Meet Winsome Duncan – an award-winning author, entrepreneur, poet and more with over a decade of experience in the book writing industry. Her work has been featured on BBC iPlayer, SKY and BBC London radio. Winsome is a bestselling author and founder of Peaches Publications – their motto: “We Publish Books”. Her books have received national press and media coverage, and they have been endorsed by former Minister of Justice Sir Simon Hughes.
Having said all that, I want you to know that Winsome is a kind, humble person and a dedicated friend who cares about others. Her successes are inspiring because she managed to overcome difficulties like dyslexia or poverty consciousness. If you are a writer, an aspiring author, book publisher, a creative or budding entrepreneur – you will find valuable tips and information here. Please stay tuned if you love stories and mean business…
Let’s get to it:
M: Winsome, you have done so many things… How would you describe yourself in 2018?
W: “As a writer and book publisher. This year is definitely about writing and the next year and the year to come…”
M: I was first introduced to you as a poet? Do you still perform?
W: “As a poet my name is Lyrical Healer. Poetry is my first love. I’m also a singer although there are better singers than me out there. I stepped away from the poetry 4-5 years ago because I wasn’t making enough money; but last year I decided that this decade I wanted to leave my voice signature… to inspire. I actually have an EP coming out this year. Nobody knows about it – until now. It is called “Get up” and I’m working with 33 Chronicles, Kenny McKay, Adante from Birmingham and Joseph Junior.
M: Fantastic! I can’t wait to hear it and thank you for the exclusive. You’re a speaker, writer, book publisher, sitcom writer and so much more. How do you pick what you do at any point in time? Is it intuition, a solid business plan – what guides you?
W: “I go with my heart. I’m sensitive and a creative which means that I feel things on a different level. I’m an empath to people’s stories and experiences. Sometimes, I choose for business. I’m quite focused when it comes to that, but most times I just want to do what makes me happy. And what makes me happy is being creative – whether it’s writing a book, helping someone write a book or setup their business… I’m an ideas generator – I can think ideas all day long. Practical things I struggle with and because I’m dyslexic, but it’s all a learning curve, isn’t it?”
M: I’ve experienced some of these challenges. How do you stay focused? We know that focus is a must if you’re going to finish a project without getting distracted or delayed by new ideas.
W: “I think it’s important to complete the work that you start. I’ve got nine books under my belt, and you’ve got to be focused to do that. I’m so used to staying focused that I don’t really think about it, but the main thing that I do is a ‘things to do list’. I plan out everything and tick tasks off as I go along. If there’s too many things, I narrow it down and action what’s left… I’m a bit workaholic and I work funny (night) hours. I stay focused trying to fit my schedule into my personality and my life. I think you really need to be driven and believe in yourself and your destination to complete projects. If you don’t you won’t get there.”
M: You work with writers and budding authors. What skills or character traits does one need to get from page one to the last page of a book?
W: “Bwoy, these are some good questions. They’ll need faith and belief. Also, many of the writers I work with initially feel quite overwhelmed. Once they get the gist of it – once we map out the contents page, the chapters, the titles, the subheadings – it becomes real. It’s getting them from thinking of the book in their head and putting it out on paper. And once they can do that they flourish…”
M: So you simplify the process for them?
W: “That too, but to get from page one to the end – you just have to write. You need to be dedicated and like my workbook says: “Just Write IT”. You must be committed. If you don’t have time to write – get up an hour early and do it, or get up at midnight when everyone is sleeping and do an hour there and then go back to sleep. You have to find the time – that’s how you get from page one to the end. Even if it’s just an hour or half an hour a day… You just need to keep pushing through. Be consistent.”
M: How many people have you worked with?
W: “At the moment, we’ve got twelve books out, and I’m working with another eight. An event that we did at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel raised the profile of the brand. Since then, I’ve been inundated (with requests to help people write their books). The word is getting out and it’s really good! … A woman contacted me at 5 am this morning. I was up, but that’s not the point. She’s said: ‘I want your services’…”
M: “5 am?! Is she willing to pay?” (we’re both laughing).
W: “She’d better be willing to pay. We’ll have that conversation after. That’s the thing – when I started… my first prospect was here (the restaurant where we had the interview) and because it was such a passion and I just wanted to make some extra income – I said ‘I can do all these things with your book for £300’ just because I loved doing it.”
Lyrical points at the table where she had the meeting with her first prospect, and continues:
W: “She was a nice woman. We spent two hours talking about her book, and then she didn’t buy the service… Later, I found out that she went to Author’s House. I’m glad that she told me because it helped me to know what I was doing wrong and why she didn’t buy. With the other publisher, she got a packaged deal (incl. hard book covers and copies, etc.) We added these after – it was a lesson learned.”
Here Winsome tells me how earnestly that very woman was explaining to her that she didn’t have much money just to go ahead and spend thousands of pounds with the other publisher. I’m smiling as she continues because I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt (or two).
She continues: “That experience made me realise that the service is valuable. We’re still in touch to this day. I even attended her book launch. I like people to be straight with me and the feedback was very good – after that day, my prices went up and now we offer free book copies to our clients which is what they want.”
M: I feel like many creatives and passionate people can relate. When you love what you do you can do it for free… (Winsome: ‘I’m telling you!’) and you still feel like you’re doing something. However, that can only take you so far… So, my next question is: how do you cross from there to becoming a business woman? I feel like many people, especially women, struggle with asking for money in exchange for their work (passion).
W: “Yes, they do and it’s a shame. I was one of those women – I felt not worthy, or I’d be asking myself ‘is that too much?’ I had to get support with that from my business mentor Lorna Stewart and from my life-coach as well… There’s a world of people out there – they come with a hard lack story and that’s all well and good, but… I’ve got a free 20 min consultation, so even if you don’t have any money but you want a little bit of guidance you can still speak to me… You just need to fill out a form, and that stops a lot of people… I used to have these two-hour meetings (instead of a form) and that was my time which I could never get back… “
M: Do you have mentors now?
W: “Always! I have to be around people who are ahead of me. I don’t ever think that I know everything. And if you’re serious and a person in business please have a mentor – whether you pay them or you exchange services… You need someone who’s gone before you. They must be successful at what they do…”
I feel I’ve mastered the asking for money part when I became really clear about what the issue was – and when I got really fed up of half-payments here, half-payments there. One of the things that Fiona (a mentor) got me to do this year was to create a price-list. People tend to have them in their heads, but I thought ‘I need an actual price-list, so everything becomes transparent.’ And then, I put agreements in place (this is what’s expected of you and this is what’s expected of me). Of course, there are people who want to haggle down, but I’d usually say: ‘No, we can’t do that because I’m busy.’ It is different if they’re a friend or connected to me in some way, but other than that my prices are my prices. Now, Peaches Publications want to expand, so that’s really how I deal with that and I’m quite confident now…”
M: Do you feel like being counselled was instrumental?
W: “Yes, it made me feel confident that what I do is worth it. I know a lot about what I do… I help people publish their books, and to have your book out is a great legacy to me.”
M: Especially if it’s a bestseller? (we’re laughing)
W: “If it is – it’s even better.”
Thank you for reading. Winsome and I have spent quite some time talking, and THERE IS A PART TWO. In it, once again, we are talking about writing, self-publishing, business, inspiration and more. Please click on the link to read it now…