"If you leave your toys out, the Toy Troll will take them to his troll hole and keep them for himself."--excerpt
The Toy Troll is a debut e-book by a former critique group member of mine, Joshua Hawkins. I just had to interview him on his fabulous new book. Enjoy!
1. How did you get the idea for The Toy Troll?
The idea came to me when my youngest son was only a few years old. I got a little frustrated when I found myself picking up the same toys I had picked up umpteen times already that day, and my imagination started rolling...How nice would it be if someone other than Mom or Dad could help remind him not to leave his toys lying around? A mischievous little troll popped into my head, and voila! The Toy Troll was born.
2. Can you explain why you decided to self-publish? (Had you submitted The Toy Troll traditionally?) How hard was it to self-publish? How long did it take?
I fought the decision to self-publish for a long time. I've always imagined The Toy Troll in hardcover with the name of a well-known publisher emblazoned on its cover, and I felt that self publishing would be selling myself and the story short (I no longer feel that way, though I'm still hopeful to see the book the way I've always imagined it). After piles of query letters and submissions to traditional publishers proved fruitless, I shelved the story for a few years. I still believed in it, but frankly I was frustrated with the publishing process. Thankfully my wife, in her thoughtful wisdom, asked an artistic friend to illustrate the story as a birthday gift to me. When she showed me the first few finished pages, I knew I had to get it published. Another friend had recently published through Amazon.com, so I looked into it. The process is quite simple, and after a few days of getting to know the system and using a free software program I found online to format the book it was ready to go.
3. You said you're going to self-publish other picture books. Why this route?
I have gobs of good stories like The Toy Troll that are finished and have been through the rounds with traditional publishers but for one reason or another didn't make it into print. After seeing how well The Toy Troll came out, I wanted to give my other works the same opportunity to get out into the world and (insert lame pun here) tell their stories.
4. Do you have a marketing plan?
Not really. I mean, I created a website and let all my family and Facebook friends know when the story was released, and I've been telling other people through word of mouth, but beyond that I don't have any specific plan. I know I should, and I plan to get there.
5. What advice do you give writers who want to self-publish?
Go for it! Don't give up on the dream of traditional publishing if you have it, but don't rule out other methods in the mean time. There is something extremely satisfying and motivating in seeing your work "out there," even if only in digital format.
6. What are you currently working on?
A fantastically gripping, certain-to-be-award-winning middle grade novel (my first ever) currently consumes nearly all of my writing time. But I'm also starting negotiations with a great illustrator I know to bring one or two of my other picture book stories to life.
Thanks, Josh! If you'd like to read The Toy Troll, it's only $.99 on Amazon. My son really enjoyed it.