Are you interested in self publishing children's books? If so, you'll be interested in this interview. Today's interview is with Angela Ruzicka, a self published author of a series of children's books called, "Wendy on Wheels."
Angela received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Missouri in St. Louis. Since graduating, she has worked for large communication companies including AT&T, Charter Communications and Verizon Wireless. She most enjoys activities that involve helping others and making a difference. She volunteers for many organizations, including the St. Louis Variety, Gennext program of the United Way and the Animal Care and Control Center in South St. Louis.
1. Thank you Angela for agreeing to this interview! To get started, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you first became interested in writing and self publishing children's books.
Well, I grew up with my younger sister, Amanda, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair fulltime. Amanda is twenty six now. One day, she was saying that a lot of people she knows that are in her same situation feel unmotivated to do anything. She feels that way a lot of the time too. It bothers me. Why should a wheelchair prevent a person from getting a job, moving out of your parents' house and otherwise living?
With my communication background, my first reaction was to look at the media portrayals of individuals with disabilities. I found very negative portrayals of people with different abilities, and very few positive images of people in wheelchairs, especially for children. I felt something I had to be done. I didn't like the media portrayals that were out there so I had to create a positive one. I created Wendy on Wheels as a universal symbol of our ability to let go of circumstances and perceived problems and enjoy life. The only limits in life are ones that we set for ourselves.
2. I love the concept of your series of children's books, "Wendy on Wheels." Being a Physical Therapist I have worked in pediatrics and even volunteered with an organization in Central America for two years working with children with disabilities. Tell us how the idea for "Wendy on Wheels" came to be.
I was in California in January of 2010, with my boyfriend (husband now.) I had a dream about a superhero rolling around in a wheelchair. I woke up feeling excited, like "WOW!! That was cool!" I knew I had to create this character. I really wanted Wendy to be a superhero, but I had to introduce her as a fun, loveable little girl first. I thought of Wendy on Wheels Goes to the Beach when I was standing on Huntington Beach the next day. It was my first book, published in April of 2010.
Books one and two are out. Now the time is right for Wendy to be a superhero, and she is in Wendy on Wheels Saves the Day which will be out next month.
3. There are many authors interested in self publishing children's books. However, it can be difficult to decide which self publishing company to choose. Which company did you decide to use to self publish your children's books and why?
I chose Lightning Source because I wanted to set up visits and signings at bookstores. Lightning Source puts my books in the Ingram database which allows every bookstore in the world to order them.
4. Self publishing children's books on Lightning Source requires that you need to start your own publishing company. From your experience, what are your "Top 3 Tips to Successful Self Publishing on Lightning Source?"
Tip #1: Follow the instructions. Fill out all the paperwork. Getting set up on Lightning Source is a long drawn out process. It can get frustrating but you have to fill it all out. Fax in the form, follow all directions.
Tip #2: The design standards are very strict. Find a designer who knows how to follow Lightning Source's specifications and have him or her prepare your book.
Tip #3: You will need to purchase your own ISBN and register your work with the library of congress. If you don't know how to do anything in the process, google it.
5. Illustrations are a huge piece of authoring and self publishing children's books. How did you find your illustrator and what suggestions do you have for authors looking for an illustrator for their children's books?
I visited the art department at my alma mater, University of Missouri St. Louis, filled out a job description with the payment and all the necessary information. The secretary sent it to all the students. I received a bunch of illustration samples to choose from. The sample I received from Elizabeth Gearhart outshone the rest.
My advice would be to visit a local university to hire an illustrator. A children's book looks very impressive on an art major's resume. Also, I recommend attending a local publishers association meeting. You will meet illustrators and editors there as well.
6. What has been the most rewarding part of writing and self publishing children's books thus far?
My second book, Wendy on Wheels Goes to the Zoo, talks about inclusion in schools with discussion questions in the back. It's so rewarding to read the books at elementary schools and ask the discussion questions. I love how the kids really feel for Wendy and can relate to her. They learn that Wendy is a kid just like them. I love that a book I wrote can change a young one's perception of others.
7. If you could only give one piece of advice to authors considering self publishing children's books, what would that be?
Write it! Don't be afraid. I experienced self-doubt about writing my first book, but then I thought if I didn't create this character, no one else would. A lot of people love Wendy on Wheels. They love her spirit and the message she sends. It would be a shame if let my fear keep Wendy from becoming a reality.
8. Thank you again, Angela, for joining us for this interview! I'm excited for you and hope your books continue to be a great success. How can our readers find out more about you or order copies of your books?
Also, if you are interested in publishing a children's book, here is a list of Children's Book Publishers.
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