Today’s featured author, Sheri Fink, has penned an inspirational children’s picture book that may not even have become a book if she had not attended a writing conference.
Name: Sheri Fink
Name of book: The Little Rose
Book genre: Children’s picture book
Date published: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Sheri Fink
What is your day job? Children’s author, international speaker and author mentor
What is your book about? The Little Rose is a heartwarming story about a little rose who grows in a weedbed and thinks that she’s the weed. She tries to be like everyone else, but then learns to embrace her differences as unique gifts and to love herself for what she really is, a beautiful rose.
Why did you want to write a children’s book? I didn’t initially plan to write a children’s book. I wrote the story that poured out of my heart and put it away for over a year. It wasn’t until someone was asking me about my writing at a conference that I told anyone else about the story. When I told her, she said that she got goosebumps and that I had to do something with it because her grandchildren needed the message. That’s when I began seriously considering publishing it as a children’s book. I love empowering kids to believe in themselves and discover how incredible they really are. It’s a perfect fit for me.
What was the most challenging part of writing this book? The most challenging part was starting out not knowing what to do. When I decided to publish my book, I had a huge learning curve. Every day I did things that were beyond my comfort zone in order to bring my book to life. I learned so much, met fascinating people, and did everything I could to see my dream become reality.
What motivates you to write? I have ideas that pop into my head, and I get extremely excited about them. It’s actually hard not to write during those times when a new story is just begging to be born. I feel so lucky to be the one receiving the ideas, and it’s a great feeling to see where they go. It’s as if I’m exploring as I go, looking forward to seeing what happens next, and experiencing everything along the way. It’s very addictive, just like reading!
Did you experience writer’s block? I recently had a realization that the times that I have felt writer’s block have been times when I’ve been trying to do something to the story that doesn’t ring true. For example, if I’m trying to work in someone else’s well-meaning feedback, but it just isn’t fitting. That’s when I feel the block. Now I know to take a look at what I’m doing and see if it feels authentic to the story and the characters. Once I determine what piece doesn’t fit and throw it out, the writing magically flows again.
How long did it take you to write this book? I wrote the initial story in less than a month. It flowed through me so quickly. The editing process took a lot longer, as it always does. I decided in October 2010 to publish The Little Rose. At the time I made that decision, I hadn’t even let anyone else read the story. So there was a lot of work and editing to do before I could officially launch it. The book was published on March 22, 2011 and was a #1 best-seller on Amazon on April 6, 2011. It was incredible!
Why did you decide to self-publish? After attending several writers’ conferences, including my favorite, the Southern California Writers Conference, I met a lot of authors. Some were traditionally published and others were self-published. It seemed like the self-published authors were almost always happier with their book and the entire experience. I’m an entrepreneur at heart, and I wanted my book to be a good business investment for me. I felt I could do it on my own and didn’t want to go through the sometimes multi-year process of finding an agent, publisher, etc. I’m not opposed to traditional publishing – it just wasn’t a good fit for me and my goals at the time.
Was the self-publishing process easier or more difficult than you expected? The process overall was easier than I expected. It seems like an incredibly daunting task and in some ways it is. But it’s easier now than ever before to successfully self-publish your books and content. The hardest part is believing that you can really do it. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and it can be done if you learn well from others and are willing to make the investment of time, money and energy to bring your books to life.
What is the biggest misconception about writing a book? The biggest misconception that I hear when I talk with aspiring authors is that there’s only one path to publication. Many writers think that they have to go the traditional publishing route, and they’re already beaten down before they even finish their books. The other one I hear a lot is that if you write a great book, it will sell itself. That’s just not reality. Even the best book needs a marketing plan and active involvement from the author in order to find the right audience and make it successful.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? I have a few favorites: The first time I saw the concept drawings from Mary Erikson Washam, my illustrator, I knew that I had to work with her. She did such a wonderful job and captured the characters and the feeling of the book so perfectly that I actually cried tears of joy when I saw them for the first time. My second favorite is when I received the first hardcover proof copy from my printer. It was like seeing your baby for the first time. Now my favorite aspect is hearing kids and their parents tell me that my book makes a difference for them. When I started to write, I never considered the possibility that I would receive fan mail. And it’s so great! It’s such an honor to get to touch the lives of kids in a positive way.
What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? The majority of my promotion has been through relationships both online and offline. I love meeting people who are doing things to make a positive difference in the world. When I do, I like to help them share their message and support what they’re doing. I met some really terrific people through in-person events such as conferences and seminars. I’ve also met people from all over the world via social media. I love connecting with inspiring people. I’ve created a website for my book and for me as an author. I crafted a book trailer for YouTube. I do email marketing fairly regularly. I also do a lot of PR: press releases, media interviews, etc. I find in-person author events to be very effective because people can see and touch the book and take it home with them if they buy it on the spot.
My advice to writers regarding promotion is to be active and authentic on social media. It’s a wonderful way to get to know lots of people and build relationships. And it’s a lot of fun! It’s also really important to respond quickly to media opportunities and fans.
How has life changed for you since the publication of your book? My life has completely changed since the publishing and success of The Little Rose earlier this year. I’ve decided to write another inspirational children’s book that’s being illustrated right now. I have ideas for two board books featuring the same characters and will be developing them in 2012. The Little Rose is being adapted for the stage and will be a play for elementary schools next year. I’m doing author events and speaking engagements… it’s amazing! I get to tell kids to dream big and believe in themselves. I love it!
Do you find yourself obsessively checking sales stats? Sometimes. It’s a really bad habit to get into because it distracts me from writing. I’m always grateful to see new sales and reviews. It’s just so exciting to see your book resonating with people.
Tell me about your next book. Yes, I just finished writing my second children’s book, The Little Gnome. It’s a story about a garden gnome who experiences his first winter and learns to embrace change. The story helps kids ages 5 to 10 to look for and celebrate the good in every change. It’ll be published in March 2012.
My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? I completely agree. Behind every “overnight” success is someone who has worked hard to prepare for that moment of opportunity and then bravely took action when it arrived. That’s exactly what I have done, and I’m so glad that I did! And if I can do it, others can as well. It’s an exciting new world in publishing and a moment of opportunity for many talented writers to publish their books and be successful!