Friday, April 15, 2011
Interview with middle-grade author Frank Cole
I’d like to welcome Frank Cole to our blog. If there’s one word I could use to describe Frank it’s: enthusiastic. He has a contagious enthusiasm about him that draws the kids in.
Frank is the author of the middle-grade series, Hashbrown Winters. His newest book is the middle grade book, The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter. Frank has had 4 books come out in two years—I think he’s found a niche.
Something I’ve learned from my writer friends who write in the children’s genre is that children’s authors have to put themselves right into the action—and go to where their readers are: Elementary schools. So if you are reluctant to spend time speaking to a group of school kids (over and over), it will be tough to compete with the other children’s authors out there who are working hard to connect to their audience.
I hope you enjoy the interview!
Heather: Like I mentioned, being a successfully published children's book author requires school visits. Tell us how you manage to work these in and if you think they are worth the effort. Also let us know if you have any tips for new children's book authors out there who are planning on doing school visits.
Frank: I honestly feel it is one of the best ways to promote your work to kids. Especially for the younger middle grade audience. I think kids need to connect with the author and by providing a fun, educational presentation at their school, you create that connection. It can become difficult trying to juggle writing, marketing, and delivering school presentations, but I think it is well worth the investment of time. My tips would be to have as much fun as you possibly can. When the presentation becomes a chore for you, the kids will pick up on that and lose interest. Be animated and be funny if you can. And keep them involved throughout the presentation, whether with Q&A or with activities.
Heather: You’ve had 4 books come out since 2009. Tell us about your publishing experience. Did you get your first book written published? And how long did it take to find a publisher?
Frank: I went through your typical grueling experience to become published. Tons of rejection letters. Tons of rewrites. Always questioning whether or not I truly wanted to continue. The first book I wrote took the brunt of most of my rejections and no it has yet to be published. (Probably never will.) From the moment I realized I wanted to be a published author to the day my first book appeared on bookshelves took about 8 years. Still, I feel it was worth the wait!
Heather: I love hearing the stories of how authors have persevered through rejections and revisions. Well done! I think many of us have those first manuscripts that are buried on an archaic disk drive somewhere. It’s important for new writers to know that their first, most beloved, book may never be published, but we all have to start that next book. What are some things you wished you would have known when you had your first book published?
Frank: How much work I would have to do to promote it. It really doesn't matter if you're published by one of the big publishing companies or an independent publisher. The real work begins when you sign the contract.
Heather: Agreed. Yes, if you are on the A list with a publisher, you’ll get more advertising, but the author still has an incredible amount of self-promotion to do. Speaking of promoting one’s self, social media has become a must in promoting books. In fact, publishers are asking their authors to create an on-line presence. What type of social media do you use in marketing your books? And what do you find to be the most effective or useful?
Frank: I blog (franklewiscole.blogspot.com), I use Facebook quite a bit, and I've recently started building an e-mail list (should've started earlier.) So far, Facebook has been my most effective tool in spreading the word.
Heather: Your newest book, The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter, is separate from your Hashbrown Winters series. Give us the elevator pitch.
Frank: The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter is my take on action adventure with an Indiana Jones type feel, but with kids as the stars. If you like action and suspense, but also enjoy laughing along the way, this book should appeal to you.
Heather: Sounds great. What has been your most rewarding experience since becoming an author?
Frank: I love seeing a book I wrote on a bookstore shelf, but I think the most rewarding experience has been whenever a parent or a teacher at an elementary school approaches me and tells me my books have helped ignite a love of reading within their child or student. That's what it's all about!
Heather: I definitely agree with that. It’s very humbling, yet very motivating as well and makes the grueling hours of editing more worthwhile. What have you learned about the publishing industry that you didn't know before you got your contract?
Frank: I think I've learned there are literally thousands of people trying to get something published and most of them are quality writers with really great ideas. It's intimidating. I've also learned for most people in the industry (myself included) writing an awesome story is only the beginning. Marketing your project, putting it in people's hands, presenting yourself in as many places possible is the very next step.
Heather: Thank you, Frank. In parting, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Frank: Don't give up and keep writing. Rejection is part of the business. If you give up after the first or fiftieth rejection, you'll never realize what you could have accomplished. Don't stay married to your first novel. The best thing you can do is to keep writing and learning. You abilities will develop after each book you finish. It's likely your first novel won't be the one that receives the contract. So, start cracking out your second and third.
Frank Cole's Blog
Frank Cole's Hashbrown Winters series on Amazon
The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter on Amazon