The Herndon Branch will be hosting their first-ever Mini Book Fair on Saturday, August 10. Don’t let the name of this event fool you – book nerds and scribblers alike will find plenty of literary enrichment with three local authors making appearances.
Katy Yocom is an associate director at the School of Creative and Professional Writing at Spalding University and author of the forthcoming novel, Three Ways to Disappear. Raquel Henry is a writer, editor and founder of Writer’s Atelier. ShaKera Akins is the author of the children’s book, The Little Brown Girl Experience.
What made you want to become a writer?
Katy Yocom: I was a voracious reader as a kid. Even though I read widely, I had favorite books I read over and over: the Trixie Belden mysteries, the Little House books, the Narnia books, but also the James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small series. I read and re-read those books until the language embedded itself in my brain and made me a writer somehow.
Raquel Henry: I was always a writer, to be honest. I started reading at age two. When I learned to write, I would write stories on several sheets of construction paper, complete with illustrations, and bound together with yarn. I had always done well in English, but it was my fifth grade teacher who got it in my head that I should be a writer because I “had a way with words.” That was the end. I was hooked.
ShaKera Akins: My presence in the classroom showed me the value of representation for young girls, particularly African-American girls. I recognized the need for another incentive to pick up a book and read and felt it was my duty to supply them with something they could relate to, learn from and be inspired by as well.
What path did you take to publishing? What do you see as the benefit to that choice? What are the challenges?
Katy: I’m published by a small press out of Ashland, Oregon, that’s run by a husband-and-wife team, who had former careers in New York publishing. They’ve been an absolute dream. They’re always responsive to my questions, put together a great marketing plan and gracefully guided me through the process of launching my debut novel. The personal touch has been so rewarding – they’ve made this process a joy. The challenge is that they don’t take returns, which means that some bookstores are reluctant to carry my book. I’ve had to get creative which means being flexible with bookstore owners.
Raquel: I don’t have a full-length book, but I have published shorter work in a traditional sense through several independent publishers. I also have a short affirmations book published on my own through a division of the writing studio I own. Both traditional publishing and self-publishing have their pros and cons. The author must decide what’s best for the book – one path may be right for one book and not another.
ShaKera: Amongst many others, I chose the self-published route. The benefit of being a self-published author is the freedom to do what you want, but the challenges are not having the resources to publicize your work and making it difficult to reach a mass audience.