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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

There Is a Place in This World for Your Story: Author Interview with Lauren Ranalli

What made you decide to write your first novel? Was there a book/author who made you think, I could do that?  
My oldest child was born in December 2011. We're an inter-faith family and being a December baby, he received lovely Christmas books from friends and family. On one of my early outings with him, I went on a search for Chanukah books to add a little balance to our bookshelf. I couldn’t find what I wanted in the store, so I checked online, and at our local library. 
The stories I initially found seemed to all fall on opposing ends of a spectrum. On one side there were stories such as “Elmo Celebrates Chanukah” and on the other side was “The History of Chanukah and the Maccabees”. Neither of these really resonated with me (no offense to Elmo or the Maccabees). I wanted to find a book that was a better reflection of my own family traditions and cultural experience. This inspiration began my journey to write my first children's book, The Great Latke Cook Off.
You’re an indie author, which means you’re in charge of everything from writing to publishing and marketing. Other than writing, what other parts of the process do you personally do or hire others to do? 
I've been very fortunate in working with incredible illustrators since that is a skill I definitely don't have! And outside of the physical printing of the books, I manage all other aspects of my author business. This includes marketing and promotion, shipping my books (I choose to do this because I love to sign each copy!), scheduling author events, and- now that my business has grown- offering coaching and trainings for other self-published authors.  
What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing? 
Seeing all of the incredible reader reviews is always so rewarding! I recently had a teacher tell me that her classroom gave my book, Let's Meet on the Moon one hundred thumbs up" and that made me smile 😊 I've also been fortunate to win a number of awards for my children's books, which is always encouraging and validating. It makes me incredibly grateful.  

Marketing is the biggest key to making sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produced more sales rather than just clicks? 
Email marketing is by far my most successful marketing tool! I think as a self-published author it's incredibly important to have a successful website and to build your email list. Social media is also a great asset, but I mostly use it to help build awareness and promote my website rather than trying to do direct sales from a social platform. Plus getting in front of readers and various author events is so important- and can be so much fun.  
What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner? 
I wish I had known about self-publishing sooner. For the longest time I assumed you needed an agent and a publisher before your book could be out in the world. That belief held me back from even getting started for a number of years. But once I discovered the vibrant self-publishing community, I went on to publish four successful books in 5 years! 
What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give? 
Book lovers are always looking for more books. So when you start to doubt yourself, remember that there is a place in this world for your story! 
Are there any other points about writing you would like to add? 
Self-publishing doesn't mean going it alone. Reach out to others in the field to help you along the way! I'm happy to chat with you so please feel free to contact me.  
Tell me about your latest book
My latest book, Snow Day at the Zoo, was just released in November 2023. It's about a zookeeper's children who go on a whimsical adventure while taking care of daily chores after they have been snowed in with their favorite animals. This rhyming story is so much for young readers and animal lovers. 
Are there any other points of writing you would like to add?
 If you're interested in becoming a self-published author, I've put together some of my favorite (free!) tips in The Self-Publishing Guide: 5 Resources to Get You Started
That's all for today's interview. I you'd like to learn more about Lauren's writing, here are the links to get you started.
Her website features free coloring pages for each of her books
And here's a special discount from Lauren... Buy any of her print books and Lauren will give everyone a 15% discount. Just use the code  THANKYOU15 online at checkout.
And here's another bonus for my readers... Here's a free eBook to inspire and challenge children to reach for their dreams and not give up.

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