It’s Author Interview Thursday! Today’s special guest is the recipient of many awards for her children’s books. I got introduced to today’s featured author by Donalisa Helsley who was on the hot seat back in December 2013. I spent some time on her website and was really fascinated by the numerous pictures on her Signings page showing her reading to children and interacting with her fans. Her warmth, passion and love for what she does oozes out in her blog posts and emails we’ve exchanged prior to this interview. I’m so excited she’s made out time to be with us today. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Sherrill S. Cannon.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up being a children’s book author?
A former teacher, I am a mother of four and a grandmother of ten, and I am also an Award-Winning Best-Selling Author! I have been writing poetry since before I could write. (My mother wrote down the poetry I wrote as a four-year-old.) I have written five published rhymed children’s stories – with a sixth to be released next month – as well as seven published rhymed musical plays for elementary school children which have been performed in the US as well as internationally in Canada and the UK, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Australia, Cambodia, Poland, Spain, Singapore, Japan, Botswana, United Arab Emirates, Poland and France (so far!) One of the plays was included in the Christmastime JoAnn Ross novella included in the Christmas on Main Street. I love to write. My friends and family ask me if I think in rhyme and meter, and I have to admit that sometimes this is true!
All of my books are in rhyme and most of them try to teach something, like good manners and consideration for others, disguised as fun stories. Once a teacher, always a teacher, I suppose. They all also have wonderful, colorful illustrations since all of them have been illustrated by Kalpart. I also try to use characters from previous stories within the illustrations of the new story, as well as including a previous book cover or two.
What in your opinion makes a great children’s book?
To me, a great children’s book needs to teach something positive – whether attitudes or manners, or a way to make a difference in the world – by examples or fun-stories, but not by preaching. I deplore the children’s books that “do anything for a laugh,” especially since it is often at the expense of others.
You’re the recipient of numerous awards for your books. Can you tell us which of them means the most to you and why?
The very first award was the Indie Excellence Finalist Award for Santa’s Birthday Gift, which is my favorite award for my favorite book. It gave me such a sense of accomplishment to know that others appreciated my writing and my story. It continues to be my best selling book!
I think most writers feel as if someone had slighted their ‘child,’ and it’s hard to accept. I really haven’t had many, thank goodness, but I still have a hard time understanding my only one-star rating for Santa’s Birthday Gift, especially since the person was warning people not to buy the book because the story involved Santa in the Nativity scene with Jesus, and admitted that he had seen the cover before he bought the book!
What has been your most successful marketing method for promoting your books?
It’s hard to determine, since you really need a multi-faceted approach to get your book noticed. I think entering and winning contests gave instant credibility, but I also used Google Alerts to find articles about my subject matter (for instance “Please”) and then responded to these with suggestions about my books (The Magic Word). I also like sending my books to recognized bloggers for reviews and giveaways, and I budget a little for Google Ad Words as well.
I loved the Walter Farley Black Stallion books, (I was really into horses at the time) and also the Nancy Drew mysteries – and when my children were small, Dr. Seuss was a favorite!! (He still is!)
What mistake(s) have you made while publishing your books that you would advise other authors against?
I have been very fortunate to have been connected with SBPRA from the beginning, and haven’t any regrets. I would advise, however, that the most important thing is to have your book edited before publication. Poor spelling and punctuation can ruin a book’s chance of success, and this is even more important if you are writing for children. They are learning from the books they read!!
What book, TV program or film have you read/seen recently that has inspired you and why?
The films and videos that are of interest to me at this point involve the CureJM Foundation kids and their attempts to find a cure for Juvenile Myositis, an incurable children’s disease. There are lots of films and videos out there, but my favorite is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anIGaQXkhg0 My books are part of a fundraiser at http://sbpra.com/curejm where 50% of the cost of my books go directly to the CureJM Foundation.
Toy Story or Shrek?
Toy Story… (although I have to admit I liked Shrek more than I thought I would)
You’ve been married for more than 53 years. With Valentines’ just round the corner, I’m interested to know what three things you’d say have helped both of you stay together?
Don’t hesitate to say you’re sorry. (Love Story was wrong. Love isn’t never having to say you’re sorry… Love is being able to say you’re sorry first!)
Don’t go to bed mad.
Families who pray together, stay together.
What do your grandchildren think of their Grandma the writer?
I use my grands for feedback on the stories – and they seem to love them! I usually go to their schools for author visits and readings as well. (The older ones call me Grammy, the younger ones Yagi – stemming from a toddler’s attempt to say “love you”)
My newest book, My Fingerpaint Masterpiece, has just been approved for production, and will be released in mid-February. It’s a little different from my others and involves a child who paints a fingerpaint print and loses it in the wind on the way home. Self esteem and judgement are subtly involved.
Where can fans and readers of your books discover more about you and connect with you?
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the publishing industry?
As I mentioned earlier, please be sure to have your work edited before it is published. Once you have a book to offer, you really need to spread the word in as many ways as possible.
Thanks for that letting us into your world and sharing from your well of wisdom and experience. I love your advice on sustaining a long lasting relationship. I have to agree with you regarding the need to ensure that our books are well edited before publishing as a poorly written book that hasn’t gone through the refining pot of a good editor can lead to poor sales, a deluge of bad reviews and a loss of potential fans. You can pick up one of Sherrill’s books by visiting the link below