Hi Friends!Welcome back! So glad you came. :)
We’re back today with the second part of my interview with Sue Walls, author of Backyard Birds of the Piedmont. This beautiful children’s book is full of extraordinary photographs and delightful text about birds you see everyday here in Northern Virginia and other areas in the Piedmont. This includes North and South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and Eastern Virginia, and basically all the states that have mountains in them. Last week we learned how Sue found her agent and who does her photography. This week we’ll learn why she self published and why both children and senior citizens are the target audience for this book. Does everyone have a chocolate donut to eat and mocha to drink? I’ll put the whipped cream on and let’s get started.
CBJ: Thanks for coming back to my blog, Sue. I’m so glad to have you. Are you ready for the sixth question? (For readers that are just tuning in go here to read the other five questions. Why was it important for you to self-publish Backyard Birds of the Piedmont?
SW: My first motivation has been (and will always be) to present worthwhile information to children accurately, with an emphasis on strong morals and values. My grandchildren are my major motivators and form the foundation for everything I have and will publish. There are a lot of books out there today with messages that are less than worthy of a child’s attention. That’s one of the downsides of self-publishing where some of the “quality” checkpoints are removed that traditional publishing would have imposed.
Self-publishing provided me an opportunity to complete a project and get it out in book format quickly, without taking the time and contacts necessary to attract a publisher. It definitely gave me that feeling of accomplishment that comes from holding your own book in your own hands quickly. Coming from high-tech, instant gratification is part of my DNA. But there was a price to pay with that decision.
CBJ: What are some of the frustrating points of being a self-published author? What are some of the positive aspects?
SW: Marketing! One of the most difficult things about writing and publishing a book is finding readers willing to buy it. It is very difficult to identify selling “opportunities.” And knowing how to invest your time and money in productive avenues to increase sales is very difficult. It is my impression (although I may be wrong here) that publishers provide guidance and money focused at increasing sales. Even though they take a big chunk of the profits, a good publisher earns it. If you can’t sell your book … what value is it?
Another huge plus is that they impose higher quality demands on the writer, questioning the way books are written, the language used, the voice and many other aspects of writing that are necessary to produce next best-seller.
CBJ: I know your brother, Don Maiden, photographed these fantastic birds out in the wild for this book. Was this before or after you wrote the book? Can you tell us a little about this illustration technique?
SW: Photography is part of Don’s DNA. He has been taking photographs for years and is an active member of the “Birding” community on line. Check out his website at www.virginiabird.com and see his beautiful work. Most of the photographs were taken well before the “A Child’s Book” series was born, but a few I had to “request.”
The same is true of the new Insects and Spiders book. However, in that book, I am adding several photographs taken by my dear friend and Sun colleague Dennis Govoni, http://botanist.dyndns.org:8081/.
The big challenge in this book is getting photographs of bugs … they don’t always stand still so you can take that “perfect” photo. Right now, all we are doing is waiting for crickets to reappear so either Don or Dennis can snap a few pictures. Then I can go to press.
CBJ: What is your target audience for this book?
SW: The focus is still on children, but I have seen an interesting trend lately. People have been buying my books to give as gifts to senior citizens, who evidently appreciate the easy-to-read print and high resolution photography. I never really saw that before and am grateful for their interest and support.
CBJ: Where can readers find your book? Is there an e-reader or tablet you think it looks best on that you’d like to recommend?
SW: Readers can find my books on my website at www.a-childs-book.com or amazon.com. Yes, I’ve even Googled myself using Suzanne L Walls, and they lead you to other options for online buying.
I have two books out in Kindle and Nook formats, but we haven’t got that down as good as I would like. It’s tricky to produce a full-color version of a book showing two pages side-by-side (as many children’s books are laid out) on an electronic reader. Among his many other skills, Don is an internet guru. But, we may have to call in some outside help to get them looking perfect. That’s a project for another day
CBJ: And last but not least how can readers get in touch with you? Can you give us your web site, facebook page and twitter handle? Do you mind giving out your email address?
SW: I’d love to hear from readers and suggest they contact me via my website at www.a-childs-book.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m on Twitter suewalls1 and Facebook (search for Suzanne Maiden Walls).
And, a special thanks to you, Clara, for including me on your blog and for being a special friend. Best of luck with your own book Annie’s Special Day. Keep on keeping on
Suzanne Walls is a freelance writer who spent the majority of her career helping people understand and effectively use computer technology to make their jobs and their lives easier. Today, Suzanne works with her son, Martin, at Walls Lithographics, their family-owned printing company. In her spare time, she focuses on writing and pursuing her passion … genealogy.
Suzanne self-published her first technology-related book, Managing Photographs in the Digital Age, in 2008, through Authorhouse. As a departure from technology topics, she joined with her brother, D. W. Maiden, to produce the A Child’s Book series of 6 wildlife books incorporating high-quality photographs of animals, insects, birds and reptiles. These books are self-published and have been sold locally at the Audoubon Society and Fairfax County Library System.
Thanks so much, Sue, both for being on my blog and all the encouragement you have given me for Annie’s Special Day.Your help in getting the format right was invaluable. And I love knowing you in our Round Hill Writer’s Group. It has been a real honor to have you here both last Tuesday and today. We have all loved hearing about your author journey. “Write On”