It’s Author Interview Thursday! It’s been a pleasure bringing you the amazing authors we’ve had over the last few months. I have to admit that I have used the practical advice shared by the many special guests we’ve had to improve my writing, expand my fan-base and fine tune my marketing to reach my target audience. Today’s featured author is no exception and I’ve been looking forward to having her on AIT for the last few weeks. She writes and translates her own books from English to Spanish. She has read to many children at schools and events and truly loves what she does. One of her books is also the recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award. She’d love to hear from you so leave a comment or question at the bottom of this interview. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming Ann Morris.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up being a children’s book author?
I have always loved writing since I was young. My parents were always encouraging and kept letters I wrote to them. I taught High School Spanish for nearly 20 years and loved it. I was always searching for children’s books in Spanish to use as instruction aids and motivational material for those seeking a challenge. Later, I worked for Iowa Workforce Development, where I was the only bilingual rep in the Unemployment Service Centre. I did a lot of speaking, explaining, and translation of documents. Later, I was coordinator for the New Iowan Centre for the same agency. We worked with newcomers to the area or those seeking community resources to help empower themselves. I learned a tremendous amount about other countries and cultures from this experience and wished we had more children’s books in our “toy box” for the parents who visited our centre with their children.
I took early retirement and decided to follow my journey. I write children’s books in English and Spanish. I have learned that people do not merely seek books in their native languages but also books in languages they teach or are learning. It is a dream come true. I love what I do!
A reader can expect a book targeted to the age 5-8, but that is enjoyed by children of all ages. I feature a positive role model, a curious child, and a multi-level learning experience. Many of my books (many not yet published) will entertain as well as teach.
What in your opinion makes a great children’s book?
A great children’s book captures a child’s imagination and presents something the child can appreciate or relate to. A great children’s book teaches the child that learning never ends.
You’re the recipient of the coveted ‘Mom’s Choice Award.’ Can you tell us how that came about and your reaction when you knew you had won?
I had learned about the ‘Mom’s Choice Award’ from a friend who had been previously honoured. I went to the website and contacted the website with questions. I learned that my English and Spanish books could both be entered as a “series”, which I did. The book awarded was my second book (Surprise in Auntie’s Garden!) published. I had changed publishers and chosen my own artist, the talented Heather Varkarotas. I had much positive feedback and decided to enter. I was surprised and very humbled and pleased to be selected, among others, to share this honor. I learned that my messages are understood and appreciated.
You write and translate your books from English to Spanish. What would be your advice to authors considering translating their books into other languages to ensure that they have a good working relationship with their translator and nothing is lost in translation?
I actually write a Spanish “version” of my English books. I do it myself, as I prefer to retell my story to maintain the mood and message of the book with the same fluidity as in English. It is not an actual translation, but when one has read both versions (printed separately), that person knows he or she has read the same story. Nothing of the spirit is lost.
I have written Spanish versions for other children’s authors, and they have been pleased.
So far, I have been fortunate. I have not had to enter into lengthy contracts with people. There is much trust among authors who communicate on LinkedIn and Facebook. My most recent transactions have been handled well with trust and fairness. I have a per word (based on the original Word document) and a per hour rate. I use the per word rate to estimate the expense, then I usually ask for a sample to see how much research would be involved. I have done many kinds of handbooks and documents, but I now prefer children’s books in the interest of time. A project that requires more research to tell the story correctly and smoothly may cost a bit more, but I am willing to converse with authors to find what works for both of our situations. I always have proofers besides me. I know how important the printed word is and always do the same quality work for others as I would for myself.
What has been your most successful marketing method for promoting your books?
I have an author page on Facebook, I keep my LinkedIn page updated, I have a Pinterest page, I have my own website (www.authorannmorris.com), I am on Book-Spot.com, Goodreads…my links are listed on my LinkedIn profile and on my website. Any messages sent to me on my website go directly to my professional e-mail account. I initiate reviews, interviews, visibility opportunities, and school visits. School visits have been very successful. I read to students and provide before my visit an order form to my contact for any student who wishes to purchase my books. I personally sign them and make many new friends. I love sharing my stories with young people and have had much positive feedback from parents and teachers alike. I do signings and try to be open to whatever type of opportunity will be helpful to the reading community and to me.
What were some of your favorite books as a child?
As a child, I read the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie) series in 3rd grade. I liked mysteries, pioneer era books, animal books (Jim Kjelgaard), and many other types of books.
My first book was published through a vanity publisher. I didn’t know anything about which publishers to select for my first book and made the wrong choice. I was not selected for the Mom’s Choice Award for the first book pair based on errors and inconsistencies that were the responsibility of the publisher. That was disappointing. I spent much more money than necessary. I would recommend that a new author consult with a writer’s group. I belong to one now and could have saved myself problems, but I didn’t know at the time. I chalk it up to experience and am thankful it was only one book pair, which I am having republished by my current publisher, Mascot Books.
How do you reward yourself on completing a book or achieving a specific publishing goal?
I keep on going. I post successes and update my links. I am planning launches in several cities that have shown interest. I contact more schools with my success stories and book events. Last year I was fortunate to make a trip to my 2nd mother country, Spain. I was fortunate to attend a Bilingual Education Conference in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. I was honored and privileged to be included and would love to attend another year to present what I do. I have many places I would love to visit to share my books. That is a treat to me.
Toy Story or Shrek?
I love them both. I see Toy Story as a group of unlikely friends bonding and banding together to problem solve and to save friends and persevere until their challenge is accomplished. I see Shrek as accepting people for who they really are, use Donkey as an example to not give up on the negative obstacles in life, and to enjoy the fun and fantasy of life.
There were plenty of outrageous questions asked by my own High School students, as we conversed as adults…the children don’t ask outrageous questions, outside of my age, which I am open about. I’m 58 and feel 28 (sometimes). They ask where I got ideas for my books and why certain events happened. They ARE frank, but I’m awaiting the outrageous questions and ready to answer them! Sorry to disappoint…
What three things should a first time visitor to Iowa do?
Visit Des Moines (the capital) and call me!
Visit a fort or a historical location to see what Iowa used to be and compare it to what it has become!
Visit a school and see how innovative many schools are and how curious the children are!
What is a typical day for Ann Morris?
There is no such thing as “typical” for me. I do begin by checking e-mail and updating my Facebook as appropriate. I try to keep my calendars on Facebook and my website updated. I always promote children, learning, reading, cultural acceptance, and many of my pet concerns and cares. Some days I have engagements and phone calls, trouble-shooting to deal with. Other days I work to engage further exposure, and still other times I actually have time to write. I always promote peace through communication and learning. I find many people share my point of view. I believe we should become acquainted with individuals and forget stereotypes. We miss many good people in the world by judging.
My first book pair is in the process of being republished by my new publisher, Mascot Books. I have a new book I am working on that will present a child and his father in the UK. The child will be questioning why everything is different and learn that different isn’t always bad. We are not always right. We can learn from everyone. Many possibilities…
Where can fans and readers of your books discover more about you and connect with you?
My website is www.authorannmorris.com.
My Author Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/AnnMorrisChildrensAuthorLanguageConsulting.
My LinkedIn profile is http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=159217237&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic
There are more sites listed in various places. Please feel free to visit!
Write what you know about. If you’re addressing a new topic, research it well. There is always someone out there that knows the topic well.
Join a writer’s group before you decide to publish. You will learn many tricks of the trade, gain much knowledge about how to publish, and you will learn that you do not need to seek a publisher who will do everything for you. Self-publishing works well with the right companies. Research well.
Love what you do and stretch your vision.
That was such a powerful note to end the interview Ann. I have personally learned so much from you today. I think making our books available to other markets is something every author should consider as there are untapped markets who will likely find our books of value. I couldn’t agree more with you with regard to finding a writer’s group as that action alone has exposed me to so many opportunities to increase my book sales and reach more markets. You can discover more of what Ann is up to by visiting Her Blog. You can also pick up a copy of her book for your loved one by clicking the link below
I’m confident that like me you learned a thing or two from my interview with Ann. Please click one of the social buttons below to share on your social networks and/or leave a comment for Ann below. Thank You.