Over the past few months of my self-publishing journey, I have had the privilege to connect with a number of passionate and talented authors. We have shared a lot with one another in our group and have helped each other to launch books, promote and share each other's work. I have gained so much from them and I have really enjoyed our connections and interactions over the past few months. I wanted to know more about them, which gave me this idea to do a blog series of author interviews with them. I hope these interviews will give everyone an insight into the self-publishing world and what it's like to be an author, in different parts of the world. I hope you will enjoy reading them and getting to know these amazing authors!
Our first interview is with Author Gentleman Jim. I connected with Jim on Instagram a couple of months after I published my first picture book. He commented on one of my posts saying that he had bought my book! Then, not long after, he posted a very thoughtful and heartfelt review of my book on Instagram, Amazon and Goodreads! I was very touched and grateful for his support! His Instagram page is full of children's book reviews and he is always so supportive of other authors in the children's book authors community. I'm very excited to share his interview with you all!
1. Can you introduce yourself?
Hello, nice to meet you. I’m author Gentleman Jim. Writing and publishing children’s books is like a second life for me. I published my first book in 2015. I was already 49 years old. This whole journey has been a wonderful and enriching experience for me. There have been many ups and downs, successes, and failures, but nothing fills my heart like the smiling face of a young reader enjoying one of my books.
2. What inspired and motivated you to write your first book and how long did it take from the initial idea to publishing?
Believe it or not, I was inspired to write my first book when I was stuck at a railroad crossing, waiting for a very long load of rail cars to pass.
Believe it or not, I was inspired to write my first book when I was stuck at a railroad crossing, waiting for a very long load of rail cars to pass. My mind wandered and I thought, “Locomotive, that’s really just a big word for a train.” I wondered if kids would enjoy a book like that. Most kids already know small words like “train” or “car”, but through association, they could learn a big word like “locomotive” or “automobile”. I thought this might be a fun and simple way for kids to increase their vocabulary. This turned into six “Little Books about BIG Words” books. While researching, I also realized there were a lot of “fun” sounding words that could be used with the same technique. Kids might know the word “head, but they could also learn the word “noggin” which is a lot more fun to say! So, I created two more books about “Fun” words.
3. What are some of the challenges you have encountered on your author and self-publishing journey? How did you overcome them?
At first, self-publishing my books was like entering a giant maze. I was completely lost. There are so many steps that need to be taken. Writing a book is a challenge, but at least, as an author, I feel I have some control over that. There are many other steps though, such as illustrations, editors, formatters, technical issues, marketing, and social media, amongst others. I found the best way to overcome these other areas was to seek the help and expertise that I needed. Sometimes it’s difficult to share our stories with others. Authors worry about criticism, those who want the story changed, or worse, those who would steal the story idea altogether. However, for me, I’ve learned it’s best to seek help whenever needed. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.
4. What has been the most rewarding experience since publishing your first book?
I think my most rewarding experience or experiences are attending book fairs. The most rewarding feeling is introducing myself to parents and their kids. I love when they read, laugh, understand, and compliment my stories. Personal interactions like this really recharge my batteries and constantly remind of the real reason I continue to write books.
5. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from self-publishing?
Self-publishing is a journey. I was so naïve back when I started. I thought I could just create a pdf and plop it on to Amazon and start selling books. I learned quickly though, there is a lot more to it than that. The best lesson in all of this is that there are always new things to learn. Self-publishing is like a never-ending story itself.
6. Have you had any negative experiences or disappointing moments throughout your publishing journey? How did you handle them?
Luckily, I haven’t had negative responses to my work. The most difficult issue for me is trying to explain my vision of the characters and scenes to my illustrator. When writing, we create a visual of the book in our heads. Sometimes it is not quite the same way when illustrated. I’ve learned to become very detailed with my descriptions of how I want each page to look.
7. What advice would you give to other aspiring writers or authors?
My advice to aspiring authors would be to write your stories the way you want them. Make sure you have a definite idea of what you want to say in your books. Then, seek feedback. First from friends and relatives, then from trusted outsiders who will look at your work with a more critical eye. This may be a challenge for beginner writers, but it is well worth it. Sometimes, just a tweak or two to some dialogue can make a big difference.
8. Finish the following statement: If I could only write one more book, it would be called / about …
If I could only write one more book it would be called “Shin Yu”. (Well, I guess since that’s the one I’m currently working on, lol)
9. What are you working on now? What’s your next book about?
My next book is called “Shin Yu”. It’s about a teenage girl who has been playing violin since she was little. Along the way, she has become more interested in winning contests than in the original reason she started playing, which was just for the love of the sound. Hopefully, her new “teacher” can help remember the true reason she loves playing the violin. Stay tuned!
10. Can you tell us more about your books and where we can find you?
Besides the “Big Words” and “Fun Words” books, I have 5 other picture books covering a range of themes and topics:
You can find me on Facebook at:
Be sure to check out Gentleman Jim's pages and give him a follow! Check out some of his books too and let us know what you think! (Don't forget to leave a review!)
Thank you so much for sharing your publishing journey and your wonderful books with us!