A Writer Like You: Shayla Raquel
Meet Shayla Raquel, an expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer.
Shayla works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. A lifelong lover of books, she has edited over 300 books and has launched several Amazon bestsellers for her clients. Her award-winning blog teaches new and established authors how to write, publish, and market their books.
Her favorite authors are Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Mary Kubica, Elizabeth Kostova, David Arnold, and Mary Shelley.
She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist, The Rotting (in Shivers in the Night), and The Suicide Tree. In her not-so-free time, she acts as organizer for the Yukon Writers’ Society, volunteers at the Oklahoma County Jail, and obsesses over squirrels. She is currently working on her next book, The Ten Commandments of Author Branding. Shayla lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.
You’ll love Shayla’s personal experiences, perspective of failure, promotional strategies, and definition of success.
Let’s dive into the interview, shall we?
Tell us your business story. What motivated you to start a business, and what are your current goals?
After working in a publishing house, I was the owner of a T-shirt company with two friends for a year. It was a disaster, so after I stepped down, I ran off to Florida to get my health back in order. It was April 2013, and I stayed up all night answering the following question: “If I could wake up every morning and do the one thing I loved over and over again, what would it be?” I decided it was editing and writing. The next evening, I created my free WordPress website, started social media accounts for it, and wrote my first grammar-centric blog post. My biggest failure as an entrepreneur (the T-shirt company) wound up paving the way toward my biggest success: my dream job. Do not beat yourself up for failing. It will lead to something so much better.
Why is writing important to you personally?
During this difficult week of losing a loved one, the first word that comes to mind is cathartic. Despite being an extrovert, I’m not always able to vocalize how I feel when tragedy strikes. But I can somehow write how I feel. I was honored to write an obituary this week, an essay on what she meant to me, and even a poem on the day we laid her to rest. That’s why writing is so important to me: it gets me. It understands how I feel and it doesn’t judge.
What strategies did you use to promote your book?
The best strategy to get your book into the hands of voracious readers starts with authentic author branding. Authors come to me every day asking, “How do I market my book?” I always give them the same answer: “What have you been doing to brand yourself as an author?” That doesn’t just mean social media, website, email newsletter, etc. I mean, are you you every time you post? Do you talk about your failures? Do you show me the reality of being a writer? Do you show me photos of you being silly? Do you geek out about things you’re passionate about? If you want me to buy your book, then let me fall in love with you first. Once you’ve done that, then I will read your grocery list.
But since I know you want something else on the line of marketing, I am a big advocate of book bloggers. In fact, I wrote a how-to guide on it: How Book Bloggers Boost Sales for Indie Authors.
What has shaped you into who you are today?
A few things. First, God gave me a talent, and I want to use it for Him. If you can illustrate, design, edit, write, or create anything, then use that gift. Don’t let it go to waste. I knew I wanted to use my gift because I would be miserable if I didn’t. Second, my failures as a human have taught me a million lessons. I try hard to put a positive spin on every failure I’ve ever had, because every single time, it led to a success. Finally, resilience. When it would be weeks or months without working on my novel, The Suicide Tree, I’d feel like garbage for it, but I’d still get back up and write. I never gave up.
How do you define writer success?
The moment you have written a story (I don’t care if it’s a 2,000-word short story or a 120,000-word sci-fi novel), you have succeeded. I believe that being published (self or traditional) is a huge success, but it is not your first success as a writer. Anyone who tells you, “You’ve finally succeeded as a writer!” once your book is on the real/cyber shelf is a liar. You succeed the moment you finish the story. Remember that.
Where can writers and readers connect with you?
Thank you, Shayla.
My favorite FREE THE WRITER takeaway from Shayla is, “Do not beat yourself up for failing. It will lead to something so much better.” So many writers, myself included, feel discouraged by making mistakes, not knowing enough, or not writing enough. If we took the time to define what we really want, then trust that what we are doing now will eventually add up to a future we want, we’d be able to enjoy the process a lot more.
If you have more questions for Shayla, share them in the comments below or find her using the links listed above. And don’t forget to check out her books!
The Rotting (a short story in Shivers in the Night)
I’m glad we had the chance to learn from Shayla today.
Catch a new Writer Like You interview every Monday and keep freeing the writer,