How I Became Self-Published Author, Fashion Designer, and Marketer?
how i became self-published author? – Sitting in my school’s library anxiously sifting through my backpack for my floppy disk, I remembered my English teacher’s strict instructions: come to class with the research paper printed out. She warned us that she would only take a hard copy. She would not allow us to print from her printer during class-time or accept a digital copy.
Relieved when I found the disk, I reached to insert it into the computer. But there was a problem. There was no floppy disk port. I tried a different computer. No luck. Then, I realized all of the computers had been upgraded. Ugh! All the newer models only had USB ports. Unable to print my paper, I walked to class, hoping my teacher would make an exception for me this one time. Nope!
“I don’t want excuses; I want solutions.” she said. Don’t come to class until the paper is printed, she added, with a smile on her face.
Now I stood in the hallway, looking helpless and annoyed, hoping there was still an older model computer somewhere in the building. Eventually, I found a classroom full of computers that hadn’t been upgraded. I politely asked the teacher if I could print something before his class started. He allowed me to. I was able to turn in the assignment, and all was well. But this teachable life moment changed the way I approached obstacles and transformed me into a resourceful problem-solver. It’s what has made me successful as a self-published author, marketer, and fashion designer.
How was your University time?
I obtained my BFA in Fashion and MFA in Luxury and Fashion Management, emphasizing marketing from Savannah College of Art and Design. I remember first-year students’ year, how intimidated I was by some of the other students. Many of them had gone to an art high school. They seemed so skilled at things like drawing. It all looked so effortless for them. On the other hand, I needed to study extra hard, literally working overnight at the school to perfect my craft. It paid off, though. I was nearly always on the Dean’s List. I served as a peer tutor for work-study, assisting some of the very students I was once intimidated by. I was a student ambassador and founded a Poets with Passion Club, which won Club of the Year and Event of the Year its first year of formation. I took many writing elective courses, such as The Publishing Process, Business, Professional Writing, and Writing for New Media. Creative writing was practically my unofficial minor. College taught me how to hone my creative problem-solving skills. That part of achieving success is not about how much you know but how well you are at time management and following directions.
Why did you decide to write and publish your first book, Me in America?
(If there is a personal reason not already listed in the book’s introduction).
Well, I always wanted to publish a poetry book since joining my high school’s Poets with Passion Club and then starting the college club. Though the desire to write a book was always there, I didn’t always have the drive to do it. I see poetry as a hobby that I use for self-exploration and a way to release negative energy. Actually, I stopped writing for a while because of self-esteem and other issues, such as writer’s block. After overcoming a few hardships like facing racial discrimination encounters, emotional abuse from family, and then friends and lovers, I became inspired to write again. I didn’t make a firm decision to write the book itself, though, until November 2019 after having a talk with my mom about her and my father’s absence in my life. I wanted to have a serious conversation, as I had recently gone back to my hometown to bury my younger cousin that had been murdered. Seeing him be born into this world and leave was heartbreaking. Even writing this isn’t easy. It’s not that he’s dead that makes me cry; it’s that he died all alone begging for help. Seeing how my aunt – his mom – planned his funeral with him in mind, I couldn’t help but face the truth that if that were me, my parents wouldn’t know what to write in my obituary. And really any of my final wishes because they have been so absent in my life. In Me in America, I was able to tell my own story while also inspiring so many others out there that feel left out and forgotten in any way.
How did you know it was complete?
At some point, I realized that I couldn’t keep prolonging the book by continuously editing and writing more. I wanted to add more poems, but they either didn’t quite go with the book’s message or needed more development. Deadlines also helped me decide when the book was complete. I wanted to submit the book for awards, and the deadlines were quickly approaching. So, I had to decide to keep writing to make it “perfect” with all the poems I wanted or work with what I had and strengthen it to publish finally. After having an editor look over the manuscript and making the necessary edits, I finally got the feeling the book was done and something I would be proud to share with the world. I knew it was complete once the fear of not being good enough was replaced with an eagerness to get the book out to the public finally.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
While writing comes naturally, it isn’t something I wanted to pursue professionally. I worried about compromising the creative aspect of writing with deadlines and corporate bureaucracy, and yet that’s what I found with fashion design and marketing! So, I guess I can still go that route if I wanted to. To answer the question, though, I try to stop and really think about the world through a spiritual lens and see things differently. I observe more than I speak. I read a lot of spiritual books that challenge my way of seeing and thinking. I burn incense while writing to help set the mood. I write metaphors and lines down as they come instead of writing the poem itself all at once. For instance, some of the poems in my book stem from lines I wrote years ago and were inspired by different episodes in my life but somehow fit the finished poem. I see lines like puzzle pieces. I don’t put them together until I “see” how they fit into the message I’m trying to convey. Only a few poems were actually written in one sitting.
Can you provide some book recommendations?
- The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
- Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
- The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib
- The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick M. Lencioni
- Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick M. Lencioni
- How to find Spirituality Throughout All the Relationships in Your Life by Sylvia Browne
Any advice about resumes?
Writing your resume is an opportunity to craft your professional story. Tell a cohesive, authentic story that you can genuinely speak to in job interviews. You may find it helpful looking at the language used in job postings similar to the role you are applying to.
Lessons from jobs that you couldn’t get.
Know your worth! Don’t accept a low offer out of desperation. Follow your gut instinct and ask for what you deserve. If a company really wants you, they will give you time to think about an offer and pay a fair market wage.
Any advice to anyone wanting to self-publish?
Hire an editor and cover designer. Sure, this will add to the book’s production costs, but you will be happier with the final body of work. Your book will look and read more professionally. And be sure to have an advertising budget. For me, Amazon ads were more effective than social media and Google ads.
Also read How I Became a Graphic Designer and Self-Published Author