Podcast featuring Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt, Faculty Member, Wallace E. Boston School of Business and
Tyechia White, author
Are you interested in writing a book, but not sure where to start? In this episode, APU business professor Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt talks to author Tyechia White about her journey to self-publish a children’s book. Learn about the challenges she faced, the business skills needed to produce and market a self-published book, and the advice she has for other potential authors.
Listen to the Episode:
Read the Transcript:
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Welcome to the podcast. I’m your host, Kandis Boyd Wyatt. The goal of this podcast is to highlight our local heroes in our community who are champions of important issues affecting us on a national and international scale. Today we’re going to add to that very important discussion regarding the importance of creating, executing, and leading a clear vision as you pursue your dreams.
So, today I am so fortunate to have, as my guest Tyechia L. White Esquire. She is the author of the book, “I Didn’t Leave Because of You.” It’s a children’s book that focuses on the absence of a parent. Tyechia is a litigation attorney in Washington, DC, where she graduated Cum Laude from Howard University School of Law. She grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and is the only child of a loving and devoted single mother, who encouraged her creativity and her gift for poetry. Tyechia, welcome to the podcast and thank you for joining me.
Tyechia L White: Oh, thank you. I am delighted to be here to speak with you and your listeners. So, thanks again for having me.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: All right. Well, wonderful. I am so glad that you’re here. Let’s start the conversation. There are so many critical conversations happening today that address issues surrounding self-publishing or trying to actually become an author. Can you talk about your journey, and about yourself, and why this topic is so dear to your heart?
Tyechia L White: Absolutely. I started writing poetry as a child. I grew up in a daycare, my mother started her career as a daycare teacher. And my task, as an older kid there, would be to read stories to the two year olds. So, just the love of poetry and children’s books started very early in my life.
I actually had written a very complex poem in middle school about some trees as part of a school assignment and then I never got that poem back. So, that led me to wondering, “Huh, well, what happens when you write something and how do you protect it?”
In undergrad, I asked one of my professors about that, and she introduced me to the term copyright. So, I knew then, “Oh, I want to go to law school and I want to pursue copyright protection,” because I had learned a lot of stories of people that had done creative things and then had their work stolen. So, that’s just the beginning of my journey.
As I was about to turn 30, I decided to do a “35 by 35 list.” So, this was things that I was going to accomplish by the time I turned 35. Out of the blue, I just was like, “I’m going to write a children’s book.” I had no plan for a book, that wasn’t even a thing.
The very last item that I put was to reconnect with my father on that list. And lo and behold, those two things came together, and I had a chance to reconnect with my father after he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and to really take care of him and spend deeper time with him without some of those barriers. I think a day or so after his passing, the current book, “I Didn’t Leave Because of You,” the structure came to my mind, and then I was able to write that book as part of my grieving process.
When it was done, I knew I had to do something with it. I panicked a little bit and knew I didn’t want to go the traditional route of a literary agent, then a publisher, and then they’re going to have control. So, that’s when I started researching self-publishing.
As you, I’m sure, know, the world has opened up in so many areas and we no longer have to go through the traditional routes to get our products or ideas out there. So yeah, self-publishing is a way for me to express emotions, as well as to maintain creative control over my work. It can allow me to also have some intellectual property rights, which is something I felt was missing as a child when I wrote that poem years ago.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: It’s amazing how something that you did years ago is connecting now in so many ways. Can you talk about maybe some of the challenges that you encountered when trying to self-publish?
Tyechia L White: Sure. Well, the first is where to even start. There’s so much information out there and there are so many different ways to actually self-publish. So, that was one of the biggest struggles that I had, is just how do I get started?
I was fortunate enough to be able to find a company called Mascot Books, which is, I think, a bit more like a hybrid self-publishing opportunity, where you don’t have to have a literary agent to get to this publishing company. You can just reach out to them directly using the internet and send them your manuscript idea. And then they will either tell you, “Yeah, I think that this is something you should move forward with or not.” Once I found that, I felt more secure.
But other challenges, I think, just were, there were other companies that had so many different ways to nickel and dime you in self-publishing. So, just weeding through that to get to the type of self-publishing that worked for me was a challenge.
Then the biggest challenge really is with self-publishing, is that the marketing is completely on your shoulders. Marketing is what sells books. It doesn’t matter how great the book is. I think somebody explained it to me this way, “A well-marketed book is going to sell better than a well-written book.” So, that has been part of my journey. I didn’t have that as a basis when I did the first book, because you really start marketing a book before it’s even completely created.
I am now working on my second self-published book. And I am working on an aggressive social media marketing campaign, and just trying to figure this out. But it’s very challenging to figure it out the marketing as a self-published author.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: I like what you said, a well marketed book will sell better than a well-written book. That’s a piece of knowledge for everyone. Thank you so much. Let’s talk about youth for a second, because I know that’s a broadening field when it comes to self-publishing. How do you communicate self-publishing, or the concept, to youth?
Tyechia L White: I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to read the book to larger audiences of young people. So, when I first got the book in hand, I was able to read it in a summer reading program in my hometown to lots of kids.
Of course, it’s not every day that students get to hear a book from the author, and they always want to know, well, how’d you do that? So, whenever I have the chance to speak with children, I do incorporate some know-how or just a little bit of wisdom behind the book and how I was able to create it.
I also have these amazingly beautiful godchildren who were able to read this book when it was in a draft illustration form. One of the sweetest things that they did, was to then decide to write their own book. I think it’s a great way to encourage children to read, is by having them write a book and just going through the process even if they don’t ultimately publish it. So, I think it’s really just the exposure of having children speak to self-published authors.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: I think that’s really great. I go back to the imagery that you talked about at the beginning of our podcast, where you read to youth when you were a youth. Now you’re continuing that thread, that even as an adult and a published author, you still communicate to youth as well. I’m sure this is a topic that resonates with so many on so many levels.
So, here at American Public University, we have a large number of students in the School of Business. You mentioned earlier that the world of self-publishing is changing. How do you use some best academic practices and theories to define the best strategy on just how to self-publish and how to be more mindful of the world of self-publishing?
Tyechia L White: Yes. There’s a lot that I’m still learning in terms of academic practices. I would really like to have more marketing education. I think that that’s something that, if you’re going to do self-publishing, you really do want to think about the marketing aspect.
Then I think there are business aspects to self-publishing. I do have an LLC, it’s called Tyechia White Books, LLC. So, the ability to know how to set up a business entity, of course there are taxation issues to keep in mind. There are contracting things to keep in mind, as I have a contract with the illustrator that I’m currently working with. There’s also a contract with Mascot Books. So, there’s definitely a lot of business savvy that goes into being a self-author.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Yeah, I could imagine. I know it’s probably a long journey, but it’s something that you’ve accomplished. So, I think that’s something definitely to be proud of. In general, do you think that every person possesses the skills to create and self-publish?
Tyechia L White: I will say, I think that pretty much any book can be written. So yes, I think anybody that has the ability to read and write can put together a book. I think the business savvy is going to come in, though, with actually selling the books.
So, I do think that now pretty much anybody can write a See Spot Run book, and you can use various freelance programs to help you get the book illustrated and written and printed. But the rub and really choosing self-publishing as a career form, is much more business savvy.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Yeah, absolutely. I know that there are some naysayers that say that the world is becoming more digitized and more technology savvy. And having an actual book in your hand is going to become a thing of the past. It’s going to be replaced by eBooks. What are some things that you think about, when you want to ensure that self-publishing is not just a short-term goal, but a long-term way to promote the arts?
Tyechia L White: I actually view technology as really opening things up. I don’t view technology as bad. So, even as a self-published author, you can get into the digital space. I think that there’s going to be a lot of room there. So, like whenever I do a self-published book, I always have an ebook and a digital copy. I think, for me, I really want to move next into animation. I think that the ability to do that is just truly opening up things due to technology.
So, I think that the arts really do help us process our humanity. I think especially as we become much more technical, I do think that people are starting to worry about the loss of humanity and how we connect as human beings. I think that that’s really going to be through artistic and creative expression. It’s not going to be through a robot. I think even you’ll see the technology will do its best to try to incorporate that creativity and that artistic expression.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: I like what you said, that arts help express our humanity on so many levels. So, I think that’s really something that resonates with me, and probably the listeners as well. You mentioned earlier, you had a bucket list, like 35 things you wanted to do by age 35. So, then how do you distinguish between personal goals and self-publishing goals? Or are they one in the same?
Tyechia L White: Yeah, this is a tough one, I think I would say for personal goals for me are not based on monetary things. I really want to write books that help facilitate the parent-child relationship. Ultimately I want the first book, “I Didn’t Leave Because of You,” to become obsolete just because it’s not as big of an issue in our communities because people have figured out a way to really be better at human interactions and their relationships, and to think through some of the issues that I talk about that lead to abandonment. So, personal goals really have to do more so with the legacy that I want to leave behind, the message that I want my books to convey.
Then the self-publishing goals have to do more so with just business things that I want to accomplish. I want to have multiple self-published books. I would like to be on a top book seller list. I actually ultimately, I think, want to move into the space, like I said, with animations. I do think with technology, I think that more is going to be required in terms of writing books. I think the push for books to come to life will be there. So, I really would like to find a way to get a little bit more into the ways in which technology and literary artistic things can come together.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Absolutely. Yeah, I like what you said that the whole literary piece is going to continue to evolve. Yeah, I can definitely see that animation will become a large part of self-publishing as we move forward, as more people acquire that skillset. As we start to wrap up, what are some resources that you have used or provided in the past to help individuals become more aware of the importance of self-publishing?
Tyechia L White: Yep. So, that’s actually something that I’m very much so focused on in the last quarter of 2020, and as I go now fully into 2021, is using social media as my platform. I’ve been working with a digital marketer who is constantly on my case about putting myself out there. One of the things that he wants me to talk about more is self-publishing.
So, recently I’ve done a series of social media-based videos just where I’m sharing my tips for the writing process, my tips for how to find an illustrator. I am going to start sharing the process of bringing the second book to life with the audience as we go along. So, just yesterday I posted it just where I am with the book using a PowerPoint and the sketches that I have, and was able to just put the text in a PowerPoint slideshow. So, I think social media really is the way.
I’m also working on an interactive, I guess it’s kind of like a podcast/social media app called Clubhouse. I’m trying to do a room with other self-published children’s books authors to just form a community where we help each other grow and push each other to the next level in self-publishing.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: I think that’s half the battle, is just sharing knowledge and as things continue to evolve, just being open to trying new things and new ways of getting your message to people. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and your perspective on self publishing. Thank you again for joining me for today’s episode and podcast.
Tyechia L White: The pleasure is all mine. Thank you so much for having me again.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: All right, thank you so much, Tyechia. Also, thank you to our listeners for joining us. As a reminder, you can learn more about these topics by signing up for American Public University’s bimonthly newsletter. So, until our next podcast, be well and be safe.