I’m pleased to interview the Fairy Book Lady, Bobbie Hinman, to my blog today. Bobbie has written and co-authored several successful cookbooks. She was also an elementary teacher, who decided to turn her attention to the world of children’ s literature.
Bobbie, thanks for being my guest today. Is there anything further you would like us to know about you and your writing?
Bobbie: The inspiration for my fairy books comes from my ten (yes, ten!) grandchildren. In fact, I was combing the knots from my granddaughter’s hair when the idea for my first book, The Knot Fairy “flittered” into my head. It was also their idea to make the second book all about their missing socks. Alas, The Sock Fairy was born. My grandchildren have been an important part of the entire process and are even featured as part of the chorus on the accompanying CDs. I have always believed in make-believe and what could be more fun than writing about fairies? I’m proud to report that these two books have won a combined total of fourteen children’s book awards. I’m so happy I listened to the kids!
Katie: Your latest book is “The Belly Button Fairy.” Please share a brief synopsis with us.
Bobbie: This is a grandmotherly fairy who flies through the sky in her rocking chair. She is responsible for making sure that every child has a belly button and that it’s exactly in the middle. She’s kind of a clumsy-looking fairy with big feet and red Converse sneakers. The book will be released on September 1st.
Katie: “The Belly Button Fairy” is a delightful picture book. Where did you come up with the idea for it?
Bobbie: I am lucky to have been surrounded by lots of children in my lifetime, as a teacher, a mother and a grandmother. I have seen so many youngsters who are fascinated with their belly buttons, so I decided to offer a less practical and more magical explanation for this “silly little hole.” The premise of this book, as well as my other books is a simple one: “Who better to blame it on than a fairy?”
Katie: Your book has an audio CD with it and an original fairy song. Why did you decide to do this? How do you believe it will work for you?
Bobbie: I added the CDs because I wanted my books to have special appeal to pre-school children, as well as beginning readers. Children in both of these age groups can follow along with the words on the CD and listen for the bell that indicates when it is time to turn the page. There is also a fairy song on each CD that the children can sing along with.
Katie: Do you plan on writing any more “fairy” books?
Bobbie: Oh, yes! I have so many ideas! There’s no end to what we can blame on the fairies! The next book is actually in the works, however it’s still a secret. Shhhhhh……..
Katie: I see that you’ve formed your own publishing company, Best Fairy Books, and have a great team. Why did you choose to go this route instead of searching for an agent, or finding a publisher yourself?
Bobbie: My cookbooks were published in the traditional way and I have no regrets about going that route. However, I found that in order to ensure the success of the books, I was the one who had to continue to do most of the promoting. So, this time around I decided to do it myself. Also, I have to admit that I’m a bit of a control freak. I wanted to do it all myself – work with the illustrator and graphic designer, plan the cover, and of course plan all of the promotions. Oh yes, I also want to keep all of the profits. My ever-supportive husband is also my business partner and we work together on everything. I am a very right-brained person and he is left-brained, so together we make one entire person.
Katie: Are you open to receiving submissions from other writers? If yes, what kinds of books are you open for?
Bobbie: I have had a number of requests from other children’s authors, however I can hardly keep up with the work involved with my own books. I don’t feel that I would be able to handle other authors’ books and do the best job for them. I also still need to make sure there is still time in my schedule for those ten grandchildren.
Katie: No author these days escapes promoting and marketing their books. What steps have you taken to promote your book? What seems to be working the best? The least?
Bobbie: My life these days seems to be all about promotion. I try to do at least five things a day to market my books. This includes contacting schools and libraries to schedule visits, scheduling presentations at book festivals, sending press releases to appropriate sources, sending books and information to reviewers and bookstores, doing online blogs, interviews and email campaigns, exhibiting at as many out-of-state book fairs as possible, and entering book awards.
Katie: What three pieces of advice you would give to picture book authors?
Bobbie: 1) Spend a lot of time in bookstores looking at every detail of the most popular picture books. 2) Form a focus group made up of children in your target age group. Read to them and then listen to what they have to say. 3) Pay attention to every detail of your book and make it as perfect as you can.