- How important do you believe a book cover is 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. Anyone interested in bows would want to know what this book holds in store for them. Cleo’s story began in her bedroom but I wanted readers to get a clue from the cover that the book was going to take them on an adventure. The illustrator, Pumudi Gardiyawasam, and I worked very closely on every aspect of each picture and after the illustrations for the rest of the book were mostly finished, I expressed my idea for the cover to her. She took off with it. I love how it turned out. She is a wonderful person to interact with on a children’s picture book project. I thought her technical abilities with the knot tying illustrations were pretty impressive, too. This was actually Pumudi’s first full picture book and I really hope that she gets a lot more illustration work as more people are introduced to her creative abilities. Her instagram profile is i_doodling.
- What was your aim for this book? What did you want readers to think and feel when reading it?
I wanted to take a seemingly complicated task and make it simple for anyone of any age – even for little kids. I want parents and children to have fun performing a skill together that is slowly falling by the wayside. I want everyone who follows the tale of the friendly fox helping the little rabbit keep her ears from dragging through the dirt to have a sense of accomplishment and pride for mastering something that requires some manual dexterity. Not all hand to eye coordination has to be experienced with video games.
- Tell us a bit about your book and where it’s available.
Cleo Can Tie A Bow is a cute story, with beautiful disneyesque artwork, meant to make it easy to learn to tie a bow with shoelaces or ribbons. It is immediately available in print and ebook format at most online bookstores. And it is available in soft cover and hard cover print version upon request at major bookstores around the world via Ingram Spark / Baker Taylor.
- Do you have any other books currently available?
Actually, I have an entire series of Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox books. The first book, Learn To Tie A Tie With The Rabbit And The Fox is illustrated by Donna Marie Naval. It is currently available in English, Spanish and Tagalog at all online book stores. After writing that book, I quickly realized that though it was instructional, the story was a little too plain. Kids like to read about characters that remind them of themselves. So, I came up with 2 new stories – “Nellie Knows How To Knot A Neck Scarf” and “Ned Knows How To Knot A Necktie.” Both of these books are illustrated by Enrique Vignolo. Nellie is about a little girl who loves dressing up in frilly things. Neck scarves are her favorite accessory. The “Fancy Nancy” dress-up books by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser are so popular that I wanted to explore that theme somewhat. Ned is about a young boy whose imagination is stirred by all kinds of knots. I envision him as a little bit of a boy scout with an extensive neck wear collection. Both Ned and Nellie share the story of the fox chasing the rabbit through the forest with readers of their books.
- How did you originally get into writing?
I have been writing songs and stories since I was first able to spell. The first full length book I ever started to write is a science fiction fantasy unicorn novel. It took me nearly 40 years to finish “The Blue Unicorn’s Journey To Osm”. Before I finished the novel, I created an illustrated middle grade chapter book from the outline and notes for that book with the help of illustrator Sudipta Dasgupta. The rabbit and the fox series of books came strictly from a need to know how to do something over 30 years ago. I’ve always been one to write down instructions for everything. Needing to know how to tie a tie led to that entire series.
- What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
What I enjoy most about being a writer is something I would have never imagined before the internet age…I most enjoy interacting with like-minded individuals from all around the world. For instance, Donna is from the Philippines. Enrique is from Venuzuela. Pumudi is from Sri Lanka. And the illustrator of my Blue Unicorn books is from India. I would have never met any of them if not for the internet. Each and every one of them had the style of artwork that I felt I needed to make each story come alive. I love each of their artistic interpretations. It also really makes me happy to be able to help further someone else’s dreams along with my own.
- What do you find hardest about being a writer?
The hardest thing about being a writer these days is realizing that you must also be your own publisher and publicist. The truth is that over 1000 new books are released for sale in this country alone every single day. So, the hard work begins after the book has been made available to the public. It is then, you realize you must set your feet on the long hard path of marketing because, with so many other books calling for people’s attention, it’s up to you to ensure people know yours is out there and that is it something they’ll be happy to read. Part of my marketing process involves online book stores related to themes in my books. Being an Amazon affiliate allows me to use my affiliate codes to sell any product that I find on Amazon. Each sale only garners a couple of cents for me but it’s a fun activity that brings exposure to my books. Two of my online stores include the Girls Love Bows Gift Shop and Sybrina’s Unicorn Book Store. https://sybrina.com/girls-love-bows-gift-shop-glbgs-1/ and https://sybrina.com/sybrinas-unicorn-book-store-main/
Visit Cover Lover Book Reviews Blog to learn who my main life influence was.