Today’s guest author on “How I First Published” is indie historical fiction author Diane Tatum. I really enjoyed her story of how she got published because in some ways it echoes mine. We both had that one special story that we started in our youth that just wouldn’t let us alone, that we turned back to again and again through the years, until we took the plunge and tried self-publishing. If you wonder what that’s like, Diane is very up-front about her experiences and plans for her next books. Enjoy!
What was your first published book?
My first book is Gold Earrings. It’s the story of Angelina Mercy, the daughter of a bordello Madame. Her godfather is a theology professor at Harvard and has helped her become a Christian young woman. However, for her sixteenth birthday, her mother gave her a pair of gold hoop earrings which are not removable. To some they represent the sordid past of her mother. To Angelina they represent her Italian heritage. Nevertheless, those who see her earrings think they are a statement of a less than Christian life. She desires to escape her mother’s influence and the prejudices of the Boston population. Jonathan Thomson is a pastor in St. Joseph, MO, where her godfather sends her. He is attracted to her but repelled by her gold earrings and what they seem to represent.
I began writing this story in high school in the seventies. I finished the novel during the summers while in graduate school in 1990s. After sending the proposal out to several publishers with little success, and a move halfway across the nation, I set my novel aside. In 2009, I retired from teaching 7th grade Language Arts. My husband encouraged me to stay home and complete the many story ideas I had set aside over the years while raising our sons and helping them pay for their college expenses. After trying several publishers and a few unorthodox choices, I sent my novel to Tate Publishing, which is an author investment publisher.
I struggled with whether to sign the contract. We didn’t have the money to pay to publish my book. However, my mother paid my investment, so that Gold Earrings would finally come to fruition. The stigma of paying to have my book published worried me. Still, it would be hard to sell my novel without the book format. So I signed the contract.
What has that indie publishing experience been like?
I had a wonderful experience with the editors, layout, and artistic departments. I felt it was an okay option as long as I went in ‘eyes wide open’.
The day finally arrived when MY books that I had purchased arrived in many boxes from the back of the UPS truck. It was so exciting seeing my work finally in book form! Book signings in our small town were at first quite successful as friends, colleagues, and former students and their parents lined up to purchase my book. Then the hard work began: marketing. The down side of author-investment (self-publishing or indie publishing as well) is that no one cares much about your book, so you are responsible for promoting and selling your book. Unfortunately much of traditional publishing has become the same way.
I am glad I took the chance on an alternative publishing option. Gold Earrings is available on Amazon and Kindle, and through Barnes and Noble and my website. This past Christmas season I did a book signing at Barnes and Noble that did very well.
What’s coming next?
I have two more novels completed and have several at varying stages of development. I am trying to find a traditional publisher for my next novel partly because ACFW does not recognize me as a published author or Tate as a traditional publisher.
I have a web site, 2 blogs and 2 other blogs that I help write. I have a Facebook personal page, an author page, and a book page. I also have Pinterest pages for each novel where I collect research materials. I continue to do freelance writing for church ministry. I am excited to have the opportunity to live the Write Life. I don’t make much money, but that’s not really what it’s all about for me. For me, it’s a ministry showing the world how being a Christian affects the everyday life of the saved and overcoming obstacles in his/her life. I appreciate the prayers of everyone for the publication of my next book Colonial Dream, the first in a series of novels I call Faith Amidst the Crucible of American History.
Here’s where you can find me online:
Diane E. Tatum
Gold Earrings on Amazon
Author page https://www.facebook.com/DianeETatum
Faith Amidst the Crucible of American History series
Colonial Dream American Revolution
Transforming Bitterness Into Joy (WIP) War of 1812
A Time to Choose Civil War
Diane began writing in 5th. grade. The story about not judging on the outward appearance that became Gold Earrings was completed when she was in graduate school. Diane and her husband Ken have been married 36 years. They have two sons , two daughters-in-law and two, grandsons. She’s a member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network (#John316authors) and American Christian Fiction Writers (#ACFW).
To read more authors’ stories–self-published and traditionally published–of how they got published, check out the Publishing a Book Archives. And authors, if you’d like to be featured, use the Contact Me form up top and let me know. Thanks!