Author Interview Series (23): Stephanie Scott
Updated: May 26, 2022
Today's author interview is with the multi-talented Stephanie Scott, children's book author, and Child and Youth Counsellor. I connected with Stephanie on Instagram as well and I'm excited to share her interview with you all and introduce her very special book! Her story is truly inspiring!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, Stephanie! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
S: Hi! My name is Stephanie Scott. I grew up in a Brady Bunch of a family in Windsor, Ontario. I have 3 brothers, 2 sisters, and 3 step-siblings as well! Growing up, I had a great uncle with Down Syndrome. Having him in my life sparked an interest to eventually go to school to help others in need, help them meet their highest potential, and live life as fully as they can. I was called a ‘baby hog’ and a ‘child whisperer’, from a young age since I carried such a positive, bubbly vibe that others would gravitate to. I always had curiosity, wondering how can I better understand behaviour and what do they need? How can I be of service? From there, I completed my degree in Child and Youth Work and have been a Child and Youth Counsellor for over 10 years, working with children, youth and adults with various complexities and exceptionalities. I remember in grade 9 or 10 I completed a presentation in French class about wanting to be an interior decorator when I grow up. That would have been my second choice to go to school for! Side note, I wish I was able to speak another language fluently.
Wow! I love the story of how you got into Child and Youth counselling. Interior decorating sounds pretty cool too. I remember wanting to be an architect when I was that age. And now we are authors – how drastically dreams change!
So, what inspired and motivated you to write your first book and how long did it take from the initial idea to publishing?
S: After I completed University in 2011, I was a Program Manager for a company that created and facilitated programs for children with Autism and ADHD, anger management issues and self-esteem concerns. I also signed a contract with a company to be an Independent Contractor as a Behaviour Support Specialist that supported clients in many different settings. From my work experience, I was very touched by the unique and eye-opening situation’s clients were in and very inspired by their resiliency. Once the program or contract ended, it inspired me to create a resource that is available whenever anyone is in need, since getting funding or support can be challenging for some families. I remember I was focusing a lot on mindfulness, where I would have to think on the spot of an activity to do to help de-escalate a client. I found myself creating various guided meditations. With a mix of that and a collection of small notes I would journal, it gave me the push I needed over 6 years, to finally hit the publish button.
That's a great motivation to hit publish! Your book is such a great resource for these kids.
What are some of your proudest moments since publishing the book?
S: The proudest moment I had was actually seeing the physical copy of my book, Buckle Up: A Children’s Imaginary Journey about Self-Control in my hands! It was an amazing feeling seeing what I imagined come to life. For any author, seeing the orange band as soon as it hits Amazon would be on-top of the proudest moments. It was a really exciting moment to see both my hardcover and paperback get the orange banner. I am really proud that my book received A Certificate of Excellence in Children’s Literature, Honourable Mention for Picture Books 6 & Older, through the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, and a certificate for Picture Book Fiction and Health and Wellness categories, through Story Monsters Approved Award. In addition, I was also a finalist in the Children’s/Kid’s book category for the Canadian Book Club Awards. It is a wonderful feeling to have your hard work pay off and be recognized by others, making a meaningful impact in the lives of children, families and educators. Seeing the smiles and positive reviews from my readers are absolutely priceless.
That's amazing! Congratulations on your successes, and your hard work has certainly paid off!
What are some of the challenges you have encountered on your author and self-publishing journey? How did you overcome them?
S: Some challenges I have encountered on my author and self-publishing journey is that I knew absolutely no one who published a children’s book before, so I was on my own, trusting my gut to guide me that I was doing the right thing, trying to make sense of all of the self-publishing material given. It was very overwhelming! I had to push my self-doubt aside, kept my head down and continued to make my dreams happen. I was going back and forth wondering if it was the right thing to do financially, since it cost a lot of money, but my fiancé gave me the reassurance that it will all work out and he supported my passion. In addition, just as my book was ready to be launched the pandemic hit and I was unable to promote my book in person, the way I was looking forward to. I had to learn how to be flexible and it pushed me to think outside the box and really learn how to use social media!
How wonderful that you have such a great partner to support your passion and dreams! The pandemic has certainly made things difficult for authors, but it also helped us to get connected with more people worldwide through social media. I think you've been doing an amazing job!
What was it like launching your first book? What did you learn from the experience? If you could do it again, what would you do differently?
S: Launching my book was very exciting and nerve-wracking. In the back of mind, I kept asking myself if I did the right thing, and question if others will see this as a valuable book. My family and fiancé threw me a launch party just in time before the world started to shut down due to the pandemic. I was in complete shock to see how many families and friends attended and the level of support I received. I have learned how important it is to surround yourself with others who support your passion and also push you to take some risks. If I could do it again, I think I would have liked to have found a creative way to do a virtual launch party as well to involve more across the world. I wish I reached out to organizations and potential readers ahead of time to create more awareness about my book. However, at the time, Instagram was new to me, and I was still learning the ropes of what I wanted my brand to stand for.
Wow! That's absolutely amazing that they threw you a launch party and I have never even attempted one. Building more awareness about the book is definitely a good idea though. But I'm glad you also started on Instagram, since that's how I found out about you and your book!
Have you had any negative experiences or disappointing moments throughout your publishing journey?How did you handle them?
S: A disappointing moment I had throughout my publishing journey is that I had a workplace injury and have been going through treatment for a brain injury. I still am managing post-concussive syndrome after 7 months. I was beating myself up, feeling disappointed that now as the world is opening up, I am still not ready mentally to be able to tolerate being able to go into the community to spread the word about my book and connect with the community. Also, I added pressure to myself thinking that I am set further behind now with marketing, and was really upset that it was taking me longer to respond to comments or messages. It’s a work in progress. I have to be kind to myself and remind myself that both the physical health and mental health need to be priority. I have a great medical team, family support team and group of authors I have met, that has been giving me hope and keep reminding me that I am made for this author journey. This author journey will be waiting for me with open arms, for my full return.
I'm so sorry about your brain injury. It must be so tough managing all the symptoms for so long. I hope you can recover fully soon. But definitely take as long as you need to get better, be kind to yourself and keep healthy. All the other stuff can wait.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers or authors?
S: Advice I would give to other aspiring writers or authors is to stay focused on the writing and write some more. Let the creative juices flow, even if it doesn’t make sense in the moment, you can pause, take a break and revisit. You might surprise yourself about what you can create. Don’t force yourself to write if you are not feeling it. It’s okay to have a mental block. Write with purpose and intent because then the readers will be able to sense it through your work in the end. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. You won’t know everything and no one path is the right path. Connect with other authors. Join social media groups. Do research. Attend webinars. Study books in your genre. Always keep finding ways to improve your craft and always be open to learning.
That's all excellent advice! I love the one about allowing yourself to be vulnerable. I never thought that showing my weaknesses and vulnerability would be a good thing, but it has actually helped me to connect on a more personal level with others. We all go through the same struggles and difficulties.
What is something you wish someone had told you about self-publishing before you started?
S: Something I wish someone had told me about self-publishing before I started, was how much work marketing is! I definitely underestimated the endless work and hours that goes into promoting your book. There are so many platforms that you can use. It definitely feels like another full-time job, but a job I gladly will accept!