We’re continuing on with our self-publishing series with Tiffany Gholar, author of A Bitter Pill to Swallow.
On the edge of the Chicago medical district, the Harrison School for Exceptional Youth looks like a castle in a snow globe. Janina has been there since she was ten years old, and now she’s fourteen. She feels so safe inside its walls that she’s afraid to leave. (read more)
What inspired you to take the plunge into publishing?
I started writing stories as soon as I learned to read. When I was a teenager, I realized that I wanted to be a writer and began taking creative writing classes and subscribing to Writers Digest
magazine. A Bitter Pill to Swallow
began as a short story I wrote when I was 14 years old. I worked on it all through high school and college before taking a break from it for ten years. When I came back to my story with a new perspective and finished writing it, I wanted to publish it as soon as possible. I spent nearly a year querying agents and small presses unsuccessfully and decided to publish my book myself instead. I was able to apply what I learned from publishing three art books to publishing my novel. I wanted to get my book out into the world and didn’t see the point of continuing to knock on doors that never opened.
I am so glad that now with print-on-demand it is so much easier for independent authors to reach an audience.
What kind of reader were you as a child?
I was an early and voracious reader. I would read anything I could get my hands on, even if I was too young to understand it. I still regret reading the safety manual on an airplane when I was four.
Do you think brick and mortar retailers like Barnes and Noble are dying in the face of Kindle, Nooks and other ereaders?
Unfortunately it does seem that way, though independent bookstores seem to be thriving.
Why do you think that women of color are so underrepresented in the traditional publishing market?
I think a big part of it is due to barriers to entry-level jobs in publishing. As a college student I had considered going to New York to intern at a publishing company or literary agency, but most of the internships were unpaid so I couldn’t afford it. Same for the entry-level positions I considered right after I graduated. None paid enough to allow me to live in New York. My experiences made me feel like publishing was an industry for people with extremely wealthy parents. In addition to that, there are the biases that continue to plague us, like the idea that our stories are not “universal” or “relatable” enough.
What do you wish you knew before you published your first book?
I wish I had known how important reviews are for sales and publicity. When I published my first art book, I didn’t submit it anywhere to be reviewed. This time around I sought out as many possible reviewers as I could.
Publishing isn’t done alone. Who is on Tiffany’s team?
I am really happy to be working with Pronoun for my ebooks and Blurb
for my print books. Both companies have been essential to getting my books out there.
What projects are you working on that you’re excited about and we should keep an eye out for?
I have recently begun illustrating picture books for children. Hopefully the new projects I am working on will be out before the end of the year. I also plan to publish my next art book next year.