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Author Interview--Carole P. Roman

The "Captain No Beard" series is illustrated by Bonnie Lemaire. In this book, Pepper Parrot is a central character.
The "Captain No Beard" series is illustrated by Bonnie Lemaire. In this book, Pepper Parrot is a central character. Carole P. Roman/Grand Communications

The children’s book market is currently full of exciting and innovative stories from talented individuals; independent author Carole P. Roman is one such writer who found success through Amazon Indie Publishing. Carole’s first book, “Captain No Beard - An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life” has been named the Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012, garnered the Star of Remarkable Merit, and listed in the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children's Fiction 2012. “Captain No Beard” has subsequently been developed into a series of books that is continually adding titles.

Written by Carole P. Roman and illustrated by Bonnie Lemaire, the "Captain No Beard" series started with this title.
Written by Carole P. Roman and illustrated by Bonnie Lemaire, the "Captain No Beard" series started with this title. Carole P. Roman/Grand Communications

Carole P. Roman is the author of the best-selling book titled “I Want To Do Yoga Too.” Currently, she is working on an educational series that explores different cultures from a child's point of view. “If You Were Me and Lived in...Mexico” received the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children's non-fiction 2012. “If You Were Me and Lived in...Kenya” received 5 Stars from the ForeWord Clarion Review. Carole just completed “If You Were Me and Lived in…Russia” with the help of her five year old grandson and loved every minute of it!

At present, Carole has about 11 books on sale on Amazon—two of which are being developed into apps—and she also has several books forthcoming. Recently, I was given the opportunity to interview Carole about her books and her experiences with publication:

Q: According to your author biography, you wrote your first book for your grandson. Had you ever published anything prior to this?

I self-published something many years ago and sold about one copy. It was a historical romance, and I published it under my real name. Back then, the vanity press charged a silly amount of money, you got 50 free copies and that was that. I didn't know how to get my book into anybody but family's hands and while it was a great ego trip, it did nothing for me. CreateSpace has been wonderful, walking and talking a writer through the process. They take your project seriously, giving valuable information to get your book not only read, but sold. I speak to dozens of indie authors, and if you choose the wrong publishing company, they sell you services that are unproductive. The most important lesson I learned is that if nobody hears about you or your book, it simply won't get read.

Q: You have written quite a few books! Do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why?

I love ALL my books. Each one represents time spent learning something about interesting subjects as well as myself. The “Captain No Beard” series has gentle lessons that are all born from my own family life. Whether it was dealing with bullies, or making family members get along, the books convey messages of things that I have dealt with in my life. Pepper Parrot's inability to tell her right from left is my own disability. The adventures represent the fun times I have shared with not only my grandchildren, but my own children in their youth. I guess you can say I am an old swashbuckler! The cultural series “If You Were Me and Lived in...” is born from my love of learning. I was a social studies teacher 40 years ago, and adore exploring other cultures and customs. I think once you are a teacher, you'll always be a teacher. I deliberately chose countries I knew nothing about and enjoyed learning all about them.

Q: What were your experiences publishing with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace?

They are the best publishing partners a writer could ask for. I am a person who is used to having control over my environment. CreateSpace allows a writer to do what he or she wants without worrying about what the people in charge are choosing to sell. This is so wonderful because it locks out the tastes and preferences of marketers who interfere with the messages. Writing is an art form, it's a cathartic, and humbling experience. Sometimes, it's not about money or fame, but a person has something they need to work out, or say. Publishers shape work to their own taste or what they think will sell. I love the indie works, because when you read them, they are more honest. It's as if your finger is on the pulse of the real person and not the team shaping it. CreateSpace has services that edit to make a manuscript professional and easy to compete with the ones coming out of the big house. Also, you are in control of everything. I chose to run ads on the radio. Big publishers only promote a book in the beginning, or when it is rereleased on softcover. I promote my books anyway I chose, for as long as I chose. Kindle Direct Publishing makes everything happen fast. They are efficient, and if you find a glitch, you have the control to fix it. On demand printing makes it possible to print copies of your book as they are needed, thus saving money as well. You get a publishing consultant who will facilitate any of your needs quickly and efficiently. I am thrilled with their service!

Q: Creatively speaking, what do you hope to achieve over the next ten years?

I am hoping that my cultural books will be found in homes and schools all over the country. I have made coloring books and worksheets that I want to make available on my website. I would love to see an outfit like Scholastic include them on that big Clifford truck when it travels to schools. I plan to keep going until I cover the globe. I hope “Captain No Beard” makes it to a network and becomes a televised cartoon. He is a wonderful character and kids really love the adventure. When I read in school, I love the way children sit on the edge of their seats enjoying the highs and lows of his travels. They really like both him and the crew!

Q: There has been talk about some of your books being turned into app form. How did this opportunity come about?

I was contacted by a company named Authorly on the web. They do it for a minimal charge. My son approved, so we sent them the illustrations. Dan McGowan did a fantastic job reading the first story and even my husband thought it was fantastic. All media is important. Kids today know and want to use everything. I have since sent them two more books and can't wait to see them in the Amazon App store!

Q: What kind of content will be available on the app? For example, will the app be dedicated to books and reading or will it work more like a game?

Right now, a person can choose to have the book read to them, they can read it to themselves and finally there is an autoplay. I hope they come up with more interactive ideas and services in the future, But, I will admit, it had been amazing watching my products doing new things!

Q: You have won many awards and honors for your work! Was there ever any one particular event or award or happening that most touched or honored you? If so, which one and why?

Each time I receive any recognition it is absolutely delicious, and I promise you, it doesn't get old. When I opened the very first email and discovered that my debut book, “Captain No Beard an Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life,” received a Kirkus Star of Remarkable Merit and was named to Kirkus Best of 2012, I was beyond thrilled. I never expected it and was honored and touched. It gave me confidence to write more. The Foreword Review has given many of my books a five star review and named “If You Were Me and Lived in...France” as a finalist in the 2014 Book of the Year Awards. Rebecca's Reads, Reader's Views, NABE Pinnacle, and even The Erik Award have delighted me. I LOVE THIS JOB!!!!

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors who are thinking about publishing a new book, especially on a platform like Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace?

First sit down and write. Don't put it off, don't keep correcting, grab that computer and write anything you want. Editing comes later. Go for it! If you choose Createspace, get to know your project team. Don't be afraid to explore the different services they have available; if you have a budget anywhere professional editing it the most valuable. Get your work out there. Read blogs, find ones that would be interested in your subject. If people don't hear about you, they won't read your book. Give away as many copies as you can afford. Kindle makes it easy to run it as a free promotion, so you can give it away. Get a savvy media person to beef up and promote Facebook, your own blog, and run giveaways. Enter the book in as many contests as you can. The most important thing is to find other authors and ask questions. I review books all the time. I meet tons of authors and ask them to review my work as well and I feature their books on my blog. I love paying it forward and sharing my resources. Who knows where it's going to take me!

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Some further information about Amazon’s FREE self-publishing services:

Anyone can self-publish with Amazon. To independently-publish with Amazon, authors simply create a free Kindle Direct Publishing (for eBooks) or CreateSpace (for print books) account. Authors can earn up to 70% royalties. Authors who use KDP and CreateSpace get to keep their copyrights, retain control, distribute globally and in multiple languages, publish fast, and do it for free.

It’s completely free to self-publish through CreateSpace or KDP and distribution to Amazon sites is also free, and there are no set-up or maintenance fees. CreateSpace offers book creation services like cover design and editing for a fee if needed by the author. CreateSpace also offers professional publishing services. In addition, CreateSpace members now have the option of choosing matte lamination for their book covers at no additional charge; the Expanded Distribution offer, which previously cost $25.00, is now free. This gives authors the opportunity to access a larger audience through more online retailers, bookstores, libraries, academic institutions, and distributors within the United States; this also improves discoverability of a book across all the channels. More about these services is here: https://www.createspace.com/pub/services.home.do?tab=PUBLISHING

The majority of marketing their book is left to the author, but Amazon does offer some tools to help them reach more readers and earn more money. Authors using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) can choose to participate in KDP Select, which can help boost their readership and sales, as it allows them to participate in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and gives them the ability to offer their books for free. KDP authors enrolled in KDP Select can also use the new Kindle Countdown Deals program, which offers readers a limited-time promotional discount on Kindle-exclusive titles.

With independent publishing, the author is in the driver’s seat. Their books remain online and never out of stock on Amazon unless they decide to take them down. Books are reviewed by Amazon before publishing to ensure they follow Amazon’s content guidelines.