The following interview was originally posted on Sue Collier’s now defunct blog, Self-Publishing Resources at http://selfpublishingresources.com/11-questions-for-the-indie-author-featuring-daree-allen/ on January 16, 2012.
- What is your background?
I’ve been a technical writer for 13 years, a personal development blogger for 5 years, and been doing speaking here and there for about 8 years. I’ve done some (mostly free) freelance work for exposure, but decided to buckle down from freelancing and finished my book’s first draft in 2009.
- What led you to self-publishing?
I got tired of a strange catch-22: people everywhere told me how much of a need there is for my book (a teen self-help book), but agents said that publishers couldn’t sell such a book, even from someone with a bigger platform than mine. Yet I saw countless celebrities launch several of these types of books while I was writing mine.
- What have you found to be the biggest challenge in self-publishing?
Funding and hiring. The saleability and marketing of your book hinges on being able to recruit and afford contractors and consultants who produce professional, quality work on time, and without too much back-and-forth.
- What has been the biggest surprise about self-publishing?
I didn’t know how much “hate” existed in the publishing world. Some people do not respect it. They underestimate the amount of time that goes into it. A big misconception is that writers self-publish their work because it’s not good enough for anyone else (traditional publishers) to publish it. Many prestigious/scholarly journals and book bloggers will not review SP books.
- Describe your writing process.
For this book, I had most of the content before I started, because the book is based on my personal journals that I’ve kept since childhood. But selecting and organizing the stories into chapters was the hardest part for me. So my process was mostly about revising over and over again. Handing it over to an editor for the first time was terrifying because I didn’t know what she would say, or how well all that revising would work for me.
- How do you stay disciplined?
I don’t. But the way I inadvertently kept myself accountable was to tell anyone and everyone I knew that I was writing a book. So the next time I would see any of my friends, whether it was a week later or a month later, they asked, “So how’s the book coming along?” And that simple, benign question kept the project at the forefront of my mind, even in those months that I felt “stuck.” Another motivator was seeing all the self-help books get released every quarter that were similar to mine (see #2).
- How are you financing your publishing project?
I have been paying-as-I-go, which is something I don’t recommend! (See #9.) I set up pre-orders in September of last year, and am offering the book in ebook and audiobook form. I also started lining up speaking engagements, although most of them are not paid, it gives me another avenue to build my list and sell in the back of the room.
- What is your favorite self-marketing idea?
Network online and offline. Use the same etiquette (if not better) for people you approach online “cold.” I turned a lovely person who was a “friend-in-my-head” and NYT best-selling author into a mentor. She is very helpful and sweet, and over a year after our first contact, we met in person, which was awesome enough (she interviews celebrities but to me SHE is the celebrity), and later she gave me an endorsement on my book. She’s awesome! (My second and third favorite ways to self-market are to speak often and publish guest blog posts/articles frequently.)
- What advice do you have for burgeoning self-publishers?
Get a mentor to help you make sense of things during your first go-round. People will offer to “help” you do different things (for a fee- marketing, publicist, etc.) that you may or may not be able to do on your own. Make sure you have adequate savings and a good team in place, whether you’re hiring a project manager, editors, photographers, indexers, proofreaders, or graphic designers. TEST your referrals—I had disappointing experiences with many of the people I hired, and almost all of them were referred to me by people I trusted.
10. When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
I like to eat, bowl, read, sleep, and dance (but not in that order).
11. What project are you currently working on?
I am writing another nonfiction book that focuses on the perspective of single Black fathers in America. There is so much emphasis on single mothers in the Black community (which is fine—I am one and I identify), but I want to bring Black families together for those who want that. The Black community is struggling so much because of broken homes. I want to tell the single dads’ side of the story, through the many voices of the real Black America. If you are interested in contributing via an interview, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.