Self-publishing offered chance for Weld County authors to share their stories
January 3, 2018
Sonia Billings was used to juggling a full-time job and theology school as a single mom. She'd just moved from El Salvador to Johnstown after getting married, and for the first time in nearly a decade, she had time. She wanted to do something with it. So she wrote a book.
"I had all this time and all these notes," she said. "I started putting my ideas together."
She gathered her notes to write a guide for women to navigate relationships based on the Bible, she said. She wrote the book, "A Woman's Beauty," in Spanish then translated it to English.
When she started looking for publishers, she learned that El Salvador credentials didn't mean much to American publishers. She'd been a preacher and chaplain in El Salvador, but publishers told her she wasn't qualified.
Just like many would-be book writers, she turned to self-publishing to get her work released. It offered her a way to continue her ministry, she said, and that's what she felt called to do.
"God didn't give me all (those experiences) for nothing," Billings said.
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Traditional publishing earns authors instant credibility, but it's hard to get published. It requires an author to pitch proposals to publishers after writing a sample chapter and other requirements. If the publishing company does decide to publish the book, it'll buy the rights from the writer, print copies, market and distribute it.
Usually authors are paid in advance. The publishing company can use its resources to promote the book for the author. The publishing company also has significant control over edits it wants the author to make on the manuscript.
Self-publishing puts more control into the author's hands. The author is responsible for proofreading the text and creating cover art as well as initially funding the project. The author gets to keep more of the royalties if they choose to self-publish, but they're also responsible for marketing the book.
Billings took a divergent path to writing a book. In El Salvador, Billings was divorced, pregnant and alone when a friend invited her to church. She accepted Christ as her savior then, she said, and began studying the Bible and decided to enroll in theology school.
She was assigned family ministry. She was worried she didn't have any advice to offer anyone, but she read through the Bible and preached about the lessons she found there. Families would speak to her about their troubles, and she would counsel them. She began to take notes on the common struggles she saw. That became a book.
Having more control over the manuscript was a selling point for Tony Carvajal, local author and professor emeritus of the University of Northern Colorado.
"I wanted to submit it the way it was," Carvajal said. "This book has been really dear to me."
Carvajal has self-published a number of novels, including "The Roads We Traveled," "Embraced by Love," "Essential Moments" and most recently, "A Shift in the Stars."
"A Shift in the Stars" tells the story of how a family comes together when a child is diagnosed with autism.
"The book is about faith and believing people are there to help each other," Carvajal said.
The book isn't available in traditional bookstores. Carvajal sells it and his others on Amazon. He also sets up book signing events to distribute the novels and meet the folks buying his books. There's usually a big turn out when he sets up events in Del Rio, Texas, his hometown.
It can be difficult for self-published authors to get into bookstores like Barnes and Noble, Billings said. She plans to keep trying to get her book into local stores as she attends signing events.
On Dec. 18, she signed copies of "A Woman's Beauty" at Homewood Suites at Centerplace alongside authors AJ Powell, John Daly, Jaydine Rendall, Emily Kemme and Colleen Samson.
It can be a constant hustle, but Billings said it's worth it.
"I would like for women to believe they are worthy," Billings said. "I would like to see ladies have fulfilling relationships."