Promotional Interview with Melissa M Williams

You have been invited to share your promotional experience with others.

Your Name: Melissa M. Williams

1. Where you are from and where are you now?

I am from Houston, Texas, and I lived in Dallas and Austin for about 5 years, but I just moved back to Houston 8 months ago.

2. How did you get started writing?

I have always loved to write and have writing since I was 8 years old.  During graduate school, I started taking lectures and creative writing workshops in my spare time.  My degrees are in psychology and professional counseling.  So, I have always wanted to write books with inspirational messages and psychological concepts.  I started in the children’s market first. 

3. What do you do when you are not writing?

Well, the past two years have been full of work.  I started a publishing company, LongTale Publishing and a literacy foundation, Read3Zero.  I definitely find ways to travel for work and pleasure.  I love experiencing new places.  It helps you see that your little way of living is NOT the only way to live.  I love running and yoga, but haven’t been doing it as much … I used to run marathons a few years ago, so I would train a lot!  I would like to get back into it again.  I love music, experiencing new things, and I enjoy spending time visiting friends and family.

4. What would readers like to know about you?

Iggy (the Iguana), the main character in my series, was my very first pet as a kid.  He was as long as I was tall … lived on top of my bookshelf, was potty trained, and could sit up on his hind legs.  Actually, all of the crazy animal characters in my books were pets of mine while growing up.  Horned toads, water dragons, turtles, iguanas, etc.  I always liked strange things, I guess you could say. 

5. What inspired your first book?

My pet Iggy!!  I have been writing about him and making up the voice for a cartoon series since I was eight years old.  I had a big imagination as a kid too.  One of my very first jobs was being a voice over actress for Japanese cartoons.

6. How many books have you written?

Two and working on the third.

7. What are the titles of your books and what genres are they?

Iggy the Iguana Juvenile Fiction (Ages 7-11)

Summer League (The Iggy Sequel) Juvenile Fiction (Ages 7-11)

Turtle Town (currently writing)

All of the books are Middle Grade Readers (Chapter books)

8. Why are you specially qualified to write about this topic?

I have lived the experiences, surrounded myself with my audience, and made sure my books got the seal of approval from many kids and teachers before they went to print.  The readers’ opinions are very important to me.  These books are more for them as opposed to big name reviewers.  Also, I try to experience everything my characters go through.  I substituted for elementary as research for the first book … studied all aspects of baseball for Summer League, and currently, I have been visiting California, researching the turtle society, and learning how to surf for Turtle Town.  San Diego is the location for the next book.  I’ve been interviewing surfer dudes too!

9. How do you manage to keep yourself focused and on track when you’re writing a book?

That’s hard when being an author also means you must be a marketer too … not to mention a public speaker.  I have to take time out and go away and get out of the business life of being an entrepreneur.  Sometimes that literally means going away to another state and other times it means changing my surroundings and mindset a bit.  You can write anywhere, but sometimes certain spots inspire us more than others.  I actually wrote most of my last book in a cabin in Taos, New Mexico.

Time management and planning has always been very helpful to me too.  When I start writing a book, I have to stay persistent, so I write it into my schedule, but I also allow for the creative flow to take me away, and I write when ever the ideas come.  Jotting down notes is a constant for me.  I usually get great ideas when I’m running or driving for a long time.  Two really bad times to write notes down, I know … I’ve tried the voice recorders too.

10. Do you write to make money, for the love of writing or both?

Definitely both.  I have turned this into my career, and I’ve got to live so I can do what I love to do … write!

12. What are some unique methods of marketing you have used? Which were the most successful?

Word of mouth and connections you make with people along the way are #1 in this business!  You become the brand, so you have to market yourself by being in the public.  All authors must stand for something so they stand out.

I have done everything with my marketing team, from online social networking like Facebook and Twitter, press releases, newsletters, Events Events Events, you must get out there in person.  I do radio shows online and locally, I have been on the news and had articles written in papers, and I am a children’s columnist for an online paper in Houston.  Everything you do is marketing.  I haven’t even mentioned flyers, handouts, postcards, mailers, press kits, etc.  It always helps to have professionals guide you in the beginning, because good advice can go a long way and save time from making mistakes most new authors make.

13. Do you sell through a website? If so, what’s the address? If not, why not?

Yes, I sell through

14. Where can people order your books?,,, and

15. What format are your books – e-book, print, audio etc?

Print and Audio.  (I did all the voices for my audio book … it was so much fun to be back in the studio!)

16. Will you write more books?

Yes, forever!

17. What do you have in the works now?

Turtle Town, which is a spin off series of Iggy the Iguana.  And I am publishing a short story anthology of stories written by kids for kids too.

18. What does the future hold for you and your books?

I hope and pray movies, cartoons or learning computer games.  I think the Iggy characters are so cute and memorable, so I am just waiting to sell the license when the time is right.  I want to use them as symbols of diversity and acceptance for all children.  I would also like to grow as an author and business, so eventually, I would love for everyone to receive the positive energy the Iggy Series has to offer to the world.  I plan to write more books with inspirational and spiritual messages and use my counseling experience to reach other audiences.  Honestly, I am up for anything in this business.  I secretly want to be the voice of a Disney Cartoon.  

19. What was the most successful thing you did to promote your books?

I got really involved with schools and teachers.  Word of mouth and recommendations are your best friend in the children’s market.  I prepared ahead of time by becoming a substitute teacher as a part time job.  I also got involved with organizations like the Texas Library Association and did signings at their events and collected email addresses for my newsletters from all of my events.  Go where you know your target audience will be!

20. What was the least successful thing you did to promote your books?

Mailed books and info to schools.  I’m not saying don’t send out information … it has to be done, but it is costly for a low response rate.  They want to see you in person first or hear about you from another librarian or teacher.

22. What makes this book special to you?

I’ve been wanting to write it for the past 20 years.  It is very dear to my heart, as my pet Iggy was a best friend to me as a child.

23. What sort of comments have you gotten about the content of the book?

Kids really relate to what the characters go through in their elementary years.  Parents tell me that even their children who don’t like to read can’t put it down.  I think they like Snap, the wannabe surfer box shell turtle “dude.”  All of the characters have very unique personalities.  Parents and teachers really appreciate the theme of acceptance and not judging others on the outside, which is the underlying foundation of all of the stories I write.

24. What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?

Kids are learning at a really young age how to judge others.  It’s really sad, because it gets worse and worse and creates all ranges of bullying.  We can’t forget that everyone has feelings.  Understanding the value of acceptance, even into adulthood can go a long way.  When we don’t accept others, we cut off a lot of our own lives.  We become self conscious to try new things.  Fear can be depilating, so exercising an open mind can cure a lot of those problems.  

25. What people NEED to read this book and WHY?

This is a great book for everyone.  I have parents reading it to their little kids, elementary students reading it over and over again, counselors and teachers reading it to their students, book clubs reading it as a group, and adults who love animals and a positive story reading it as well.  Its a great series for boys and girls, young and young at heart!

26. What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own

Well, I believe there is no such thing as writer’s block.  It’s just an excuse.  Get out of your regular every day routine.  Go on an “Artist Date” as Julia Cameron would say, the author of the Artist’s Way.  We become stagnate in mind and body when we get comfortable and do not allow for new experiences, so get out there and the ideas will come.  Walking and workout helps too, at least for me.  OR go take a writing class, even if you don’t learn anything, your ideas will start to spark again.

27. What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?

Everyone has a story in them.  Some want to tell it, others wish they could tell it, and then others have to tell it.  The ones who have to, who follow their intuition, are the ones who become authors.  I was motivated to get into this “unusual” industry because its unusual.  I’m not a 9 to 5 kind a gal.  I like to move to the beat of my own drum.  Sometimes that means putting in 80 hours a week instead of 40, but at least I was the one who told myself I had to and no one else.  I never saw myself in an ordinary career.  God didn’t want that for me, so I listened.

28. Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?

I have done book signings at Kroger grocery stores, craft shows, fast food restaurants, little league games, etc.  It definitely gets attention to be in a place where books and authors aren’t always expected.

29. If a potential reader thinks that your book wouldn’t interest them, what would you say to convince them to buy? I’m thinking something better than “Its the greatest book ever.” Give me something more specific 🙂

If I were trying to get a child with their parent to buy my book who wasn’t interested, I would ask them if they had any pets.  Next I say, “Well do you want to see a picture of the my real pet, Iggy, in the back of my book?”  They always say, yes.  Next, I would ask questions, like, “what grade are you in, do you like sports, have you ever started a new school?” to see what parts of the book would interest them the most, then I would talk about that aspect of the story.  You have  to know your reader to give them what they are looking for.

30. Why does the topic of your book interest you? Why would it interest potential readers? Give us a hook to reel in new readers.

You learn things about life and interests of the world in this children’s series.  I get to learn knew things and become more open minded through every book I write.  Do you know how many miles are in a marathon, or what hitting the wall means, or why little boys shouldn’t through curve balls, where the “running of the bulls festival” takes place, what time of the day surfers can get the best waves, or how surfers don’t slip off their boards?  Well, you’ll get all of the answers by reading the Iggy the Iguana Series!

To learn more about Iggy and Melissa Williams – visit Win the Iggy the Iguana Give Away! Including the Newly Released Items in Iggy Collection, Snap Shell the Turtle (Plush Doll), Iggy Collector’s Baseball Cards, and The Read3Zero T-Shirt … supporting the fight against illiteracy 30 minutes at a time. Be our most active visitor during the tour for a chance to win this Iggy Collection — the tour schedule is posted at to make it easy for you to visit and comment.

3 Responses

  1. The more I read about you Melissa, the more you inspire me! You are simply amazing. I LOVE that you wrote in Taos, New Mexico- that is a dream of mine!!

    Barbara Techel
    Award winning author of the Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog Book Series
    My passion is bringing a positive face and voice to animals with disabilities
    Frankie is Official Mascot for National Disabled Pets Day and
    Wisconsin Pet Hall of Fame Companion Dog

  2. Thank you so much for having me today! Feel free to ask me any questions you would like!

  3. Writing in Taos was one of the best ideas ever! Nature just does something to your internal creative motivation and drive!

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