Sharing Your Story And Legacy Through Self-publishing

The Black community has turned to self-publishing in their droves to share their story or professional expertise.  Keep The Faith spoke to two Christian women who specialise in supporting writers on their writing and self-publishing journey

Marcia M. Spence is CEO of Marcia M Publishing House Ltd. A former business coach, Marcia started her company eight years ago after publishing her memoirs. To date, Marcia, who also describes herself as a fibromyalgia warrior, has self-published 200 books.

KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): What inspired you to start Marcia M Publishing House?
MARCIA M SPENCE (MMS): I self-published my memoirs, Geraldine’s Pearl, in 2016. The book charted episodes in my life from before my birth up to the age of 48. I promoted my journey on social media and radio every step along the way. I was then inundated with requests from other writers to help them to publish, promote and launch their books. It was then I recognised there was a gap in the industry to facilitate the publishing of the life stories of everyday people, and this became my mission.

KTF: Why do you think the Black community and members of the faith community have embraced self-publishing?
MMS: My authors tell me it is important to work with publishers and editors who they relate to culturally. There is a strong desire to maintain the author’s voice and style of writing. In addition to these factors, the prospects for gaining a publishing deal from a traditional publisher are low and limited. Self-publishing can empower any writer to achieve their publishing goals and raise their profile. I also believe Black people are becoming more aware of the importance of recording their history and creating legacy.

KTF: Storytelling plays an important role in our lives. Why is it important for people to share their story or expertise in a book?
MMS: A published author is a person, who has the focus, resilience and drive to write a manuscript and work through the editorial and design processes to ultimately publish their work. Books are a symbol of importance and authority. Sharing one’s life story through a memoir or autobiography enables the author to examine their lives. It is a hugely transformative process for the author, whose stories create written history and a legacy for families and communities.

KTF: How many books have you helped people self-publish, and what have been the highs and the lows of helping people publish their books? 
MMS: I have helped over 200 people to self-publish their books. The highs are when my authors call me, announcing they have received their first proof copy, or when they receive their first reviews. Low points have included working with authors who want to rush the process, and those who are unwilling to work in partnership. Thankfully these lows have been few. The saddest times are when an author dies before their work is completed and published. Overall, witnessing the transformation in the authors’ confidence and feelings of self-worth is the best reward for me.

KTF: What exciting plans do you have for your company in 2024?
MMS: I am excited about launching the traditional publishing arm to my business in March 2024, which will enable talented Black writers who are neurodivergent to write and publish their work.

KTF: What advice do you have for considering going down the route of self-publishing in 2024?
MMS: First, find a publishing service provider you can trust; do your due diligence. Ensure your work is edited and proofread; this editorial work is crucial. Don’t be afraid of feedback. Try not to cut corners with the design. Be prepared to market and promote your book. Finally, do it; your younger and older self will be grateful.

Visit www.marciampublishing.com

Tarnya Coley founded TC Publishing five years ago. A former lecturer, she’s also a mentor, coach, international speaker and author of four books. She runs Authors Lab, which seeks to help individuals to write their book in 90 days.

Keep The Faith (KTF): What inspired you to set up your own self-publishing company?
TARNYA COLEY (TC): Embarking on my self-publishing journey, I was enlightened by the vast potential it held – not just for me, but for countless others yearning to share their stories with the world. At the time I had self-published three of my own books. Individuals started to approach me, seeking guidance to help them make their dream come true, and that’s when I recognised a greater purpose. This realisation culminated in the inception of TC Publishing, a beacon for aspiring authors to turn their dreams into reality.

KTF: Once upon a time, self-publishing was called ‘vanity publishing’ and was looked down on. That isn’t the case now. What brought about that shift?
TC: Historically, self-publishing equated to ‘vanity publishing’, and was notorious for charging authors without intending to sell their work. The perception evolved due to 1) success stories of self-published authors; 2) increased transparency, distinguishing genuine self-publishing from exploitative vanity presses; and 3) growing acceptance of self-publishing as a legitimate alternative, chosen by many for creative control and profitability.

The collective effect of these changes transformed the landscape, leading to a more positive reception of self-publishing in today’s literary world.

KTF: The Black community and members of the faith community have embraced self-publishing. Why do you think this is?
TC: Traditional publishing has often overlooked Black voices, leading many in the Black and faith communities to embrace self-publishing. Self-publishing empowers religious leaders to disseminate vital information and offers Black people and faith communities a powerful tool for self-expression, community-building, and empowerment.

KTF: Why do you think it’s important for people to share their story or their expertise in a book?
TC: Sharing your story or expertise in a book format has importance for several reasons: it enables individuals to leave a legacy; share their expertise; potentially reach a global audience; share stories and knowledge; and, lastly, empower, as sharing stories and experiences can be therapeutic and even inspire readers going through similar experiences.

KTF: How many books have you helped people self-publish, and what have been the highs and the lows of helping people publish their books?
TC: To date, I’ve published 31 books. The journey has been filled with various highs and lows. The highs include seeing authors realise their dreams of becoming published writers; receiving gratitude from authors, who have benefited from the guidance; and seeing their work positively impact readers is truly rewarding. The lows include the technical issues that can arise, and the fact that with the rise of self-publishing, the market can be oversaturated, making it challenging for some authors to find their target audience.

KTF: What exciting plans do you have for TC Publishing in 2024?
TC: We’re embarking on a mission to empower coaches, by assisting them in encapsulating their expertise into books. Furthermore, we’re expanding our horizon by introducing innovative online book courses, making them accessible to aspiring authors globally. Our goal is to bridge the gap between knowledge and those eager to learn, no matter where they are in the world.

KTF: What advice do you have for considering going down the self-publishing route in 2024?
TC: Here are my recommendations:

  • Invest in professional editing to ensure your book is polished.
  • Consider hiring a professional designer to make your book stand out.
  • Invest in a professional formatter.
  • Define your target audience. Knowing who you’re writing for can guide your content and marketing strategy.
  • Have a marketing plan in place before you publish.

Every author faces challenges, but persistence and resilience are key to overcoming hurdles and achieving success. With the right approach, resources and mindset, you can successfully share your story or expertise with the world.

Visit www.ibelieveican.co.uk/tc-publishing/

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