Tom Williams – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Starting Your Career as an Interior Designer

This is the one-stop guide to all you need to know about the ins and outs of running an interior design firm. The book that uncovers the provocative real story about interior designers, how their firms are operated and how they deal with their clients. Students of interior design now have a complete guide to everything they need to know about starting and running their own interior design business. This insider’s guide contains all the necessary tools and strategies to successfully launch and grow a professional design business in the ultra competitive world of modern residential interior design.

Tell us something about yourself.

Tom Williams was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to his undergraduate studies in English literature at the University of Tennessee, Mr. Williams studied Interior Design in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1977 he formed T. Lawton Williams Interior Design in Philadelphia. Then in 1981, he moved to England and, along with partner Robert Hale, founded Erithbond, Ltd., an interior design firm located in London. Following Mr. Williams’ return to the United States in 1983, he managed the residential design division of a New Jersey based interior design firm.

In 1987 he and Mr. Hale moved to Baltimore, Maryland and founded Federal Hill Interiors, Inc. In an effort to expand their library of new wall coverings and fabric lines and to meet the needs of their Baltimore County based clientele, Robert and Tom moved to a larger space in Ruxton and became Hale-Williams Interior Design. In May of 2000 he and Mr. Hale opened Hale-Williams Interior Design in Carmel, CA. Mr. Williams is Immediate Past President of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and an adjunct instructor in Interior Design at Monterey Peninsula College. Mr. Williams also writes for the Pine Cone Newspaper with a series of articles entitled “ Ask Mr. Williams “. In the summer of 2004 Tom Williams appeared with his partner Robert Hale in a segment of the popular television show on the national channel HGTV called “ Designers’ Challenge “ and were the selected design team from the competition.

What inspired you to write this book?

While working as an instructor at Monterey Peninsula College I realized a need for a more “user friendly” book about the business of interior design. My class, Business Practices for the Interior Designer, was populated almost completely by women between 22 and 55 years old. They worked with the very good text I had researched but still needed more information from someone actually in the business. Many of these women were single mothers and/or recently divorced. They needed a “mentor”-style book and I realized there wasn’t one on the market. My partner and I decided to fill that niche. That is how I decided to write Starting Your Career as an Interior Designer.

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?

In September of 2007 I created a blog called The Business of Interior Design to help promote the book we were writing. It was a way to draw attention to the upcoming book. At that point I had no publisher. I wanted the book to be finished before trying to find someone to publish. In early June of 2008 after I had been sending out proposals for about 4 weeks I received an email from the publisher of Allworth Press, Inc., Tad Crawford. He explained he had been reading my blog, liked the way I wrote and would I be interested in writing a book. Needless to say he had a proposal, cover letter and three chapters emailed back to him in less than 30 minutes. By July 25th we had a signed contract to publish Starting Your Career as an Interior Designer.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

My first college studies were in English Literature. Although I went on to become a professional interior designer I always enjoyed writing and did as much as I could as often as possible. The urge to actually create a book came about as I explained above.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Creating the outline. Making sure all aspects of any particular subject are covered fully and interestingly.

How do you do research for your books?

Personal interview and internet research.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

This book taught me to value the process of daily sessions of writing. How important the work ethic of daily writing is to achieve the desired result.

What are you reading now?

Julie and Julia

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I have a delightful secret passion for Science Fiction. Asimov, Heinlien, Ben Bova and others. I love the fantasy and excitement of new worlds and frontiers. It is the idea of exploration that intrigues me.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

My next book is set to publish in late May of this year. Interior Design Clients The Designer’s Guide to Building and Keeping a Great Clientele.

Clients are, of course, the lifeblood of any interior design firm and a sound understanding of how to manage those clients is essential. Clients can be intimidated by interior designers and sometimes even fearful. Why clients sometimes fear their interior designer and what designers can do to allay those fears requires good client and project management and is an important aspect of the business rarely addressed by the interior design community as a whole. The broader aspects of interview techniques, client management after the design contract has been signed and organizational skills are important to the success of any design firm. Specific presentation and selling skills are never taught in design schools. In many instances selling is never even mentioned as part of the overall process. Becoming a residential interior designer is not an easy undertaking and requires a range of skills not found in many more prosaic trades or professions. To become an entrepreneurial residential interior design success requires even more. Focus on the client is vastly underrated as necessary to success in the interior design business. It is this focus I want to share.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

As almost anyone will tell you it is all about the writing. First and foremost have a very clear idea of what you want to say. Organize your book to flow form topic to topic or scene to scene. A book doesn’t’ just happen as you sit in front of your computer. A plan is essential.

As for publishing that is a different matter. It is becoming harder and harder to find someone willing to publish an actual “paper” book. It seems as if we are on our way to digital as the media of choice for publishing. If possible try to find someone willing to print books as well as publish digitally. Self-publishing is also a very viable option these days. Whether you self-publish or find a publisher the marketing and sales will actually be up to you.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

The blog has been a great asset. People are driven to the book by reading the blog. Social media (FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) Book signings have also helped. Placement in local book stores.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

My Blog

Allworth Press, Inc.


My Knowledge Genie Title Interior Design Mentor