We had the good fortune of connecting with Barbara Renner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Barbara, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
A lot of people believe that publishers do all the marketing and selling for their authors. Large publishing houses will advertise and ensure book placement in bookstores, but most authors spend time promoting themselves and their books, obtaining reviews, building a following, and keeping track of sales. This is particularly true if the author is traditionally published by a small press, or self-published. Authors basically run a business as well as write.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started writing children’s picture books after I retired from teaching. As a teacher, I always strove to make a difference in my students’ lives. I like to think I make a difference in children’s lives when they interact with my books too. When I wrote my first picture books, I wanted to include interesting facts about the wildlife characters. What sets my books apart from other picture books is the ability to listen to the sounds the animals make by scanning QR Codes with a QR Code reader app. I wouldn’t say my journey as an author has been easy or hard; it’s just been a little challenging at times. I do a lot of research to learn about the publishing world and the wildlife I include in my books. As a self-published author, I have to wear many hats, not only as a writer, but also as an entrepreneur running my own business. I market, advertise, and sell my books, as well as keep track of income and expenses. In addition, I continue to build an author brand and customer base.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
That’s easy. There are so many exciting things to do in the Phoenix area. I’m assuming my best friend is not visiting in the summer when we have triple digit temperatures. Let’s say she comes in the spring. We would go to the Desert Botanical Garden and marvel at the wildflowers and cacti topped with white or pink blossoms. The next day we would tour the Wrigley Mansion and enjoy lunch at Geordie’s Restaurant on the patio overlooking the city. We couldn’t miss touring the Musical Instrument Museum. We’d plan a two day road trip, first driving to Jerome and walking around the historic old mining town. Then we’d drive north through Cottonwood and the Verde Valley wine country to Sedona. We’d spend the night and then shop and walk through the fine art museums. If time permitted, we’d take a jeep tour of Oak Creek Canyon, then hop on I-17 and head back to Phoenix. For dining, we would enjoy Mexican food once or twice. Richardson’s serves great New Mexican style food, not too spicy. If my friend could tolerate hot dishes, I’d take her to Los Dos Molinos. A cute breakfast or lunch spot is Luci’s at the Orchard. In the evening we might catch a performance at either the Herberger Theatre, the Phoenix Theatre, or the Orpheum Theatre. I would have no problem showing her the best time ever.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband Chuck, daughter Jackie, and son Brian have all been very supportive of my journey publishing children’s picture books. I’ve also received a lot of guidance from my critique partners and encouragement from my friends. My first critique group includes Jill, Rita, and Joanne. My online critique group includes Krista, Kristen, Christina, Marianne, and Marty. I can’t forget my friend, Mary Anne, who has purchased multiple copies of my books for her grandchildren.