Sharon Williams, author of Jasper Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure, and I met on LinkedIn. She is the first “hybrid” author (both self- and traditionally- published) I have interviewed. In the Gittle interview, Sharon talks about the process of getting a publisher’s attention.
Where do you live? What’s it like there?
I live in North Carolina. It reminds me a lot of my home state of Maine. The landscape from the mountain and the foliage in Fall are just a part of it. The people are Southern-friendly. Everything you hear about the hospitality of the people here, I have been fortunate to have come across.
What’s your earliest memory of writing?
My earliest memory is when I was ten. I wrote short poems varying from my father, who died when I was five, to nature and life. When I go back and reread them, I wonder why I ever stopped.
What is your favorite children’s book?
Nancy Drew even though it is a bit older. I have read the entire series. In the many pages, we have a group of teenagers doing extraordinary things. As a young reader, it opened my mind in a creative sense, and helped me to think outside the box.
How many publishers did you contact before you were picked up? What’s the process like?
Between 20-30 publishers. Knowing the history of rejection letters from other authors, I braced myself. The day I prepared my query letter to be sent out for the very first time via email was hard. Once I had completed the requirements, all I had to do was hit send. I stared at that send button for about two hours as I paced in my office. It took me a while to do it, for once it was hit, my letter was out there, and there was no turning back. It has gotten a lot easier. My mantra is “All I need is one,” which I have taped to my desktop as a reminder. I was fortunate with the publishers who replied to me. While not picking up my book, they gave me either tips on how to improve my book, or gave me bits of encouragement. Those are worth their weight in gold. I have kept all of my rejection letters, for I consider them my badges of honor.
Will you ever self-publish?
I self-published a flash fiction story in the early part of 2013 to learn the process. In December 2013, my writer’s group self-published an anthology of short stories. I believe as an author I need to cover both options of self publishing and traditional publishing. Times are changing in the industry. I prefer not to place all my writings in one hat.
Tell us about your latest writing project.
I will be self publishing a humorous short book, Squirrel Mafia, in February of this year. It is based on my war with the squirrels in my back yard. Squirrels are not as cute and cuddly as people might think.
Do you think the printed book is dead?
Absolutely not. I love the feel, smell and texture of a real book in my hands. I know I am not alone, which is apparent by the number of people I see when I go to a book store.
Tell us something strange and wonderful things about you.
I was born and raised in Northern Maine where the culture is French. So for the first few years of my life, I spoke French until I started school.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Write on what you know, regardless of how small that is. Who knows where it will take you?
Sharon C. Williams is a native of New England, raised in Northern Maine. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. She is also owned by a flock of eight birds. Sharon has a B.S. degree in Chemistry. Two of her short stories were published in the anthology, “Cassandra’s Roadhouse.” Her children’s book, “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure,” was released in September 7, 2013. In December of 2013 Sharon along with members of her writing group, released an anthology called Dragons in the Attic.