July 21, 2020
Note From Rochelle
Today I’m delighted to offer you an interview with my critique colleague, Deanna Singh. She’s just released the deeply personal and moving picture book, Cloth Crown. Read on to learn why and how she did it!
And don’t forget to check out the blog on Fridays for a #WritersRecommend post! https://writenowcoach.com/blog/
Writers@Work: Tips for Self-Publishing a Picture Book
An Interview with Deanna Singh
Can you tell us about your new book, Cloth Crown?
The book Cloth Crown is about a child teased so much about wearing a patka (a head covering mostly worn by Sikh boys) that he wants to cut his hair. Faced with this reality, his father shares his own story of dealing with bullies and explains to his son why he decided not to cut his hair as a child. Cloth Crown is an endearing and educational story about turbans, culture, and identity. I wrote it to honor the men in my life who proudly choose to continue wearing turbans.
What did you learn about indie publishing a picture book that might help future authors and illustrators?
There are three things that I think are most important. First, the process can be as straightforward or as complicated as you want it to be. When I first started looking into doing this, I was overwhelmed by how many things there are to choose from. But one of the most important exercises I did was determine what was important to me and then stay focused there, instead of being distracted by all that could be.
Second, I told a story that means something to me. It was much easier to push through when there were challenges because this story is one that I wanted to share. And third, don’t sacrifice quality. My book is professionally edited, the artwork is by real artists, and the layout is professionally designed. Even though I was self-publishing, I wanted to make sure the end product was something I would be proud of. It is often tempting to go with a cheaper and faster route-but never do that if it will jeopardize the final result.
What has been your best marketing tool for your books?
The number one marketing tool for the books has been people who are also passionate about showcasing stories that feature children of color. I have been delighted by the relationships and connections that came through this shared passion. I also realized early on that since my main objective was to get the books in the hands of young people, and not revenue, that being generous with the books has also yielded a lot of positive outpouring. I have made it a point to try to gift the book to individuals and organizations that I know could benefit from the work. In turn, the people have, even though I have not asked them for anything in return, become raving fans and have been major supporters in turning large book sales.
How are you managing to write in the midst of all that is going on in the world—and raising your boys!
The books have been a place of healing for my family and me. A lot is going on in the world that is heartbreaking. However, by sharing the books, we have been able to spread a sense of joy and spark conversations about what could be. The fact that the children are a part of the company—they are the co-chairman—makes it special for all of us. They feel empowered because they know that they are responsible for determining where our proceeds from book sales will go. They take the job seriously.
What are you reading now?
I am reading Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement. I try during the summertime to always read about ten books written by women of color. It is one of my favorite annual goals!
About the author. Deanna Singh is a highly respected thought leader, who has spent almost 20 years researching, designing, and building asset-based solutions to complex social and business challenges. Today, she travels the world inspiring and educating audiences through poignant storytelling. Her interactive presentation style combines personal stories with authenticity, enthusiasm, vulnerability, and humor as she takes the audience on a memorable journey of self-discovery. As an expert storyteller and social entrepreneur, Singh is obsessed with making the world a better, happier place. During her presentations, Singh inspires others to build or break systems to create positive change. Visit her online at https://www.deannasingh.com/