Guess what time it is? Its Author Interview Thursday! If Author Interview Thursday was a TV program, then I would be its biggest fan Our featured author in the hot seat is a guy who loves what he does and was born to do what he does. He’s worked with the best in Hollywood and knows what it takes to create productions of the highest standard. I was blown away by his warmth and willingness to share from his wealth of experience. He’s doing something most Indie Authors aren’t and I know you’ll love to hear what he has to say. Please join me in welcoming Adam T. Newman.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up being a children’s book author?
When I was a young boy I was caught in the middle of divorcing parents and would often escape to my room where I would read, play with my toys, watch cartoons and get lost in my imagination. People often think the grass is greener on the other side, but in my imagination, I discovered the grass could be PINK, BLUE or POLKA DOTTED. It didn’t matter! Story telling and making people laugh were things that seemed to come natural to me. After college, I landed an amazing job as a graphic designer for a children’s animation studio in Los Angeles, got married and had two amazing kids.
On June 21, 2010, my life was turned upside down. I lost one of the most beautiful and amazing people I have ever met, my mother-in-law, Lois. On her way to her aerobics class that day, Lois was killed in a horrific car accident.
Darkness surrounded us and I knew as a husband, father and son, I still needed to be strong and supportive for everyone around me. I tried to keep myself held together by channeling my creative energy and I focused on writing a silly story that Lois would have LOVED to laugh with and read to all her grandchildren. I shared the story with Mike, my father-in-law. He was just as an amazing person as Lois. He LOVED the story and loved what I was doing in honor of Lois. Unfortunately, before the book was finalized, Mike passed away of a heart attack while driving home to see us for a family dinner. Time stopped once again. It was then I decided to form MiLo Ink Books. Mike+Lois = MiLo. Lois was an extremely talented calligrapher, which is where the “INK” came into play.
What have been some of the highs and lows of running MiLo Ink Books?
Being an independent author and running a start up company had many challenges. I quickly discovered that it was extremely difficult to get my product out there. Success doesn’t happen overnight and I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work. One thing I thought would help was to reach out to schools. I put together a school presentation, where I read my book, joke and interact with students. I use my humor and “author status” to speak to the kids about INSPIRATION. I explain how you can be inspired by something good or even something bad. I also have the pleasure of introducing Mike & Lois to all these fresh faces. Since I started my tour (I have been to over 50 schools), I have received many fan emails from parents thanking me for inspiring their children. Many parents have even sent me books their children wrote after hearing my story. It is so rewarding to know that I have the ability to help shape so many great young minds.
Distribution is something I have found to be most challenging. Stores do not greet independent authors with the open arms as one may imagine. There are many services out there that can help, but they can cost a fortune, with no guarantee. I feel blessed with all that I have accomplished so far, and love meeting new fans from across the world! Everything has to start somewhere and MiLo Ink Books will continue to grow, I can promise you that!
What can a reader expect when they pick up an Adam T. Newman book?
Readers can expect a book that is filled with imagination, creative humor and stories that parents and their children can relate to. Captivating illustrations are a must and my stories are all told in rhyme. My books invite parents to be silly and interact with their children, use silly voices and help create childhood memories that will last a lifetime.
When I write, I like to create a blueprint, or map, of the story. I start with the title, jot down a few scenes, add a few lines I know that I want to have in the story and I take it from there. As I write I do not restrict myself. I know and understand that I will fine tune and edit later on down the road.
After “How to Catch a Cold” was in a completed stage, I created an audio version of the story. I added some sound FX, used silly voices and added a little music. Once the audio version was complete, I played it for my kids and took notes of their reactions. Listening to the audio allowed me to critique and make further changes. I remember there was a joke that didn’t work as well as I had originally thought. There was also a remark that could be interpreted as being inappropriate, and there were a few small scenes I felt were unnecessary.
The next stage is the tweaking stage, where I cut out parts, rewrite and condense.
Once the story was in its final stage, I sent it off to my editor.
After the story was finalized, I started my pagination and story-boarded all the drawings I wanted to have illustrated. I then sent the story off to my illustrator and allowed her to generate some of her own ideas. Shortly after, I sent her my storyboard to use as a guideline. While my illustrator began the drawing process, I began to set up my printer and distribution arrangements. I also began building my webpage, Facebook page and even started putting together a marketing plan and promotional ideas. Once all the illustrations were finished and approved, I laid out all the files, set up my documents and submitted them to the printer. Weeks later, I received my copy of the book in the mail and the rest is history.
I definitely believe in writers block. If I’m stumped, I remind myself that there is no wrong answer and I attempt to write through it. Sometimes, instead of complete sentences, I write a few rhyming words, or a general idea. These are words that I may never even use in the story, but it helps me get over the hump. When I am really stumped, and the first method doesn’t work, I flat out stop what I am doing and take a nice long break away from writing. Sometimes a nice break is just what the doctor ordered. More than often I find that some of the simple ideas I jotted down the day before, spark an even bigger, better idea.
What has been your most successful marketing method for promoting your books?
My school tour is what has helped me sell the most books so far. I figured if I can incorporate a lesson with my book and put together a memorable presentation that engages and inspires the students, they will then go home excited and from there sales are generated. Word of mouth also starts to spread. Of course, sending home each student with my bookmarks containing info on my book and website doesn’t hurt either.
You’ve worked in several film studios in Los Angeles in the Art and Design departments. What would you say is the major difference between the film and publishing industries and how are they also similar?
There is not a whole lot of difference except for the fact that now I am working for myself and not a huge company. When I work for a studio, there is the job, then there is the approval process. People from directors to lawyers all have a say. Sometimes there are 10-20 people who need to approve and that can take a long time. With my books, I am the ultimate decision maker. I am also in charge of my budget. When you work for yourself, there is more of a reason to make sure it is 100% perfect because your product is a direct reflection of you. Your pride, talent and passion for your projects shine as clear as day.
What were some of your favorite books as a child?
I don’t think I made too many mistakes, however I certainly learned a ton with my first book that helped educate me for my future projects. For example, I learned that libraries and schools seem to prefer hardback books. I also discovered that most POD companies cannot print text on the spine if the book has under 45 pages. Since then, I started speaking with a number of printing houses to get around these issues.
How do you reward yourself on completing a book or achieving a specific publishing goal?
I remember being so excited when my book came in the mail. I did not even know it had arrived. My children saw the package outside by the door when they came home from school and ran into my office screaming with excitement. It was one of the most amazing days of my life. I remember taking photos of the book and calling friends. Afterward, even though it was a school night, we got into the car and went out to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner.
What’s your best Disney movie and what do you love about it?
Man, I love Disney movies, and it is hard to pick a “best”, but I think I have to say Finding Nemo. There is nothing more important to me than my family. I saw a lot of me in Marlin, Nemo’s dad, and a lot of my son in Nemo. I loved how Marlin stopped at nothing to search for and bring his son back home.
Did your children inspire any of the characters in your book and what do they think of Daddy the Writer?
YES, as a matter of fact, the main character in my book, How to Catch a Cold, is based on my son. I never mention his name in the story but during my school tour I show the students a photo of my son and let them in on that little secret. Both of my kids love the fact that their daddy is an author. They get such a kick out of kids recognizing me in public, and my son also gets a kick out of seeing himself on books, shirts and bookmarks. In fact, this past year at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, kids kept returning to the MiLo Ink Books booth just to take a photo with him!
Getting into a school for the first time is the hardest part. My wife was a teacher for many years and we have a few teacher contacts that helped me get in touch with the correct people. It is always nice to have someone that can open the door for you, but then it is up to you to impress and make a name for yourself. If you do a great performance, the principal, teacher or librarian can then make some calls on your behalf to other schools where they know someone else. The more people talk highly of you, the easier it gets!
Having a presentation that engages, and holds their attention is a MUST. Teachers can read your book, but you as the author must know how to present it. It is important to connect with your audience. Reading in a silly tone and interacting with them are a few helpful tips. Also, do something more than just reading your book. Have a second act. Have something that will make your presentation memorable. I like to tell a story about INSPIRATION using two kids in the audience as the main characters. I keep the story fun and silly but I also have a point to it. Another thing I do is a little number on my name. I do this so the kids will remember my name, and hopefully go home and talk about me with their parents.
What has been the craziest request/question a child has asked you at a school event?
I love kids and it is true, kids say the darnedest things! I have been asked how old I am, do I play with dolls, and I was even asked what type of cell phone I have followed up by what is my phone number. I remember telling that child, my phone number is 123-456-7890. Months later, I ran into that same child at an event in a store and he asked if my phone number was still 123-456-7890. A word from the wise: Kids remember things, so be careful what you tell them!
What can we expect from Adam Newman in the next 12 months?
I am currently in production with my newest book which I promise will be filled with even more laughter and fun. I am also developing a brand new school presentation that will coincide with my newest book.
I absolutely LOVE speaking with fans and meeting new people! I am constantly updating and interacting with people on Twitter, Facebook and have a website where you can read more about me and email me directly.
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the publishing industry?
Like any profession, it is always going to be a challenge to succeed. Networking, talking to others in the same field and researching are all very important things to do. It is up to you to work hard and think outside the box. Fall in love with what you do, make it enjoyable, and everything will fall into place. Understand and accept that there will be many bumps in the road, but never lose sight of your goal. A dream is just a dream until you make it a reality!
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us today Adam. There are just so many nuggets of wisdom you’ve shared with us today Adam that I know will boost any author’s publishing efforts if applied. I love the fact that you’re in the trenches and discovering new ways to market your books and leave a lasting impression with your audience. Make sure to connect with Adam by visiting his Blog and following him on Twitter. Also grab his book at the link below and Adam and I will be happy to respond to your comments and questions.
Grab Your copy of How to Catch a Cold