Tag Archives: self-publishing

Author Success - In the media, awards, reviews

Authors in the wild: launches, and signings, and tours, oh my!

Now that the world is opening up to a new normal, our authors are diving back into the world of author events. This past month, we’ve seen some fantastic meet-and-greets, readings, and even a cross-country launch! We’re so happy and proud to see our Tellwell authors getting themselves out there to promote their books!

Paula Gregory – Dream High As The Sky

Mississippi-based children’s author Paula McClellan Gregory finished off the month with an adorable book launch at the Gumtree Bookstore to promote her inspiring children’s book Dream High As the Sky. Paula’s book launch included a fun read-along, a discussion about the children’s dreams, colouring time, snacks, exclusive bookmarks to go with signed copies of the picture book, and even a giveaway for a Dream High As They Sky t-shirt!

Dream High As They Sky follows little Zach (based on Paula’s grandson) as he discovers life’s possibilities and ways of achieving his dream of flying like the birds high in the sky. This high-flying children’s book encourages your little ones to follow their dreams. After all, Zach can tell you, “I dreamed as high as the sky, and my dreams came true.”

Paula has a couple of more events coming up soon so stay tuned to www.paulamcclellangregory.com to learn more! 

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Author of the Month

How Miami-based children’s author Jennifer Segarra gained traction for her children’s book!

For May’s author of the month, we are celebrating Miami-based author, Jennifer S. Segarra!

Over the last few months, Jennifer has successfully been featured on a number of influential #bookstagram pages like @the_bookish_mind and @nerdybibliophilee, interviewed by notable outlets like KidlioMag, Children’s Literature and the Reading With Your Kids podcast, and has connected with readers all over the world through her social media!

Author Jennifer S. Segarra with her children’s hit – El Lechón Choncho otherwise known as Choncho the Pig

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Jennifer S. Segarra. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. My parents immigrated to this country when they were young. My father is from Cuba and my mother is from Puerto Rico but also half Filipino.

I am a married mother of two beautiful children, and have an Italian Mastiff fur baby. I am bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish. My husband is from Cuba and we have been married for 15 years.  

I love to cook, travel, discover new things, and LOVE reading books!

What inspired you to write El Lechón Choncho otherwise known as Choncho the Pig?

Since I was a young girl, I always loved reading, and this may sound quite weird but I loved being given assignments where I needed to write book reports, essays and stories in my own words. However, my mother always told me the story, since I was a little girl, of her favorite family pet pig named Choncho. I always told her she needed to make this a children’s book.

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Author of the Month

February’s author of the month – Poetry author Utanu Maa’s lessons in resilience

For February’s author of the month we are celebrating Utanu Maa! Utanu came into Tellwell without any prior publishing experience, and with little knowledge on how she could market her book. Over the last 6 months, Utanu has embraced her new role of authorpreneur and has successfully been featured on a number of blogs, received a beautiful review from IndieReader and is connecting with poets and readers all over the world through her social media.

“Utanu Maa’s RISE AND FALL OF MY BELOVED is a short biographical poetry collection, focused heavily on the themes of grief, mourning, recovery and resilience. The story is deeply personal, it speaks for countless individuals who are voiceless and marginalized. Nevertheless, the writing never seethes with anger at the injustice and unfairness. Instead, it is full of empathy, understanding and acceptance, and may be a cathartic experience for some readers, especially those trying to heal from trauma.” – Archita Mittra for IndieReader

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Utanu Maa, also known as Utanu Adele Mafandala, my birth name. I published my debut book of poetry last year using a pen name, Utanu Maa, just to keep it short on the book. I live in Toronto, Ontario and worked as a public servant within the Ontario Court of Justice. I had previously lived many years in Montreal where I migrated from the Democractic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1991. I was born and raised in DRC where I studied French Literature and Civil Law, and pursued education in Paralegal studies and Fashion Management after moving to Canada. I am a proud mother of a young man who is building his career as a Fine Art artist after graduating from the Memorial University of Newfoundland Fine Art/Visual and Technology last year.

2. What inspired you to write your book?

I needed to heal from the profound grief and loss I carried after the death of  my only sibling and brother from my mother. I lost my brother to HIV/AIDS. He suffered a lot, and it was painful to him, and to me as a sister to witness my loved one going through a myriad of pains and health complications until he died. I cared for him for the last two months of his life. I was deeply sad and devastated. 

I grieved from April 2019 until April 2020; I felt weary and burdened, I desperately needed to talk to someone to share and ease my pain. But Covid-19 had forced the entirety of humanity into confinement. My anxiety, along with everyone elses, increased and I felt so lonely inside and out.  

My son was away for studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In solitude, the only voice you can hear is yours inside of you or your own murmure, and the only person you talk to is your own double. So, my only rescue was to write and pour all my grief onto a paper to start a journey to resilience, gratitude, and healing.

3. How have your personal experiences influenced your book?

In my book, I expose not only the pain and suffering caused by the HIV virus but also the shame, stigmas, discrimination, rejection, and isolation that our society inflicts to people living with HIV. So, I write about a virus that is still active, still very infectious, and deadly to bring awareness for protection, inspiration for resilience in hard times, aspiration for a healthy and compassionate society, a testimony and reflection about the voiceless and vulnerable people in our society. 

Each poem of my book depicts a true story and personal experiences.  I am the witness of the events happening throughout the journey that my readers embark in my book. I wrote about what happened to my brother, from his childhood as a vulnerable orphan infant, marginalized but resilient to survive and grow, to his rise as an accomplished and successful engineer, and to his fall and death as a HIV/AIDS patient. 

My writing is also a journey into learning to express gratitude despite challenges because life is a blessing.  Our life is filled with many blessings, big or small, but we tend to forget to count them when facing hardship, struggles. One morning as I was weeping, thinking of my brother’s struggles in childhood as a vulnerable and neglected six months old orphan infant when my mother died, recalling the bullies he endured because he did not speak earlier like other kids and was labelled mentality retarded and incapable of succeeding at school, and counting the pain, sufferings, shame and rejection he faced and how he beat all odds and became an accomplished Master in Structure and Building Engineer, a still small voice stormed me inside and spoke to me in this way: “count instead the blessings of his life and heal from that because death is not a punishment”. 

From that moment, my brother’s death became the beginning of a new life in everlasting peace.  My grief taught me to express gratitude, and with gratitude, I found resilience to overcome and heal. These are the two main lessons in my book: resilience and gratitude to overcome grief, and heal.

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Author of the Month

Award winning author Kathleen Boucher’s practical advice for new authors! – Tellwell’s January author of the month

Our January author of the month, Kathleen Boucher, is an award winning author, certified lifestyle coach, a certified neurocoach, a certified stress and wellness consultant, and a registered nurse! Kathleen’s book 9 Ways to Empower Tweens #Lifeskills is a self help book for tweens, teens and adults alike! The book focuses on practical life skills. These life skills include how to have more confidence when presenting in class, the importance of work ethic, a simple writing technique to help deal with anger, and more. There are exercises at the end of each chapter that tweens can use to integrate what they’ve learned. Kathleen has been featured in many articles and blogs, on top of receiving high praise from industry professionals like IndieReader!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a registered nurse working in an Intensive Care Unit full time, an award-winning children’s author, lifestyle coach, neurocoach and stress & wellness consultant. Want to learn more about Kathleen, click here! 

In 2014, I wondered if there was something else I could do to help people. I prayed for guidance. Two weeks later, I remember sitting bolt upright at 0300 am in the morning.  The voice inside my head indicated that I should write children’s books. So I did.

2. What inspired you to write your book?

I want to help parents and teachers with techniques that helped me raise my children.  I am told that adults find these strategies useful as well. Bonus!

3. How have your personal experiences influenced your book?

My son was very active and had a hard time focusing on homework when he was in elementary school. I did some research that showed that with intense focus, one could bend time and get more done. For example, have you ever crammed for an exam and have gotten a lot of studying done? 

Before we started his homework I made sure my son was rested. The idea was for him to do his least favorite subject first, and get it out of the way. I put a timer at the end of the table and made it fun by seeing how much he could get done in five minutes. Once he finished what he disliked doing, the rest of the homework flowed because he was focusing on subjects he loved. 

4. What were some of the more significant lessons you learned writing and publishing a book?

  • Write what inspires you. 
  • The first draft is only the beginning. Don’t be afraid of rewrites. In fact, expect to do more than one rewrite. 
  • Writing an outline really helped organize my thoughts. Figure out what works for you.
  • Take the time to create a rapport with an illustrator so that he or she understands your vision. Then allow them the creative freedom to be fabulous. 
  • Accept constructive criticism with grace. Step back and look at your work from a different perspective. The new angle may make your work better.
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Author of the Month

Tellwell publishing consultant Jennifer Chapin sits in the author’s seat to publish her new book

Saint Augustine, the Christian theologian and philosopher once said: “The world is a book. And those who do not travel read only a page.”

This sentiment echoes through the work of Jennifer Chapin who blends her love of the publishing industry with travel, philosophy, and a little magic.

By day, Chapin is a publishing consultant at TellWell whose main role is to inspire people to trust their work and take the leap of faith into self-publishing. By night, Chapin takes those leaps herself – travelling in her mind to ancient civilizations and fleshing out characters on paper.

granada-1

Chapin has just published her second book, The Poet and The Angel, which is connected to her current role at TellWell in that, as she brings the poet’s voice back to life and onto the page, she encourages authors to do the same with their voices. The novella also resonates with her former career in the non-profit sector.

“I have long been committed to the areas of social and environmental justice, through my pen and through being outspoken on issues that are of concern to me. Federico Garcia Lorca’s [the ‘Poet’] character resonates with me completely. I understand his defense of the downtrodden and I share his commitment to speaking out against tyranny,” said Chapin.

An avid traveller and photographer, Chapin weaves her first-hand experiences into her prose to successfully transport the reader to a new place. But don’t flag this as a fluffy travel novel. Chapin uses her writing as a vehicle to discuss bigger issues: freedom, tyranny and the truth.

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Tips & Tricks

The Art of the ARC – How advanced reader copies can add buzz, publicity and reviews to your book before the official release

There is nothing better than the smell of a freshly cracked book spine – unless of course, that book is an advance reader copy (ARC). ARC’s are copies of a book that are given to certain people who are permitted to read it before its scheduled release date.  They are typically given to bloggers, critics, and other online influencers to review and promote the work to a wider audience.  For authors, sending out an ARC is a great way to gain buzz and publicity before the big release.  Although this may open the door to potential negative criticism, this also gives authors the chance to make last-minute changes before releasing their book to the world. So how do you create an ARC for reviewers?

 

Making an ARC

An ARC does not need to be fancy, however, there are additional elements that need to be considered:

  • Disclaimer – A complete cover is not necessary, but there should be a disclaimer stating that this copy of the book is an advance reader copy that is not for resale.
  • Quick facts – Include a list that has information like: number of pages, price, release date, ISBN etc.
  • Formatting – While this may not be your final copy of your book, you should still make sure it appears clean and professional. Reviewers may have several ARCs to review, and an aesthetically appealing file could boost your chances of getting read first.

When it comes to distribution, you can choose an electronic copy, such as a PDF, or a print copy. Digital distribution is inexpensive and easy to deliver, however, this also makes it easier to leak. Print is the traditional route, but it does take more effort and time to produce.

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Meet the Team

Meet Tellwell Designer Bonnie Mitchell

am_velocefondo20170709_01If your role at Tellwell were to be summarized into a book title, what would it be?

Word InDesigns Out: Translating Word files to InDesign files.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

When I’ve created a cover and book block that represent the book perfectly and the author is ecstatic with the results.

What do you think is the most important aspect of an author’s cover design?

Balancing text and imagery to capture the story or the essence of the book. This creates a powerful emotional reaction inviting the reader to take a closer look.

What is your favourite type of book to design and why?

Fiction. Yes, it is as broad a genre as it is open to the imagination. With a good book synopsis the cover has so many design possibilities. There are certain design principles that make the interior of the book readable, however, there is no limit to how the title pages, headers, footers, chapter starts and sections can be styled. I find it the best genre for pushing the limits of design and doing something unique.

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Design Showcase Guest Post

The behind the scenes creative process to achieve this incredible YA fantasy cover design – Demons at the Doorstep

Guest post by Tellwell designer Tara Price

demons

Demons at the Doorstep is a young adult urban fantasy. Written by Rachael Bell-Irving, the story follows Jessica, a witch who must team up with her mortal enemy to stop mutated demons from destroying her city. Hard copies and eBooks are now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters Indigo.

Why did you choose this cover as a monthly focus?

This was a book that I started working on at the end of last year that wrapped up mid-April. It was a little out of our normal process because it required a custom illustration. A lot of the time, the cover is either done first or designed in tandem with the interior. For this one the interior was formatted well before the illustration was done. I had an initial idea of what I wanted for the title, but I knew that it may change drastically when the cover was on my plate. However, once I saw this amazing image, I was able to work in the title surprisingly well, with only minor re-working on spacing.

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Author of the Month

Tellwell author Kristin Pierce ignites self-discovery in children through Inner Compass Books

Soul-searching, finding yourself and self-empowerment are often facets of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, but Tellwell author Kristin Pierce wanted to spark the journey of self-discovery earlier on.

As a mother of two, she sought out to find picture books with empowering messages to share with her children. But the nature of the subject matter left her with few options. Drawing from her personal journey of self-discovery, Pierce transformed some strong, thought-provoking life lessons into a beautifully illustrated children’s book titled Your Inner Compass That Could.

yourinnercompass

 

“As a mother, I thought that if I was craving books with deeper learning messages for my kids, maybe there were other parents out there wanting that too,” she explains. Her goal in creating the story was to use the book to bring empowering messages to the world in an inspirational, understandable and relatable way.

The messages conveyed are concepts that Pierce began unraveling when faced with ovarian cancer at age 21. Self-reflection and inner confidence were pivotal throughout her experience, and are topics that she felt when described appropriately, could resonate just as strongly with children.

“What I uncovered along the way is that we all have this inner wisdom that we can use to help us navigate life from a place of alignment and truth. I realized that this was something I had been ignoring in myself for so long that I felt very disconnected from my truth and who I really was. In the process of getting to know myself better, I knew I was not the only one who felt disconnected or lost along the way,” she says.

To adapt these seemingly abstract concepts into a children-friendly story, Pierce knew the illustrations would carry a significant amount of the messaging.

“I had to dig deep into my creative depths to bring my illustration vision to the surface for Your Inner Compass That Could,” she explains. “The illustrations are infused with symbolism and meaning, and that process required a lot of reflecting, but it was so worth it in the end!”

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Meet the Team

Meet Project Manager Alison Strumberger

alison-1How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

Multifaceted. As a project manager it is my job to educate and support authors through their self-publishing journey, assisting with everything from manuscript formatting and submission, to illustrations and editing and design, and finally to book distribution. In addition to working closely with authors to bring their books into the world, I manage the editing department here at Tellwell. In this part of my role I draw on a decade of editorial experience to focus on refining our services, recruiting the best talent around, maintaining quality assurance, and supporting a team of thirteen dedicated editors who are passionate about helping authors tell their stories well.

What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

My days almost always begin in my inbox as I make my way through emails, answering questions from my authors and acting as a liaison between them and our designers, illustrators and editors. Quite a bit of my time here is spent collaborating with the rest of the in-house team about ways to improve on our processes. Invariably in the afternoon, I will find myself embroiled in an intense game of foosball in the break room. I prefer to play defence.

What is the most common misconception when it comes to editing, in particular in the self-publishing industry?

There are a number of misconceptions about editing, I think because the results of professional editing are often intangible. I would say the biggest of these is “I don’t need editing.” Every author has an editor; it is an essential stage in the publishing process. David Foster Wallace had an editor. Michael Ondaatje has an editor. Editing is so much more than adding missing periods and removing comma splices. Editing is also about style and nuance, it’s about the big picture of a narrative, it’s about character and logic and removing embarrassing unintentional puns, it’s about a fresh set of eyes reading your work as a reader would: critically, looking for the meaning, and really working to draw it out.

It is true when self-publishing that deciding to have your book edited can add substantially to your initial costs, but the investment will increase the quality of your final product exponentially, thereby setting your book apart from the rest. As Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying, “The difference between the nearly right word and the right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

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