments: 70 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

whoisfourthwall16 karma

How is your book selling?

Do you think that there is very low science literacy across kids in general?

When are you gonna make a sequel?

kcousck10 karma

Hi! Thanks for your questions! I have only recently started the marketing process a few weeks ago and have yet to see any ideal number of purchases. Right now only two dozen have sold from my general friends, family, and to mutual friends.

For your second questions, I definitely think that there are not enough books that are making science exciting for children. I was able to find numerous science books for older children, most of which were fact ladled with little or no story plot… But I found that my 3-year-old was more than ready to understand some bigger concepts of the universe and that is where I had trouble finding material to help him try to understand.

I am currently illustrating and writing my second children’s book that is story based around water molecules. (My husband, the chemistry teacher thought of that one.) As for a sequel for Negan the Stardust, I have not considered until now. Perhaps though.

whoisfourthwall2 karma

How much must a book sell to be considered a "success"? Also, i've read about top selling books list being fake and/or rigged by publishers, are there any truth to this?

Your sequels sounds interesting! this is great for kids, too little interest inducing materials for the young to learn about stuff.

kcousck11 karma

I haven't heard of a particular number for a considered success rate of sells... I did read that most self-published authors can generate about 60,000 a year with between 5-10 books published.

I imagine that there's some truth in that top selling book lists being rigged but that being because the top publishing agencies owns the monoply of getting the word out there about a particular book.

I am currently working 8 hour days on my children books and plan on publishing at least 5 more by the end of the year. All science based! I hope to get this next generation loving science like no other.

space0saurus6 karma

How neat. Big congrats! :) It’s been a dream of mine to publish a children’s book someday. When did you find a publisher? Was it before or after the book was completed? And what was that process like?

kcousck6 karma


I decided to self-publish through createspace and Amazon. The royalty rate is much higher than a traditional publisher and more and more people are buying their books from Amazon anyway. That said, I am currently having Negan translated to Norwegian to try to publish with a publishing agency in Norway (current place of residence). And have been long time considering trying to get published with an agency in America as I would love to get my book read in the elementary schools.

I hope you someday go for your dream. Just start! You can always come back and ask me questions if you need to.

teeniemeanie3 karma

Hello! I have been considering writing children's books, possibly with the intention of passing on biology lessons in a fun, creative manner, for quite some time now. What inspired you to choose such a topic for kids and how did you go about breaking it down for younger minds to understand?

kcousck2 karma


I was inspired to illustrate and write stories for young children that could produce that awe from the most amazing scientific facts we know of today. My son started asking some big picture questions at a very young age of only 3 years and I wanted to share with him what we know and to help grow his curiosity for the universe’s amazing ways.

Breaking it down for the youngest minds was seemingly difficult at first, but once you spend enough time thinking about a particular idea, the simplest general picture will arise by itself. And from that I produced a fictional/factual story with as few and simple words as possible.

I hope you write some biology books for children! We need it!

Marilburr3 karma

Hello, how's your day going?

I just got assigned to make a short children's book about evolution in my biology class. I have access to Photoshop as well, and my audience is going to be aimed towards 4th graders (since my biology teacher's daughter will help grade the books). I was wondering if you had any tips or advice about anything in general? Thanks in advance!

kcousck2 karma

Hi! I'm doing great today, I'm here at my Norwegian husband's family cabin in the fjord and we went fishing and hiking today. Even had some sun!

For your project I would recommend taking a moment to try to explain evolution to yourself in the simplest and fewest words possible. Open up Word and start writing. If you're not familiar to photoshop i recommend spending 5 or 10 minutes watching basic tutorials on youtube... its boring but it's less time consuming than trying to figure it out yourself as you go.

bravehw3 karma

How did you go about making connections to well-known scientists and promoting your book amongst them?

kcousck6 karma

Honestly, a lot of time was spent researching who I wanted to ask and who I could actually get direct contact information with. Most well-known authors and scientists are practically impossible to get in touch with. Then I thought, if they are currently working as professors at universities, I could find their professor email through web searches. So that is what I did. Three months of research went into finding names and emails to match… And one very long and nerve-wrenching night of sending polite requests to these esteemed professors. Most never replied as expected, some said they would get back, and a few liked the book and wrote blurbs for Negan the Stardust.

TheInfamousBlack3 karma

What was it like writing and illustrating? Did you focus on one and then the other? Or did you do both as ideas came to you? This is way cool! I don't have a kid but want to check it out!

kcousck3 karma

Well. It was a complete learning process for me. I orginally started with an entirely different book than what I have now. I wrote the story first, but it was very loose in the sense that it wasn't all properly fitted together. I then went back and forth between illustration to rewriting, that was my process... for about 2000 times probably until I felt that it fitted all together like a puzzle piece. I am currently starting my next book and am trying to learn from my mistakes but feel like the process will probably be quite similar. Thanks, I hope you do check it out!

not_strong3 karma

Who are your favorite writers and/or illustrators?

kcousck2 karma

I really enjoy the writing of Julia Donaldson and illustrations of Axel Scheffler. It's the perfect story telling.

da_real_ho2 karma


This is a completely unrelated question than all the other questions but what kind of music do you listen to?

kcousck2 karma

Hei! Currently listening to my favorite song of the last months, introduction;nothingness by Hayden Calnin. Kinda weird song, not sure why I like it so much.. Usually listen to Louis the child, Lewis del Mar, or hippie sabotage and other similar stuff.

KBSucks2 karma

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to make a children’s book but can’t reach the minds of children?

kcousck1 karma

I'm not sure I understand just what you mean by reaching the minds of children... As in you aren't around children at all and are not sure what they would like?

Or have you started writing but it's not well received by children?

KBSucks2 karma

I’m not around children a lot, so I have no idea what they would like.

kcousck1 karma

I would think that you would be okay to write a childrens book that would be well received without really spending so much time around kids. I would research if I was you by looking at what is selling and just remember to pick an age group at the beginning of your writing so try to follow through with the same level of simplicity.

steepleton2 karma

what would be your prefered method of ending david walliams?

kcousck2 karma

If given the circumstance that I would for some reason want to "end" David Walliams. I would use my preferred method of annihilation of course. Fed to a carnivorous plant very slowly over a few months time.

ilikeoldgaming2 karma

I remember having a Children’s Book Unit in High School Creative Writing Class. It was quite a challenge writing a simple story for kids.

What are some of the hardest things about writing a children’s book from an established author’s point of view?

Do you have to consult college-level textbooks to get a grasp of the information before you simplify it into your story?

kcousck1 karma

From purely the writing perspective I can say that the hardest thing was finding the balance of words that told the story but were also the simplest.

I think it's important for these very young children science books not to crowd with information or facts. So for this book I picked one fact and that is the entire story plot. That everything is made of stardust. I didn't have any need to consult textbooks because many peer-reviewed articles on this can be found through web searches.

Thanks for the questions!

kcousck2 karma

Going to sleep. Will be answering all of your questions bright and early! Cheers and smiles!

A-Manual2 karma

First of all, congratulations on the success of the book! When publishig books like this, is it necessary to include the references at the end? Also for the references, did you consult experts or did you just went through related materials and articles.

kcousck1 karma

Hey, thanks!

No, I found that there is no need to reference anything for my book. It's a book about one fact alone, everything is made of stardust. This is not a theory any longer and therefore just a fact of life. No references needed.

The internet has everything anyone could ever need, for my future books I will definitely be consulting through web searches alone and making sure it's all peer-reviewed articles that I use for my fact base line.

manmythlegendliam2 karma

How do you find the perfect mix of a information and intrigue for your audience? I can remember growing up and finding our elementary textbooks dull because of a lack of information.

kcousck2 karma

I find that it's such a powerful fact alone, everything is made of stardust, that it wasn't difficult to make it interesting for the children. You must also remember though, this book is for 3 years old and up so it is very simplified and very story-focused.

I think I could answer this question better in a month or two's time after I have finished the first final draft of my next children's book which is story based around water molecules.

Thanks for your question!

ElectricGears2 karma

Which page did you hide your version of the mandatory hidden penis that is required to be included in all children's books ever since 1962?

kcousck1 karma

You are welcome to buy it and do a Where's Waldo but I am not going to just give you the page number of the hidden penis!

vluong1 karma

Wait, is this really a thing?

kcousck2 karma

What sane person would not hide a penis in their children's book?

Blueoriontiger2 karma

Hey there,

Looks like an interesting book! I'll need to check it out sometime. :) As a digital media artist I have a few questions:

  1. How did you approach marketing with your book? Did you start while the book was in progress or after it was finished? Did you have specific audiences you aimed for?

  2. Did you use a Wacom tablet with your illustrations?

  3. What kind of art development schedule did you keep when working on your book?

  4. Any specific quirks you liked when illustrating? Any particular beverage, music, etc?

kcousck2 karma

  1. I approached marketing by first getting endorsement reviews from well known scientists. Then a webpage, Facebook page, asked reviewing companies to review my book, made a book trailer.... Etc. The marketing happened after the book was completely finished.. Kinda needed a finished product to get the very impossible reviews on. Audience aim was at parents, especially science loving ones.

  2. The Wacom tablet looks cool but I haven't tried it. I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad (with the pen that comes with)

  3. I often spent 8 hour days on the art. Unlike other art outlets, I found that it wasn't as hard to keep plugging along with the project because a lot of it is more technical feeling rather than creative.

  4. Espresso with green tea and lots of milk.. All mixed together, first thing in the morning when beginning, of course. Semi loud Earbud music 95 percent of the time needed. Lewis del Mar, hippie sabotage, flume, San holo...etc. Pj clothes cause no one has time to sit uncomfortably.

Thanks for the questions!

cinnamontree2 karma

Hey! How were your writing sessions? How much did you write by yourself, how much input did you take from the professors that you contacted? How did you get the balance between storytelling and showing facts? And for which age group is this book directed to?

kcousck2 karma


My writing sessions were not nearly as time consuming as making the actual illustrations. But they were maybe what I changed the most as the years passed. I rewrote and rewrote I can easily assume, more than 2000 times. I had my closest family members give feedback with all of the "final drafts".

The input I received back from the professors were all positive, I'm sure some that read it had some criticism, but I didn't hear about it.

The balance for me was somewhat easy to find because this book is for the very youngest of minds who start wondering these big picture questions. I kept it extremely light and story based, with the overall story showing the one big fact of this book. That everything is made of star dust atoms and that we are all connected. I think maybe that is the most important thing to remember for writing a young children's science book, one fact for one story. Otherwise they can't comprehend it all.

The age group is made for children aged 3 and up. I think that it's hard to say how old is too old for this book because while it is very simple, the idea is still somewhat complex.

Cantankerous_Bear2 karma

Have you recived much backlash from highly religous individuals? Btw i think this book is a great idea 👍👏

kcousck1 karma

Yes, even through this short thread of questions I have been asked if I like to "peddle secularist lies". I wasn't sure if that was serious but apparently it was.

But I wrote this book trying to steer very clear of any words I used that could be misinterpreted as going against any religious beliefs. I wrote this book from the purest factual view point and hope that religious families will read this book to their children alongside their religious stories as nothing in Negan the Stardust goes against their religious teachings. It's just the science of it all.

My mother is very religious and gave lots of "helpful" criticism on this.


Th3FunkyChick3n1 karma

What was most difficult to simplify about the concept(s) featured in the book?

How did you go about simplifying the concept(s) without losing large amounts of information?

I hope you get around to answering my question c: (and thank you if you do!)

kcousck2 karma

  1. The illustrations were easy enough to be simple. The words were another story.

  2. The book is on one fact alone, not a bunch of facts. So I had the entire book to explain. I used 30 images for a single science fact.

Hope that answers your questions! :)

Theres_A_FAP_4_That1 karma

Why did you tweet "Ching chiong, ching chong, go back to your country?

Why did you tweet that?

kcousck2 karma

I didn't tweet that, there's a fap 4 that.

Theres_A_FAP_4_That2 karma

It's my standard question, but great ob, I think it's great teaching science to that age. my daughters, 10 and 13, are huge science lovers and books started it all. Feel rewarding?

kcousck2 karma

Cheers man. Yeah, it is rewarding because even though I haven't sold that many yet, I had stuck with it through literally for over 80,000 hours to learn how to do something and finished the project. In other ways, I hope that it will be more rewarding soon as I have had big hopes with lots of healthy skepticism that I can get this book read to lots of children which I think would really benefit everyone.

sunny-in-texas1 karma

Wow! How long did it take you to "learn" Photoshop? Did you practice for hours every day, take online classes and tutorials, or a combination of all that? You probably know it inside out by now! Good luck with your book(s)!

Edit to add: Wouldn't it be awesome if u/neiltyson saw this post and ended up endorsing your book!

kcousck1 karma

Well... I just kind of started I guess. It was a year of absolute hatred for the adobe photoshop program, but it was also a love hate. I hated the process of learning it only because it was very frustrating to learn and very time consuming... but I also was a little in love with the new horizons photoshop gave me as an artist. I developed a completely new style from realism pencil drawings to bright and colorful illustrations. I taught everything to myself from looking up anything I couldn't figure out. Youtube is an amazing learning tool. And no, I still do not know all of the workings of photoshop. It is a majestically vast program that calls for love and hate. Thank you!

aquarosey1 karma

How did you first get started with the book publishing process? This is something I’m possibly interested in.

kcousck2 karma

I originally decided to first self-published using Createspace and sell through Amazon which is a great method for authors nowadays. The royalty rate is much higher than traditional publishing agencies and more and more people are buying their books straight through Amazon.

pussgurka1 karma


kcousck1 karma

Hi, I added my facebook page and linked this IAmA.

Alexandros96-11 karma

Do you enjoy pedaling secularist lies to children?

kcousck10 karma

If by secularist lies you mean the separation of church and state, then of course I do. I'm sorry, I can't tell if this is serious not.

kcousck9 karma

That said, my book is based on a purely factual view point with any religion capable of being taught beside it.