Tips From An Author On Successful Self-Publishing

Veronica Goodman is the author of the debut picture book, E is for Economics, and the subsequent book, L is for Law. Veronica and I first met on Instagram, where I learned she leads a local picture book club. I met Veronica in person at one of the meetings, along with other local writers and authors. Veronica has successfully self-published her children’s book. Now we get to hear about her self-publishing journey. Thanks for sharing, Veronica!

Tips From An Author on Successful Self-Publishing | An Interview With Author Veronica Goodman | www.arielmendez.com

Tips From An Author on Successful Self-Publishing | An Interview With Author Veronica Goodman | http://www.arielmendez.com

Q: Let’s start by learning a little bit more about you. What is a day like in the life of an author?

Veronica: Before writing children’s books, I worked as an economist and in management consulting. I live in the Washington, D.C. area with my husband, daughter, and beloved cat, Galileo. If you’d ask my two-year old daughter what my job is, she would enthusiastically say that it’s her. My days are split between caring for my daughter and working on the books, be it marketing and writing, and all of the little things that life entails in between.

Q: When did you first decide to write a picture book? What inspired the book?

Veronica: It might be cliché but E is for Economics is really the embodiment of the Toni Morrison quote: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I searched for a fun picture book about economics for toddlers for my daughter, but I couldn’t find one. So I decided to just write my own. My background is in economics, and I wanted to be able to share that with my daughter, especially because she’s such a bookworm. I also tried to keep it entertaining for the adults reading, too.

Q: Tell us about your writing journey. What was the writing and editing process like?

Veronica: I tend to turn over ideas in my head for a while before I sit down to write. Once I do though, I’m a firm believer in just getting words on the page (or Word doc, in my case) to have something to edit. From there, writing is a very iterative process for me. Once I think a draft is in a good place, I often share it with my husband who I’m lucky to say is a brilliant editor. Going forward, I’ve realized the benefit of meeting other writers and learning from them, which is why I created the local picture book club and got involved in other groups. Lastly, I think if you don’t have talented editors around that you can tap for free help, you should absolutely seek out a professional editor.

Q: What motivated you to self-publish instead of traditionally publish? What self-publishing platforms did you use?

Veronica: It was a difficult decision, but I read just about every resource you could find online, be it from SCBWI or others, on how to choose which path to pursue. For E is for Economics, I felt that I had a strategy for how to reach the market for the book, particularly with my background in the field of economics. A lot of my research suggested if you know how to reach your audience, self-publishing might be a better approach.

That said, self-publishing requires you to be very entrepreneurial. I’ve lost track of the hours I’ve spent doing outreach and marketing. The release of E is for Economics has informed my plans for L is for Law. I am also working on some new projects for the future, and I wouldn’t rule out working with a traditional publisher for a project where I thought that would be the best fit.

In terms of the platforms and distributors, I contracted with my fabulous illustrator, Nicole Jones Sturk, through UpWork. And I used two Print on Demand (POD) providers, IngramSpark for the hardcover and CreateSpace for the softcover.

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Q: What have you enjoyed about self-publishing? Is there anything you would do differently?

Veronica: The best part is the short time to market. For E is for Economics, the whole process took about six months from coming up with the idea to release date. I also enjoyed the control over the final product since I had a very distinct vision for what the book should look like in its final form. I have no regrets. I’ve learned a ton over the past year and I’ve had a blast.

Q: What advice would you give to the writer who has a finished manuscript and is considering traditional vs. self-publishing?

Veronica: Do your homework and accept that each path has its challenges. It’s important to consider your skills and goals, and the particular manuscript in front of you. I can really only speak to self-publishing at this point. It might be a good option for you if you’re willing to accept more risk, you know your defined audience and how to reach them, and you can do a lot of the heavy lifting for finding the illustrator (unless you are one!) and marketing the book.

That is great advice! Veronica Goodman’s upcoming picture book, L is for Law, will release on September 4,2018. Books are available on Amazon or by visiting her website at veronicagoodman.com.

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Here are the three key takeaways from my interview with Veronica Goodman on self-publishing:

1. Research. Veronica researched her audience, how to reach them, the different self-publishing platforms, pros and cons of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, and so on. Do your research before publishing to fully understand if this is the right path for you.

2. Entrepreneurial. As Jonathan Roth said, being an author is like being a small business. Veronica invested time into not only writing and planning the book, but into marketing and outreach as well. She took stock of her network and was not afraid to sell her book.

3. Connect. Veronica and I connected through the book club she started and through Instagram. She also mentions joining other groups, SCBWI, and the importance of finding other authors.

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If you would like to receive more tips on all things writing, publishing, and the creative journey sign up for the blog!

Insights on the Book Publishing Process

Deborah Schaumberg is the author of the debut young adults’ novel, The Tombs, published by Harper Collins imprint HarperTeen.

I first met Deborah at our local Kidlit Night. I am so happy I got to know her and watch her publishing journey unfold! I was greatly inspired by her book launch, and seeing Deborah busy at work with author visits and a blog tour.

Now we get the chance to learn more about Deborah and her writing journey.  Thanks for taking the time for us, Deborah!

Insights On The Book Publishing Process, revision process, writing a novel, how to get published
Insights On The Book Publishing Process | Interview With Author Deborah Schaumberg  | The Tombs| http://www.arielmendez.com

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is a day like in the life of an author?

Deborah: Hello, so happy to share! One of the things I love about being a writer is the flexibility to work at any odd hour I please. I kind of juggle my schedule from day to day. That being said, when I am into a good flow, I set my alarm for 5:30am every morning and sit down to write for at least two hours – after coffee of course! My thoughts are clearest when I first wake up. Since there’s no such thing as a ‘typical day’ for me, I can tell you that in addition to writing, I try to squeeze in running, gardening, yoga, time with kids/family/dogs. Definitely not enough hours in the day!

Q: At one of the Kidlit Nights, you told me that you hired an editor before you even had a literary agent. I thought that was genius! Tell us about the book publishing process with your novel, The Tombs. How long does it take to write a book draft? What was the novel revision process like? How long does it take to publish a book?

Deborah: Writing The Tombs was quite a long journey! I had the idea mulling about my head for years before I put pen to paper, but once I began, it took me about three years to complete. At that point, I sent it out to agents…and got a bunch of rejections. Then I met Dan Lazar of Writers House at an SCBWI [Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators] conference and he asked to read it. He sent me some very detailed feedback and said, “if you find yourself with a strong revision down the line, I’d be happy to take another look.” This was when I hired Laura Bard from Children’s Book Insider to help me edit my manuscript according to Dan’s notes. It took me nine months! I could have had another child! But it worked, and Dan signed me on as a client. Yay! Then we did more revisions (eighteen months worth) until we agreed it was ready to go out on submission. It sold to HarperTeen and I worked with editor Kristen Pettit on MORE revisions! She is brilliant and helped me fine-tune the whole thing. The revision process, although long, was actually amazing. I loved brainstorming with professionals in the publishing industry to create my best work possible. Twelve months later Kristen decided it was ready for market…whew!

Q: At the beginning of my writing journey, late 2016, I dealt a lot with Imposter Syndrome, this feeling that I was fraud and not a real writer. Did you ever struggle with this, or self-doubt, or some kind of fear? How did you overcome it?

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Insights On The Book Publishing Process | Interview With Author Deborah Schaumberg  | The Tombs| http://www.arielmendez.com

Deborah: YES! I have a feeling most new authors struggle with Imposter Syndrome and self-doubt. I still do.

I think what gets me through, is reminding myself how hard I’ve worked to get my book published. Also, my husband and two teen daughters are so supportive and proud of me…I’m a real writer in their eyes! And do not let any negative reviews get to you. I re-read good reviews when I start to question myself – especially ones from strangers.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face on the business and practical side of authorship?

Deborah: One thing that took me by surprise is how much of a social media presence authors need. For someone who hasn’t been involved in that world, I had to learn how to best use a few key platforms. My favorite is Instagram because of its visual and teens love it. It’s important for me to manage my time well though, so I don’t end up spending hours online instead of writing!

Since this is my first book and it came out in late February, I have not yet dealt with all the tax stuff related to being an author.  One more thing to figure out.

Q: What advice would you give to someone starting out their writing journey?

Deborah: The two things I would tell aspiring writers are –

Write the book that makes your heart sing. The path to writing the best book you can is to infuse it with your passion.

Writing takes devotion – I try to sit and work even when I don’t feel like it, or when the words aren’t flowing. Don’t give up – be committed to following your dream.

Thank you so much, Deborah! I hope that your inspirational author journey continues to encourage and give life to other writers just starting out. Deborah Schaumberg’s book, The Tombs, is a historical fiction young adult’s novel and is available on her website, on Amazon, or at your local bookstore.

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Here are three key takeaways from my interview with Deborah on the book publishing process:

  1. Revisions take time! It took Deborah a few years to draft her novel. It was then revised by an editor. It was then revised by an agent. It was then revised by the publisher. Revisions take time, but they are also essential for getting your best book out there!
  2. Be committed and devoted to writing. As Deborah explained, the writing process is long, as well as the revision process. We all get Imposter Syndrome. Don’t give up!
  3. “Write the book that makes your heart sing”. The book publishing process is long and challenging, but writing and infusing your passion makes it all worth it!
Insights On The Book Publishing Process, revision process, writing a novel, how to get published
Insights On The Book Publishing Process | Interview With Author Deborah Schaumberg  | The Tombs| http://www.arielmendez.com

If you enjoyed reading this interview with Deborah Schaumberg, and would like to learn more about writing, publishing, and the creative journey, check out the following interviews:

How To Become A Freelance Artist: An Interview with Artist Joana Raimundo

What I’ve Learned from Being a Published Author: An Interview with Jonathan Roth

If you would like to receive more tips on all things writing, publishing, and the creative journey sign up for my blog!

How To Become A Freelance Artist

Joana Raimundo is an illustrator based in Portugal. We first connected on Facebook through the Creative Lady Collective, which goes to show how online social networking is a great tool!

Now we have the chance to learn more about Joana, her creative journey in freelance illustrating, and how to become a freelance artist.  Thanks for taking the time for us, Joana!

How To Become a Freelance Artist
How To Become A Freelance Artist | Interview with Artist Joana Raimundo | http://www.arielmendez.com

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is a day like in the life of a freelancer?

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Artist Joana Raimundo | How To Become A Freelance Artist

Joana: First of all, thank you for the invitation! I’m currently based in my hometown Alcobaça, which stands in a valley right between the beach and the mountain crest and I can’t say I have a routine. This is the best and the tricky part of freelancing. On one hand, you have this opportunity of working in all kinds of different projects – I usually do illustration, but also graphics and web design. On the other, there’s this flexible schedule that you can juggle to have a more balanced way of living.

So it really depends on what there is to do every day. I usually work from home because that’s where most of my tools are, but if what I need to do doesn’t require any of those, then I like to work outside. The library is one of my favorite places, it helps me stay focused. Still, I tend to be less productive in the morning, so I usually compensate at night (fewer distractions).

Did you always have a freelance illustrating business and graphic design? At what point did you decide to begin working as a freelance illustrator?  

Joana: Not exactly, it took a while to develop the whole freelance thing. After finishing my studies I worked in communication studios, so the freelance part started with small projects in my free time and all in collaboration with friends. I started doing illustrated posters for parties, then I was invited to illustrate kids’ books, eventually, word got out on the street and more people started to contact me. Then, 2 years ago, I felt that I needed to reset on a professional level so I decided to take a leap of faith and turn the hobby into my full-time job.

What inspires your work? How do you stay creative? What are your favorite projects to work on?

joana raimundo freelance illustrator
Artist Joana Raimundo | How To Become A Freelance Artist

Joana: A little bit of everything, really – music, movies, books, stuff I see, conversations I have with my friends. Sometimes I take notes of crazy dreams I have, too. When I feel blocked I like to browse through my favorite artists’ work. But my favorite projects are the ones related to music (album covers, posters, merch) and collaborations with my friends.

I recently had the chance to do animation for a friend’s short movie so that one got a special place in my heart 🙂

What are some of the challenges you face as a creative freelancer?

Joana: So far, the same as everyone else – to keep focused when working from home, dealing with the completely unpredictable income and learning to sell your work.

What advice would you give to someone starting out their artist or freelance journey?

Joana: I’d say work hard and do your best if that’s what you really love. Remember that, and if you come to realize that freelancing is not for you, that it’s taking all the joy out of your art, don’t let it take you down! It’s ok, you can always keep doing it for yourself, on your own time and on your own rules.

how to become a freelance artist- do what you really love
How To Become A Freelance Artist | Interview With Artist Joana Raimundo | http://www.arielmendez.com

Thank you so much, Joana! I got so much out of this interview! You can view Joana’s portfolio on her website, or follow along with her everyday artist journey on social media @joana.ray.

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How to Become a Freelance Artist

Here are three key takeaways from our interview with artist Joana on how to become a freelance illustrator (or a freelancer in general):

  1. Build your foundation first. This means improving your skills, getting your name out there, accepting projects and building a solid portfolio. Joana started taking projects, building her portfolio, and meeting new clients through friends before she took the leap to full-time freelancing.
  2. Give yourself time. Joana said it took a while before she jumped into full-time freelancing. It takes time to not only learn your craft and improve your skills, but it also takes time to learn how to run your business as a freelancer which includes things such as selling your work and managing a variable income.
  3. “Work hard and do your best if that’s what you really love”. This is absolutely the best advice Joana gives! If in the end, freelancing is taking away the joy and love of what you do, don’t let it.
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How To Become A Freelance Artist | Interview With Artist Joana Raimundo | http://www.arielmendez.com

If you enjoyed reading this interview with Joana Raimundo, and would like to learn more about writing, publishing, and the creative journey, check out the following interviews:

What I’ve Learned from Being a Published Author: An Interview with Jonathan Roth

Insights on the Book Publishing Process: An Interview with Author Deborah Schuamberg

If you would like to receive more tips on all things writing, publishing, and the creative journey sign up for my blog!

What I’ve Learned from Being a Published Author

Jonathan Roth is the author of the debut chapter book series, Beep and Bob, published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster. Scholastic recently included Beep and Bob in their list of 50 Magical Books for Summer. It is a must read if you have kids in grades 2-5!

I first met Jonathan at our local Kidlit Night. He quickly became a resource, sharing his experiences, insights, and tips with the group for publishing in the children’s book industry. Now we get the chance to learn more about Jonathan’s writing journey, and the adventure beyond publishing!

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Let’s start by learning a little bit more about you. Tell us about yourself; what is a day like in the life of an author?

Jonathan: By day I’m an elementary art teacher, so my usual workday involves commuting about six miles by bike to my school in North Bethesda and teaching art to about 125 enthusiastic and creative spirits a day. My ‘author’ days, which are evenings and non-school days, involve writing, editing and illustrating the various books in the various stages of my series. The part I never expected is also how much having a book or series is like running a small business, with many of my hours going to publicity, outreach, booking and doing events, creating bookmarks and stickers, and all that. Whatever fantasy I may have ever had of sipping coffee at my sun-dappled drawing board while creating books that magically appear in kids’ hands is pretty much that: a fantasy.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Jonathan: The moment I was exposed to the classic children’s literature of my youth – i.e. Marvel and DC comics and the newspaper’s funny pages – I knew I wanted to do something like that, too. I drew and wrote stories as early as I can remember, and never really stopped. I’ve also never stopped reading, which I think is the main impetus to writing.

Tell us about your writing journey. When did you start writing Beep and Bob? How did you become a published author?

Jonathan: I began the first draft of Beep and Bob in 2015 after I heard Dav Pilkey speak at a bookstore and realized I wasn’t letting myself be quite as silly and wild with my writing as I knew I could. So I abandoned yet another middle-grade novel I was working on and just let myself go. The result was definitely sillier than my previous work and, I assumed, probably completely unpublishable. But it got great feedback and I revised and began to submit.

I was between agents at that point and had no leads on any who represented the strange in-between genre of chapter books, so I reached out to Natalie Lakosil at Bradford Literary, who had requested but then rejected, an earlier novel of mine. But I had a good feeling about her, and after a little revision, Natalie signed me and soon sold Beep and Bob as an initial four book series with Aladdin. The only small details that then remained were editing and illustrating book one, and then creating books 2-4 from scratch. And the real fun began!

I attended a talk you gave in which you spoke about the business of being an author. What are some of the challenges you have faced on the more business and practical side of authorship?

Jonathan: As I said above, the business side is a huge chunk of my author time now. Besides all the mundane details that whittle good hours away – taxes, tech issues, etc. – part of my brain is always tuned to the fact that just because someone publishes your book doesn’t mean the world knows about it or cares. Though I earnestly believe most kids will love Beep and Bob if they read it, the main challenge is figuring out ways to get in in their hands (which usually involves getting it in parents’ or teachers’ or librarians’ hands first) and accepting that no matter how hard I try, I ultimately have very little control. The bright side is that I belong to a strong network of other like-minded creators, through such groups as SCBWI, the Electric Eighteens debut group, and the Kidlit Night where I met Ariel. It’s a great community to be part of, no matter what stage you are in your journey.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out on their writing or publication journey?

Jonathan: Read widely, especially current work in genres that move you. Find your community, especially critique partners who can be supportive but honest and challenging. And follow your heart by writing what’s in yours. It’s not an easy journey, and you’ll wear out many good boots, but I hope to see you on the way!

What I've Learned From Being A Published Author (An Interview With Author Jonathan Roth)
What I’ve Learned From Being A Published Author (An Interview With Author Jonathan Roth)

Thank you so much for your time, Jonathan! And for always sharing your journey!  Jonathan Roth’s chapter book series, Beep and Bob, debuted in March 2018. “Great for “kids who love funny stories but may be too young for books like ­Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (School Library Journal).  It is available at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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Here are three key takeaways about being a published author from my interview with Jonathan:

  1. Being an author is like being a small business. Jonathan says he never expected the business aspect of being an author, such as marketing, technology, taxes, promotion, in addition to writing, illustrating, and creating books.
  2. Find your community. Find your community of like-minded creators. This is where you can share your writing journey, challenges, successes, and get inspiration from each other along the way. “Supportive but honest and challenging”.
  3. “Follow your heart by writing what’s in yours”. As Jonathan says, it is not an easy journey. Follow your heart, read what sets your heart on fire, and write what is in your heart.
    3 Tips For Published Authors
    3 Tips For Published Authors | Interview With Author Jonathan Roth | What I Learned From Being A Published Author

    If you enjoyed reading this interview with author Jonathan Roth, and would like to learn more about writing, publishing, and the creative journey, check out the following interviews:

    How To Become A Freelance Artist: An Interview with Artist Joana Raimundo

    Insights on the Book Publishing Process: An Interview with Author Deborah Schuamberg

    If you would like to receive more tips on all things writing, publishing, and the creative journey sign up for my blog!

When To Quit or Commit To Your Creative Journey?

When I was in college, I quit my writing. I thought, There is no way I can make a living off of writing, or no one will take me seriously. So I just stopped writing. I don’t have many regrets in my life, but I do regret this decision to quit writing when I was young. Imagine where I would be now in terms of my skill or network had I kept writing this entire time!

In 2016, I  began writing again and became fixated on one writing project that was continually  rejected by the industry. I kept revising and making changes to no avail. It stopped me from writing and creating more. It discouraged me. I felt stuck and unable to move forward. In this instance, I am very happy I quit that project! I have had my share of quitting, and have learned a thing or two about staying committed to the journey.

How do you know when is a good time to quit, or when to stay committed?

quit or commit.pngSTAY COMMITTED

One thing you have to decide is to STAY COMMITTED TO THE JOURNEY. What does the journey look like?

First, you are not motivated by external factors such as money, awards, or fame. Similar to how college graduation is not the end of our professional journey, it is just a milestone; these external factors are not the destination of our journey, they are just milestones along the journey.

Instead, you should be motivated by improving yourself, your skills, and your network. Your only competition is you. Your only point of comparison is yourself.

Second, use your imagination! The saying goes, you cannot be what you cannot see. So take a moment to imagine your life in 20+ years from now, actually imagine it in detail. What does it look like? What do you want? How can you start taking steps towards that now?

When I worked in public policy as a young professional, I was surrounded by mid-level and senior researchers. I saw what my life could be like in 20+ years. It was uninspiring to me, un-enjoyable work. I fell asleep at every quarterly meeting (my supervisor was horrified). I just didn’t want to be in that same field by the time I was 50 years old.

On the other hand, it was really difficult for me to imagine a creative career as a writer or illustrator. I didn’t know any authors or illustrators. Therefore, I was unsure of how to start, what steps to take, or what path to follow. You cannot be what you cannot see. 

 

Because I decided to be committed to the journey, I started making decisions for the sake of GROWTH and not just pursuing money or publishing.

WHEN TO QUIT

It is okay to quit PROJECTS, but it is essential to stay committed to the journey.

Not every project is going to be beneficial to your journey. Sometimes, they can cause you to become stuck in one spot instead of continually improving and growing. For instance, becoming attached to a manuscript that is continually rejected by the industry can be bad for your creative process if it causes you to stop writing. Sometimes, a project may even take you in a direction away from your initial purpose.

One saying I embrace is: it is NO for now, but not foreverWhen my children were infants, I had to say NO to a lot of projects because that was simply the season of life I was in. I did not have time for anything other than the kids, and taking on projects I could not complete only frustrated me. Now that my youngest is old enough to play on his own, I can take on more projects and complete them. It’s the best feeling ever! I had to say no in one season, but I could do it in the next season. 

Still wondering when to quit or when to stay committed?…

Just ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Is this helping me grow and improve my skill/craft?
  2. Is this helping me become the person I want to be 20+ years from now?
  3. Or is this frustrating me, stopping my creativity, and discouraging my journey?

If it is stopping your journey and growth, maybe it’s time to consider quitting that project. Remember, it may be NO for now, but it doesn’t have to be forever.