By Sheri Fink
“It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.” —Wonder Woman
Following my passion to help kids with their self-esteem by writing and publishing children’s books was one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve ever faced. I’ve racked up over twelve years of experience in the corporate world in primarily male-dominated industries (finance, technology, and sports), where I made decisions based purely on the bottom-line before transitioning into an entrepreneurial author who makes decisions from the bottom of my heart. Independently publishing my books gives me freedom and empowers me to pursue my passions, connect with my fans, and create the life I always dreamed of. It has taught me that we’re capable of so much more than we think and that amazing things happen when we stand in our authentic power and write from our hearts. And, if it’s possible for me, a small town girl who grew up in rural Virginia with no publishing background, then it’s possible for you as well!
What motivated and inspired you to publish independently?
When I first started 8 years ago, I talked with traditionally and independently published authors. The indie authors seemed much happier than everyone else. They were working just as hard, moving much faster than the traditional publishers could, and keeping more of the profits. Coming from a background in the corporate world, that was appealing to me. I’ve always been very entrepreneurial and was excited about the possibility of creating something for myself, getting empowering messages to kids all over the world through my books, and creating a legacy for generations to come.
What steps did you take to get things going in the beginning?
I asked everyone I knew if they were familiar with any best-selling authors and if so, would they introduce me? I attended writers’ conferences, read articles, and learned as much as I could from others. I realized I wanted to approach my career differently, to blaze a new path as an entrepreneur making a positive difference in the lives of children. I met with parents, grandparents, heads of non-profits that benefited kids, teachers—anyone who might potentially buy my book—and sought to help them in some way. When my first book, The Little Rose, debuted, many of those people helped to promote it and my book was a #1 best-seller on Amazon two weeks after it was released. Word of mouth and grassroots marketing kept my book at #1 on the bestseller list for over 60 weeks and changed my life!
Are you a full-time author? What was the point where you realized you could make a full-time living from publishing?
I’m a full-time author, speaker, and mentor. I decided from day one with my first book that I would be solely focused on this path. Eight books later, I’m grateful that I had the courage and persistence to continue this direction. I’m continually amazed at the opportunities that unfold as I step off the cliff on faith every day.
How do you balance writing and running your business with family and personal life?
Luckily for me, my husband is an award-winning children’s author as well (Derek Taylor Kent) and knows what it takes to be a successful independent author. He is doing it all (writing, publishing, marketing, traveling, speaking, etc.) right by my side. It’s easy to let business take over sometimes so we always plan a fun day when we travel for business to spend time together enjoying something new. I also make self-care a top priority and that helps maintain balance (meditation, workouts, relaxation, etc.).
What has been the most effective way of getting your book out there and reaching new readers?
Everything wonderful that’s happened for my books has been the result of authentic relationship building. I love people and I’m genuinely interested in them and their dreams. By believing in other people and helping them succeed, it creates positive energy and many people spread the word about my books and their empowering messages for kids. This is true for both online (primarily through social media) and offline (mostly through events, conferences, festivals, school visits, etc.) interactions. I also really love speaking to both children and adults. It’s the best way to reach a large audience and still create a personal connection.
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
There have been many challenges: being new to an unknown industry, not having any connections in the publishing world, learning to build a brand and a business from scratch, and embracing my authentic self and being brave enough to share my heart with the world, to name a few. I believe in infinite possibilities and feel determined to create a whimsical world that I want to be in where kids believe in themselves and really go for what they want in life while encouraging and empowering others to do the same. My passion for that dream is far larger than any fear that pops up along the way. I train myself to stay focused on the vision and to take action in the direction of that dream daily.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the beauty: nature, animals, people, kindness, colour, music, and life experiences. I’ve always been a deep-feeling person. I used to think of it as a disadvantage, but now I know that sensitivity is a gift that can be harnessed to creatively express oneself and connect deeply with others. My husband inspires me to dream bigger and to be relentless in my pursuit to inspire people around the world. My fans inspire me when they share their dreams and do things that empower others.
What advice would you give to other independent authors?
Success as an independent author is possible for you. It’s not always easy, but it is worth it if you’re willing to do the work. Here are a few things I wish I had known from the beginning:
- Take care of yourself along your author journey. Without energy, your writing and your life will suffer. Fill yourself up so you can give to the world from your overflow.
- Make progress every day. Even a small step in the direction of your dreams keeps the momentum going. It can be a long and arduous journey. Find joy in the small steps and soon they will add up.
- Set healthy boundaries and be selective with how you invest your time. Our time and energy are the most precious gifts we can give. Be sure to give some to yourself and your dream.
- Ignore the negative. Let negative thoughts go as quickly as you can. There’s no need to question yourself, just keep moving forward. Give your time and energy to thoughts that empower you, help you achieve your goals, and make a bigger contribution in the world.
- Focus on quality. Independent publishing is a viable option if you hire professional editors, illustrators, cover designers, layout designers, and printers to bring your book to life. Don’t take shortcuts with the quality of your books. Sometimes quality can be expensive; but it’s worth it to have an end-result you can be proud of.
Being an entrepreneurial author gives me the freedom to write what I want, to work the hours I choose, and to say yes to the partnerships and opportunities I want to while graciously declining the rest. There are no gatekeepers that get to judge my work or tell me its not commercial enough to attract advertisers, and no investors that want me to push their agendas. It’s just me, writing what I want, sharing it with the world the best I can, and empowering my readers to think, dream, and live differently. And that makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Doing these things while writing your books and building your author brand will give you higher levels of joy, happiness, and fulfillment along the way. Happy writing!
Sheri Fink is an inspirational speaker, a #1 best-selling, award-winning author, and co-creator of the “Whimsical World” inspirational brand. She creates books, products, and experiences that inspire and delight kids of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem. All 5 of her children’s books were #1 best-sellers, including The Little Rose which was a #1 Amazon Bestseller for over 60 weeks, became the #1 Top-Rated Children’s eBook on Amazon, and was adapted into a stage play.
CBS Los Angeles selected her as one of the top 3 authors in her local area, a distinction she shares with Dean Koontz. Sheri’s books have been honored with several awards including 3 gold medals in the Readers Favorite International Book Awards, and is a recipient of the prestigious Gold Mom’s Choice Award honoring the best in family friendly entertainment. Sheri was honored with the 2013 Extraordinary Inspiration Award for her long-lasting commitment to spreading inspirational messages of hope and self-esteem through her books, her moving life story, and her brand. Discover more about Sheri at www.SheriFink.com.