Today, since Shelly is a Slacker, I've invited Lena Winfrey to tell about herself, her book, her poetry, and her journey in self-promotion.
She’s had a rather interesting life and I really need to get her book myself.
So, take it away Lena.
Hello everyone! I am very happy to be at Shelly’s blog today. She invited me to speak about my current work and my experience with publishing.
My published novel is an autobiography called The Metamorphosis of a Muslim, and it came out in May 2011. It is about my spiritual journey to Islam (I was raised as a Presbyterian, went to a Baptist College and had a Pentecostal grandmother. Wow, what a mixture)! I also discuss a bit about my childhood and my world travels (mostly in the Middle East, Africa and Asia). And at the end, I express a message of understanding and peace between all people and faiths.
My publisher, International Islamic Publishing House (IIPH), are located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. They are one of the biggest and best publishers in the Middle East. So, while I was living in Sudan, I actually sent my manuscript to them (that was about 8 years ago). Well, at the time, they did not have an English language editor, and my manuscript ended up on a shelf for almost three years! After moving to Ghana, thank God I still had the same e-mail, I received an e-mail from their new English language editor who happened to be an American! She just loved my story and the style of it. She raved about it and said they wanted to publish me. Well, a lot of time had passed since I had sent in the original manuscript, so I asked her if I could rewrite and add to it. So, I spent the next year adding in new material and rewriting. Then, I moved back to the US where I now live in Florida. So, we kept emailing for another year editing notes. Basically, they wanted me to edit most of the manuscript, and they would send me back notes to either expand, enhance or explain something. Then, they wanted references listed for some of the quotes. Once I finished it, I sent it in and awaited them to send me the copy they were planning to print so they could get my approval. This whole process was very long and drawn out, and it usually is with traditional publishers. However, I must say that when the final copy of the book did finally come out, I was very pleased with the quality of the text and the cover. The art work on my book is amazing!
After the book came out, I really did not realize just how much I would have to self-promote my book. My publisher did write a nice blurb to advertise my novel. And they have really been distributing it well here and overseas. I have discovered my book is on Ebay, Amazon and various Islamic websites through the distributors. This past year has really been a learning curve for me; I have been learning about marketing and networking. I guess between my publisher and myself that we are spreading the word well world-wide. I was amazed that I’ve gotten some reviews and e-mails via Facebook from around the world. One professor in India wants to use my novel in his classroom! So many people in various countries have told me how much they like my book. One woman from Egypt told me that she discovered my book at the right moment and it inspired her. Wow, that makes me feel really good! I have had some great reviews posted on Amazon, too.
Self-promoting and marketing does take persistence and hard work. I have enjoyed the journey so far, though I admit occasionally it is exhausting. I would much rather sit and write than to market, but one has to do what one has to do.
Currently, I am working on a realistic fictional novel. I also have a couple of non-fiction books in the works, and I am planning one day to publish a collection of poems. If I cannot get a big publisher to pick me up, I will definitely go Indie. At least with Indie, you are in control of your own work.
I do write screenplays, and filmmaking is a dream of mine. I did a course at Full Sail in “Producing Independent Film”, and I really loved it. So, that is something on my to-do-list.
You can find my book on Amazon, but the best place to purchase The Metamorphosis of a Muslim is from the publisher at:
I do regret at the moment that there is no ebook form for my book; however, the hard back copy is inexpensive. You can get it from the publisher for $9. Currently the company is working on transferring their books into ebooks.
And if you have not checked out my blog yet, please do at:
I have enjoyed being a part of WMD; I have met some wonderfully talented and amazing writers there. It is so great that we support each other. The feeling of friendship and camaraderie there is amazing! It is a rare thing to find in the world today.
Shelly, you are very sweet. Thank you very much for inviting me!
You’re very welcome, Lena. Thanks for sharing your insights on self-promotion.
And to everyone else, later in the ink all.