Tuesday, April 3, 2012
The Writer's Block Interviews: Stacey Shannon, Founder of Happily Ever After Me
1) Describe your journey to becoming an author/illustrator.
Growing up, I always loved writing little poems and scribbling meaningless doodles. I had a blue book similar to a diary that I would keep all of my poems in. I still have that book. I always wanted to do something more creative, but I also wanted it to be different. Once I had my children, I realized that I really did have a love for being silly, and using my imagination. I began to catch myself telling stories to them throughout the day and enjoying it just as much as they did. In early 2009 I wrote a poem. I felt that I wanted to take it a (scary) step further and illustrate. It was then, after many, many, months that my first official storybook, The Swirly Sweater, was completed. I felt like I had accomplished something I never thought I could do! Through this process I realized I wanted to take storytelling to a whole new level (for me) by writing for other children, too. But I wanted to stand out, I wanted to write JUST for each individual child; make THEIR own fairytales and secret dreams come to life. It was then, that Happily Ever After Me, LLC was born.
2) What inspired you to start writing for children?
My inner child inspired, and my children unknowingly encouraged. I have never completely let go of the ‘little’ Stacey and what she loved most – being creatively different.
3) What books have you written? Where can readers buy them?
My first book, “The Swirly Sweater”, is available on Amazon.com. (link http://www.amazon.com/Swirly-Sweater-Stacey-Shannon/dp/1449909787)
I have written a little over 30 books to date, most of which are completely custom. Because of that, they are not usually sold for others to purchase.
4) How did you develop the concept for Happily Ever After Me, LLC?
I wanted to do something different. I wanted to have a product that grabbed people’s attention, and made them feel as exclusive and unique as their stories were.
5) What products are available for customization? Describe the creative process.
We now have six custom products available- Custom Storybooks, Poetry Prints, SAVE the sKeTcHeS! Storybooks, Custom Puzzles, Custom Posters, and our newest product, FamilyFigures Prints.
The process- I collect the needed information from the customer, depending on which product they choose. I then write accordingly and send back to the customer for approval. Once the story, poem, etc. is approved it is forwarded on to one of our incredibly talented illustrators (love them!). When the illustrations are complete I bring the final product together and then send it back to the customer for approval. The customer stays informed through the whole process to ensure 100% satisfaction and the most custom product possible.
6) How have you promoted your work? What strategies have been the most effective?
I promote my work through sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, AboutMe, Freelanced, Google Plus, Amazon, and YouTube. Although Facebook has played a HUGE part in our growth, my amazing customers have definitely been the biggest “promoters” for me.I believe that customer satisfaction (which leads to word of mouth) is the most effective of all.
7) What is next for you in 2012?
In 2012, I would like to save more sketches, create more timeless storybooks, write more poetry about the beautiful love that families share, and continue walking away touched by each adoption storybook we are asked to create. I want to continue the wonderful relationships with my amazing illustrators, Joyee Neogi and Eva Rojano, and I want to build new ones with all of the other incredible people out there that I have yet to meet.
8) What advice would you give to budding author/illustrators?
My advice would be - don’t let your passion remain a thought. It took some encouragement from others for me to take the first step--and as terrifying as it was, I have never looked back! It is very important to believe in yourself and your work. One thing I am still learning is to not let the negative opinions of others change who you are and what you choose to do. It is good to listen (you can learn and grow as a result), but don’t lose yourself in the process.
9) What is your definition of success as an author/illustrator?
Three years ago I would have said that success was selling books by the millions… which for the record did NOT happen… But, today my definition of success would be doing what I love. I am a mother and wife, first and foremost, but when I sit down to work (if that’s what you want to call it) I love it! Creating and writing something new every time is always so refreshing, especially when I know that the stories have a purpose, a meaning; they represent people and their stories. We celebrate life, what could be more rewarding than that?
Stacey Shannon was born and raised in Greenville, SC. She is a mother to 3 children: a 1 year-old girl, a 4 year-old boy, and a 9 year-old girl. She has been married to husband Brad for almost 4 years and lives in Goose Creek, SC (right outside of Charleston). She founded Happily Ever After Me, LLC in March of 2009.
Contact Stacey Shannon
Blog (part of the website): http://www.happilyeverafterme.com/blog