Get the Inside Scoop from a Publisher: Steve Carlson

Steve Carlson is publisher of Upper Access, a small traditional book publishing company located in Hinesburg, Vermont, a position he has held since 1986. He publishes, on average, just two or three new titles per year, so that he can be personally involved in every aspect of publishing and promotion. He also publishes business software, “Publishers’ Assistant,” used by more than a thousand other publishers. He is an active member of several publishing organization, including Independent Book Publishers Association (former board member) and Independent Publishers of New England (current board member, former president).  He has several Web sites; the main one is www.upperaccess.com . He can be reached at steve@upperaccess.com

Welcome Steve,

Author Steve Carlson

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Steve: Back in 1986, my wife and I were getting weary of our nice middle-class jobs and decided to start a small publishing company. We would start with books we had written, then expand to publish other books–a standard publishing model, like the big guys, except smaller. It was a foolish decision, because it turned out much harder than we ever thought it would be. But with a lot of work, we developed it into a business that could support our family, while producing books we were proud of. My wife has branched out to other professional pursuits, but I have stuck with it, serving as publisher, ever since.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Steve: I have published over 50 titles to date, of which 17 are currently still in print. The current best-sellers are:

1. Final Rights: Reclaiming the American way of death, by Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson. This is the definitive resource for consumers to take charge of funeral arrangements without being taken hostage by the funeral industry. It is the third version of the book, expanded and updated over the years from a version originally written by my wife back in 1987.

2. Editing Made Easy: Simple rules for effective writing, by Bruce Kaplan. The author is an Australian who had written a similar book that was popular throughout the English-speaking world except for the U.S. Because U.S. grammar and usage are so different, it was useless in the U.S., so I collaborated with Bruce to create an American edition. It took off immediately, selling well. It’s a quick read, aimed a people who want to write well without getting bogged down with complex rules of grammar and style. As I had guessed, that is a pretty large demographic.

Steve Carlson Cover

3. About the House with Henri de Marne: How to maintain, repair, upgrade, and enjoy your house. This has been out for several years but continues as a strong seller, partly because of the author’s following as a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. I have also taken on the role of publishing his blog site with the same name, and have sold advertisements to help support that effort. As a result, a great deal of new material has been developed, which I am working to translate into e-book formats. 

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Steve:  I market every way I reasonably can. I am fortunate that most of my authors have platforms that keep them in the public eye. For example, the co-authors of Final Rights are frequently featured in national media, including, within the last year, 60 Minutes and Dear Abby. I promote rather heavily to libraries, particularly when I am successful in getting favorable reviews in Library Journal or other key publications. (The last two books got great reviews in LJ, which I quoted in repeated mailings with IBPA, and small ads in publications that are read by librarians. With this kind of follow-through, each of the books has sold several thousand copies apiece to libraries.) I also concentrate on special sales, selling substantial numbers of books at discounts to various organizations.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Steve:  It goes without saying that it is important that Amazon listings be as good as possible, as that is the most common place people go to learn more about a book, regardless of whether they buy it there. My own site, www.upperaccess.com , is also crucial, as people are directed to it in most of the book publicity, and it is the source of many sales. There are separate sites for some of the specific books, with varying degrees of effectiveness. The most important is Henri de Marne’s blog site, which I publish, at www.henridemarne.com . Aside from that, it’s good to be listed on as many sites as possible, particularly if they link to yours, as that helps build your own traffic. (The only caveat is that the sites should be legitimate with content related to your book–artificial link-building schemes will hurt rather than help.)

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Steve:  I mostly publish other people’s writing, but have a lot in common with self-publishers. One of my earliest books was one I wrote–“Your Low-Tax Dream House,” which sold very well and was bought up by a major publisher, which brought it out under a different title. The major publisher sold fewer books than the Upper Access version, which led me to understand that if I put in the time and effort, I can do as good a job at publishing as a big company can. That said, there are disadvantages to smallness, which I have to scramble to overcome. Here are a few:

–When you publish two or three books a year, you are not as well known as the big publishers, and have a harder time making your books stand out among the thousands of books every major reviewer receives every week. Getting good reviews is an important part of my marketing, particularly for library sales. I’ve had to do a lot of networking through organizations and events–something I am not good at because I am introverted–and that has helped.

–Although bookstores sales are declining, they are still an important part of the mix for my assortment of titles. I used to deal directly with Ingram and B&T and do a lot of direct marketing to bookstores, but that has become harder and harder for a publishing company as small as mine. I now go through an exclusive trade distributor, Midpoint, for trade sales. Midpoint does a great job–it’s one of the best–but the steep discounts have a major effect on what I can publish and how. I need to take an average discount in the 65 percent range, get paid 4 months after sales (minus returns from last month), absorb huge percentages of returns, many with coffee stains, etc., etc. etc. Yet I have to hold down prices to become competitive as a bookstore book. That prevents me from making much use of the miracles of digital printing–I need the economies of larger offset print runs.  I know many small publishers have given up on trying for serious sales to the trade, and for many of them, it is absolutely the right decision. In my case, it is still worthwhile, but it is a struggle.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Steve: If you are considering self-publishing, you must take the time to become educated in the field of publishing. Many new publishers fail miserably because they don’t learn the business. Like people who start restaurants because they know how to cook, they become publishers because they are good at writing. Publishing is a business–a fun one I think–but don’t expect to learn all the aspects of it overnight.

Understand that there is a huge difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing. The big vanity publishers call themselves “self-publishing companies,” but that is deceptive. The average book sold by one of the big “self-publishing” companies sells 65 copies, and most of those are to friends and relatives of the author. If you are going to self publish, you need to set up your own little publishing company, one with the mission of publishing your works. And you will end up spending much more time wearing your “publisher” hat than your “author” hat. If you can’t do that, you can contract out much or (hypothetically) most of the aspects such as design, editing, typesetting, distribution, fulfillment, and publicity. But this will be expensive, and you will need to understand publishing in order to hire and supervise the right people. (There are lots of charlatans out there, who are far more interested in taking your money than in helping you produce and sell books.)

Therefore, you must buy and read every book you can find on publishing, or at least the ones that have good reviews from your peers. (If you are not willing to acquire and read a bunch of books, you should ask yourself why you would even want to be a writer, let alone a publisher.) Join the excellent organizations for publishers. I am partial to IBPA, the largest; I’ve been an active member for over 25 years, and served on the board for four. My publishing company would not have survived without the constant continuing education I received through IBPA. I am also active with its New England affiliate, IPNE. Many small publishers seeking specific expertise in areas such as special sales also benefit from more specialized organizations such as AAPPS (formerly SPAN). These groups have low dues, affordable educational opportunities, marketing and networking opportunities, and numerous other benefits that help you every step of the way in producing and marketing books.

Every publisher is different, and every book is different. For some books, almost all sales are the result of a blog and social networking by the author. For others, bookstore sales are crucial. Others will sell mainly to libraries, or to special-sales markets. There are many other variations and combinations, but each market will require a big commitment of time, and perhaps other resources as well. By becoming knowledgeable about the business of publishing, you will be able to figure out how to best direct your own time and resources, to reach your audience as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

Some of my next blogs will be about getting your book into the library system and marketing your book through Amazon.  Click the follow button to be notified as soon as these are posted.

And in case I don’t see ya… good afternoon, good evening and good night.

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Author Joe Laws Survives Death – A True Story of Thanksgiving

“It’s just not your time yet, Little Joe…”

Joe Laws is a man used to fixing things.  After all, he’s fixed robots, water pumps, conveyors, and just about everything else that needs fixing at the automotive facility where he works. But when on July 17, 2011 a fall from the roof left his body broken and bleeding, even Joe knew it was beyond repair.  He also knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he had died.

It was a safe assumption, considering the extent of his injuries. The left side of his body was completely crushed; his back, neck, collarbone, and eleven of his ribs were broken.  His lungs had collapsed and his heart had stopped.  And, as the doctors of Vanderbilt University Medical Center would soon learn, he was in complete hemorrhagic shock, meaning that he had essentially bled to death from a ruptured spleen.  As they tried frantically to save Joe’s life, his family prayed fervently that God would spare him.

Joe, in the meantime, was on the ride of his life. As he floated away from earth and into the skies above, he saw and felt a large hand cradling him, as a parent would a most beloved child. He knew immediately that he was being held, literally, by the hand of God.  He was lifted toward a brilliant light, where he felt a love so powerful and all encompassing that it defied explanation. For what seemed an eternity, he played in “his Heaven”, visited with loved ones and learned about the true meaning of good, evil, and life itself.  He rejoiced at being “home”, until God delivered the devastating news that he was going back into his body. It was not his time.

As it turned out, Dr. Richard Miller, Chief of Vanderbilt’s Trauma Unit, agreed. During a dangerous, five-hour surgery, Dr. Miller would use a revolutionary method—and titanium strips– to secure Joe’s crushed ribcage and save his life. After struggling for two years to recover physically and emotionally from his ordeal, Joe realized he could help others by sharing his experience. Held By the Hand of God is Joe Laws’ incredible story of Heaven, Earth and walking between two worlds.

About the Author

Joe Laws is an Industrial Maintenance Technician in Smyrna, Tennessee. A self-described “regular Joe” and accidental author, he seeks to inspire and heal others with his story of God’s love and the very real promise of Heaven.  Joe lives just south of Nashville, Tennessee with his wife, Debra.  Held by the Hand of God is his first book.

Welcome Joe,

Author Joe Laws

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Joe:  The decision for me to publish was really a suggestion from my wife that I should write my thoughts down on paper. She said it would be a means for me to help get over what happened to me; my falling off of my shed and killing myself. I am not an author by trade, far from it, I fix robots. However after a very eye opening experience at my local barber shop where I told a young lady my story of my death, my soul being lifted off the ground by the hand of God, and subsequently being shown heaven I told my wife that I will put my thoughts into the written word. I had to tell this story of what happened to me so that if I helped even one more soul as I did that day in the barber shop then my life, my death, and now my life again will not have been wasted.

On July 17, 2011 I fell off of the top of my shed. The fall broke my neck, back, shoulder, collar bone, eleven ribs, my spleen exploded, my lungs collapsed, and my heart was crushed. It quit beating instantly. I died! About ten to fifteen minutes later my heart started beating again and I immediately began bleeding to death through my spleen. After waking up on the ground broken all to pieces I began a slow crawl to my old truck. I wasn’t about to give up. And after spending thirteen days in the ICU at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN I began my road to recovery without a spleen and a brand new rib cage.

I returned to work on October 17, 2011 exactly three months to the day if not the second that I fell. I later found out that October 17 held a significance other than me. That was the day Noah’s Ark came to rest and he opened the doors to set the animals free.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Joe: This is my first book. I have started on a second book for children to be finished this winter. It is a true story and is in and of itself a miracle about my neighbor’s dog. 

Author Joe Laws Cover

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Joe:  My book has not yet been released but the website is being built and is live now but there are more things to be added soon. It is www.heldbythehandofgod.com. I have not really started the marketing phase but realize that I do need to do that. This interview with Jill and reading her book was and still is a great help. The ideas from so many different authors are wonderful and priceless for such a small fee. I will use many of their tactics as I move blindly forward into the world of publishing. Hopefully it will help take some of the blinders off for me.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Joe:  There are several different websites and books that I like that I have found to be useful. The first book I bought was by  Allan Douglas, a fellow Tennessean and the title of his book is: “Writing for Profit or Pleasure”. It is a great little book that has many ideas that someone that is new to the business should read. Another is Jill’s book. Again, something that new authors should be required to read as they begin their journey. There are so many websites and books one can get overwhelmed by them all. However I do like Aaron Shepard’s publishing page. I don’t subscribe to him yet or have not bought his book yet but I intend to. He sounds like he knows what he is talking about.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Joe:  My greatest challenge along this magical journey of publishing a book I would have to say is learning the ropes the hard way. My wife’s late father used to tell her, “Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see”. That is great advice!  It seems there are multiple avenues for dishonest people in this industry to be unscrupulous at best is the nicest way I can think of to put it.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Joe:  The best advice I could give a new author is do not quit your day job! “Trust but verify” as Ronald Reagan so eloquently put it as he brought the old Soviet Union to its knees. If it is too good to be true, then it is not true. There are many con-artists in this industry, in fact there are companies whose sole source of income is derived from unsuspecting budding authors. Check the Better Business Bureau with any company that you deal with. If there are multiple complaints, RUN! And my final piece of advice would be, “Don’t ever give up”. If I had given up on July 17, 2011 my body would be six feet underground right now and you would not be reading this.

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

Some of my next blogs will be about getting your book into the library system and marketing your book through Amazon.  Click the follow button to be notified as soon as these are posted.

And in case I don’t see ya… good afternoon, good evening and good night.

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Word on the Street: Author Stephanie Helms Pickett

Stephanie Helms Pickett’s life has been reflected by Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh within us.”  Reared in Chicago by her mom, her biggest inspiration, Stephanie fell in love with writing at an early age.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Radio & Television Broadcasting from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; and a Master’s and Doctorate degree in Higher Education Administration from North Carolina State University.  She is the Director of Assessment & Professional Development Programs in the Division of Student Affairs at Duke University and Visiting Professor in the Program in Education.   Stephanie serves as the Coordinator of the Anointed Soles Dance Ministry at Wake Chapel Church, in Raleigh, North Carolina, under the leadership of Pastor J. Jasper Wilkins Jr.  She is a member of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Graduate Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  In August 2009 the Lord blessed her union to Charles Pickett, Sr,.  Their blended family includes two teenagers, Charles Pickett Jr. (19), Niani, (18) and two dogs, Diamond Star and Gypsy.  They reside in Raleigh, North Carolina.

For more information about Stephanie and to purchase her book, please visit: drhelmspickett.com

Welcome Stephanie,

Author Stephanie Helms Pickett

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Stephanie:  I have been in love with writing for as far back as I can remember.  More specifically, over the course of the last 10 years, I have flirted with writing a book.  In January 2012, I declared that I would commit myself with action to my dream to share divine insight on challenges and triumphs I experienced, particularly those in academic environments as a means to encourage, assist and affirm others.  I thought publishing would be a primary and significant method to share my message.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Stephanie:   I have published, “Later Never Came Until Now.”  “Later Never Came Until Now” is a 47,000 word faith-based reflective narrative designed to empower from both a scholarly and scriptural perspective exploring elements that came “nigh my dwelling.” As a child, I was told “you may not understand it now, but you will later.”  As an adult, I realize that I missed so many opportunities to apply what I was being exposed to and learning in the moment. 

The main character is me, the product of a single parent household from the south side of Chicago, who was perpetually interested in everything but school, yet surpassed obstacles to eventually attain a doctorate degree while holding ever connected to faith in God. Through narratives from age 9 to 40, this book will take the reader on a journey through laughter and tears to fully appreciate turning tough trials into triumphs and struggles into successes.

Author Cover

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Stephanie:  I’ve been working with The Jaxton Creative Group to develop the branding and marketing strategy for my book. I premiered Later Never Came Until Now at Wake Chapel’s Church’s Women’s Retreat in Virginia Beach in December 2012. A Facebook site under the name of Dr. Helms Pickett is operational by which I share daily insight and communicate with followers.  The book was featured on an episode of Brand Newz, an online program hosted by Christopher Martin in March 2013, followed by a book launch at LabourLove Art Gallery in Durham, NC. In July 2013, I was featured on Literary Nation Live, a radio talk show highlighting artists and authors hosted by Patrick Oliver where I shared insight about the book and advocacy for parents in navigating the educational arena. My website is presently under construction and will go live in September 2013.  Finally, I have several speaking engagements scheduled in the upcoming months.  Each of these efforts has afforded the opportunity for connection and with other venues and people.  I have a way to go, but small, intentional steps have continued to open doors and provide access.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Stephanie:  I found Oprah’s Life Lessons website to be incredibly useful and inspirational.  Although it does not specifically address publishing or authoring, it is formatted from a curriculum and instructional foundation, as well as constructivist format that appeals to me as an educator and assisted me in processing how I could reflect in a manner which assisted me to conceptualize my thoughts into action.  When I decided to self-publish, I found Mira’s site to be easy to navigate and answered many of the questions I had as a first time author.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Stephanie:  The greatest challenge for me in self-publishing has been the funding.  As the parent of two college students the practice of setting resources aside to print my publication has been challenging.  I did not want to go into debt, so printing the book has often moved slower than I desired.  I am hopeful and I am a believer in the messaging of the book so I continue to remain motivated and determined to continue.  I don’t believe I have exhausted all of the tenets of self-publishing to date.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Stephanie:  Interestingly enough, with only one book under my belt (and another in progress), I get this question more than I imagined and I am appreciative to share what I’ve learned thus far.  As a new and aspiring author, it is critically important to remain focused on the prompting for writing.  You cannot get discouraged and compare yourself to someone who’s been in the game longer than you.  As authors, we strive to have a tangible, final product.  The effort, pitfalls and loopholes one narrowly escapes or overcame to reach the end are not visible to the naked eye.  Be persistent, be authentic and be purposeful and you will attain your expected end.

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

Some of my next blogs will be about getting your book into the library system and marketing your book through Amazon.  Click the follow button to be notified as soon as these are posted.

And in case I don’t see ya… good afternoon, good evening and good night.

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Author Spirit Corley: Offers Children Self-Discovery and Self-Love

Spirit Corley’s, first self-published multi-ethnic children’s easy reader picture book, Jewels and the Treasure ME Discovery takes kids on an adventure of self-discovery and self-love through joy, empowerment, wonder, esteem, and shine ignited by vivid storytelling and imagery.

Spirit poses by day as Youth Workforce Investment Act state auditor, yet she is also an artist and advocate for children, with over 13 years case managing youth with barriers, and a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership.  It is Spirit’s true passion and purpose to work to empower all children; especially those who may be disenfranchised at no fault of their own; she stands for them.

Spirit’s endeavors are simply beginning with her new book, Jewels and the Treasure ME Discovery to reach out and do her part in her community.  More books and tools of empowerment that mirror multi-ethnic children will continue to unfold, as well as the I AM ME Discovery project and “Read with Spirit” which will allow for more collaboration and joining hands in common unity in the community she serves.

For more information on Spirit and her books: www.spiritsjewelsbooks.com.  You can contact her at: spirit@spiritsjewels.com

Welcome Spirit,

Author Spirit Corley

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Spirit:  I wrote my first easy-reader children’s storybook two years ago, and then I decided to publish it a year later. It was my way of honoring my inner child, as well as to empower kids through positive imagery and messaging.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Spirit  To date, I’ve self-published one children’s book, Jewels and the Treasure ME Discovery, and currently working on the next children’s book. Easy-reader children’s book genre evoke such imagination, it is the genre  I’m most fond of because I reminds me of my son and I reading together at night and the joy it brought us both. Such wonderful memories!

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Spirit:  I’m currently marketing my book through social media. I keep my messaging personal by writing short messages etc. on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Spirit:  I wish I would have had Jill’s blog during the self-publishing process, but most of what I discovered was through just research, and sometimes trial and error. www.selfpublishing.com, and ww.write4kids.com I found to be resourceful as well for new authors like myself.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Spirit:  My greatest challenges are time, being just one person, and resources. What I’ve learned is to remember why I’ve chosen to write in the first place, for the joy of making a difference, however small.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Spirit:  Don’t make the assumption that after publishing your first book, the ROI (Return of Investment) is automatic. Secondly, don’t take things personally because once the book is written and published, you gotta get down to the business of marketing it. Moreover, be fearless in your approach to reach out for others support, and “think outside of the box,” for better results. Lastly, just do your best and keep believing in yourself and your work. I always aspire to be inspired, and making a difference in my community infuses that spark.

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

Some of my next blogs will be about getting your book into the library system and marketing your book through Amazon.  Click the follow button to be notified as soon as these are posted.

And in case I don’t see ya… good afternoon, good evening and good night.

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Self-Publishing Author, Sally Cochran

Sally Cochran, author of Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual For Instructors, owns and operates Equine Kingdom Riding Academy in Greensboro, NC. Along with her husband Matt, she serves over 100 people each week through various opportunities – lessons, camp, boarding, leasing, parties, and more. She holds a Level 2 Certification through the American Riding Instructor’s Association (ARIA) in Recreational Riding and Hunt Seat on the Flat, and is also certified through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) for teaching riders with disabilities. Equine Kingdom has become one of the most popular riding instruction schools in the area in just a few short years, and Sally decided to write about her success to share with other horse professionals.

Sally holds degrees in Business Administration and Global Logistics. She teaches many different styles of riding and enjoys reading, working on her farm, and writing, as well as one of her favorite pastimes, martial arts – she holds a 1st degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and is testing for her 3rd Degree black belt in San Shin Kai in November 2013. She is currently working on publishing her next book, 501 Riding Lesson Ideas, which should be out in late 2013 available for purchase, and she will be introducing many more books for the riding instruction field.

Her books can be reviewed and purchased on Amazon.com and on the website at www.equinekingdom.com.

Thanks for joining us Sally,

Sally Cochran image

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Sally:  Publishing my book was a decision made born out of a desire to provide the equestrian world with a great book on riding instruction – a book that fills a need for riding instructors everywhere. There are a lot of books on the market for riding lessons and instructors, but Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons is a niche all its own – it is a book for instructors that are just starting out, or those that want to break into the market of riding lessons but don’t know where to begin. Having been an instructor that had a difficult time starting out due to a lack of guidance and assistance, I wanted to publish a book that would help other instructors in ways that I never received.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Sally:  I recently published my first title, Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors, in September 2012. We have two other books coming out soon – 501 Riding Lesson Ideas and 52 Weeks of Lesson Plans for Beginning Riders.

Sally Cochran book cover

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Sally:  My main method of marketing thus far has been through contacting farms and riding instructors with information about the book and how it can help them, as well as sending article excerpts to magazines and online publishing venues. We have advertised in several places as well. Due to working around the clock running my business teaching riding lessons to able-bodied and riders with disabilities, I have not had the time to market the book as much as I would like.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Sally:  My favorite resource thus far has been “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier. It has been wonderful, packed full of ideas for marketing, writing, and promoting your own self-published book.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Sally:  The biggest challenge in self publishing is marketing my book – if I don’t spend time promoting it, it doesn’t sell well. I notice a huge difference in when I actually have time to promote it, versus when I am so busy running the rest of my business that marketing falls to the wayside. 

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Sally:  Don’t let anything hold you back! If you had the inspiration and drive to write the book, then you must believe in why it’s important that the world get to have a part of it. Get it out there, do the best you can, and then BELIEVE IN IT. Believe that the world NEEDS your book, and promote it that way!!

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

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Fashionista Writes to Motivate Women

My name is Latonya Thompson, born and raised in Florida. I am a fashionista girly, girl who likes to help embrace other women; whether it’s by providing good advice, give a listening ear, up lift someone’s spirit (being motivational).  I started writing as a hobby but never looked into publishing or becoming an author. I would always keep a journal and write down thoughts and short stories/poems. I enjoyed writing letters which turned into a mini quick read (2 full pages easy).  One day I got this haunch to write and produce books for the public, along the side of my 14 year career and mother of four. I decided I want to do something for me and reach out to the public.  My books are dedicated to women and are based on inspiring and helping to motivate others. I have also created my own website (4evertruebooks.vpweb.com) that also speaks to the selling of my books, advertising, inspirational quotes and information about giving back to the community. My books are also featured and sold on amazon.com. Thus far I have created my own Journal for women titled Beautiful Me, autobiography which includes the topics of relationships, forgiveness, faith etc.  This next book is titled “All about Me”. I am currently working on my third book and it is titled “Converting to the other Side.”

Welcome Latonya,

Latonya Howard Image

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Latonya:  I decided to publish to be of an inspiration and to help motivate other readers through my books. 

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Latonya:  I have published my own inspirational journal titled “Beautiful Me” and I am currently working on releasing my next book, which is an autobiography titled “All About Me” (You can find peace in starting over) published by Mirabooksmart.

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Latonya:  I am currently marketing my book/s through my website 4evertruebooks.vpweb.com and amazon. I had a book release party to also help market my first book. I have written a Play to my second book to be released in December 2013.  The Play will have excerpts from my book “All About Me”.  I will be having a launch party with select vendors on site that will help me promote my book. I am teaming up with a local boutique that will sell a couple of my books in their store with a special promotion. (First 10 customers to purchase my book will also receive a free gift card valued at $10 to use at the boutique)

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Latonya:  Jill I have been on your website and I do find it to be very useful. I like the information you have given on how to get a press release on new and upcoming book releases. 

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Latonya:  My greatest challenge with self publishing has been publicizing/exposure.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Latonya:  The best advise that I can give to an aspiring author… Writing and publishing your book is a great accomplishment.  You see all of your hard work flourish right before your eyes and others can appreciate your talent as well. Even if you do not receive much exposure or have high sales; Author will still be your title. Take pleasure in your works!

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

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Kristi L. Stout: Writer, Author and Illustrator

Kristi L. Stout was born a Californian in 1980 and has moved around more times than she can count. After a three-year stay in the beautiful, Pacific Northwest she found herself back in sunny, southern California where she continues to write, create art and raise her daughter. A loving spiritualist and inquisitive adventurer, Kristi has been drawing and writing stories since she could hold a pencil. Graduating from college in 2005, majoring in Media Arts and Animation, Kristi’s professional career has involved everything from graphic design, to industrial design, fine arts and illustration.

Welcome Kristi to the table,

Kristi L Stout Image

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Kristi:  I have a message that I want to share with the world and stories inside me that just have no other choice but to come out.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Kristi:  The Quest of Heart is my first officially published book. However I am a contributing author to an online European-based forum called www.RebelleSociety.com. Where I write articles about creative rebellion and conscious thinking.

Kristi L Stout Cover

Short Book Description:

Follow a girl as she searches for the other half of her heart. Along her journey she meets friends and almost loses her imagination along with all the color in her life. Her encounters remind us of the hope that can be found inside our hearts. 

Purchase:

The Quest of Heart is available for purchase through www.thequestofheart.com and Amazon.  eBook is available through Kindle and Google Play Books.

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Kristi:  So far my Rebelle Society platform has been a wonderful tool to spread the word as they are a world-wide forum. My book sort of ties into self-help and spirituality so I am also approaching Unitarian Congregations in San Diego County via a close connection with one particular congregation in the Philippines.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Kristi:  There is a great authors blog through Infinity Publishing that has some excellent ideas for marketing yourself. I have taken lots of their tips and advice as well as just some creative ideas of my own with the fantastic help of my business manager. Thinking OUT-OF-THE-BOX in this case can be excellent and fun.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Kristi:  Just getting it out there. Getting it seen and marketing in general. When you are the creative mind behind the stories and illustrations, marketing proves to be a time-consuming challenge for the creative. But a necessary step in getting the message to the world, one I am charging head on like some kind of warrior.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Kristi:  Well, I am a new author and it’s been blood, sweat and tears to get to the point I am now and I’m still going strong still without any huge breaks. It is quite helpful in this case to have a strong faith when pushing your book because it is the driving force behind what you do. For instance, the thought: If I just keep going, something will break. The hope that something is just around the corner. Hang onto that with ferocity and I think something good will come. 

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

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