Did you ever have a pen-pal?
|Author Tammy Harding -http://pennockislandproductions.com/
I did as a little kid. I got another one this year when a friend of mine had a chance-meeting at an airport with author Tammy Harding, and passed her e-mail to me. We’ve been fast e-friends ever since. Tammy wrote about her experiences as an accidental Alaskan in Alaska Bound: One Man’s Dream…One Woman’s Nightmare.
Q. If you had to boil Alaska Bound to one sentence of the message you’d like your readers to get from reading it, what would it be?
If you have enough courage, you will always find a way to turn life’s biggest pile of lemons into a profitable pitcher of lemonade.
Q. What made you decide to write Alaska Bound?
There were a couple of deciding factors. In 2006, I sustained a life-changing head injury that brought my once productive lifestyle to a complete standstill. Since I’d always been a very active person, this was a difficult transition. What was I going to do with myself?
But a traumatic brain injury had changed everything. From then on, in order to accomplish any kind of physical activity, it was imperative that I moved like a sloth, avoiding any chance of tripping or being bumped into. The simple act of jerking open a bag of potato chips, for instance, could not be accomplished without repercussions–the jarring would injure my brain. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been digging into the junk food to begin with, but let’s just say that scissors were my best friend for a while. Now confined to what I considered to be an fruitless lifestyle, in order to manage my pain I found myself spending a lot of time on the couch with my head cradled by a bag of ice.
During my many hours of required rest I would still write lists, but these were different. What can I accomplish, even in my ‘useless’ condition, I wondered? It was a short list in comparison, but by focusing on what I could do, even with my head perched on ice not only could I research how to write, copyright and publish a book, but I could also type out my story and then proof read to my heart’s content. I could work from bed! Ha! Who doesn’t dream of that at one time or another?
This new writing project turned out to be a tremendous way to pass away the hours while at the same time provide a means with which to lift my spirits from a deep depression. I could actually accomplish something after all, I thought. I had already been given an idea of what to write about because of my recent trip to Alaska. My husband at the time had talked me into a six week trek to The Last Frontier where we had built a cabin in the wilderness–all on a shoestring budget. And on that trip it just so happened that I had been on what I felt like to me to be a most terrifying, maddening yet unforgettably beautiful experience.
Once it was all said and done I felt lucky to have lived through it all. Every time I shared my account of this wild excursion, listeners would first be intrigued, then saddened, before becoming distressed and finally overcome with laughter–all within a short span of five minutes. Great fodder for a story, right? Although this traumatic experience hadn’t seemed funny to me, more times than not I heard the remark, “You really should write a book.” Putting two and two together I decided that I would figure out how to accomplish this goal. Between the head injury and encouragement of the people I ran into, I decided I should put my story on paper. And over the course of 16 months, that is what I did!
Q. You have had great success publishing your book on Kindle, and getting many favorable reviews. Congratulations! What tips do you have for other authors considering self-publishing?
My first advice is: refuse to be intimidated by all the unfamiliar jargon of the publishing industry. Personally, if I had been given a quiz on the definitions of a publisher, a copyright, or a literary agent before I started this process I would have politely declined to make any guesses. But the more I read up on it, the act of publishing is much like any new job you might start; there is a particular language used within the company and in order to be successful, you need to learn it.
Of course now I understand that a publisher is not a huge company with an fancy desk or a plush office. A publisher is merely an organizer who finances the project. This is someone who oversees the editing and cover design and who also has the ultimate responsibility of responding to everything from customer complaints to glowing reviews. Think of it this way: if you were to divide yourself into three parts–the first segment of your being would be the writer. Without a writer you don’t need the other two–so put your heart and soul into the project. The second section is the proof reader/editor, and the third entity, who silently oversees this project all along but is only called upon to show its face near the end of the project, is the promotional or marketing manager. For the last role it would help if you had the ability to mentally step outside of your body in order to effectively write about ‘the writer’ in third person, as if you have never met yourself before. For instance, I would say something like, “Author/Publisher Tammy Jones Harding is not an expert on the subject of publishing with Kindle, however, due to her extensive personal experiences, she understands the frustrations of getting started so she will be happy to answer any questions you may have.”
Q . You live in a more isolated part of Alaska, with intermittent internet and phone access and few book stores or radio stations. Are their links, sites, and other tools you have used to promote your book while living the rural life?
Looking back at all the attempts I’ve made to promote my book, by far the best decision was when I agreed to sell my book exclusively on Amazon. Using their program you are given five free promotional days each quarter. There is probably a strategy on how and when it’s best to offer the freebies but no matter when I’ve chosen to offer my book on the free promotion, I always see a dramatic increase in sales. The amazing thing about Kindle is that it is worldwide. I can’t say enough good about how well it has worked. In comparison to printing and marketing hard copies of my title, Kindle is a breeze. Setting up an Amazon Sellers account can be done at a minimal cost and in very little time your book can be uploaded for readers. With Kindle you have no orders to monitor, no shipping timelines, no damaged goods. There is zero overhead.
Also, writers should enter contests. I entered that Independent Publisher Book Awards contest last year
Q. Do you have plans to write another book in the future?
Yes, I am working on a sequel.
Thank you Tammy for the great advice on publishing, and for sharing about your book.
Readers, are you Interested in reading Tammy’s book? Her link on Amazon is
Readers and Writers, are you thinking about self-publishing your story now? A new resource to help you sift through the pros and cons of self-publishing is Rachelle Gardner’s How Do I Decide. In it, you’ll hear from established traditionally published authors who’ve chosen to self-publish now, and self-published authors who now prefer working with traditional publishers.