What hardships have you experienced in the last five years? Since we began thinking about writing books, we have faced several roadblocks. First, trying to find an established publisher to handle our work proved impossible. Either we were asked to pay for the privilege of publishing, or we were rejected. However, we knew we had a good product. Our books told unique stories. Stories that highlight underrepresented characters in children’s fiction and told warm and familiar tales that made readers smile. We wanted to tell our stories and get those stories in the hands of brown, black, and white children worldwide. Our second stall in success was awareness. How do you get people who don’t know your name to buy your books without the big bucks of the major publication houses’ marketing and advertising? This situation led to the financial hardship that self-publishing inherently brings. Publishing books is not an inexpensive endeavor. We also found that self-publishing required expertise in digital media. The developing of art, editing of text, uploading of manuscripts, and overall proofing process has been a learning experience, one we entered behind the learning curve.
2. How have these hardships changed your approach to publishing? We quickly learned that handling more than one book at a time was something we’d have to grow into. From conception to final product, a book can take up to two years to complete. But slow and steady wins the race. We have learned to outsourcing many layers of the process and now have a reliable network of illustrators, editors, and digital formatting specialist. Additionally, we have developed marketing and advertisement strategies that work well on tight budgets. We have developed market research practices that have helped us identify peak buying periods and cycles. Our market research has also helped us target specific markets on multiple platforms.
3. What is your drive as a publisher and an author? As publishers, our goal is to our books into as many hands as possible. From that vantage, most other things fall into place. As authors, getting the stories on paper and sharing them with the world is the drive and the joy.
4. What do you see as the greatest accomplishment of Team Shipman Publishing? That in five short years we have been able to successfully publish 13 books! And, more excitingly, we have survived! Our company continues to grow and get stronger every year!
5. Going forward, what is the direction of TSP? Grow! Grow! Grow! Grow in sales! Grow in market share! Grow in authors! Grow in new ideas and concept for stimulating and delightful stories that child and adult love and desire more of!
6. Do you want each book to stand on its own or do you want a body of work that with connections between each book? Each book tells its own story! But we have several series in the works, so we expect that the connections between the books to continually grow.
7. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Prudence Williams Shipman – I would tell her to do it! To sit down and write all the stories she always wanted to tell. To let go of the fear of criticism and go for it! I would tell her to help other storytellers tell their stories because that is one of her strengths. I would tell her to write more and to write about things that make her uncomfortable. She has the talent!
Terance Shipman – I would tell him to master those grammar and spelling rules! I would encourage him to continue to write poetry.
8. Do you believe in writers block?
Prudence Williams Shipman – Yes, sometimes the words are so hard to say. Your writing opens places in you that are hard to go to, pathways that you fear travelling. So, the block is mental, but it is real.
Terance Shipman – No, I don’t.
9. Do you Google yourself?
Prudence Williams Shipman – Rarely, I don’t think I’m newsworthy.
Terance Shipman – Yes, at least three times a week. This practice tells you what working for your success and what buzz is occurring around your name.
10. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few readers will find?
Yes! Grab one of our books and see if you can find them!
11. Do you read your book reviews, and how do you deal with bad and good ones?
Yes, the goods, we revel in. The bad ones, we review, analyze, and process for worthiness, making adjustment to future projects as we feel needed.
12. Have you read anything that made you feel differently about fiction?
No, fiction is the work of the writer’s mind. Each authors give you a piece of their lives in their stories. We love this element. It make reading a glorious adventure.
13. What is the best way to market your books?
By studying how other authors market to your genre, you can learn a lot. You must you’re your niche and you must make sure that is who you are targeting.
14. What book have you enjoyed the most lately?
Prudence Williams Shipman – In the last year have fallen in love with the works of Kristin Hannah! I stumbled upon The Great Alone and since then have been reading her works with diligence.
15. What was your earliest experience where you learned that language had power?
In fourth grade, my teacher had a contest: create a book of homonyms. We had to find as many homonyms as possible, write their differing definitions, their individual parts of speech, spell them correctly (if they had differing spellings), and use them in a sentence. You received extra points if you could use two or more homonyms in one sentence! I went crazy! I loved that assignment. I could not believe that you could play with words so mightily! And from that point on, I loved words, and I really loved the things you could do with them if you new what they meant and what they could do. And I won the contest! Five Bucks! In 1984 that made me a rich 6th grader!
This interview originally appeared on Epistle News and has been reproduced with consent.