1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My latest book is called I Am College Bound. It is a college-prep planner for high school students. I work with high school students daily and realized that many of them make decisions about going to college with hardly any research. They choose their potential careers, college majors and colleges with limited information. As a result, students are going to colleges they cannot afford, to obtain degrees they are not truly invested in to pursue careers that will not pay them nearly enough to pay off their crazy student loan debt before they retire.
2. How have your sales been?
Sales have initially been sporadic. I published the I Am College Bound Planner early in the pandemic. I previously planned to participate in a number of in-person tabling events, but those plans changed. My ultimate goal, though, is to use the books to segue into speaking, training and coaching. I recently got an opportunity to speak to a group of high school girls who are preparing for college. The organizers agreed to purchase the planners as part of my fee. I got a call about another opportunity at a high school to purchase my planners as part of a grant. So, I anticipate increased sales in the near future.
3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.
I used KDP/Amazon self-publishing through a company called Junkanoo Publications & Consulting. I honestly did not want to learn the full process and was willing to pay a realistic price for it to be done. I do have access to my KDP/Amazon account, which allows me to make changes as needed.
The overall experience for me with self-publishing has been positive. I suppose the negative aspect of self-publishing is that I am responsible for promoting my books, which means that I have to learn and experiment with different marketing ideas.
4. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
Due to the pandemic, the traditional face-to-face way of networking is almost nonexistent. However, I have been using a number of social media groups to meet with other authors, speakers, educators, etc. I promote my books across a number of groups, but I also try to engage in conversations within the groups – i.e. answer questions, etc. I do not just post and disappear.
I have been taking advantage of opportunities to participate in interviews like this, as well as panel discussions. I recently did an interview as a part of a YouTube channel with someone in Dubai, which was exciting. Now, we follow each other on social media. So far the results have been increased likes on my social media pages, increased visibility and opportunities to meet like-minded people all over the world.
5. Talk a little about the sort of marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
With my first book, I participated in in-person tabling events as well as social media. Now, most of what I do is through consistently sharing valuable content on social media. On my birthday this month, I made a post on my personal Facebook page, telling why I created this planner and asking for 50 of my friends to share my post. I included a few pictures of me holding my books. The post was shared almost 60 times. Do not create an ad asking for others to share your post though. I use Facebook ads periodically for small amounts (up to $25).
A lot of what I’ve done has increased the number of views on my posts, which is good. However, the bigger wins include the opportunity to speak with a group of high school students and the anticipated book purchases through the grant. Someone received additional money from a grant and wanted to find an appropriate way to spend it. Another person who saw my posts and who previously read my earlier book, suggested he consider purchasing my books as a resource. I will also speak with this group of students and parents as well. In this respect, I would say that my consistency in posting valuable content led to these results.
6. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
The technique I have intentionally avoided is the post that asks for likes or follows. For example, “If you follow me, I’ll follow you.” I typically look through these posts to see if there is anyone I may be able to genuinely connect with. I’ll follow those people. I prefer to have a more organic following of people who are interested in what I have to offer and not just following random people to increase my page likes. I also am not a fan of paying someone to review my books.
7. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
Publishing takes time and effort. Hence the reason I passed it on to someone else. I tried initially to do the research and start the process, but I became overwhelmed and realized that my time was more valuable.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
Honestly, I am ok with how this all worked out. However, if I had to do it all over, I would have published these books a long time ago.
9. New authors face the challenge of getting their books into the hands of readers. What advice do you have for an author just starting out?
Be consistent! When sharing information about your books, don’t let it be all about selling the books. Share your story. Share valuable content. For example, since my books are about helping high school students prepare for college, my social media posts are typically sharing information about scholarships, FAFSA, financial aid, study tips, and other similar topics.
Pull content from your book or share information related to your content, ask questions, just get creative. Join authors groups. Get inspiration from other authors. Do contests and giveaways. Buy ads (start small). Just put yourself out there. Oh! Remember to put the link to your book on almost everything you do.
10. What other projects are you currently working on?
I also created a budgeting and financial planning workbook, called Get Your Financial House in Order. This workbook teaches the strategies my husband and I used to pay off over $50,000 in consumer debt and build a six-month emergency fund during the pandemic. I created this workbook for the same reason I did my other books. I am tired of college students graduating and starting their adult lives with crazy student loan debt because they made poor financial decisions at eighteen.
11. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
Empowering students to make wise financial decisions about college.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?
The links to my books are:
HELP! What I Tell Parents About Preparing Their Kids For College
I Am College Bound: College-Prep Planner for High School Students
Get Your House In Order: Budgeting & Finance Workbook
When Fate Whispers