My ALLi author guest this episode is C. Ruth Taylor, an authorpreneur from Jamaica who is trying to create conditions to put the Caribbean on the map for self-publishing. The trick is to convince authors that the book itself is only the beginning of their storyteller journey.
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Listen to the Inspirational Indie Author Interview: C. Ruth TaylorOn the Inspirational Indie Authors podcast @howard_lovy features C. Ruth Taylor, an authorpreneur from Jamaica who is trying to create conditions to put the Caribbean on the map for self-publishing. Click To Tweet
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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: C. Ruth Taylor. About the Author
Jamaican Authorpreneur, Cameka “Ruth” Taylor, a.k.a. “The Rocket-Writer,” is the CEO and founder of Extra MILE Innovators Limited, trading as BambuSparks. Since 2015, she has published 27 books, including 5 Amazon bestsellers. Ruth has leveraged her book “Authorpreneur Secret$” to create the Authorpreneur Secret$™ Academy, the Caribbean Authorpreneur Summit, and the Authorpreneur Secret$™ podcast. She works with published and aspiring authors to write and publish their books to achieve their God-given mission and financial goals. Ruth is on a mission to raise up 10,000 winning Caribbean Authorpreneurs by 2030 to create sustainable income, alleviate poverty, and transform lives for generations. You can find her on her website and Free Resources for Author Success.
About the Host
Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and now amplifies the voices of independent author-publishers and works with authors as a developmental editor. Find Howard at howardlovy.com, LinkedIn and X.
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Read the Transcripts to the Inspirational Indie Author Interview: C. Ruth Taylor
Howard Lovy: My guest this episode is C. Ruth Taylor, an authorpreneur from Jamaica who is trying to create conditions to put the Caribbean on the map for self-publishing. The trick is to convince authors that the book itself is only the beginning of their storytelling journey. I'll let C. Ruth Taylor tell her story.
Ruth Taylor: Hi, my name is Cameka Ruth Taylor. I am from the beautiful island of Jamaica. I am an authorpreneur and I have been in full time authorpreneurship since July 2018. I've been using my knowledge of book publishing and my books, I've been leveraging that to make a full time living as an author, and I have been also helping to raise up other Caribbean authors, showing them how to publish books cost effectively and to win beyond book sales, which for me is what author entrepreneurship is all about.
I grew up in Jamaica in three different parishes. I was born in the parish of St. Mary, and my father's family lived in another parish called St. Catherine, and when I was about three years old, I went to live in St. Catherine with my dad. Then when I was five years old, I went back to St. Mary to live with my grandmother. Then when I was 10 years old, I came to Kingston where I have been living ever since with my mom.
I have been a voracious reader. Because I was an introvert, books were my best friends, and so I grew up reading Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and then later I was into novels, Mills and Boon, and that kind of thing.
I started writing poetry early, and I used to write my poems and turn them into cards, and then I would sell those postcards, and that's how I got started.
In terms of being an author, that came about 12 or 13 years ago. I was told that I could write, but I didn't believe it.
After a broken engagement, my second broken engagement, I felt that writing would be a good way to turn my heartaches into something beautiful, because I read a quote by William Barclay that just shifted everything. He said, endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory, and I figured I could do that through writing.
Howard Lovy: But before she became a writer, Ruth began a career as a teacher and missionary.
Ruth Taylor: Straight out of high school, my mom sent me to teachers’ college. I didn't want to go, and I became a trained teacher at age 20. I'm from a long line of teachers on my paternal side. Then after getting my diploma in teaching, I got a first degree in general studies with a minor in theology, and then I did a master's in theology with an emphasis on intercultural studies, and I am currently doing my doctoral program in transformational leadership with an emphasis, or my dissertation will be on authorpreneurship as a model for poverty alleviation.
I have always felt a deep spiritual connection, maybe because of my grandmother, waking up every morning to see her having devotions, but from the age of eight years old, I felt like God was calling me to go and preach all over the world. So, I had that desire to become a missionary, and I became a missionary serving with Operation Mobilization, traveling all over the world and doing that.
So, I had that deep interest in theology because I felt I needed to be equipped for service. I led a local arm of Operation Mobilization in Jamaica, sending over 200 missionaries to about 30 different countries over a four-year period.
Howard Lovy: It was through Ruth's missionary work that she grew as a leader.
Ruth Taylor: I had to raise funds. I helped in the incorporation process. I had to train people to raise funds. I had to recruit and teach them how to raise funds. I had to go across the country, across different Caribbean islands, and speak and recruit people.
So, it was fabulous because it's out of my mission experience, and travels to Africa and other countries, that I grew, and the vision for what I'm doing today actually came out of one of those visits to Namibia and Zambia in 2013.
I saw a model of missions, financial support that I said I wanted to model. I saw an architect who was using real estate and building apartments, renting them out to professionals, and then he used 60 percent of the profit to fund activities, missions, activities and the agency.
And I said, I wanted to do something similar, but I was no architect. So, I became an author, and I said, I'm going to use that model to help missionaries, because very often they are serving and starving. So, we often live based on the generosity of others.
I had to do that, and in a sense, for me, it brought a sense of shame and dependence, and I wanted to be independent and to be able to support myself, and through author entrepreneurship, I have been able to do that and not live on the generosity of others, and support causes just like that young man was doing in Zambia.
Howard Lovy: Ruth's first book was a memoir. Then she began to write about the process of writing
Ruth Taylor: My first book was my memoir, Heartache and Shackles. It was my story of overcoming romantic heartbreaks and parental, from a broken family, overcoming those parental hurts, and showing how my life was transformed and the lessons that I learned, and how I was able to turn my tragedy into triumph. So, it was my memoir that was the first thing, and then I started writing about how to write and how to publish, and just sharing my journey along the way. Success tips, personal development tips. So, most of my books are narrative non-fiction. They're motivational, they're inspirational, and I have a whole series of books on writing and generating income from your books, monetizing your books beyond just selling books.
Howard Lovy: Ruth was attracted to the role of authorpreneur after hearing about the successes of others.
Ruth Taylor: I listened to Joanna Penn. Joanna had a book about how to write nonfiction, several books, and she talked about multiple income streams. As I read, I remember reading a story about Florencia and Anto's story and these two businessmen who went to Mozambique, and they wanted to do something about the poverty there and the effects of landmines and things like that, and so they wrote a book. It became an Amazon bestseller. They used that book to raise awareness of the condition of the women in Mozambique. They were able to go to the UN. They were able to leverage that book and raise over $240,000 within four months.
I was like, wow, I think that's something I want to adopt, and so I just started looking at a book as a funnel, a book as a business card, and just reading about multiple income streams and then experimenting.
I experimented with over 15 ways that I could leverage a book to earn income beyond just selling it.
It enabled me to move. As I said, I was a missionary from depending on the generosity of others for survival, to be able to support myself, pay my rent, give to others, start my doctoral program, and that's what I've been doing through courses and coaching and events. All centred around my book, because I found that even if the book is selling for $20, I could create a course with the content of the book that could sell for $200, $500 or a coaching program for $500 or $1,500. So, you would make an income faster than trying to sell thousands or millions of books.
Howard Lovy: Ruth says self-publishing is thriving in the Caribbean, but many have unrealistic expectations about their books.
Ruth Taylor: Most of our authors don't go the traditional route. So, they would pay somebody to publish their books. So, you have a lot of Caribbean authors who are writing and publishing, and they're doing it independently, but they're often disillusioned or get discouraged because they think writing their first book is going to make them an instant millionaire. So, I've tried to give them alternatives.
I've started an indie authorpreneurs Facebook group, where every year we have a Caribbean authorpreneur summit, to teach them how to publish cost effectively, and then how to leverage that book to earn multiple income streams.
I have the Authorpreneur Secrets podcast, and we feature Caribbean authors from around the world who are doing this successfully, and it's free. They come and share their stories and strategies, how to win with books beyond book sales.
I also have an authorpreneur secrets academy where we provide coaching, the courses, the certification, and a community support so that they can publish cost effectively, because many of our Caribbean islands, we are not the richest, and so my goal is to raise up 10,000 author entrepreneurs or authorpreneurs who will be able to replicate what I have done. Because if you keep your publishing costs low, which we aim to do that below a thousand us dollars, then by the time you sell a hundred books, you would have made back your profit.
Then I can teach them the other ways now to create financial freedom with books beyond selling books. So, I would say self-publishing is thriving in the Caribbean, and it's our primary mode of publishing, and the word is just getting out more and more about, not just selling books, but also monetizing your books, and the word about authopreneurship is going out.
Howard Lovy: Going into an authorpreneur career, Ruth said one of the biggest mistakes you can make is thinking it's about you. It's important to remain reader centred rather than author centred.
Ruth Taylor: First, they think that the first book is going to make them a millionaire. They have unreasonable expectations. It takes a while before things take off and so they often are just pushing the book as a product. They don't come to the authorship enterprise with a sense of purpose, and how will my book help others.
Very often the focus is on what they want and their book, and so they are not very reader centred. They're not focused on the audience and oftentimes they're trying to go it alone, and so there is sometimes that resistance to coaching. I find that if they seek to get help, they can grow faster, easier.
The other thing is that they fall victim to a lot of scams, because they don't study the process and they don't understand about publishing in general, then they end up paying more than they should.
As I said, self-publishing is the first path, but I find that many Caribbean authors, they don't want to DIY, they want somebody to do it for them and so they fall prey to scams.
The other mistake is that they don't want to market. I guess it's common across the author world, you just want to write and hope that your book will sell once you put it up on Amazon. So, they don't want to do the work, and you have to recognize that the book won't sell itself, and you need help on the journey.
Howard Lovy: Jamaica is known for its high achievements in music and sports. Ruth hopes to add publishing to that list.
Ruth Taylor: Jamaica has been like a major transit port over the years. So, we're not isolated. We are a gateway to the rest of the world. It's easy access to the UK, Canada and wherever.
Then with online technology, especially with COVID, more people are open to working online and doing things from their home. They're able to, from Jamaica to the world, like how we train Usain Bolt, he dominated world sprinting, but he was trained at home.
So, Jamaicans have always had that outlook to go outward, and we established dominance in a number of industries, reggae music and sports. So, we've always been international. There's a saying that we have, we're little but we're tallower. So, even though we are small, we tend to do great things and cut above our weight.
Jamaica is a very tech savvy country, and so you find that many Jamaican businesses are digital, and we have teenagers winning robotics competitions. So, we've always had that kind of outlook, that from Jamaica we will reach the rest of the world, and so we're open to global endeavour.
So, it's not difficult, it's just the author mindset very often is that you just want to write the book, publish it, throw it up on Amazon and think that it will sell, and you underestimate the amount of work it takes to become a successful author.
Howard Lovy: Between writing, teaching, coaching, and being an entrepreneur, Ruth balances a great many roles.
Ruth Taylor: Am I meeting all my goals? Most of it. This has been like a dream come true. I've always wanted to work from home. I love books. The only thing I don't like so much is the nitty gritty of publishing, and I have finally put a structure in place whereby I'm training coaches to work with clients.
And then I supervise the coaches, because what has happened is that it has been a lot of work and I've suffered burn out. So, for the new year, it's all about living a more balanced life, and so I've met all my goals in terms of the dream career, but what I really want to do is to write and retire, so that by 2030, I don't have to worry about my finances, and I can just teach and write as I like. I don't have to take on so many clients. So, those goals.
The other personal goal would be to get married. Like Joanna Penn I'm child free. I'm unmarried. So, that's the other goal that I would want to meet in terms of personal goals, and acquire some properties, but in terms of career wise, I'm doing what I want to do, I'm living the dream in that sense.
Howard Lovy: Ruth's advice to others who want to become authorpreneurs, use the power of your unique story.
Ruth Taylor: Leverage the power of your story. Sometimes we underestimate our own stories and the value of our own experiences, but you can leverage your experience, your knowledge, and once you get the right support, you're able to do much more than you could ever think or dream. The possibilities are endless.
Remember that your book is not just a product to sell. It's a platform for transformation. It's a vehicle for a vision. So, you need to think beyond just selling the book, but how the book will increase your impact and your income and transform lives.