Just because other people don’t see you talent or appeal doesn’t make it any less valuable. Sometimes it means you were meant to take your journey on a road less traveled. Getting someone to publish her first novel was difficult but April Sheris took that as a challenge to start her own publishing company. Since then her entrepreneurial spirit has taken her to even greater heights. I caught up with the author turned publisher and she shared how she jump started her career as an author, how she gives back and a few tidbits on getting your work published. Read more below.
Keyauna Chantel: So, what made you decide to become an author/publisher?
April Sheris: I started my journey as a writer. I would write out some of the biggest challenges and hardships I was facing at that time and look for spiritual guidance for the answers. Once I finished, I soon learned that writing the book wasn’t the problem – finding someone to accept the challenge of publishing it was. There weren’t many options from companies that didn’t require either a large upfront investment or the desire to change your story into something “marketable”. I decided to go the self-publishing route. My success garnered attention from other writers within my state and the rest is history.
KC: Tell me about your publishing company, Upload Avenue Productions and the literature that you publish?
AS: Upland Avenue Productions is a national trade publisher that originated in Baton Rouge, LA but now operates across three states. We publish works with indie and prominent brands that encompasses literary publishing, academic publishing and audio publishing.
Our literary publishing division works with authors from all genres. We currently offer religious, children, cult fiction and fiction books. We welcome the review of all topics though. Academic publishing (Scholarly Works) grants opportunities to collegiate students that have written research that should be shared for public research. Whether its essays, dissertations, or quantified research, someone could benefit from your investment. Audio publishing takes the sounds of written work and creates an audio compilation. We work with many spoken word artist and poets in sharing their work.
KC: You are the only African-American female publisher of scholarly works in Louisiana. How does that feel?
AS: It’s an amazing experience. It has created a platform of possibilities for hard earned student research as well as stresses the importance to youth of creative writing and literacy skills. I love it and welcome the opportunity to give vision to students.
KC: As an author and publisher, you have been on both sides of the coin. What advice would you give a first time author trying to get their work published?
AS: The single most important concept in publishing your work is to have an endgame before you finish writing your manuscript. This means that in the early stages determine the amount of exposure you are willing to sustain and the amount of money you can afford to invest. Books can be a hard sell to the public but without these factors drawn out in detail your road can become even harder.
KC: You’re an author and publisher, but you’re also an entrepreneur doing a lot to help other entrepreneurs. Tell me about some of the things you do to enhance entrepreneurship in your community.
AS: I believe the gist of life is that happiness comes from servitude. The ideology that you helped someone enrich their life stays with you longer than when relationships or money run out. For this reason I consistently make myself available. I partnered on a project called Young Entrepreneurship Initiative. For six weeks children ages 11-16 learned every aspect of business formation. We took the ideas in their mind and created a tangible business that they displayed to the community at the end of the program. I hosted literacy workshops for kids with Barnes & Noble. Once a month we provided snacks, coloring sheets, colors and storytime. It was a blast.
I also created the non-profit foundation, Young Girls Write Too, that helps high school girls understand where creative writing can take them. We will be offering scholarships to graduating girls that desire to pursue creative writing in college.
KC: You’re also big on philanthropy. Tell me about some of the causes you support and are involved in.
AS: I make contributions to support high school students with a passion for the arts at a high school in New Mexico. The school offers various different arts based disciplines and creative writing is their newest addition. The talent that these students possess is unmeasurable. As I mentioned previously, Young Girls Write Too is a big initiative that I would like to see continually help girls nationwide pursue their passions in creative writing.
KC: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since becoming an author/publisher and entrepreneur in general?
AS: The most valuable lesson I learned is the value in knowing and accepting self. Life can, and sometimes will, present challenges that may have you second guessing or invalidating yourself. Without a strong sense of who you are and what your boundaries are, life will leave you wounded.
KC: How do you define success and do you consider yourself successful?
AS: Success to me is the vision you originated from the start. You spend a large amount of time striving to reach that point and once you do you immediately begin to construct a larger vision. Once you achieve that first level of satisfaction that you envisioned then you have reached success. Anything after that are achievable goals that you have conquered. I most definitely believe I am successful. Now I’m tackling other goals one at a time lol.
KC:What’s next for you as far as business?
AS: My focus for the next three years is to infiltrate the collegiate market and encourage the publishing of their research through our Scholarly Works imprint. It’s a huge time investment and, again, it’s needed in the community.
KC: Tell people how they can find you and stay up to date on what you have going on?
AS: Please reach out, drop a line and stay connected with me at www.uplandavenueproductions.com, [email protected], www.facebook.com/uplandavenueproductions and www. plus.google.com/+UplandAvenueProductionsBatonRouge
KC: Thank you for chatting with me!
AS: Thank you for this opportunity and much success to you and your endeavors in the future!