Winsome Interview – Part Two

Winsome and IIf you’re an aspiring author, book publisher, creative or budding entrepreneur – you will find valuable tips in my interview with Winsome Duncanan award-winning author, entrepreneur, and poet with over a decade of experience in the book industry.  

Part two stands on its own, however, to gain additional insights please READ PART ONE too. Here, the conversation about writing, self-publishing and creative entrepreneurship continues.

M: Do you think that a writer can be just a writer (these days), or must we learn marketing, business skills, etc.?

W: You can be just a writer and outsource marketing, business tasks, cover designs, etc. but then if a writer is interested in the business they should learn the trade. I went into self-publishing because companies like Random House weren’t taking me on. I’ve got a collage of rejection letters. One day, I’m going to find them again and put them online…

M: Why did you call your publishing company Peaches Publications?

W: …I called it Peaches Publications because life is peachy and sweet. What I mean by that is that you woke up this morning and you’re still alive, you’re not in a hospital bed. This should be reason enough to give thanks. That’s why life is just like a peach (sweet).

M: What do You (Peaches Publications) do?

W: We provide ghost-writingnot everyone is a natural writer. I believe that everybody can write a book, but whether it would be of good quality or not that’s another matter. Ghost-writing helps to smooth the book out. It helps to give it a voice, direction and a narrative that is readable and consistent rather than disjointed.

M: But still true to their story? 

W: Yes, still true to the story, but embellished – descriptions added and so on and so forth. We have quite a few ghost-written books.

We also edit, proof-read, provide critical evaluation. Then, we have marketing and PR (outsourced). We give advice on copyright and do frameworks for people to start on their journey… Many people just need some direction and then, off they go. Finally, we have our special 24-hour formula which helps you get your book written in 24 hours…

M: Just to clarify – we are talking about that first draft – not about a manuscript being ready for publishing (in 24 hours)?

W: The first draft, yes… It can be done. It all depends on how dedicated you are… 

I also work with people who have their books out already, but they need a publisher to help them take things to the next level. Writing a book is therapeutic and cathartic, but the whole idea is to at least recoup the money you spent on it. The average lifetime of a book, in terms of how well it sells, is about 300 copies. Getting to a thousand, two thousand, and more – that’s the challenge.

M: What must a self-published author, supported by Peaches Publications, do to become successful?

W: The contract says what they should do i.e. the homework that I give them; make time for meetings and video calls on Skype… Sometimes, clients come and say, “here’s my book – it’s finished” and I’m like “has it got a contents page, etc.?” The nature of self-publishing is such that people don’t know a lot about the journey, so it’s also my job to teach them and tell them…

It’s now reflected in the agreement that there will be some work for you to do. We need to decide what the book covers will be (with us). You have to fill out the table of contents. Some people include a foreword, some people don’t. It really does depend, but writers must do the work and that can be challenging sometimes.

In the past, we had a twelve week turn around, but now we don’t have strict deadlines because the nature of self-publishing can be slow, and people’s lives get busy. We recommend a deadline and it can be met if writers do what’s requested, but it’s just a recommendation – it can take anywhere from six to twelve months.

M: What do you believe is a good motive to write?

W: When you have a desire in your soul that just won’t leave you. I worked with one woman who had 21 years of poetry in her that had only been written on bits of paper, email, etc. … She cried at her launch. Imagine that, her book was trapped for 21 years! She came, a year ago, to our book publishing workshop…

M: What genres do you work in?

W: The genres we work in are Christian gospel, inspiration and motivation, short stories and autobiographies…

M: What other projects do you want people to know about?

W: Well, I’ve got a sitcom “Keeping up with the Brokers” – we’ll be doing some more work around that this year. It’s on YouTube and Facebook. We want to begin telling a story about a family who go through struggles and hardship, but still through love they survive…

I do want to work with Anthony Joshua (the boxer) … I think his is such an inspirational story. I’d like to at least be a consultant on his story if not the publisher of one of his books. I’ve researched him, and I don’t think there’s a book out there yet…

M: Oh, you research people that you’d like to work with without knowing whether or not they want to publish a book?

W: Yes, I do…

M: So, now, you’re just visualizing?

W: Yes, actually I should put him on my vision board… I should…

M: You’ve done projects with BBC, Eddie Nestor played in your film. You were trained by Les Brown and Andy Harrington, and you’ve received some recognition over the years. It’s interesting to know that you still have the humility to continue learning from people who know more than you.

W: Yes! I will always maintain that even if I am at the top of my game or what’s perceived to be the top of my game. I’m always evaluating myself… I will always have someone mentoring and life-coaching me because I don’t ever want to stop learning. Even Oprah has got mentors, and she’s a billionaire. She’s also on my vision board…

M: What’s your family background? Did they teach you to strive?

W: My parents are from the working-class background. My dad was a hard-working guy and my mum was a house-wife. I learned poverty consciousness from my mum. It was hard at the beginning to ask for money. At the beginning, as an artist, I did stuff for free… My first paid show as Lyrical Healer was at the Soul Food in 2003. I got £50 to stand on the stage for 10 minutes and do poetry… There, a connection was formed, in terms of how I could use my skills, gifts and arts to make money.

My dad is a hard worker who believes in 9 – 5. We argue quite a bit about this because I’m a creative entrepreneur and he keeps telling me to get “a proper job” … I guess he wants stability for me because as you know the nature of self-employment can be up and down. Your clients pay you when they pay you, but it looks like we’re coming into demand… and I know what the direction given to me is…

M: What is your best piece of advice for writers?

W: The first tip is in the title of my workbook – JUST WRITE ITBelieve that you can do it. Go get a nice A4 notebook, a pen and start writing… Let it come out purely – don’t edit the piece as you go along, let the pen just flow (at this stage).

My final piece of advice isif you feel like giving up, rest but keep going – don’t give up! I’ve seen many poets come and go off the stage. They say, “I’m a poet, or a this and a that” and then they disappear into the night! So, if you feel like giving up – rest but keep going. Don’t give up. Stay focused!

M: Is that the advice you’d give to aspiring entrepreneurs and/or to people who want to succeed in business too?

W: Yes, because you’ve got to want to stay in it. I have been in this creative stuff for 19 years. You’ve got to really want it to the extent where you can’t see yourself doing anything else other than what it is you are doing… I want to thank my team. I’m just one person, so I appreciate their support and what they do…

Don’t give up your passion… even if you must get a part time job or a full-time job. Even if you have to leave a full-time job and start from nothing.

Fulfill what’s in your heart. Whatever God has given you to do I urge you to do it!

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Monika Ribeiro (writer/poet)

I write because I have to & love to… Writing helps me organize thoughts, understand life & address vital matters in a constructive way. I hope this blog satisfies your intellect & your soul at the same. Be inspired...

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