Interview with Sybrina Durant about Cleo Can Tie A Bow By The Writer’s Life!

Welcome to The Writer’s Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book? 

I have been working on my Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and Fox series of books for over 30 years. The first book, Learn To Tie a Tie With The Rabbit & The Fox, illustrated by Donna Marie Naval was inspired by a trip to a menswear store where a friendly salesman showed me a simple way to tie a neck tie. His method was accompanied by a short story about a fox chasing a rabbit through a forest.  I was charmed by the idea of copying those motions for learning to tie a tie.  What a great memory jogger! It wasn’t until 2012 that I was finally able to publish that book, though. It is available in English, Spanish and Tagalog.  Other knotting books quickly followed.  Nellie Knows How To Knot A Neck Scarf and Ned Knows How To Knot A Necktie came about because I wanted to write something that children could relate back to themselves. Both of those books are illustrated by Enrique Vignolo.  Nellie is about a little girl who loves dressing up in frilly things. The Fancy Nancy books by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser were a little bit of inspiration for her. Neck scarves are Nellie’s favorite accessory. Ned is about a young boy whose imagination is stirred by all kinds of knots. I envision him as a boy scout of sorts. He also knows that certain kinds of knots can make him look good. To him, looking good means wearing a necktie so he has neckties for every occasion. Both Ned and Nellie share the story of the rabbit and the fox with readers. For years, I wanted to write a how-to-tie a bow book, too, but the story just would not come to me. I was completely stuck on the idea of teaching the tying technique by having a fox chase a rabbit. This year, I finally broke free of that concept and was able to create the story of Cleo, a bow obsessed girl. She shares the story of a friendly fox who helps a long-eared rabbit keep her ears from dragging on the ground.

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish? 

I am a self-published author / entrepreneur. There is too much competition these days in the struggle of trying to get a book in front of a traditional publishing company so any author who truly desires their book to be seen by potential readers must take control of the entire publishing and marketing process themselves. That’s where the entrepreneur angle kicks in. Today, there are a million ways to promote a book. If you are not trying to take advantage of at least some of them, you are not doing your book or yourself any favors.

Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published? 

The surprise was how hard it was to get the attention of a traditional publisher and how easy it is to self-publish. Literally anyone can do it. Many avenues are available for self-publishing and distribution but KDP seems to be the most lucrative because of their close links to Amazon. That organization absolutely rules the book world today. It’s truly shocking how fast they overtook every other book seller out there. But don’t kid yourself. Just because your book is listed there, it doesn’t mean that anyone will ever find it in a keyword search…or possibly not even in a search of the actual title. It’s absolutely true that whoever spends the most on advertising gets the most results on page views. So what is an author / entrepreneur to do in their endless effort to get eyeballs on their book? Since I am an Amazon affiliate, one of the things I have done is assemble online stores on my blog that feature books and gifts based on themes from my books. For Cleo Can Tie A Bow, I recommend hundreds of unique bow-themed gifts on my Girls Love Bows Gift Shop. I market and promote that online gift shop through social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. I use a service called Postfity to automatically schedule daily posts. Most weekends are spent creating hundreds of posts that can be scheduled months in advance. I’m telling you all of this because it is something anyone can do. If you want to, you can use a similar method to promote your books, too. You may start out with nearly no followers but if you consistently work on your social media, your influence will continue to grow. One day you may wake up with thousands of followers and daily page views. You just have to keep at it.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process? 

For children’s picture books, the more accurately the cover reflects the content of the book the better. Cleo’s book features a sweet little girl sitting in a forest scene with her favorite rabbit and fox plushies. She wears her hair in a bow, has bow jewelry and all of her clothes are decorated with bows. Anyone, who looks, can tell that this book has something to do with bows. It’s the same with the title. What could be clearer than Cleo Can Tie A Bow as the title for a book about learning how to tie a bow?

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers? 

Read the answer at The Writer’s Life blog.

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