Our latest interview is with children’s author and public speaker, Melissa Williams. In addition to writing several books and her relentless speaking schedule, she’s also the co-founder of The READ3Zero Non-Profit Literacy Foundation (www.READ3Zero.com), working within the community to conquer childhood illiteracy 30 minutes at a time. It’s exciting for TLC Graphics to be part of both her publishing efforts and working with Read3Zero. We want to thank Melissa for trusting us with her “babies” and for being such a joy to work with.

Melissa Williams, Longtail Publishing

Your name and company name

Melissa M. Williams with LongTale Publishing

Year founded/location/number of employees

2007/Houston, TX/2 on Staff and 10 work for hire

Publishing genre

Children’s Fiction

Number of titles

4 and 6 by the end of the year

Favorite and/or most successful titles

Iggy the Iguana has successfully gotten me into so many schools since 2008, so I can’t help but respect my very first book for where it has gotten me today. Right now the Turtle Town books are so fresh and new, I’d have to say The Inner Puka is the favorite on the shelf.

Upcoming releases

The third book in the Iggy Series, Crazy Days of 5th Grade,  The Little Miss Molly picture book, and the second book in the Turtle Town Series, The Green Room.

If not publishing full-time, what’s your other job?

Writing, teaching, public speaking at schools and literacy events and running the Non-Profit Literacy Foundation, READ3Zero.

What do you like best and least about being a small or independent publisher?

BEST: The freedom and flexibility to work with the people I choose and trust. I appreciate being involved in every side of the business and being able to work on my own projects as well as others from our children at Read3Zero. My personality as a visionary is fulfilled by owning my own business.

LEAST: In the past, work, passion, and pleasure had a tendency to cross paths and take up all of my time. I’ve gotten better at delegating, but it’s still hard to let go of doing it all and turning work off. Also having founded a non-profit for reading and writing has opened many doors at LongTale Publishing, but it has required much time and dedication.

What inspired you to publish your first book?

The story was so dear to my heart and childhood, I wanted to have control over it’s outcome.

What is your favorite/most successful marketing effort?

We do every marketing effort in the business, from social media to direct marketing, but my ultimate favorite marketing tactic is being in front of my readers, teachers, and parents. The actual author/speaker is the best marketing tool in my opinion, which is why I do so many public events, presentations, and book signings all year long. All authors should strive for WORD OF MOUTH to be their ultimate tool. And I don’t mean out of your own mouth on Facebook, I’m talking about real people meeting and talking to each other and spreading the word.

How do you get through road blocks — or writer’s block?

I get out of the uninspiring environment that is making my mind lazy. I research, travel, watch people, work all day at my favorite Greek coffee shop, READ books in my genre, chat with my artistic friends, sit at the beach and clear my mind, talk to kids about my ideas, and actually live life and never allow myself to get bored with my life. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s an excuse for not wanting to reach your maximum potential. Take care of your brain children by making the time for them.

One thing you wish you had known before you began publishing:

Quality will always outweigh a “good deal.” Sometimes saving money won’t cut it. Starting a publishing company and publishing a book is an investment, so invest in the best because you will spend more money trying to go back and redo what must be fixed anyway. And DON’T think you can do it all yourself. Be honest with yourself and your own expertise. In the words of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

One piece of good advice that you’ve received:

The best advice I ever got as a writer was to stop being a perfectionist while trying to be creative. You can’t expect creativity to be perfect or you will never finish the project. The project will present it’s true self after it gets thrown on paper, but it has to get out of your head first.

Please provide a piece of profound advice for a new author/publisher.

Mistakes are the best learning tools, so appreciate them for what they are … but so are the mistakes of others, so don’t repeat someone else’s mistake that could have been avoided. Time is still valuable.

Any other comments you’d like to make?

To be in the writing/publishing/marketing world is to be a psychologist. Never fall victim to a weak mind or routine. You should strive to learn, think outside the box, and ALWAYS put yourself in your audiences’ shoes.

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