We caught up with the brilliant and insightful NAOMI DUNSEN-WHITE a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
NAOMI, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Almost all entrepreneurs have had to decide whether to start now or later? There are always pros and cons for waiting and so we’d love to hear what you think about your decision in retrospect. If you could go back in time, would you have started your business sooner, later or at the exact time you started?
April 17, 2023
I wish I had started my business sooner. I had owned another business for eleven years, but due to an injury, I had recently closed it. In 2020, when the COVID pandemic arrived, like many people, I couldn’t help but take a good look at my life, my dreams, my plans… my time. I knew I had more to do, more to give, and more to accomplish.
I had written a few children’s stories – one in particular. For years, it had been my dream to publish. I knew it was time. So, I went for it. I jumped out there into the world of self-publishing. I didn’t quite know what to do or how to do it, but I learned. Then I began learning so much about what went on behind the scenes. It shocked me to learn about the depth of the diversity gap in children’s books and the social and emotional impact it had on children of Color. From there, I moved forward with passion. That became my platform. I knew I would make a difference.
If I had started this business sooner, I feel I could have made an even greater impact. I would have learned earlier what to do, and how to help and support other authors so together we could make a difference for the next generation. It’s still great timing, though. Being a book editor and author coach, it became bigger than just me. I am blessed to help others, particularly People of Color, prepare their manuscripts for publishing and themselves to become published authors. That creates a loud voice. That provides positive representation for our children. That makes us a force to be reckoned with.
I am Naomi V. Dunsen-White. I am a children’s author and a book editor, serving the independent author community. My children’s books focus on themes of diversity, self-esteem, self-determination, and purpose. I have a passion for ensuring that children of all cultures, backgrounds and skin tones are represented fairly in children’s books. I believe the wonders of books are for ALL children and not just SOME children.
I had been writing stories for many years, mainly for children, and had dreamed of publishing. Like many of us during the pandemic, I decided I had waited long enough to take a chance. I took the leap and published my first children’s book, “Johari The Great,” and I haven’t looked back. I enrolled in coaching classes and learned how to build a business around my book, and it grew from there. Because of my passion for closing the diversity gap in the children’s book industry, it made sense to use this as my social media platform, and I soon gained a loyal following of like-minded people. I started educating other writers and authors about the diversity challenges. I began supporting other authors and making a name for myself as someone who was committed and invested in making a difference in the lives of children, particularly Black and Brown children. Our community grew, and as it grew, it became even more supportive.
Since I had also been writing for others and editing for several years, I “put out my shingle,” so to speak, and was ready for businesses. So over the past two years, I have been blessed to assist many, many independent authors by refining their manuscripts, offering writing development, coaching them through the self-publishing process, and helping promote their books. We are stronger together, and our impact is being felt and noticed. I am helping authors to be more excellent, more professional and more marketable. That is how we are making a difference. I am most proud of that.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?
My mission is the reduce the diversity gap in the children’s book industry and make as many people as possible aware of it. In addition to writing for children of Color and featuring characters of Color in my books, I help other children’s authors do the same. Within my mission is my desire to raise the level of respect and appreciation for self-published, independent authors and their books.
For a variety of reasons, self-published books are seen by many as inferior, both in content and exterior quality. Yes, there have been some self-published books that have not been excellent. Whether it was a lack of editing, poor formatting, or low-quality illustrations – such books give independent authors a bad rap. Many BIPOC authors have turned to self-publishing their books because of rejection (real or perceived) by traditional publishers. So, that diversity gap? It grows wider.
By providing editing, writing and coaching services to independent authors, I help raise the bar. We are producing books that are well written, professionally formatted and illustrated, and have appealing covers. This is all a part of the mission that drives me to create, produce books, and help others do the same.
What helped me build my reputation is working in excellence and with integrity.
My followers, friends, colleagues, and even my coaches and mentors know I stand strong in my convictions regarding how I run my business, support and celebrate others, and uphold the highest of standards in the books I write and the editing and coaching services I provide.
Yes, I have goals, and, of course, I want to be successful. However, I will not compromise who I am, what I do or how I do it. I’m confident in the belief that everyone knows that about me and Naomi Books, LLC.
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
Image Credits - Photos by Faith Captured Photography, LLC.