Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Tenacity Interviews - Laura Davis

After a thirty years as a singer, a medical emergency damaged Laura's vocal chords and she was no longer able to make a living with her voice. She turned to God, and, in time she found a new outlet for her creative expressions. Not only did she write a book, but Laura Davis chose a publishing route that takes all kinds of tenacity: self publishing. Here is your dose of self-publishing tenacity for the week!

1) You knew self-publishing was the way for you to go. In fact, you’ve never submitted your work to a traditional publisher.
Yes, that’s true. When I first started to write my book, it was more out of a desire to please the Lord. You see, when I began praying on what He wanted me to do, (after I lost my voice), the urge to write was so overwhelming, I could not ignore it. I knew the Lord was behind the urge and I knew that He was behind the story. However, as far as what I was to do with it after it was written – I was clueless! I started to get nervous when I felt Him telling me to publish the book, so I assumed it was meant just for family and friends. I’ve since learned NEVER to assume where the Lord is concerned! He had everything planned from the moment I put my hands on the keyboard. I know that it sounds so cliché; I mean what writer doesn’t believe that God had a hand in their creation? But in my case, I truly believe that, because I never set out to be a writer, I never intended to even publish what I wrote, but again – God had other plans.

2) Tell us about your book
Come to Me is about the life of Christ through the eyes of His mother. It begins eleven years after Jesus’ resurrection and his mother Mary is waiting for a visit from the Apostle Luke. Intent on hearing a personal account of Jesus’ life, Luke sets about recording Mary’s words. The Apostle Matthew soon joins them and the two men begin to record the foundations of their Gospels. Told in two parts, Mary reveals what it was like to raise the Saviour of the world. She shares stories of his birth and childhood and we begin to see the human part of Jesus. What was his relationship like with His brothers and sisters? Did he spend time with his cousin John the Baptist when he was younger? The humanity of Jesus is explored, but also his divinity. Did Jesus perform miracles when He was a child? Did He know He was the Son of God? These questions kept popping up when I was writing and so I tried to address them in the book.
In part two, Mary is nearing the end of her life and meeting with Luke once more. Only this time Luke is accompanying her to Ephesus to spend her final days with the Apostle John. Mary begins to share her story once again, this time focusing on the ministry of Jesus, His relationships with His disciples, and of course His death and resurrection. As much as possible I stuck close to scripture, but I did take some creative license when needed. As the story developed, I noticed that a theme was developing and that was on surrendering to God during difficult circumstances.

3) Tell us about the role your tenacity played in getting your book to print.
Every little detail seemed to come from above on this one. It took three years of editing and rewrites before I felt it was suitable for publication. I couldn’t decide on a title and over the course of several days, I would hear the same scripture from different sources (Come to me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest…). The words Come to Me seemed to jump out at me daily. Then one day, I received a Christian cd sampler in the mail, with one song on it. The name of that song? … Come to Me! So I knew what the title was, but what about the cover? I had in my mind what I wanted it to look like. Since the story is about the life of Christ, the cover needed to represent his birth and the reason why He came. I searched for photographers on the internet and met a wonderful Christian gentleman by the name of Gino Santa Maria. He liked my idea (of a manger with a crown of thorns in it), he took several beautiful pictures that brought me to tears, and he then gave them to me free! My daughter who is a freelance illustrator did the cover design and since she had just published her own book with Lulu, I went with them as my publisher. I did look at several other options, but my problem with a lot of the other Print On-Demand places was money and my lack of it! With Lulu, I did not have to purchase a set amount of books and the initial startup was less than two-hundred dollars, which included distribution, ISBN # and marketing.

4) Is tenacity something you learned along the way? Or does it come naturally to you?
I think tenacity, at least in my case, has everything to do with surrendering to God’s will over every aspect of my life. I have had many struggles in my life, from botched surgeries and falling down a flight of stairs (the same year, resulting in permanent damage to my legs and hips), to numerous other health problems, but I always remember and repeat often to myself, that “This too shall pass.” Along, with my life verse from Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” So, tenacity comes naturally to me. I am not inclined to give up when a few “inconveniences” come my way. I just wait on the Lord to see where I went wrong (which is usually the case, because I wasn’t listening), or I plunge right in to a God-sized task, knowing that He is controlling everything and I just have to trust Him for the outcome.

5) Has your dream changed over the years?
Well, since I always thought that I would be singing, I’d definitely say yes! I’m still holding out hope that the Lord will return my voice to me one day, but in the meantime, I will continue to write until He tells me to stop.

6) What were the three biggest obstacles you encountered on the road to being published?
My lack of belief in myself was my biggest obstacle. I was always sure of myself as a singer, but writing was foreign to me. So, it helped when I had wonderful friends who encouraged and supported me. My lack of knowledge with the publishing industry was my next obstacle. Frankly, it scared me to death! There were so many requirements to submitting a story to a publisher (i.e. agents, query letters, proposals, synopsis, etc.), that most of them frightened me away. Here, I clearly did not trust God and went the easy route of self-publishing, which I admit I probably won’t do again. My third obstacle was money – I had none, so promoting my book after it went into print became rather tricky.

7) What advice do you have for someone who is considering self-publishing?
Design a marketing plan and set up a budget or you could spend more than is necessary. Don’t rush your book into print without proper editing and make sure your cover looks professional. Pass your manuscript onto people you trust to give you an honest opinion. You don’t want to go into print and spend a fortune on something that no one would buy. You are not just the author of the book you are the publisher, so start thinking like one! Set up an online presence for yourself. Create your own website. Invest in bookmarks to give away at book signings. Above all, keep your books with you when you are out and about (I keep a box in my car), because you never know when the opportunities will arise when someone might want to purchase one.

You can visit Laura Davis at http://www.authorlauradavis.com
Self-publishing is big business - my advise is if you honestly desire to self-publish proceed with extreme caution and be aware of how much money you truly have to put into the project. Hire a reputable editor to work with your book before going to press. Also, count the cost of travel to promote the book and venues that will allow you to showcase your book. Lastly, be realistic about your expectations of how many copies you will be able to sell on your own. That way you won't end up with a garage full of expensive but homeless books.

I bid you good writing.

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