Meet Joy Farrington: A creative business leader with a passion for books, writing and literature, Joy Farrington is the President of Lit Diva, Inc. She’s hosted virtual book tours for authors, interviewed established writers such as poet, Nikki Giovanni, and managed successful book clubs. It’s no wonder she’s the author of the book, A Literary Diva’s Guide to Hosting a Fab Book Club Meeting. This literary diva and virtual assistant to authors is online at Livdiva.com. Keep reading to find out what she has to say about the literary market, up-and-coming authors and the state of the book industry.
WMI: What has the process of evolving from leading a book club to providing virtual support services to authors, coaches and other creative business leaders been like for you?
JF: Well, it was actually a pretty easy transition when I think back on it. Many book club presidents are asked by authors for help in some way. This tends to lead to book club presidents starting a side-hustle which may lead to greater opportunities. As for me, I was always helping authors through by book club, whether it was with marketing, connecting authors with other book clubs or planning an event; I loved every minute of it. So, I always knew I wanted to do something with “this book club thing” as my friends called it, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about doing it. An earlier business I started focused on online book marketing and networking. However, my mentor, Andrew Morrison, took me aside. He would tell me, “You need to focus on what you’re doing now…helping authors.” It took a while for me to understand what he meant, but after I understood what he meant, I changed my business model to a virtual assistance (VA) service for authors; it was a perfect fit for me.
WMI: How did you arrive at the name, the Lit Diva, Inc.? And how important is a company name for business branding and expansion?
JF: Lit Diva, Inc. is a spinoff of my book, A Literary Diva’s Guide to Hosting a Fab Book Club Meeting. It’s also a nod to one of my favorite chick lit books, Diva, Inc., which is written by Donna Hill.
Branding is a key to everything. When people think about my company I want them to tie it into literary services. For me it’s very important that, when people think about me, they also think about my brand. And so far it’s working. I’ve been referred to as “that lit diva lady,” “the lit diva,” and other variations of the term. I love it because even if people don’t remember my name, they remember my brand.
WMI: Tell us about specific services Lit Diva, Inc. offers to authors and coaches?
JF: Not to generalize it and say we offer everything, but we come pretty darn close. I focus on literary services which could range from marketing to book creation to help with self-publishing. But mostly I provide administrative work which varies depending on a client’s needs. For instance, one author may ask for help handling incoming calls and scheduling speaking engagements while another author may ask me to contact bookstores and schedule book signings. I also act as a project manager for one time projects: creating book cover designs, book editing, book trailers, and typesetting. Since I’m a solo-preneur, having a team of subcontractors in place who I know do exceptional work has helped me to expand my services and obtain more clients.
WMI: A few years ago self-published books were frowned upon. Authors had to work hard to get their independently published books into libraries and bookstores. The landscape has changed. That said, in what key ways do you see self-publishing changing even further over the coming two to three years?
JF: Self-publishing has become a huge game-changer for the book world. I think there were two tipping points that changed the way the world views self-published authors. First, you have print-on-demand companies like Lulu or CreateSpace that allow authors to retain a high percentage of royalties, print as few as one book at a time for a reasonable price, and create a product that could stand up next to the big-wig major publishing companies. When well-known and respected experts and writers realized the benefits of self-publishing and jumped on the band wagon, their status helped elevate self-publishing in many people’s eyes. Self-publishing is still frowned upon by many and it might be hard for self-published authors to get their books in certain book stores or placed in libraries but it’s definitely more respected then a few years ago.
WMI: When did you start offering virtual book tours? What’s included in a tour package?
JF: I started offering Virtual Book Tours in January of this year and again it was a natural transition of the services I already provided. I offer four packages. Some of the benefits and services included in the packages are scheduled blog stops to help promote your book, a 30 second book video, a podcast interview, bookings on blog talk radio shows and even a press release to help announce the virtual book tour.
WMI: Share two success stories about authors you’ve worked with, one story focusing on your services to help an author publish their first book, another story regarding how your services helped an author market and sell more books?
JF: I’m the co-facilitator of “Write Your Book in 30 Days.” It’s a monthly challenge where I help writers and entrepreneurs write a book in a month. The goal is for them to have a product to sell as a back-of-the room product, to garner media interests, and/or use their books to build a platform. During the challenge, I have many participants contact me to help them finish creating and publishing their book. Over 1,000 people participated in the challenge which resulted in numerous new books being created, books that have helped authors to reach another level in their careers.
Another story I would like to share regards my marketing efforts for Ryan Mack and his book, Living in the Village. Ryan is a well known financial expert who has been seen on CNN, BET, FOX and so forth. He had a marketing goal to connect directly with the community and also get a certain amount of pre-sale orders and I helped him reach both of those goals.
WMI: What do you mean when you use the term “multi-stream products?”
JF: Well multi-streaming a product is when you take one product and turn it into various formats. So, in essence, you’re creating different streams of income from one product. Speakers are great at doing this. For example, speakers may take an audio recording from a teleconference they delivered and get the recording transcribed. This way they have a 5-7 page report that they can sell along with the audio recording. They may then take the report and expand it into a book. They may then take the recording, report and book and create an e-course or home study course. I help authors and speakers create multi-stream products by showing them how easy it is to create different products. I also help them during the product creation process.
WMI: Has your creative business platform grown purely due to your online marketing efforts or do you also incorporate offline marketing strategies into your business expansion campaigns? If you do, what are some of the offline marketing strategies you’ve found to be most effective?
JF: I focus most of my marketing efforts online but I also rely heavily on word of mouth. Most of my clients are through good old fashion referrals. I don’t do as much offline marketing as I’d like. However, my offline marketing efforts usually involve attending literary and networking events.
WMI: What are some of the topics you cover in Kick Ass Self-Publishing Guide for Entrepreneurs?
JF: The book focuses on how entrepreneurs can mark themselves as an expert by writing a book. Since, in my book, I’m speaking directly to entrepreneurs I also talk about creating multiple streams of income, how to build a platform by publishing a book, the best print-on-demand services, e-book publishing, and of course self-publishing basics.
WMI: The economy has presented its share of challenges to creative business leaders over the last three to four years. What steps have you taken to keep Lit Diva, Inc. viable during this change period?
JF: Because of the economy, I’m constantly offering specials and discounts. I also offer services on Elance and Odesk to expand my reach; work I’ve received from these sites has helped me get through the lean months. Authors and speakers work in seasons, so, for instance, I could be swamped with work in January, but have a dry spell during the holidays.
WMI: Is it important for creative business leaders to get college degrees in fields like marketing, e-commerce or media relations? Why or why not?
JF: It depends on the service. There are some creative fields where it’s ok not to have a degree because your work speaks for itself. But I think creative leaders, like publicists and agents should have a degree or, at the very least, years of experience. When you’re dealing with someone’s career, you better know what you’re doing. And even if a person doesn’t have a degree, going through a certification process every couple of years or take ongoing e-courses will help keep them informed about this ever growing business. There are too many fly-by-night literary companies out there so a degree or certification would help a business owner in the creative field to stand apart from the rest.
WMI: What’s next for Joy Farrington and Lit Diva, Inc.? What do you see yourself doing three to five years from now?
JF: Wow! What’s next? Well, definitely more books are in the works as well as workshops and seminars. Also, I plan to expand my company and take on a couple of virtual assistants. I dunno, at this stage, it seems like the sky’s the limit.
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