Always count on yourself. Do not plan on someone else making your life better or saving you. You must do that yourself. Everyone must carve out the best life they can for themselves.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sheri Koones. Sheri is an author, journalist and speaker. She has written nine books on home construction, generally focused on energy efficieny and sustainability; her new book coming out in October 2019, is titled Downsize: Living Large In a Small House.She is the recipient of the prestigious Robert Bruss Real Estate Book Award from NAREE in 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2017. —
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
Many years ago I needed to supervise the construction of my new home and was totally unprepared for the overwhelming task. I knew nothing about what goes into building a house. So I went to the library and took out every book I could find on home construction and studied every aspect until I felt somewhat prepared. When my house was completed, I decided to write a book for other people in the same situation, offering lots of tips on how to begin the process. I planned to return to a business career, but after that book was published I was offered a two book deal and I never looked back.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
As I began writing about home construction I began to see that there were many more efficient and sustainable ways to build a house than were generally being used. I sought out architects and builders who were building more efficiently and studied what they were doing. Over time I have learned a great deal about the best practices for constructing a house in order to make it more comfortable and earth friendly.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I started writing, I often wrote what experts told me without a clear understanding of what they were actually saying. When I submitted my first manuscript I thought that was it — it would go directly to print. But I had a brilliant editor for that book who forced me to explain each and every concept. After completing that book — I never made that mistake again. Now I write lots of sidebars in my books to explain concepts my reader may not be familiar with. Over time my books have become not only educational, but also inspirational.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am currently preparing for the launch of my latest book titled — Downsize: Living Large In A Small House. This project is very dear to my heart since I have recently moved into a much smaller house and feel totally liberated — as do most of the people I interviewed for this new book. The book will be released by Taunton Press in October. Another interesting project I’m currently working on is my contributing articles to Forbes.com. It is an opportunity to explore many new aspects and emerging technologies asociated with home construction.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
Perserverance is definitely an important habit for any writer. It may take a while to develop a platform that will impress a publisher enough to want to publish your book. Most authors also get a lot of “nos” before they get a “yes.” It takes a good amount of discipline to write a book. It is easy to get sidetracked and put off the work, but writers need to be committed to their projects and take whatever time is necessary to complete the best book possible.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
One of the couples profiled in my new book came together later in life and downsized from two houses into their one dream home. On a small empty lot, on the edge of downtown Olympia, in a thriving community, they built a house where they could enjoy life and foster their heath and happiness as they age.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
My hope is that people will learn a great deal from my books and will be able to participate in the process of building or remodeling their homes, making much more educated decisions. I have written extensively about prefabricated construction and have received many notes from people who have told me that after reading my books, they would never againconsider site building their house in the traditional way. They are also asking their architects and builders many more questions and requesting better methods be used so they can build a better home for themselves and their families.
I also hope my books will inspire readers to build more efficient smaller houses. From personal experience I’ve found that more is not necessarily better. More space does not mean more comfort or a happier life.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
My biggest challenge was getting that first book published. I had to write articles for over a year for a local magazine in order to develop a platform for writing about home construction. While doing this, I continued to do research and was more prepared for the completion of my first book — From Sand Castles to Dream Houses.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I am most inspired by reading books about strong people who have done great and worthwhile things in their lives: people such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Michelle Obama, Elon Musk, and so many others.
How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?
The written word is one of the most important learning vehicles we have in the world. It can help us become educated, open our eyes and hearts to new ideas and inspire us. Reading has always been an important part of my life and when I read a particularly good book, I feel it has been the best entertainment possible.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?
Do your research and write something that will educate and inspire others.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. I wish someone had told me I could be anything I wanted to be. My parents limited my expectations and as a very obedient daughter, I did what they wished me to do. I think everyone should have a dream and try to follow that dream. Most of us can exceed our own expectations if we are brave and give it a try.
2. Always save and invest. It is nice to be able to work less when you get older, if you have invested your money wisely.
3. Read everything possible so you can get many points of view for your writing and for life.
4. Always count on yourself. Do not plan on someone else making your life better or saving you. You must do that yourself. Everyone must carve out the best life they can for themselves.
5. Listen to the positive and try to ignore the negativity in life. There will always be someone who doesn’t believe in you or your book, but persevere. The rewards are wonderful.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would hope for more environmentally conscious construction. Houses should be built that require less energy and the energy needed should be supplied by the sun. There are only so many resources on the earth and I believe we should not be squandering them. Pass most construction sites and see the dumpsters filled with debris that will go into landfills. Likewise, we should not be wasting energy. We know how to build houses more efficiently, so they don’t loss energy. We can successfully harness solar energy, which is plentiful and better for the planet.
I hope at some time all houses will be built with solar energy and built to preserve the energy that is in the house. I hope they will use more recycled materials and ones that are earth friendly.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!