Book Marketing Buzz Blog Interview (Q & A) – Conducted January 4, 2017
- What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
In my earlier years, crafting picture books portraying obscure narratives about mythical heroes and talking animals was merely a precursor to my future career as an author. Little did I know that my adventures in writing and publishing would lead me to become a bestselling American poet having published ten books and claimed six world records all before entering my sophomore year at the College of DuPage. And even though my talent for the written word developed around children’s literature, it never seemed logical to simplify my poetry for younger readers, but to my surprise after being influenced by those closest to me, My Darling Child Shiloh emerged from the furthest reaches of my creativity. The basis for my first children’s book didn’t just originate from the desire my readers expressed for a more youthful extension of my work, but from the fact that one vital element was missing from my creations – the love for my mother. Everything I’ve achieved since birth is because of her and is a debt that weighs gracefully on my shoulders that I may never be able to repay but certainly deserves the attention of my inherited abilities. Dedicating this book to my mother is more than a gesture of respect for a parent but a heartfelt honor that lies beneath my duty as a devoted son. Ever since My Darling Child Shiloh was officially released through Lulu Press back in August 2016, it has been ranked on six different bestseller lists and continues to receive national acclaim from prominent media outlets capturing the highlights of its growing success.
- What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
The underlying story of My Darling Child Shiloh focuses on a particular day a boy named Shiloh and his mother are spending together in the wilderness enjoying the wonders of nature. Experiencing the simplicity of life by observing the pleasantries of their environment, they begin to understand the value that rests within the love shared between them and what it truly means to be joined as a family.
The intended audience of a book like this would primarily be children anywhere from 6-8 years old aiming to connect their developing minds to the purely concocted messages behind the series of events that gradually unfold throughout the story in the most intriguing way.
- What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
There are many benefits associated with reading a book, especially when that book pertains to a topic you find interesting and can relate to in one way or another. Books are more than just tools of personal entertainment or education but are gateways to other worlds apart from ours that allow you to express yourself without fearing the impact that everything in your exterior may have on your life. And giving that My Darling Child Shiloh depicts such a spirited, innocent, and lovable tether between mother and son, it grants the reader an opportunity to relive their greatest childhood memories word after word.
When parents read this book to their children, it is my sincerest hope that they sense the commitment my mother had for me growing up and ultimately feel the tenderness of the love we continue to share. The idea of maintaining the balance of family is not typically a priority that our generation cares about but shouldn’t taint the changing perspectives of those who look up to us. If there’s anything that should be taken from my book, it’s to appreciate those closest to you and never forget where you came from.
- What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
My advice to any aspiring author is simple: once you get going don’t stop rowing. Meaning that when you make your first move to enter this space you can never go back because once your name is out there it’s out there for good. Trust me, when I published my first poem on PoetryNation.com and shared it with all of my Facebook friends, I was nervous that they might think differently about me as an individual, but when the feedback started to roll in, confidence was the only thing that remained.
You have to understand that anyone can publish a book nowadays and be given the same opportunity as everyone else to make a name for themselves. The art of this equation that most fail to realize is that even though anyone can make the first step, how are you going to figure out what happens next? There’s no one there to stand beside you and walk you through the process from start to finish. It’s just you. For instance, I didn’t have someone advising my every decision as I published my first book when I was only 15 years old. I was still in high school and didn’t have the slightest clue what I was doing. But within the vast networks of the miracle we know today as the Internet, anything was possible and nothing stood in my way from success.
If you really want to become the best writer you can be, you need to utilize the information already available to you. Don’t try to go the traditional route, submit your manuscripts to big publishing houses, eagerly await their approval, and then find out they won’t accept works from unknown authors. Use your time wisely and do exactly what I did five years ago. Become best friends with your computer and go on an adventure you’ll never forget.
- What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I’ve always had a passion for the written word being pressed unto printed paper. There’s just something about it that stimulates the senses differently compared to reading a book digitally. The publishing industry has definitely taken a turn recently and has begun to explore alternative avenues of manuscript distribution through the production of eBooks and audiobooks, which in their entirety, are promising in terms of accessibility and portability but just aren’t the same. Picking up a freshly bound book and caressing the matted paper and ink with your own two hands as you soak in the beauty behind every page is priceless. You can’t do that with a tablet.
The common misconception that consumers and even industry professionals alike have is that print is dying and will not be a medium of choice ten or twenty years from now. But actually, they’re mistaken. We live in a physical world that is focused around an epicenter of touch and without it would be not much of a world at all. You can’t take away an aspect of life from a daily enjoyment such as reading a book. That would be unspeakably cruel. And that is exactly why print media is far from going out of style and will certainly last longer than some might expect.
- What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
My Darling Child Shiloh assumed a firm poetic identity when it was drafted and was intended to be the headliner of a new anthology focused on the timeless qualities of life at its finest, but oddly pivoted at the last minute to a more gentle, serene, and visually-dependent piece. Now, my area of expertise depends on my ability to professionally compose and connect the rhythm of words, but hardly on the creation and placement of original illustrations. Partnering with Mallory Clark, the artist commissioned to visually represent the morals carefully inserted throughout My Darling Child Shiloh, was necessary for the completion and survival of the publication. You can’t craft a quality children’s book without unique artwork, and considering each picture was produced by hand over the course of three years, there’s nothing but originality in the book. Even though assembling imagery required the most effort, its debut in the marketplace proved that patience pays and is explicitly vital to the manufacturing of any masterful work of literature.
- If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
The merit of a book should be decided not by attractive casing that cloaks the pages or the description stamped on the back previewing what awaits within, but the dimension that lies just beyond the title. In My Darling Child Shiloh, there is more than meets the eye and is a gift that keeps on giving regardless of how many times you read it. You’re always uncovering details that you previously overlooked and seeing the finer realities that have been unnoticeably positioned in every word and illustration that collectively makes the story worth the wait as you follow the trail the characters place before you. If you’ve be searching for the perfect book to ease your thoughts or share with the family, you need look no further.