Dennis: When did you begin to write?
Stacey: I was the Sports Reporter for our school newspaper and was also actively submitting freelance articles to surrounding newspapers. I was a Journalism/English/Technical Writing student in college and ended up in sales and marketing. It was after I became a stay-at-home
mom who was trying to get my girls ready for their first day of school that I fell back into writing. I was trying to find a book for my girls, who at the time were 3 and 1, that would help them get ready for Kindergarten! I couldn't find exactly what I was looking and via a series of Oprah Shows, Idecided to write and self publish Let's Get Ready For Kindergarten!
Dennis: Please give an overview of your books titled Let's Get Ready for
Kindergarten and Let's Get Ready for First Grade.
Stacey: These are award winning, state approved books that are now inside homes and schools across the nation, helping parents, kids and teachers all get ready for school. It's
not a workbook or storybook on Kindergarten or First Grade, it is a book that has the entire curriculum for each grade with engaging illustrations that can be read over and over again. I wanted to create The Good Night Moon of Kindergarten and First Grade. Books that will become classics over time. I will be releasing the bilingual version of Let's Get Ready For
Kindergarten! and Let's Get Ready For First Grade! in 2008 and will be releasing Let's Get Ready For Second Grade! in 2009.
Dennis: Where can your books be purchased?
Stacey: They are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, select Learning
Stacey: You can watch a video that explains what is inside Let's Get Ready
For Kindergarten! and watch my recent national television segment and view
all the press on our press page. We have a Color the Shapes Game for kids
to play, a place to meet the Cedar Valley Kids and a blog to visit for more
Dennis: What suggestions do you have for other writers who are thinking about
publishing their own books?
Stacey: I would definitely read Dan Poynter's The Self Publishing Manual, now in his 16th edition. That's the key. He created a book that he keeps reinventing and keeping in the spotlight. If you have a book inside you, you have to be the one that keeps in in the spotlight and willing to reinvent it for many years to come. I will be doing the same thing in 5 years that I am doing today to promote my books. I'm creating a classic: The Good Night Moon of Kindergarten and First Grade! I get called every week from authors who have publishers who are not promoting their books. If you are going to author a book, marketing it and promoting it
yourself is the key!! You can't expect a publisher to do the work because to them you are just one of many books they represent and the next great book is always coming behind you to move you out of their radar. Before you write that book, really think about your niche because selling is the most important part of the book business! I also get those heart breaking calls from authors who went with a vanity press and later find out that that $4,000 they spent was wasted money because they don't own the ISBN number and they have to purchase the books at a high per book price when actually they more than paid for their press run. I am a huge fan of self publishing because then I am control of everything!
Dennis: How were you able to get schools interested in your books?
Stacey: My first press run was to see if schools would be interested in my books.
My goal was to sell the 3,000 books that we printed to determine if I needed to purchase an ISBN and use a larger distributor. I gave free samples to schools and offered free drop shipping if they ordered in bulk. It worked. Those books were gone within the first 4 months. I love Amazon! I have never had a return or damaged book from Amazon. If you Google the title of
each of my books, I am near the top of the search engine and that is also due to the ads that Amazon places for me! I can't say that about Baker & Taylor.
Dennis: If other authors have books that may be of interest to schools what would
you suggest they do to get recognized?
Stacey: Be willing to work with one school, one district at a time. I have worked hard at building my school market. I do mailings. I advertise in the trade magazines such as Learning and
Principal Magazine to build name recognition. I am a speaker at Teacher and Early Educational Conferences as well. I have donated books to schools caught in hurricanes, fires and tornados as well.
Dennis: How did you obtain the kind of exposure, recommendations and awards for your books?
Stacey: I have realized that I have been gifted with a national platform with the story behind my story. I have become the Get Ready To Learn Mom who can help your child get ready for school or help parents get involved in the education of their kids. I also help businesses reach the mom market, help parents start home-based businesses, help people find their passions and
help people publish their own books. So now I have become a Mom Expert in each of those areas and have the media asking for interviews or quotes. It all started with applying for awards and pitching the press. The press likes to see you pitch them. They like to see you pitch them over and over and like it that you are still around. They don't like to run a huge story on a company that is gone and out of business, one year later. So the more you show your staying
power the bigger the results become down the road. There is no such thing as an overnight success.
Dennis: What have you learned about the publishing industry that surprised you?
Stacey: I did everything backwards and it turned out to be the best thing I could ever have done. I am like the Lucy of Self-Publishing, I just keep stumbling and bumbling along and it has been a fun and humorous journey which along the way has become my passion! I am continually surprised by the number of people that are willing to write a book, but then don't want to invest the time and money to promote and sustain that book. You have to work at publishing to make money with publishing and if you are doing it for the money, you have to put the time and money in it first to make it profitable in the long run.
Dennis: What marketing activities have worked for you in obtaining the success you have?
Stacey: I hired Orca Communications who handled my PR. Orca put me on the map and gave me a national platform before I even realized that I had one.Ann Noder at Orca saw the story behind my story. I was truly a mom who was inspired by a series of Oprah Shows, the Walking Buddy Show where I started walking with my neighbor and she was telling me what kids were learning in Kindergarten and I was SHOCKED. Kids were learning to read in Kindergarten!
My kids were 3 and 1 at that time and I was trying to find a book to help them and I could find it. So when Oprah was having her Big Dream Contest I said to my neighbor that I wished I had an idea for Oprah's Big Dream Contest and she said, "How about that Kindergarten book you can't find. One book for each grade to help parents, kids and teachers all get on the same page. It's the entire solution to 'no child left behind.'" Then Oprah had a show on Self Publishing, The Mommy Companies and her Trip To Africa that made me redo my books to make them durable and global. So I had a great story to share and other moms were excited that I was a mom who created this book with the help of parents, kids and teachers. So I was speaking their language as well.
Dennis: What advice do you have for other writers?
Stacey: Edit, edit, edit and network, network, network! I thought I was a writer, but after publishing the first book, I realized that I am really an editor a heart. I am surprised by the
number of children's book authors who write a book and when I ask them, "Well what do children think of your book?" Many of them never have had another other than me read their book. The majority of authors have never even thought to edit their book.You need to spend time on editing and testing your book with your buying audience. Go to the library and make friends. The more eyes that see your book prior to press, the better book you will have. So network with other
writers and share your books among them to help you create a book that will
Dennis: Is there anything that you would like to add to this interview?
Stacey: Network, network, network is truly the key. The more people you know the more people will know your book.