Indie Author Day 2016 - Author Interview with Tasha Dunagan
About the Author
Name (real and/or pen): Tasha Dunagan
Genre(s): children’s picture book
Name(s) of the book(s) you’ve published and link(s) to purchase:
Copy Mocker’s Song
How long have you been a published author? Since June 2014
1. What made you decide to become an indie author? What do you like to write about?
I have always loved reading children’s books when I was a kid and to my two boys. I also loved creative writing class in high school, and I worked as a newspaper reporter for about 6 years. So, I took a correspondence course with the Institute of Children’s Literature. Then, when I was laid-off from a job at a printing business and couldn’t find work, I decided it was time to write the book I’d been dreaming of. I tried submitting my manuscript a few times, but I eventually found a local indie-assist publisher who accepted my project. My children’s book is about a mockingbird who learns new songs and musical styles from different types of birds along his path to find true love and his own style. I’ve also written a couple more books in Copy’s continuing story, but I’m waiting on illustrations for those. Plus, I write poetry and hope to publish that someday.
2. How did you publish your first book?
I published with Paperback Press Publishers, under their Kids Book Press imprint, in Springfield, MO. Co-owner Sharon Holmes provides cover and page design, ISBN number, and submission to Create Space, for a short-term contract fee. She was very helpful and supportive throughout the whole process.
3. Did you ever try to submit to traditional publishers? If so, what was your experience like?
I submitted my manuscript to traditional publishers a few times. The first two were sent in the mail, and the third was through email, but each time, they took three or four months to send me a rejection. My book is different and doesn’t fit into any of their molds. Plus, I was tired of wasting all that time, only to be rejected. So, I was happy to run into a former teacher and fellow author who told me about her publisher. It only took a couple weeks for that publisher, Paperback Press, to get back to me.
4. How did you market your first book? Has your process changed with subsequent books?
I only have one book out, but I have marketed it through a Facebook author page, Goodreads author page and monthly blog, Amazon author page, Twitter, and Pinterest. I’ve done book launch promotions with a local party and Facebook event, and I’ve done a Goodreads giveaway. I have also read my book at a couple of local Girl Scout meetings, and I’ve had booths at the two annual festivals in my town and been part of two group book signings, with my publisher and with the Springfield Writers’ Guild. There, I gave away bookmarks, which feature my info and book cover, as well as coloring sheets with birds drawn by my illustrator, Charles Spillers.
My bookmarks are available at the Webster County Library, too, where I donated one book. In addition, I have donated books to area school libraries. Plus, my book is available at Mikes Unique antique store (which has a book shelf to feature local authors) in Springfield, MO, and at The Arts at 317, in my hometown of Shawnee, OK. Whew, that seems like a lot, but I only sell a book on Amazon or Kindle every six months or so. Also, I've sold up to seven books at the festivals, but none at the signings, although I did trade with other authors. Sometimes, it's more about making connections.
5. How do you support other indie authors?
I share their Facebook posts on my author page, and I’ve been a member of the Indie Book Boosters group on Facebook. I also retweet and favorite their Tweets. Then, whenever I’m part of a book signing or festival, I take pictures of my fellow authors and post them on Facebook. There’s also the Goodreads Author Feedback Group, where we can share ideas and support each other.
6. What responses have you received from telling people that you are a writer?
Mostly, they’re interested and curious, and I usually have bookmarks ready to hand out. Some have wondered why I’m not promoting my book, even though I’ve done all I can. Word just hasn’t gotten to their ears. Some people who see my book at festivals have thought it was a songbook, which surprised me.
7. What/who has been your biggest support as an indie author?
I could not have completed my book without the help of my family and friends. Of course, my husband and children have been somewhat supportive, as long as I stay local, but my mother and stepfather have gone above and beyond in teaming up with me on my book. My mother did research for the paintings, and my stepfather painted all of the illustrations in a matter of three months! Sharon Holmes, with Paperback Press Publishers, was very supportive and drove from Springfield a couple times to meet with me. She even helped to write a line or two of poetry on the workbook pages of my book and went out of her way to have the first painting scanned, since it was oversized. (We used pictures of the paintings and email after that.) Then, there was my author friend, Tierney James, who told me about her publisher, has given me all sorts of tips, and supported me at every step. Another author friend, Susan Keene, gave me advice, as well, and even drove me to another local author’s book launch party to see how it’s done. Many thanks to them all!
8. Quote from a positive review of your work.
Mik Hetu, Author on March 12, 2015:
“I like this little book! While reading it, I found myself imagining a mother with her child in her lap, reading it together, quietly singing the bird songs together, and talking about the differences and similarities of the birds in the illustrations. It is a sweet, gentle book great for encouraging children to learn from others, to imitate aspects of others, but to be themselves, to create their own special songs.”