Author self-publishes children’s ebook to teach kindness and empathy

Dan KempCase study, Elementary / Primary, Pre-K / Kindergarten, Publishing

Tracy Hoexter tells the story of her self-publishing project, and how Book Creator was the ready-made solution.

Tracy HoexterTracy Hoexter lives in Roswell, Georgia, with her musician husband, computer-afficianado son and some cool cats. She worked for 18 years as an award-winning Art Director and Graphic Designer in advertising agencies producing work for Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, Wachovia and Arby’s among others. She now has her own photography business creating portrait art for families and children.

Lindy Burnett

Lindy Burnett is an illustrator of children’s books and ad campaigns for Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, Arby’s, The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and more. She lives in Madison, GA, where she has created an art academy for children to create and imagine.

A Wrinkled Heart book trailer

When my son was in kindergarten, one of his classes was using a folktale about a “wrinkled heart” to teach kindness and empathy. I thought it was such a powerful metaphor for the impact that hurtful words can have, and that it was a great mental image for children.

Then I found that this folktale was used by so many teachers in their classrooms, but there was not a book or visual for them to use to teach the lesson. I decided to create that tool!

A Wrinkled Heart, in iBooks on iPad

I started A Wrinkled Heart as a self-publishing project because I wanted to have creative control and art direct it myself.

Tracy and Lindy looking through early artworkI wrote out the story and created the characters to be animals so that children would hopefully relate better to them. It seemed most children’s picture books were 32 pages, so I roughed out the pages accordingly and began collaborating with my illustrator, Lindy Burnett.

Lindy is an amazing illustrator of children’s books and advertising campaigns. I had worked with her for many years with advertising jobs and knew she was the perfect person to bring this story to life. And did she ever!

Lindy and I worked together to create the basic concepts of the characters and the general content of each image, and then she took everything else and made her usual magic!

I hoped a publisher would be interested in printing the book, and I did shop it around, but it’s tough to get someone to take a chance on a new author. With almost 40,000 google hits on “wrinkled heart” I knew there was an audience, so an ebook was the perfect solution to “get it out there”.

How to make the ebook?

Originally, I had someone hired to create the ebook for me. It took months to see a first draft and then it wasn’t right. Feeling that time was getting away, I began to Google how to make the ebook myself.

Adding audio hotspots to the book

Boom! Book Creator was clearly the leading app for making ebooks and the price was so right! Knowing nothing about coding, I was elated at how easy it was to use and how many features it offered! I loved that I could add my own music (composed by my husband, Randy Hoexter) and voice over (by my son, Avery Hoexter) and add fun sound effects!

How to add a soundtrack and audio hotspots to a book

When I had a question, Book Creator’s customer service was so quick to help. In the end, I’m so glad that it worked out that I found this great app. I feel very proud that I am able to say I put it together myself!

  • Page 11 sketch
  • A Wrinkled Heart, page 11
  • A Wrinkled Heart original sketching
  • A Wrinkled Heart, page 29

A Kindle version

Then, I wanted to create a version for Kindle, too, and I did that with Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. It is entirely different software and not nearly as user-friendly as Book Creator. You have to do a lot of digging around to get information. I found that I had to start over multiple times because it didn’t have provisions for making certain corrections, like changing out artwork on one page.

You also have to do a lot experimenting to get your file size down, because Amazon charges a delivery fee per MB. Kindle also does not offer audio, so the only feature you can add is pop-up text.

Promoting the book

After my ebooks were complete, I uploaded each to iTunes and Amazon. To promote it, I’ve created a website:  and a Facebook page, as well as a Twitter account.

AWH promo banner

In those accounts, I’m working to connect with teacher-bloggers and groups, education-bloggers and groups, bullying groups, kindness-bloggers and groups, and church groups. I’m also collecting email addresses through a pop-up on my website and an app on my Facebook page. I’ve even sent out press releases to local and national newspapers and magazines.

What’s more, if you’re a teacher and want to use this book in your classroom, I’ve created an activity sheet which you can print for students to interact along with the book.

Get ‘A Wrinkled Heart’ on the Apple iBooks Store

Get the Kindle version from Amazon

A Wrinkled HeartWin a copy of A Wrinkled Heart

Tracy has kindly offered 5 copies of the iBooks version of A Wrinkled Heart.


Thank you to everyone who entered! There were 32 entries in total, and we picked 5 at random:

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2 Comments on “Author self-publishes children’s ebook to teach kindness and empathy”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! Really helpful, simple and positive. My dream is to become a published author. You inspired me even more!


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