The title is How To Be A Super Bear. It consists of seven short stories to inspire children to grow up to be the very best they can be. Although it is intended for children from ages four to around eight or nine, I also found that adults who I asked to read it before publication were equally inspired by the stories and so there is a footnote on the cover which says ‘for children from four to ninety-four because it’s never too soon and never too late to learn from these inspiring stories.’
Tell us something about yourself.
I’m from London – England. Prior to writing children’s books, which is only quite recently, I was and still am best known as a sales, marketing and personal development speaker and have been speaking around the world on these subjects for the last approximately seventeen years. I’ve had several books published by, amongst others, BBC Books, Ecademy Press and Financial Times Prentice Hall, all of which have been translated and published in many countries.
What inspired you to write this book?
In May 2010 I was rushed into hospital and underwent surgery for a triple heart by pass. Fortunately I survived and I’m probably fitter than ever, but it certainly made me re-evaluate my life. I decided that, more than anything, I wanted to allocate much of my time to inspiring children as well as adults to be the very best they can be and to raise money for children’s charities. I’d been writing little books for my grandchildren for a couple of years and decided that, as writing was one of my key skills, this would be the best way I could achieve these goals.
How did you choose the title?
I’ve always been called ‘The Bear’ by my wife and children. We don’t recall how I first got that nickname but, whatever the reason, it stuck.
When my eldest daughter Gemma blessed us with our first grandchild, my nickname was changed to Grandpa Bear. It was when Gemma was showing my grandson Asher a picture of me demonstrating walking on fire at a fire walking seminar that Asher said: ‘He’s not a Grandpa Bear – he’s a Grandpa Super Bear’. That is what I am now known as by family, friends and even some clients. So on the basis that thebook was intended to inspire children to be really super, ‘How To Be A Super Bear’ just seemed a very logical title.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
Initially none whatsoever. The Swedish publishers of my business books who, by the way, had never published a children’s book before, fell in love with it and acquired the Swedish translation rights from me on the condition I published an English language version they could also offer to their customers. That Swedish language version was published in May 2012 and sold in excess of five thousand copies in just a few weeks and continues to sell well. It has topped several best selling book charts in Sweden, attracted considerable publicity and is being used in some Swedish schools. I self published the English Language version right away to comply with their terms and am now looking for a UK publisher with an international reach. As my children and grandchildren all live in the USA, I’d love to have it published there so I can spend more time in the USA promoting it and see more of my family. That is proving rather more challenging, in spite of the success in Sweden. However, I’m a great believer in making things happen rather than hoping they will happen, and so I’m quite certain I will find a publisher soon.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
It was never my intention to be a writer. It all started when I had carried out some sales and personal development training for the staff at BBC Books. They were so impressed with the results of the training that they commissioned me to write a book based on the work I had been doing for them. I completed that in just a few weeks and it became an international best seller in the Business Books genre. I found was that I just loved writing and I’ve not stopped since. There’s nothing more exiting for me than starting with a blank screen and creating something that I know many thousands of people will read and get great benefit and joy from.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Writing is not my full-time occupation, so has to be fitted in around my speaking career. I’m not a late night person so the best time for me is from around 4 am to 8 am. It’s also the time when I seem to be at my most creative and am least likely to be disturbed. Having said that – sometimes I’m totally devoid of ideas and do not force myself to write. Other times the ideas and the words just flow, almost as if by magic.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
My characters are usually named after people I know whose personalities are most like the characters I am writing about. They like seeing their names in print too!
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
What I learned most of all is that it’s a lot more difficult writing for children than it is for adults. It took me longer to write a 45 page book for children with large text than a 300 page book for adults.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
If I were working closely with a publisher and / or agent, and an editor, I’d discuss my ideas and get their feedback first of all before writing the entire book. Having spoken to several, it seems to me that they have very clear ideas of what they want to publish and one may as well go along with those ideas and adapt the content accordingly rather than fight them. Then again if I disagreed, I probably would argue my point vociferously.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
It’s titled ‘How Grandpa Super Bear Earned His Amazing Magic Flying Cape and Fun Stripy Socks.’ It is already written and in the illustration stage. It is due for release simultaneously in the UK and Sweden in October 2012. The title is derived from the fact that the children who read the first book or have had it read to them are very amused by Grandpa Super Bear’s stripy toe socks and marvel at his amazing magic flying cape.
The book starts by explaining that Grandpa Super Bear was not born with an amazing magic flying cape or stripy toe socks and how he met a very Wise Old Bear with a flying cape and stripy socks and was told by him that only a few, very special Super Bears ever earn the right to wear them.
Grandpa Super Bear is given a pair of plain white toe socks to hang on the end of his bed and told that each day he does a very good deed for other bears on Planet Bear, a new coloured stripe will appear by magic on his plain white socks.
He is also told that when the socks are completely striped through all his good deeds, he will wake that next morning and his wardrobe will be full of many pairs of stripy socks of all different colours and an amazing magic flying cape.
Each morning, for five mornings, the wise bear sends his owl to Grandpa Super Bear with a message describing the very good deed he has to do that day. Grandpa Super Bear sets off to do this good deed with the help of his best friend, Rafi the Rabbit and each chapter describes how they achieved that daily good deed.
These five stories are intended to inspire children to understand that true happiness and success comes from helping others.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Don’t give up your day job if you are dependent on that income. Instead, give up sleeping if necessary and fit your writing in to that spare time. The publishing world seems to me to be amongst the most competitive I have ever experienced. There are so many very talented authors trying to get books published and even if you do, unless your book becomes a major best seller, you are unlikely to earn a living from the royalties.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Children from 4 to 7 (and up to 94)
Tell us about your charity project which you’ve called The $1Million Super Bear Project.
The aim of this project is to raise $1Million for children’s charities by giving away a digital version of ‘How To Be A Super Bear’. By giving away the digital version, by promoting the offer on YouTube and through social media, and by encouraging people to pass on the message that the book is free, I the YouTube promo video and the free offer go viral. When people visit my website to download the free copy, there is an option to make a small, voluntary donation and I am sure most will give something. They have so far and with so many millions of people in the English speaking world and the extraordinary reach of the internet, I really think the target is realistic. I just need all the help I can get to let as many people as possible know about it.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
There’s information about the book, an animated presentation by Grandpa Super Bear and lots of free stuff for children on my website at www.GrandpaSuperBear.com and of course a download facility for the free digital version. If people want to know more about me in my role as Bruce King for adults, they can visit my website at www.bruceking.co.ukGet the book at Amazon.com.