Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TAKE TEN: Author Cheryl Pillsbury

Author and Publisher Cheryl Pillsbury has been a friend of the Conversations Brand and more specifically The Write Stuff Literacy Campaign for over a year. What she has accomplished as a wife, mother, author and publisher is a testament to what can be done with hard work and the desire to make a difference.

In this interview she shares what caused her to start her publishing company AG Press, what she hopes it does for aspiring writers, how she is surviving inspite of the tough economic times and what's next for her.

Here is our conversation:

What got you interest in books?
My mother made sure we had all worlds growing up. School, television, outside playing and reading.

Did you always think you would be a published writer?
No, I studied Engineering and Computer Design; I have an Associate Degree in the subject. Writing and publishing found me and the rest is history. I love telling stories.

What titles have you currently released yourself?
Several. Angus Grady, The Beginning, Amie and The Purple Butterfly, Bradley & Farley; 33rd District Case Files One & Two, Peleport, and more coming.

Tell us about AG Press. What made you decide to form your own publishing company?
I published my first book in May of 2005 with a traditional publisher. BIG MISTAKE. They never edited my book, didn’t create the cover I wanted and did nothing in the marketing department, plus the cost of the book was way too high. I published book 2 with a POD and they didn’t edit, I supplied the cover. They never marketed it and hidden fees on my own book. I got angry knowing what they were doing to me but mostly others, so I developed a simple POD, with prices reasonable and things they don’t do that we do.

What separates you from some of the other independent publishers out there?
One, we truly care what the author wants for their dream. We have them work one on one with their team to create the book or project they want. We fully market each book every day as well the author showing off their project. They talk to people as well as emails.

How many authors have you currently published?
We have had the honor of working with 20 authors releasing their dreams and new dreamers come in about 2 a month or so.

What is your greatest reward as a writer and publisher?
Money is very important to pay bills, food and whatever else. As a writer, for me, when a person comes to me and says 'great story', they tell me what they experience and ask if there will be more.
As a publisher, it's hearing and seeing the smiles of dreamer's dreams coming true and they become storytellers. My payment is 2 words: THANK YOU.

What do you think is the greatest misconceptions of the publishing business?
Authors do pay us for their books, but that pays for the supplies, printing, ink, etc. But working as a team with them to advertise and display their dream for everyone to enjoy, no price for that. Most publishers see the dollar signs. I see and hear a dream of a story that is aching to be told and shared. The others don’t see that or can’t.

Everyone is dealing with challenges now because of the economy. What advice would you give to aspiring writers as to why they should still pursue their dreams inspite of the hard times?
The recession/depression hit us hard and we’re still trying to climb out. We seem to be still here, and plus I am not a quitter.
Be kind and work together as a team. Some things may run slow, but never surrender your dream. You may be the one to inspire someone, give smiles to a child that’s sad, etc. Dreams should never fade, but given a boost of energy. Work with the publisher to help.

AG Press has 3 payment plans because of this, assist the writer to finish their dream and someday they will remember you and return, also tell friends that want to do the same. Many of our authors are returning with new books, bigger and better, including myself.

Cheryl, what’s next for you?
Finish my vampire books for releasing, plus other books. I am writing a romance novel with a close friend and we’ll have that next year and publish new dreams for others.

AG Press has joined the cause for Desert Swap to support our troops. Authors can go to www.operationdesertswap.webs.com join in on the cause and you will be assigned a soldier to write to and send books to them to read and share with the others.
Also, Tuck-In with Sprout Online, for children who need pajamas and they receive a children’s book for bedtime. Wonderful cause and a personal one for me.
Organizations that support Autism is also a priority of mine. My daughter is Autistic. It is now 1 in 91 and growing very fast. My book, ‘Amie and the Purple Butterfly,’ and the series is a fundraiser book for research and programs for Autism.

It's been great getting to know you over the past year, Cheryl. Continued success to you and your organization. How can readers find out more about you and AG Press?
The website for AG Press is www.agpress.8m.net. It has all of our information, but if they need more I can always be reached at 978-300-5178.

TAKE TEN: Author G-Starr

When it comes to being open and honest with self and growing into your own skin, there are few examples as pure as author G-Starr of Urban L Publishing. Cyrus Webb of the Conversations brand was introduced to the talented author/co-owner of Urban L through Dawn Michelle of Dream Relations, Inc., and it led to the reading of her debut novel PULLING ME BACK. What we found through the book and the author is a woman who knows how to tell a story and get her point across in a way that everyone could understand and appreciate.

In October 2009 G-Starr appeared on Conversations LIVE! Radio and shared her story with the world ( see http://tobtr.com/s/746628 ). In November 2009 it was announced that her book PULLING ME BACK was chosen as one of Conversations Book Club's Top 100 Books of 2009. One read and you will see that this author and her savy business sense aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Here is our conversation:


Thank you, GStarr, for talking with us. You are involved in a lot of new endeavors including not just a debut novel but a publishing company as well. Is this a world you saw for yourself growing up?

I didn't see myself as a publisher back then, but YES, I always said I was going to write a book in my lifetime.

When did you realize that you had a love affair with words?

It sucks to say this but I knew I had a way with words when I realized I got people to believe anything I said…when I was tween, I was good at not telling the truth.

The book PULLING ME BACK chronicles the challenges that many people face when it comes to sexuality and how people deal with relationships in general. I guess the obvious question would be to ask how much of the characters can you identify with?

Honestly, all the characters are pieces of my personality. For instance Kenya is the "homegirl" in me. The one you can talk to when you're feeling down. Bre is the vulnerable woman in me and Sean is the "jerk" side of me. Sometimes I can be unkind; it's a flaw… we all have it. All the characters make up most of who I am.

Talking about sexuality, even though in entertainment gay and lesbian themes seem more acceptable, that is not always the case when it comes to real life, especially in the black community. What do you hope books like yours do to encourage dialog about the subject of same-gender-loving individuals?

My main objective is that readers will understand that same sex relationships are the same as heterosexual ones. We get cheated on, fall in and out of love and we want to start a family like anyone else.

Tell our readers about the storyline of the book.

Pulling Me Back is about two female friends who discover intimate love in the midst of their own personal issues of live. Beginning a lesbian affair, each women is risking the fate of their friendships, family acceptance and careers—if and when outed. In the end they will discover if they ruined a perfectly good friendship or found true love.

One of the things I got from the book personally is how on the surface it would appear that the message is that all relationships---whether they are gay or straight---come with their highs and lows. Was that something you wanted to convey?

Absolutely, but I also wanted to touch the subject of friends becoming lovers. Many friends have crossed that line or thought about it. Pulling Me Back shows one of many possible outcomes.

Put on your publishing hat for a moment. Do you think there is a larger market for books like PULLING ME BACK outside of the gay community and how are you going about reaching them?

Pulling Me Back does not only focus on gay relationships. It also touches issues that some families have, married couples, problems at work, and money issues, anyone can relate to this book— gay or straight. I'm promoting my book to avid book readers of urban, contemporary and chick-lit. If you love relationship drama type novels you will enjoy my book.

Has it been difficult for you, GStarr to balance the marketing and promoting of the book and your love of just the craft of writing?

I feel its one of the most difficult parts. Aside from being a full time mom, I'm also trying to establish a successful business and on top of that complete my next novel. Marketing and promoting requires a huge amount of attention and not just anyone can promote your work. You need someone who is as passionate about your work as you. They have to know the business as well.  Finding that person is rare. Sometimes you have to wear four hats to get the ball rolling.

What advice would you give for others who are taking their writing careers into their own hands like you did?

If you are looking for instant gratification, then you should choose a different route. This business requires a lot of patience and knowledge of the field. You will definitely put out money before you reap the benefits of self-publishing.

Thank you for your time and continued success to you. Let our readers know where they can keep up with you and your company on line.

Thank you for this opportunity. All upcoming events and new releases can be viewed on my website www.UrbanLPublishing.com and follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/urbanlpublish.