How to Publish and Promote Your Book

Entrepreneur of the Week: 14-Year-Old CEO Chental-Song Bembry

Name: Chental-Song Bembry

Age: 14

Hometown: Monmouth Junction, NJ

School: South Brunswick High School

Business: The Honeybunch Kids

Mission: To provide quality literature that entertains and educates children between the ages of 7 and 12. To launch a literacy campaign that will one day change the way children think about reading. To inspire children to set goals for themselves.

When you think of an author, the term entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily come to mind; but more book writers are beginning to realize that being an author takes a certain entrepreneurial spirit if you really want to move volumes. Just ask 14-year-old Chental-Song Bembry, who sold more than 500 books last year and is aiming to double that with the release of her second book this fall.

The teenpreneur has the hustle it takes and attends trade shows, events, conferences, writing camps, and holds book signings at her church to market her book. Bembry, a high school freshman, authored and illustrated The Honeybunch Kids, which follows three African American friends–Desire “Dizzy” Williams, Chauncey a.k.a “Cheeks” and Stewart–through their everyday adventures and the strict scrutiny of their teacher Ms. Hodgebottom. The story also shares funny life lessons that kids identify with. “If I can write a book that kids can relate to, they’ll be more inspired to read.”

Bembry provided these 8 tips on how to publish and promote your book:

Find your ‘Why’: For Bembry, she took queue when she noticed African American children were not performing to their potential in school. “Just because you come from a certain background doesn’t mean that you’re not smart,” says Bembry. “I wanted to encourage them to reach for the sky. If you put effort into your education, you can achieve anything in life.”

Choosing a Publisher: The first step is writing the book. You’ll need to show the publisher and/or literary agent excerpts from your book to be taken seriously. In Bembry’s case, Xlibris, a division of Random House, asked for a minimum of 20 pages. The self-publishing company doesn’t turn any author away, including teens. You can find an agent to work with by sending a query letter detailing what your book is about and why they should be interested in it. Tell them about the characters, their personalities, and submit pages of your work. Your query letter should be a few paragraphs–brief and straight to the point.

Have Web Presence: Creating your own website is a great because people will really take you seriously. If you have great product but no website to promote your product people will forget about you. I used because it was most convenient to me at the time. It allows you to choose a template and can add tabs text, and photographs. BE recommends checking out, Intuit’s web building software, and Squarespace. (Tech, June 2011 issue: Building a Better Website)

Throwing down the pitch: When telling someone about your product its really important how you come off during your delivery; it’s the first impression they’ll have of your business so make sure it’s a good one (you’ll generally have a short window of time to explain your business–like 60 seconds). Be sure to include all the key words and phrases such to show how your product is different from everything else in the marketplace and how it will inspire your intended target audience. If allowed, also have props to people can visualize [your product]. Most importantly, speak loud and clear so people can understand what you’re saying. Bembry recently won $10,000 at the BLACK ENTERPRISE Teenpreneur Conference for her elevator pitch and plans to use the money to enhance her website.

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