1. Tell me a bit about yourself.
I retired with a bucket list to write a book by my 80th birthday. My inaugural book "Old Barns, Red Barns, and the Stories They Tell" went into distribution on my 80th birthday month. No thought was given to publishing. With a lot of encouragement, I wrote "Old Churches, Older Churches, and the Secrets They Kept", and on my 81st birthday, we launched book #2. At the time I was researching barns and churches, old One-Room Schoolhouses kept coming up..SO, "Oh! Those Old One-Room Schoolhouses and the Children They Taught " will complete the "Fun Books by Sandy" trilogy near my 82nd birthday.
2. What genre/s do you write in?
My aim is to write history with humor through the voices of impersonated buildings and the lively cats and their families who help me tell their stories, secrets, and teachings.
3.How long have you been writing?
I have been a diarist and journaler for sixty years. 60+ books are full of my life's journeys. I have had a passion for old structures for most of my life. Feeling these structures tell America's real history.
4. Do you have published books?
Yes, a trilogy of books under the "Fun Books by Sandy" umbrella.
5. Do you have an editor?
I edit to a fault. My publisher as part of my contract edits, then I review and give final approval.
6. Did you use a book formatter and cover design?
My publisher does the format, sends it to me for changes and final approval. The cover design they do. I give exactly what I want it to look like, and they send a copy and I give final approval.
7. Did you self-publish or traditional.
I pay a publisher but have been told I am self-published.
8. How did this go?
Being new to the whole process. What a learning curve. I did not know what questions to ask. Pure trial and error.
9. How do you market and promote your brand?
WOW..this might be a book in itself.
350 postcards to the growing list on books 1 and 2 announcing the books.
I am an author/storyteller. I go to groups (Historical Societies, Friends of the Libraries, Women of Worth groups, etc.) And read chapters while my sister in full turn-of-the-century schoolteacher dress does a reenactment.
Attend numerous festivals, set up a table, and do book signings.
Bookstore book signings.
Facebook posts/Instagram posts
Paid for Online.org review. 5 of 5 reviews.. two other complimentary reviews 4 of 4 reviews.
Visit as many as I can, gift shops, museum book stores, antique stores to request allowing my books to be showcased. Have 6 to date.
Had one radio interview with Home and Family in Los Angeles.
Purchased sell sheets on each book. Sent 400 to bookstores in every state of the union. 🤨 lots of work.. little ROI
Most recently, and a great one. Signed a contract with Book Trails Agency, a new author marketing firm. They have exceeded my expectation for marketing the trilogy, ebooks, and are doing audiobooks currently. Not only the USA but Canada and UK.
10. What social media and writing platforms would you recommend?
I am clearly technologically challenged and struggle daily. Facebook and Instagram.. small amount of messenger. Gmail.
12. Do you pay for advertising?
Facebook, but although numbers were higher, I was being charged far too much because I did not know what I was doing. Did not equate to book sales.
Paid for Onlinebookclub.org review. 5 of 5 but unless you continue to pay, exposure limited.
Book Trail Agency. Wish I would have known them on book 1 & 2.
13. Do you have a blog or website?
No blog. Website: www.funbooksbysandy.com
11. What inspires you to write?
Love of history..love the opportunity to use book sales to give back. Charities have included Tunnel2towers.org, Parkinson's Foundation, Big Brother Big Sister of Greater Lafayette Memorial, and currently Future of Carthage Scholarship Fund.
14. What do you do to help with writer's block?
I have not experienced much writer's block, but I spend hours in research before actually writing the chapters and then organize in such a way, it makes actual writing easier.
15. How do you plan your writing and start.
I think the same answer as #12. I start collecting research for months on the next book. Now it's Old Railroad stations/depots. Have several small notebooks that go with me everywhere.
16. Is writing full-time job?
Researching, writing, publishing obligations, marketing is my five full-time jobs, or at least feels so at times. However, I also am a certified Respite Caregiver. I have only one client now.
17. What am I working on right now?
Research for #1 book of new Trilogy, complete the publishing process of #3 book in the current trilogy, working with various marketing efforts and in full planning mode for May book-signing tour in Indiana.
18. Target audience..
Currently, #3 Oh! Those Old One-Room Schoolhouses and the Children They Taught " are dedicated to teachers everywhere. Much interest in retired schoolteachers. Also, old barns, old churches, and old one-room schoolhouses allow people to go back in history and visit nuggets that make them smile, although the subject matter could be sad. And lest we forget. The voices of impersonated buildings and lively cats are fun reads for cat lovers who believe, like mine, their cats talk.
19. How long to write.
Varies but 4-5 months after research
20. When did you discover you enjoyed writing..
Always have written..journals, diaries..
21. Writing schedule?
I don't have a set schedule. Too limiting. I write anytime, anywhere.
22. What does your family think?
Probably that I'm nuts, 6 boys, one girl, 10 grandchildren are supportive. Not really active in the marketing arm.
21. What do you do when not writing?
Travel to research sites, Historical Societies, book signings.
23. Where do you get information and ideas for writing?
Everywhere. Once I decide on the trilogy (barns, churches, Schoolhouses), I travel country roads, old Historical Societies, meet with as many curators as possible..they know everything.
24. What makes a good story..
Any nugget of history that I can show the part.
Thank you for the chance to get to know you better Sandy Black it is a pleasure to be collaborating with you.
If you would like to collaborate or be interviewed with "The NZDream" blog, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org