Nicole Storey started writing as way to help her son.
He is autistic and she wrote a book where the main character is an autistic boy like her son. He went on a wild adventure to save his friends. Little did she know she would end up publishing Grimsley Hollow: The Chosen One and it would become part of a much larger series.
Storey note writes books for children and young adults. It provides unique challenges in reaching those audiences. Storey has to relate to the children while also connecting with adults to show them her books are worthwhile.
I got a chance to interview Storey on her life as an independent author and what it took to reach this point.
Teleread: What made you want to write a book for children?
Storey: My son has autism and Tourette’s. He had never experienced bullying until he began middle school at the age of eleven. As a mother, I tried everything I could to get the school system to do their job of protecting him. However, after countless meetings, emails, and phone calls, the episodes still continued at least twice a week. I felt as if I failed my son and he could not understand why this was happening when he did nothing to deserve it. I decided to write a story with him as the main character and “hero.” I included all of his favorite things such as Halloween, movies, monsters, and foods. I never intended to have it published, but after my son read it and I saw the joy on his face, I wanted to be able to put that smile on the faces of other kids with special needs.
Teleread: Did you attempt to publish it through traditional avenues?
Storey: I emailed a few agents but then decided to wait and see what else was available to authors. I received mixed opinions on what paths I should take and I didn’t want to jump into anything too soon.
Teleread: What were some of the initial challenges you faced when you self-published your books?
Storey: I had no idea what I was doing! I had an acquaintance “edit” my book and was assured that she knew what she was doing. She didn’t. Thankfully, my book was only up for two months before I was signed with my publisher, so I didn’t have to face the humiliation of a bad review for grammar mistakes. I had to hire someone to format my book, as I am technically challenged and I spent WAY too much money for my cover art. I wish I had known then what I know now.
Teleread: I’m sure you had advice from so many places, but what specific challenges did you face because you were writing for a younger audience?
Storey: When I write a book, I want it to be real. I want the audience to read my story and be able to relate to it and believe (no matter how outlandish) that it could happen. I took a few hits because some parents thought that a book for ages ten and up should not contain any curse words. The ones I used were mild and totaled maybe three in all. My reply to them was that if they thought their kids (ages ten and up) had never said a curse word, they might be interested in the herd of unicorns in my backyard, too. Kids are going to swear at least once in their lives! Besides, I didn’t write the book for adults. I wrote it for kids and their approval is really all I need.
I was also criticized for the autism-related content. Some parents said it was obvious that I had no knowledge of autism and no business writing about the subject. My son was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old. I started Grimsley Hollow: The Chosen One when he was twelve. Other than that, I really had no challenges when writing my children’s books. I have always loved books for kids and young adults, as they are the ones that contain a certain magic and are the most truthful, as well.
Teleread: Being that the material was very close to you, how did you handle it when people told you that you didn’t know much about autism?
Storey: I must admit that I was surprised at first, but quickly dismissed the comments. Many people still have no idea what autism is, even though 1 out of every 88 children are diagnosed with it and most of those children are boys. I believe many people still think of Dustin Hoffman in the movie, Rain Man, when they hear the word autism. They are unaware that autism affects people in different ways.
Teleread: Were there certain pieces of advice that didn’t pertain to you?
Storey: Yes, in a way. I have been told during my writing experiences that I should think about my audience and perhaps stay away from certain subjects that could offend, such as religion. I won’t say this didn’t pertain to me, but it was advice I chose to ignore. Kids have questions about everything and religion is not taboo where they are concerned.
Teleread: What kind of marketing do you do for your books? Do you find that you try to appeal to children or their parents?
Storey: I try to appeal to everyone. *grin* However, as one of my series is for younger kids, I usually have to convince the parents first. I have sales on my books and giveaways and contests on my Facebook page and website. I also blog, enter book contests, and do signings. I am still researching ways to get the word out about my books. Marketing is the hardest part of being an author.
Teleread: What was the biggest lesson you learned after your first book?
Storey: The biggest lesson was that I had a lot to learn. I still learn something new everyday. There are no set rules for writing and marketing – it is really a game of trial and error to see what works for you and what does not. However, sharing ideas with other authors helps tremendously when it comes to making decisions on what to try next.
Teleread: You now have at least four published stories in a less than two years, when did you decide that you wanted to keep writing books?
Storey: I decided to keep writing after my first book was published. It is something I do well and I love being able to contribute to one of my favorite past time – reading! Books have the power to touch lives. They make us laugh, cry, feel empowered, and give us hope. I want my stories to have that same influence. Authors give their books roots, but it is the readers who give them wings.
Teleread: What do you have planned next?
Storey: Right now, I am working on my fourth book in the Grimsley Hollow series. It is titled The Longest Days of Night. After it is finished, I will delve back into the world of angels, demons and the supernatural in The Celadon Circle.
You can learn more about Nicole Storey and her books on her website.
Her first book: [easyazon-link asin=”B007A6TOAE” locale=”us”]Grimsley Hollow – The Chosen One[/easyazon-link] is available on Amazon and other fine ebook stores.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I really enjoyed the interview!