Today, it’s my privilege to interview Children’s book author Barry J McDonald. Barry is the author of 24 books on the Amazon store. I have personally gotten some of Barry’s books and there is a warmth and positivity that shines through in all his books. Barry loves writing children’s books and I have a feeling he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in the publishing world because he loves what he does. Please join me in welcoming Barry.
Tell us about your latest book and what formats is it available in?
My latest book is ‘Are You My Mummy?‘ which is available to download in the Amazon Kindle store.
What other picture books have you written ?
Other picture books that I’ve written in the past are…
Barry what would you say makes your picture books unique?
Why should people choose your picture book over anyone else?
I could say that I think they’re some of the best out there but I won’t (laughs). I don’t really know… I suppose everyone has their own style of book that they like and maybe I just appeal to a small niche out there.
Are any of the characters based on real people?
Not that I can consciously think of but who knows. Having four kids means there probably are some things that I subconsciously draw on.
Do you draw the pictures in your books and on the covers?
I used to do my own book covers until recently when I started to outsource them. I found that even though I can create a pretty good book cover, I still have a lot to learn and maybe it’s better to put it in the hands of a professional. As for book illustrations, I don’t do them and rely a lot on some of the image websites out there for my images. I can draw but I just haven’t got the confidence yet to put my drawings out on public display.
Where can people find out more about your writing?
Apart from my authors page on Amazon, I also have a small blog with all my children’s book on it
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
I find Twitter is a good place to get the word out on my upcoming books, and my blog. I’m not someone who does a lot of social marketing as I find it takes time away from my writing. I also cross promote all my books in a list at the back of each of my other books.
What book have you had the most fun writing?
Its funny that as I write a children’s book I find that each has their own little personality. Sometimes the images I use give me the storyline and sometimes the storyline comes to me first, and then I look for the images for it. As for fun, I like the books I wrote last Christmas (Aliens Love Christmas, Monsters Love Christmas and Father Christmas BC). I love that time of year and really enjoyed putting them together.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
It’s not something I set out thinking I wanted to be but just something I kind of fell into. I had wrote articles in the past for blogs and when I found out about KDP in Amazon, I thought I’d give it a go with my non fiction books. Then after some success with these books, I thought I’d give fiction a go and put together my first children’s book ‘Father Christmas BC‘. I found the process of putting this book together was so much fun and gave me such a feeling of accomplishment that I knew this was where I wanted to be and continue writing for.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies, but usually between 2-3 days at most. But then again the storyline and words for “How Much Do I Love You?” came to me very easily and only took 10 minutes to write it down.
Where do you usually write your books?
Mostly at home but I usually carry a pen and paper with me for those moments when inspiration comes. In fact I wrote ‘I Love You Because You’re You‘ while I was sitting in my car waiting to pick up my son from school. So I’d recommend all authors should keep a pen and paper handy or somewhere to keep notes at all times because you never know when you might have a storyline or book suddenly come to you.
Barry what has been the most challenging part for you in the writing and publishing process?
It depends. Sometimes it is getting my text right or sometimes its finding the right image to go with some text. Formatting for kindle also used to be a big pain but the more I did it the better I got at formatting my books and that challenge passed.
Do you believe in writer’s block and what do you do to overcome it?
I do suffer from writers block from time to time and find that the more I try to overcome it the worse it gets. So I usually leave things and go for a walk, do some “EFT” or read something completely different from what I was doing. This usually allows my mind to work on the problem in the background and before you know it I’m back writing again.
Who are your favourite authors?
For a children’s author, I’d say Julia Donaldson who penned ‘The Gruffalo’ I love her writing. As for an adult author, I’d have to say Lee Child, I’m a big fan of his ‘Jack Reacher’ series.
What were some of your favourite books as a kid?
I used to be a big fan of the ‘Hardy Boy’ books and ‘Famous Five’ series when I was younger. Compared to the kids books nowadays, they’re probably very tame and childish, but at the time I thought they were the best. I also loved the book ‘The Secret Of Nimh’, I forget how many times I reread this book and can still remember the story line now thirty years later.
Do you have kids (or grandchildren) and are they an inspiration to your picture books?
I’ve got four kids ranging between the ages of 2 and 13 years. Are they an inspiration for my books, maybe but not on purpose. There may be some parts of their personalities in some of my books, I don’t know.
What is your favourite film?
It varies but I loved the last James Bond outing ‘Skyfall’. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, is also one that’s still rattling around in my head at the moment, who knew Bradley Cooper was such a great actor.
Do you have any pets?
Yes two dogs, Violet and lady. My wife and I have had Lady before we had kids so I suppose she’s our first child. My daughter got Violet as a present by her godfather, its supposed to be her dog but it’s still me and her mum that still ends up feeding, walking, and looking after her.
Barry do tell us something funny that has happened to you recently
I had to visit the doctors surgery for a check up last year. On my visit, my doctor said as part of my check up I’d need to visit the nurse in the clinic to get some blood sample taken. I’m not a big fan of needles and wasn’t looking forward to it but went any way. The nurse asked me to sit down and roll up my sleeve (everything OK so far).
Then she pulled out the syringe and was about to stick it in my arm, I said “Wait, do you not have to put some cream on my arm first before you take the sample?” Then she said “What do you mean magic cream, we stop giving that to children when they pass the age of six!” (For anyone who doesn’t know what “Magic cream” is, its a cream given to children as pain relief before getting an injection taken).
This caused great laughs from her and the staff nearby. I still cringe thinking about it, needless to say I gave my blood sample and got out of there as fast as I could.
Anything else that you’d like to add?
Never give up, I’d spent ten years writing articles, creating blogs etc., but never had much to show for it. I must have spent hundreds of dollars over the years following the latest trends online and made probably $100. In fact my wife and I had more arguments over this online pipe dream that I had and that it was never going to go anywhere. But I knew deep down that I could find something online that I was reasonably good at that could allow me to quit my job and spend more time at home. When I came across the Kindle KDP phenomenon, I thought like everyone else I’d give it a go. Little did I know how successfully I’d become writing children’s books and find something I really loved doing.
So never give up, the day you give up is the day you lose. Even my wife will tell you how happy she is that I didn’t listen to her and throw in the towel. So, never give up you’ll get your success if you stick with it.
Thank you so much for sharing with us today Barry. Your generosity and outpouring of wisdom has been well appreciated. I learnt so much during the interview and concur what you said about not giving up.
You can discover more about Barry by visiting his website at www.SmartWordBooks.com
You can also visit his author page on Amazon at the link below where you’ll see all his published work