Some people love it, some hate it, I fall into the former category. It helps me keep in touch with family and friends around the world, connect with businesses and it has allowed me to promote my book, Cast Life, as well as set up an international support network for parents and patients dealing with DDH.
As a combination of all these factors I ‘met’ the lovely, and very talented, Judith Wolf Mandell.
Judith is the author of picture book, Sammy’s Broken Leg (Oh, No!) and the Amazing Cast That Fixed It and is in the spotlight on this blog today and I have a feeling you will be interested in what she has to say.
How did you get into writing?
Way back, in kindergarten, I earned a gold star for creating a very long story, covering page after page with the fruits of my six-year-old imagination. That was the springboard of my writing career.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I always wanted to write, which is perhaps not the same as always wanting to be a writer. I’ve used my writer’s skill set in numerous incarnations: journalist, publicist, television producer, book reviewer, essayist, mayoral press secretary, and now children’s book author.
How did you publish your work?
I “independently published” (the current lingo for “self-published”) my children’s picture book, Sammy’s Broken Leg (Oh, No!) and the Amazing Cast That Fixed It. The book was nine years in the making, including chunks of time researching the wild, whacky world of independent publishing. I “test drove” the manuscript, reading it to a few elementary school classes and doggedly asked for endorsements from physicians, psychologists and educators. I found a local artist whose quirky style matches my book’s whimsical story and found a local graphic designer adept in producing the three versions I wanted: hardback, paperback and ebook. I then worked with a book production company to upload files to CreateSpace (Amazon’s publishing arm) and IngramSpark (the publishing arm of one of the world’s largest book distributors). I chose those companies strategically, looking for the best product and the widest world-wide distribution.
Where did you get your inspiration?
My granddaughter, then 2, broke her femur and spent a mostly miserable month in a chest-to-ankle (spica) cast. Searching in vain for a book to buoy her spirits, I vowed someday to create a whimsical book that would give children and families realistic expectations about a prolonged recovery…and give glum, grumpy kids a source of power and patience: a whoosh of kisses who secretly whoosh into their casts, cheering them on as the days slog by.
How did you promote your book? How easy do you find it?
I poured a lot of time and money into creating a website for my book. I wanted a one-stop central for consumers, reviewers and so forth. Looking at the analytics, I think of the website as “Judith’s Folly,” but I’d do it all over again. It boasts a complete media kit, videos of my granddaughter reading from and hawking the book, a FAQ section about broken bones and casts, a terrific blog section and more. See for yourself: www.sammysbrokenleg.com.
I hired a book publicist to garner “mommy blog” reviews and guest posts: worth every penny, as many reviews were cross-posted to Amazon, Goodreads and Facebook. With another children’s book author I co-wrote several guest articles that landed on well-regarded health/wellness blogs.
Those tasks were — if not easy — fun. The marketing tasks now in front of me seem NOT easy and NOT fun: trying to get toy stores and bookstores to stock my book; school readings/signings; and convincing paediatric orthopedic hospitals and physicians to buy the book for their patients.
Where would you like to see your work in the media, and why?
• New York Times Book Review — ego swoon and sales boost
• Parent Magazine — target audience
Biggest challenges for authors today?
• Know your target audience and identify the best ways of reaching those folks.
• Create an “elevator pitch” for your book: 30 seconds to explain what it’s about.
• Resist being overwhelmed by social media: pick one or two, create and stick to a plan for wresting the most out of it/them.
Do you have more books planned?
No. At least not yet. And if I do, it won’t be a pricey-to-produce illustrated book.
Top three tips for others thinking of writing a book
• Write about something you know or feel passionately about.
• Feeling overwhelmed? Step back, take a breath, prioritize, chip away task-by-task.
• Your manuscript isn’t finished until it’s been reviewed by a content editor, as well as the spelling/grammar police.
My favorite book
Life of Pi by Yann Martel, an epic story of danger and discovery. I’m still blown away by the author’s stunning description of fear (Chapter 56).
Sammy’s Broken Leg (Oh, No!) and the Amazing Cast That Fixed It
ISBN and UK prices:
Paperback: 978-0-9974449-1-9 (£11.45)
Hardcover: 978-0-9974449-0-2 (£15.99)
Kindle: eISBN: 978-0-9974449-2-6 (£5.64)
If you would like to be featured ‘In the Spotlight’ or would be interested in talking to me about how I can help get your book out there, get in touch and let’s talk.