This month I decided to feature companies that provide services to the literary community. I purchased book thongs from Debra when Secrets and Lies was released and gave one to a book club president. She asked me where I'd gotten them and said she wanted to buy them for her book club for Christmas. It was then that I realized, hey, I have alot of book clubs reading this blog and they perhaps would like to know about some of the providers of literary services, because of course they love all things literary. So up first is one of my favorites. Debra has a great service. Her products are beautiful.
Hi Deb, welcome to Urban Christian Fiction Today. Introduce yourself and tell us about your literary business. Hello! I'm Debra Owsley and my company is Simply Said Reading Accessories. I create, custom design and made by hand, reading accessories such as Gift-Marks, also known as Bookmarks, Book Thongs, which is Jewelry for the book lover and Note Cards that we call Love Notes for Authors, Book Stores, Book Clubs and Book Lovers.
I took my need to support my “book habit” into a business I truly love!
Who are your customers? Anybody who wants bookmarks! Authors, bloggers, bookclubs. Some of my customers have been Pat G’Orge Walker, Sherryle Kiser Jackson, Dwan Abrams, and many others who write outside of Christian fiction like Carleen Brice who has a Lifetime Movie previewing this week, and new authors like you Rhonda.
How did you get started? I am also a hairstylist and most of my clients read while under the dryer. One Christmas I decided to make them a bookmark for presents that year. They went over very well. The following year, I was trying to figure what to give again and noticed they were still using the bookmarks! Several asked me to make some as gifts and Author Marcia King-Gamble asked me to create some for her for a event she was doing. I also got orders from some area bookstores. I then started selling them at book events and book festivals I attend
Like all business, there are ups and downs in publishing. The current economic downturn has caused a sharp reduction in book sales. How does this affect your business? Sales have been very slow the last year or so. And the authors are not getting the advances they once got. It’s been tough. I really had to create packages and sets of items that would be the best value for the money. I didn't attend a few events that I normally would have. I see things moving a bit more and I'm adding on more products and services. Knowing that people are on a tight budget, My focus has been giving them something that they will get plenty of use from while retaining their information, that fans will really hold on to. I had to change direction a bit and become more intentional about my direction.
Share a rewarding or successful literary experience you’ve had recently. I recently had a lady call me who got a bookmark from someone as a gift. She was giving a Tea Party and ordered 250 bookmarks, to “mark” the event with a prayer on the back. It always amazes me how far a bookmark can go. I always tell authors that giving a “giftmark”, really makes people hold on to them and since they are gift quality, people give them as gifts.
One thing I happy been especially grateful for was that several of the authors I have worked with or connected with, such as Donna Hill, Bernice MsFadden and Carleen Brice, featured my work during the holiday season. I was truly surprised and quite humbled to the fact they thought enough of what I do to, give Simply Said Reading Accessories a shout out. SORMAG’s LaShaundra Hoffman also blessed me in a huge way. To me being successful is not always in money, but in the kindness of friends, just because. It was also very satisfying to know people are paying attention.
Share with me your dream opportunity for Simply Said Reading Accessories. I have been working hard to take this business to another level. I am adding on more products and offering additional services. I also would like to coach authors how to make things happen on a really tight budget. You just need some imagination and a plan. Some people can’t see the forest for the trees, and I want to help them to see all that it’s all right in front of you and it’s truly within reach. I guess project coordinator would be the name of that hat! One of the things that I have going for me is , yes I’m in the business but I still think like a fan. I feel that once you stop looking at things from a fan’s perspective you lose insight. I also would love to pull together a team of people who are excellent in what they do. I have had the chance over the last few years to meet the cream of the crop, and cream always rises to the top. One other thing I intend on doing is to hire some of the young sisters and brothers I see with so much talent and show them how to turn that into an income. Simply Said Reading Accessories in five years will be a force to be reckoned with.
What do you enjoy reading? Any Christian Fiction favorites or recent notable reads? I read several books a week, anything from romance to , depending on my mood. I just finished reading Beautiful Ugly by Shelia Lipsey. The acknowledgement was “To Ugly” and it just made me weep. It was the perfect siegway to a great story about how people see themselves and live in such a ugly life because of demons that haunt you. I am looking forward to reading Secrets and Lies which I’m hearing great things about.
Where can writers find you on the Internet. I would love to connect with you! If you leave Rhonda a comment and email and tell me you read this blog, I would love to offer you a 25% off any retail item! Authors or people who need promotional material, let’s talk. I have a special offer for you. I can be reached at www.simply-said.net, www.facebook.com/simplysaid, www.simplysaidreadingaccessories.blogspot.com
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