(To listen to the audio of this blog, use the purple play button.)
Copyright 2023 by Jim Potter
Preparing to publish my book requires a lot of multi-tasking and networking. It’s a process and I can’t do it alone.
I’ll bet you’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In publishing—whether traditional or indie—it takes a network to birth a book.
At its most basic level, networking is when a group of people support and encourage one another to achieve a goal. For writers, it might begin with purchasing a book, giving a “like” on an author’s social media page, or writing and posting a favorable book review.
If you’re questioning why I’m writing about networking, not publishing, then you need to understand that networking is vital to publishing. If you want to play baseball full-time, you don’t go to the park and wait for random people to show up. You join a team. And you take other actions to prepare for the games, like studying the sport and getting into excellent condition.
If you wanted to sell a whole lot of Girl Scout cookies, you would take pre-orders and make an extensive plan beyond counting on your close friends and immediate family.
If you’re going to be publishing a book, you can take steps now to belong to a network of people—people who may become your good friends and who will eagerly help you achieve your literary goals.
Let me introduce you to three people in my network: Gina Laiso, Tracy Million Simmons, and Danielle Ramirez. They all empower other people. Each one has a passion, an incessant drive, to see people succeed in their quest to be published.
Like a mediation retreat instructor, Gina Laiso is a calming presence while she assists people through the self-publishing process. She designs my book covers, the interiors, and does the formatting. Gina’s become a BFF (Best Friend Forever).
My professional experience with Gina, who owns and runs Integrita Productions, has made publishing books a joyful process. If you don’t have a professional designer, then plan on spending time and energy finding the right one. Start looking now. Fortunately for me, Gina’s on speed dial.
In networking, generally, you meet people one at a time. If you’re lucky, some are keepers who will change your life. I met Gina through my wife, Alex. Gina and Alex took adult tap dance lessons together.
When I needed my first book cover designed, Alex suggested Gina. In no time, the three of us sat down together in front of Gina’s computer and worked together to create the cover for my play, Under the Radar: Race at School. The experience was uplifting. Gina’s creative cover designs continue to knock my socks off.
Recently, Gina worked with a client, Kim Martin, who wanted to publish a book especially for her grandchildren as a way for them to help remember her. It’s titled Braven. Gina designed the whole thing, including the illustrations and cover.
The other day, after googling “grants,” I asked Gina if she had any ideas for me on finding a literacy grant that could help me publish my educational children’s book, The ABCs of Law Enforcement as Told by K-9 Kudzu. We discussed some possibilities, understanding that non-profits (501-3c’s) were much more likely to be awardees than businesses like my Sandhenge Publications.
Gina reminded me that Tracy Simmons might know about literary grants.
Tracy Million Simmons is another favorite go-to friend. Our trust level with one another is off the charts. As far as I know, she doesn’t tap dance, but she multi-tasks. We met at a Kansas Authors Club (KAC) convention. Tracy’s a compassionate, welcoming person, with leadership skills and plenty of publishing experience. Tracy’s the founder and CEO of Meadowlark Press in Emporia, Kansas, and she’s a past president and current manager of the KAC, an organization that has been crucial in my networking.
Since 2014, Meadowlark Press has helped writers become published authors in the genres of fiction, memoir, and poetry. Besides books, for the last two years Meadowlark has published writers—some of them novices but all of them talented—in 105 Meadowlark Reader: A Kansas Journal of Creative Nonfiction.
Take a second and remember or imagine how it feels to see your story in print for the first time. Tracy and author-editor Cheryl Unruh (Quincy Press, www.quincypress.com) created this opportunity for writers to share true stories. It’s a first-class literary print journal.
Tracy and Cheryl publish the journal twice a year. Each issue offers approximately 35 essays. If you want to be published and paid, what are you waiting for? Purchase 105 Meadowlark Reader, read the creative non-fiction, plan on submitting your story for an upcoming issue, and support a medium size press.
When I asked Tracy about grants, she replied, “Did you hear the presentation by Danielle Ramirez at the (KAC) convention? It’s called ‘Kickstart Your Book.’”
I watched Danielle’s time-limited archived video presentation and learned about fundraising platforms like Kickstart and Go Fund Me. The approach did not appeal to me, but I’m sure it’s ideal for others. Danielle used funds raised on Kickstart to help publish Being Wichita Women (2022). She was the compiler of personal stories for the collaborative anthology from “diverse women involving trauma, adversity, resilience and healing.”
At Danielle’s convention talk, she recommended that if you use Kickstart for funding, be sure to set a realistic goal. Her goal was $2,500 of the $7,000 budget to publish the anthology. If the goal had not been reached within the set time-period, Danielle would not have received any of the donations—not a single dollar. I do take risks, after all I’m an indie author, but with money on the table, all or nothing sounds too harsh for me.
Compiling the personal stories for Being Wichita Women changed Danielle’s life. She quit her dependable, busy job working with non-profits and formed a publishing business, Quiet Storm Services (QS).
When Danielle and I zoomed, I learned about her passion to help people find their inner stories and “get them out.”
QS Services, an indie hybrid publishing company with the author subsidizing the book, “partners with underrepresented individuals and groups to create authentic books that empower the writer and impacts the community.”
Quiet Storm focuses on creative non-fiction, anthologies, and short stories while aiming for wellness, community improvement, and social justice.
Danielle has big plans. Soon she will be adding courses to her coaching, story development, and grant writing services. I can imagine QS being successful because people want their book published sooner rather than later, they’re willing to pay to make it happen, and they don’t want to go through the process of learning to be an indie publisher.
I was looking for funding and found Danielle. She’s given me some tips on grants and invited me to be interviewed on Facebook Live. I donated a copy of my latest book, Deputy Jennings Meets the Amish, for Quiet Storm’s monthly book giveaway. Danielle and I are encouraging and supporting one another to achieve a common goal.
I also learned that Danielle and Gina Laiso worked together on Being Wichita Women when Gina consulted and did the anthology’s layout. Their networking proves the world’s not that small, especially when you have passionate people empowering others.
Until next time, happy writing,