I am running into some really active and interesting seniors lately. Seniors who have taken on a whole new career in retirement turning their passion into a business or a cause. Sherrill Cannon personifies this subgroup. She is a published children’s book author and leads a full and interesting life RVing around the country with her husband. Makes me long for retirement myself.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I never really wanted to be a writer, I just wanted to write. I love poetry and ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed expressing my feelings and thoughts in rhyme and meter. (My friends accuse me of thinking in rhyme!) Having been a teacher, I also like to teach – so I try to help children learn good manners and consideration for others, disguised as fun rhyming stories.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the book, but usually not very long – usually a day or two. Children’s books are not very lengthy; so once the idea is formed, the actual writing takes very little time. The polishing takes longer!
3. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
As mentioned previously, most of my books focus on teaching children at an early age to have consideration for each other, to be polite and have good manners, and to share.
4. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first poems when I was four (and since I couldn’t write, my mother wrote them down for me.) Many of my poems have been published in Poetry Collections. My first published story was in an anthology in 1996 and was titled David’s A.D.D., written for a friend’s son who had listened to me read one of my stories and then said that he wished there were stories for kids like him. My first published children’s rhyming book, Santa’s Birthday Gift, was written in 2002 when I was 62! (Yes, I am now 72!!) I didn’t submit it for publication until 2009.
5. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to read, and my husband of 51 years and I enjoy traveling in our RV. Of course what I spend most of my time doing is marketing my books (the other half of being an author!)
6. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have four published books (counting my newest, Gimme-Jimmy, which is now at the printers) and five published plays for elementary school children. I also have four more finished manuscripts waiting their turn, as well as a couple of others in the works! My favorite will always be Santa’s Birthday Gift, which was written in answer to a grandchild’s question after hearing the story of the Nativity, “But where’s Santa?” That night the entire story came to me in a dream.
7. What is your perspective on the present and the future of the publishing industry from the view of a published author?
I think that the publishing industry is beginning to accept the fact that small press books and self-published books are a growing market, and that there are many quality books published that way. Print-on-demand books are more economical, since there are not large back-logs of books printed but never sold, and book stores don’t have to stock huge inventories. I think there will always be a market for children’s picture books, since part of the fun for small children is being able to pick out books, handle them and turn the pages themselves. These picture books also require excellent illustrations, especially in this day of electronic media where children are used to watching pictures while listening to text. All of my books are now eBooks as well (converted only when color versions became available) because they are really handy for small children who are traveling, but most of my sales are books. (Peter and the Whimper-Whineys is also now an app on iTunes with a voiceover soundtrack that reads the story, and that seems to be a great tool for multi-tasking parents!)
8. What advice do you have for aspiring children’s book authors!
Try to discover your area of expertise, then write with your child-readers in mind…and then make sure your publisher (or you) finds a great illustrator! Small children really do judge books by their covers, and a picture is worth millions of words!!! (I am very happy with my publisher, SBPRA, and if you have any questions about how I feel about them – or want to read other potential authors’ questions and my answers – please check out my website at www.sherrillcannon.com)