Tell us a little bit about yourself, your books and any new projects you are working on.

My name is Walter Andal. I am the author of Finance 101 for Kids: Money Lessons Children Cannot Afford to Miss, and Finance 102 for Kids: Practical Money Lessons Children Cannot Afford to Miss. Currently, I am working on my third book, which is also about teaching children essential life skills.

I have four boys, and they are the source of my inspiration. Together with my wife, we are trying to provide our children with the tools, lessons, and experiences they need to help them thrive, make smart choices, and become successful in both their personal and professional lives.

1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Writing was not part of my career goals. However, in 2013, I became motivated to write a book after I realized that my two oldest children, ages 10 and 9 at that time, needed some assistance in learning how money and finance works. My two kids know that money can be used to buy food, toys, games, and clothes, but they don’t have a good grasp of how to make money, and how to protect and make it grow. They also have a very limited understanding of how credit cards work. My then nine-year-old son thought that when we don’t have cash on hand, we could use a credit card to get anything we wanted, without paying for it.

Because of my background in finance, I believe it is very important for children to develop a basic understanding of personal finance at an early age. The kids need to learn how to manage their money, as well as understand the dangers of overspending and over utilizing their credit before they can even get hold of a credit card or sign a student loan document.

I was hoping that my kids would learn personal finance in school, but I found out that personal finance was not part of the elementary school curriculum. In most high schools and colleges, personal finance is an optional course. I searched for books that would help my kids learn finance. I found several children’s books that introduced the basic principles of money and credit, but there were very few children’s books that apply the concept of finance in real life. It was in that situation that I felt I could contribute to our children’s financial literacy. Thus, writing and publishing a children’s finance book that is engaging and easy-to-understand was added into my list of personal goals.

2. How long have you been writing? How many books have you written?

I started writing in 2013. Finance 101 for Kids was published in 2016. Then my second book, Finance 102 for Kids, was published in 2021.

3. What made you want to self-publish?

When I made that decision to write a book, I thought that self-publishing was my only option because I have no literature or major accomplishments that I could brag about to publishers or literary agents. I accepted the reality that no traditional publishers would consider my work.

In retrospect, I am very thankful that aspiring writers have this option to self-publish. Without self-publishing, I don’t think I would have pursued writing at all. Self-publishing paves the way for aspiring and inexperienced authors like me to pursue writing.

Two years after I published Finance 101 for Kids, a traditional publisher made an offer to take the book under their wings. It was a very exciting moment for me to finally receive an offer from a traditional publisher. But after weighing in all the pros and cons of self-publishing and traditional publishing, I decided to remain self-published.

4. Would you recommend new authors self-publish, and would you recommend Gatekeeper Press?

Yes, I would recommend new authors to self-publish. Two of the biggest advantages of self-publishing are time element and control.  Self-published authors can get their books into the market much faster than traditional publishing. Self-published authors also have greater control over the book’s content, appearance, and distribution.

I would also recommend Gatekeeper Press. Based on my own experience, the staff of Gatekeeper Press were very professional with their work from day one. My account manager, Jennifer, guided me through the entire process when I published my second book. Their customer service after the release of my book is also amazing. I have reached out to Gatekeeper Press multiple times for different questions and concerns, and they have always responded in a very timely manner. I had such a wonderful experience with Gatekeeper Press that I transferred my first book to them. Perhaps, if I knew Gatekeeper Press when I started writing, I would have chosen Gatekeeper Press from the beginning.

5. What do you do marketing-wise to help announce and sell your books?

I have used Facebook ads. I also participated in book fairs to promote my books.

One of the things I love to do with my family is to go on road trips. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit all the states except Hawaii. Every time we go on road trips, I use huge car magnets to showcase my books. Our van becomes like a moving billboard during our road trips across the country.

6. What advice do you have for a new or fledgling author?

Reviews are very important to the success of your book. This is why your book must be relevant, engaging, impressive, and error free. My advice to new or fledgling authors is to partner with professionals who can help you reach your goals. If you have the means, you should partner with a seasoned editor who can review and enhance your manuscript. If your book needs illustrations, you should also partner with a creative artist who can provide you with vibrant images and illustrations, as well as help make you make an eye-catching cover. Remember that the book’s cover creates the first impression on potential readers or buyers. If they are not impressed by the cover, it is unlikely that they will read the blurb or check the back cover. Lastly, make sure that you seek the service of a self-publishing company who will support you from start to finish, and beyond. Having said that, I cannot over emphasize the value that one can get from partnering with Gatekeeper Press.

7. What social media platforms are you on?

Facebook and my book website.

8. What is the one piece of advice you wish you had known when you first started out?

One piece of advice I wish I had known when I first started out is that I cannot make everyone happy. I received one review which stated that my book is too advanced for her 11-year-old daughter. Yet on the opposite end, there was this dad who wrote that the book is very elementary for his 5-year-old son. The readers will have different opinions and perceptions of our work, and we should not be discouraged when we are unable to impress everyone, especially when we receive negative reviews.

9. What do you feel is the biggest challenge authors are facing going into 2023 (and beyond)?

Since most of the books are sold online, I think the biggest challenge for authors going into 2023 and beyond is staying visible on Amazon and other big online retailers and search engines. For the books to be sold online, it should be visible when a customer makes a search. Although Amazon and Google have their own proprietary algorithms when ranking search results, many analysts say that books with more reviews are more likely to be shown to prospective readers and buyers as compared to books with few or no book reviews. Therefore, going back to my earlier advice, authors must make every effort to make their books impressive, flawless, and engaging in order to generate positive reviews. Although self-publishing provides a great avenue to publish a book in a short amount of time, the author should not be tempted to release the book pre-maturely without ensuring the highest level of quality.

10. Have you won any awards or contests that you would like to mention?

I have not won any awards or contests. Nevertheless, I am blessed that my books are still doing well on Amazon. Also, I am very thankful that international publishers reached out to me and made my books available in the international markets. My books have been translated and published in Chinese, Korean, Brazilian-Portuguese, and Vietnamese. The Japanese and Turkish versions are already in the works. The confidence that these international publishers placed on my books is, in itself, a reward that I am truly grateful for.

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