lessons in self publishing from a young author

Emma Sumner is the author of The Fairies of Waterfall Island. She published the book in 2016 at the age of only eight years old. Today she’s 10 years old and just finishing up her second book, which is a prequel to the first.

She was inspired to write her first book when she saw her dad publishing his second book on Amazon. Her dad told her that if she could write 150 words in her story that day, he would help her publish the book when it was complete.

She began immediately outlining the book in a new notebook she’d recently gotten. When she showed the notebook to her father that night, Emma had 172 words in it, and he began helping her from there.

In this podcast, we talked about what inspired Emma to write a book, Autism Speaks, and the importance of starting your novel. Emma has a unique story and a message the whole world needs to hear.

How Emma Decided to Write a Book about Fairies

Emma likes books about fairies. She’s a particular fan of Rainbow Magic and The Never Girls. She also likes mysteries; she enjoyed The Magic Treehouse. There was never any question in her mind what type of book she’d write.

Emma’s Writing Process

Emma is definitely a plotter, not a pantser. After Emma finished her outline, she began writing the rough draft. She would have a writing session every Saturday at Panera and post an update on Facebook about what she was doing.

After Emma was done with her rough draft, she and her father hired an editor to go over the manuscript. The editor helped a lot because she found mistakes that Emma and her father missed.

Emma revised the rough draft based on her editor’s suggestions, and then published the book.

What Emma Learned from Working with an Editor

There are a lot of lessons you can learn by working with skilled professionals who are able to give you a different perspective on your work.

Emma learned that you can make your book better by focusing on the details.

Before the editor helped Emma revise her work, there weren’t a lot of details about the world. She says it was really fun working out how fairy magic works.

That kind of nuance adds depth to your fictional world and makes it easier for readers to fall in love with your story.

How Emma Markets Her Book

Emma’s aunt has been tremendously helpful in marketing her book. She helped Emma get several television interviews because of the unique story about how the book was created. Notably, Emma has been on Good Morning Sacramento and Fox 40. She’s also done interviews for magazines and newspapers.

Emma recently started using Amazon ads to market her books. She targets books similar to hers on Amazon; her book is displayed every time someone looks at those product pages.

Emma also made sure that her book was available in as many formats as possible. You can buy a Kindle version, a print version, or the audiobook version.

What It’s Like to Be on Local TV

Once you agree to do a television interview, you and the producer decide on a day and time. Then you go to the TV station and do the interview.

Emma has had to miss school a couple of times for TV interviews. The experience was well worth the missed class time.

Emma’s Spelling Bee Success

Emma has traveled all the way to the National Spelling Bee two years in a row, when she was in the third and fourth grades.

She’s also talented in math and science. She competed in the district math bowl in the first grade.

Readings in Classrooms

Teachers read Emma’s book in classrooms. She attends some of these readings and talks about the process of writing her book. There’s a lot of ways to get your book known if you simply look at opportunities within your own community.

how to start writing a book

The Message of Emma’s Book

“Part of the reason I wrote my book is that I wanted to teach kids of all ages that anything is possible. If I wrote my book at age 7, you can do it at any age, if you really want to.”
– Emma Sumner

The moral of the story is persistence is the key to success. You can’t just give up if things aren’t working for you the first time you try something. You have to make sure you work the process, and just keep going until you’ve accomplished what you set out to.

The process of writing the book mirrored the story itself. There were times while Emma was writing her story that she couldn’t think of anything to write. But the message Emma wanted to put out in the world inspired her to continue writing until the book was done.

“The best way to get over writer’s block is just write anything that comes into your mind.”
– Emma Sumner

The Importance of a Good Support Team

Emma had a lot of people helping her during the book production process. Her dad was a constant source of inspiration and support. Her editor really helped bring her book to another level, and her aunt connected her to people who helped Emma promote her book.

When Emma started her Facebook page to talk about and promote the book, almost 300 people signed up before the book was published.

That was a huge surprise to her. Emma didn’t think anyone would sign up for her Facebook page. To have that support during the production phase of the process was amazing.

Her entire family was incredibly supportive. They became true evangelists for the book. They helped and inspired her throughout the production process, and they really helped spread the word about her book when it was published.

How Emma Used a Launch Team to Catapult Her Book to Success

Emma gathered her launch team using Facebook. She had a signup form linked to her Facebook page. Close to 300 people signed up to be part of her launch team.

Having a launch team that large really helped word of mouth spread about the book quickly when it was live on Amazon.

The Self-Publishing School

Emma learned a lot from The Self-Publishing School. Her father is a teacher there. The most important thing she learned at The Self-Publishing School was the importance of the details in your story.

Autism Speaks

Emma thought it would be cool if she was able to raise some money for charity. So for the first three months that her book was live on Amazon, 100% of her royalties went to Autism Speaks.

Emma chose Autism Speaks because of the personal connection she has with the disease. Before she moved to her current house, she was friends with a neighbor on the autism spectrum. So, when she was deciding what charity to donate to, Autism Speaks was the natural choice.

Autism Speaks is a charity that helps people with autism deal with their condition. They offer speech therapy, as well as a number of other therapies and services to help autistic people deal with the world.

Emma Inspires Others

Emma’s success with The Fairies of Waterfall Island: The Search for the Missing Crystal has inspired her friends to write their own books. Emma’s best friend Annabelle is in the middle of writing her own book. Annabelle loves Diary of a Wimpy Kid, so her book is written in that style.

Emma’s cousin is working on a comic book with his friends.

Emma’s Second Book

Emma’s second book is a prequel to The Fairies of Waterfall Island: The Search for the Missing Crystal.

In The Fairies of Waterfall Island, Julia is the wisest fairy in all the land. The prequel explores Julia’s character and tells the story of how she got her powers.

how to write a novel

Final Words of Advice

If you want to write a book, start writing. The hardest part of writing a book is starting.
– Emma Sumner

Once you start writing your book, it becomes a lot easier. Writing can be fun if you let it be.

You don’t get anywhere by questioning yourself.

 

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview

The Fairies of Waterfall Island: The Search for the Missing Crystal by Emma Sumner

http://emmalovesbooks.com/ – Emma’s website

Emma Sumner’s Amazon author page

https://self-publishingschool.com/ – Emma learned a lot about self-publishing from this program. Her father is a teacher there.

https://www.autismspeaks.org/ – Autism Speaks is a charity organization dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

 

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