Writers@Work: An Interview with Indie Published Author Paul Wellington
April 30, 2019
Note From Rochelle
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Today I’m delighted to welcome author Paul Wellington to the blog to talk about his brand new book, Black Built: History and Architecture in the Black Community.
Writers@Work: An Interview with Author Paul Wellington
by Rochelle Melander
I met Paul Wellington several years ago through my work at the library. When I heard he had written and published a book, I wanted to know more. When I saw how well researched and beautiful his book was, I knew I needed to interview him for the blog. Many of us have ideas for books but do not take the time to follow through and write and publish them. I’m impressed that Paul did both. Read on to learn how.
Can you tell us about your new book, Black Built?
Black Built: History and Architecture in the Black Community discusses the work of Black architects across the United States, and their impact within the Black community. The book discusses over 40 works from the 19th century to present, ranging from gentrified urban neighborhoods, to iconic displays of Black wealth, to the preservation of African American history.
Though architecture is often not associated with Black Culture, it is an integral aspect in defining a community and requires careful consideration of design, context, and resident relationships. Black Built serves as an introduction to the remarkable history of Black architects, through the lense of their extraordinary projects.
What inspired you to write the book?
I completed an undergraduate and graduate program in architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While I learned a lot about the history of architecture I did not learn about any African American architects. This is not surprising, considering only 2% of American architects identify as African American. Only through personal research did I learn about their impact in the profession.
Near the end of my graduate program I developed the idea of writing a book to showcase the work of Black architects. I, however, did not take the idea seriously for a couple of years due to other commitments.
You work full time and have a family—how did you find time to research and write your book? Any advice for writers?
Finding time to write can be difficult! By writing and researching a few hours a day (always at night), 3-4 times a week, I was able to complete my book in about 16 months. It also helps that I have a supportive spouse who sometimes handles more than her fair share of our young daughter.
Black Built uses a lot of photos, a third of which I took myself. In order to save time and money, my wife and I planned several vacations to cities that were home to works discussed in my book. Sometimes it’s much cheaper to travel and take your own photos than to pay for the rights of others.
You’ve indie published your book. Can you talk about some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
From my experience the most difficult part of self publishing is selling my book. Though I do have a blog and social media, I don’t have a large following. It does help that I work in a library and that I know people in the architectural profession, however I have a long way to go to further increase sales.
While Black Built is indie published I did contact several publishers for consideration. I didn’t have a strong desire to pursue traditional publishing, leading to self-publication of my book after a few rejections. If you have a desire to be traditionally published don’t give up after several failed attempts! Many popular authors have had their books rejected dozens of times. The best thing to do is seek feedback and incorporate suggestions into your work, while staying true to your manuscript.
It’s also important to hire a really good editor and cover designer, as the book’s first impression can make or break your sales.
What are you reading now?
I recently completed Taylor Adams’ No Exit for my book club. The thriller details a college student who discovers a kidnapped child, and her brave fight to save both their lives. The setting is a snowy Colorado rest stop, leaving the entire cast bound to the building. The next title for my book club will be another thriller, Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine.
About the author. Paul Wellington holds a Master’s in Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Though he is not currently employed in the architecture profession he enjoys visiting and exploring new and historic architecture projects.
Paul has a wife and young daughter and enjoys his job as a public library supervisor. In his spare time he enjoys designing with LEGO and runs the blog ArchBrick Daily.