Have you ever met someone and knew that you were destined to become friends?
Although they don’t exactly possess the same personality as you, but they are just as quirky as you, giggle at your silly jokes, and basically just get you? (Think of the characters J and CeCe from the outrageously funny web series Awkward Black Girl)
That’s pretty much what happened last November at the Author’s Meet Up when I met Sheena Blake – the brains behind Discovering Diversity Publishing (a self-publishing company that helps individuals publish their books).
She was exceptionally warmhearted and welcomed me even though I was the only blogger in attendance – the meet up was mainly comprised of authors who have written a book.
Throughout the night she made an effort to include me in the conversation, and was fully interested in my opinion and wanted to know more about my blogging work. She made me feel included and very much part of the group. I left the meet up feeling rejuvenated.
At the second meet up I witnessed her kindness firsthand as she asked writers how they were doing and if they needed help. Clearly it wasn’t strictly all business with her – she cared about the authors and wanted to offer a helping hand every step of the self-publishing way. I loved her holistic and supportive approach to self-publishing.
Since we instantly bonded, I knew she would ultimately be my future bestie, so I gave her my number and told her to keep in touch.
Over the past couple of months a friendship has developed and we have started to collaborate on a few things. We filmed a Facebook Live video, did a few Instagram stories, and we talk nonstop about all things related to writing. Not sure if she knows, but she has unwittingly become my mentor.
I felt that it would be unfair to not share her wisdom and awesomeness with you, so I am proud to feature her (my sister from another mister) in my latest post.
To find out more about Sheena and Discovering Diversity Publishing, keep reading.
Hometown: Richmond, British Columbia, currently resides in Toronto
Astrological Sign: Leo
Fun Fact: Prior to starting her biz, Sheena helped people who were in jail finish high school
Discovering Diversity Publishing: Launched in 2013
Why did you choose to get into self-publishing?
I originally started because I had written a book. I tried to get it published traditionally and it turned into a big hassle. The publishing company wanted me to change things and I didn’t want to change anything. I wanted to tell the story the way I wanted to tell it.
Then I found some self-publishing companies that were pretty cool, but I found that they weren’t paying enough attention to the process with me. They really didn’t care what I was thinking.
I eventually started Discovering Diversity so that I could publish my own books.
You started Discovering Diversity so that you could publish your own books?
Yes, I wrote the first book (a book she wrote for her children called “More Than That’) and realized that there wasn’t a giant platform for people of colour where we can publish and be noticed. I really wanted to create something.
I also started this company because I wanted a way for people to publish “any kind of work” without feeling like it was so stressful, and to have someone join them on their journey.
Originally it was about race but it became something more. It really was about diversity of the mind.
Who is self-publishing for?
Every, single, person! It’s 2017! Writing is cathartic. If you have a piece of work that you want to get out, and you don’t want to change anything, then self-publishing is for you.
One of Discovering Diversity’s goals is to publish work from people of every age – from 5 years old to 100 years old.
What’s the process like for a writer to become self-published?
The process typically goes like this: you’ve written a book or you’re thinking of writing a book, or you have a book in your heart, you call us, you write the book, and then we edit it.
We read it over once, we ask questions like, “Could you explain, or What did you mean by this?” After the first edit, we send it back to you, you answer the questions and reread it again.
We then we go through it one more time and then we proofread it and then it gets ready for publishing – copywriting, formatting, designing of the front cover etc. When that’s all done, we get ready for printing.
One thing I want to emphasize, when you are a self-published writer, after you’ve had someone edit your book, you need to reread your book.
How long is the process?
It is typically dependent on the author on how long they want to take. The self-publishing piece doesn’t take that long. That could take a week, and printing takes about 7-10 days.
Why do you find being a self-publisher so rewarding?
It is an extreme honour to join people on their writing legacy. I get to join people as they figure out why they want to be writing, what their writing style is like, what story they want to tell.
Can you tell why I wanted to feature Sheena?
She was unable to find a publishing company that could accommodate her needs and the needs of people that wanted to tell their unique stories, so she created her own! Gotta love that entrepreneurial spirit.
Thanks for being a friend and for being you, Sheena!
For more information on Sheena and Discovering Diversity, please visit the following sites.
Facebook: click here