*Independent authors and content creators of all kinds can now take advantage of a dynamic new platform that offers the opportunity to expose their work to a national audience.
Enter Writer’s Life Magazine, a publication launched by Albany, NY-based entrepreneur and children’s book author LaDonna Smith.
A few years ago, Smith, a Brownsville-Brooklyn native, was seeking ways to promote her own books aimed at empowering black and urban youth through financial literacy. Her book “The Money Tree” won an award from the Institute for Financial Literacy in 2014, and she has been recognized for her various workbooks and board games that promote money management and saving. However, despite her extraordinary products, most publishers considered them “too ethnic.”
“When I first wrote “The Money Tree,” the main character’s name was Kareem. That is something I was told to change,” Smith said. “I was also advised to change some of the kids on the back cover of the book because white people wouldn’t buy it if it was filled with African-American characters. That was very disappointing to me. I wanted to create a book where the characters looked like my children, because we don’t have many quality books out there that represent them.”
Instead of waiting for opportunities, Smith established her own publishing company FYD Publishing and created Writer’s Life Magazine to promote herself. Not much later, she decided to lend her support to other talented writers across the country who needed a space to showcase their books and companies. Now, Writer’s Life is taking off. The publication has featured stories on up and coming authors, as well as celebrities like NBA champion Metta World Peace (Ron Artest), among others.
Each issue of Writer’s Life Magazine provides professional advice and insider tips on writing and self-publishing books. These resources assist not only independent authors, but screen-writers, song-writers, literary organizations and rising illustrators. There is even a small-business spotlight that highlights bloggers and individuals who provide services to authors.
Smith has witnessed many minority authors who have received feedback similar to what she initially received because their books were considered too ethnic and not mainstream enough. Therefore, she encourages them to not be afraid of self-publishing as she did.
“I have never even considered going through a traditional publishing company, because I wanted to be my own boss and control my royalties,” she said. “Also, by self-publishing, you can control the content and how your characters look. You certainly have to work more, you have to do everything. It all falls on you, but you are able to control your own destiny.”
To assist new writers on the journey to self-publishing, she offers a few tips:
1) Check out Create Space, Book Baby and Lulu. Those are self-publishing platforms where you can publish your books and distribute for little to no money.
2) Develop a good author’s bio and have a few good professional photos for promotion. Selfie’s won’t work!
3) Make sure you have a solid editor to read over your book and other written work.
4) Once your book is finished, have a good press release drafted to distribute to media and get the word out.