Saba Tekle is a Publisher and Award-Winning, Best- Selling Author, who’s publishing company 7 Publishing/7 House Media, has worked with over 200 authors since its inception. The success of her business, as well as her book series 20 Beautiful Women, speaks volumes to her expertise and smarts in the industry. As a Black woman in the height of racial injustices being called out and the Black Lives Matter movement, Saba Tekle spoke to Positively Positive of the challenges she’s faced in the publishing industry, saying “the respect level, at times, of course, can be challenging. But it was few, far, and in-between.” She went on to explain, “women of color have made up over 80% of my [company].” Upon entering the industry, her goal was to contribute to its diversity and future, as she stated, “my focus and intent at the start of my business was to work with a diverse group of people, while uplifting women of color.”
In addition to Tekle’s efforts to support women of color in her industry, she has also made the effort to prioritize authors’ interests in ways traditional publishing houses have failed to. Due to the rise of self-publishing, Tekle has even shifted the focus of her business from publishing for authors to teaching self-publishing, as she knows it is more beneficial for authors. Overall, Tekle’s work has always placed emphasis on empowering other authors and elevating the industry to expand their opportunities. As one of the few Black women working in publishing, she has put forth even more effort to help other women, like herself. Tekle hopes that by her speaking on these topics, future and aspiring authors will be better equipped with the insight and information they need to achieve success.
Check out Saba Tekle’s full interview with Positively Positive below:
1. Since you have been in the publishing industry, as the Founder of 7 Publishing/7 House Media, in what ways has the industry changed and what do you foresee as its future?
For the five years I have been in business, I have noticed an increase in the demand and status of self-publishing. Prior, it was somewhat looked down upon.
Now, as brick and mortar businesses are closing due to the economy and Covid-19, which will in turn affect book tours in the future, I foresee the allure of traditional publishing fading. This is because one of their greatest benefits, aside from book advance, is book distribution (physical books in stores), which is not as valuable due to these store closures.
I think this is going to continue to increase the demand for self-publishing.
Self-publishing simply means funding your own book. Self-publishing is true empowerment.
2. As the self-publisher of your award-winning, best-selling series 20 Beautiful Women, through your company, what benefits of self-publishing over partnering with a publishing house do most people not know, that they should know?
The structure of “20 Beautiful Women” wouldn’t fit with partnering with a publishing house, as each author was empowered to profit individually. If I was to compare it to “Chicken Soup of the Soul,” aside from their celebrity co-authors who were given royalties ($.25 – $1.00 per sale), the majority of unknown writers were given $200 – $300 and 10 – 20 books. Whereas my authors were able to sell the book themselves for a one time fee that included a list of things necessary for new writers.
Here is the benefit of self-publishing vs traditional that most people don’t know:
In a traditional setting you are given an advance. An advance is a loan borrowed against your potential. In other words, you must come to a traditional publisher with a platform and a marketing strategy. They will, in turn, evaluate if you are worth investing in, and cut you a check accordingly. Then, you would work with them (them having more creative control) on your book. It could take a year for it to be released, and through sales you would pay back your royalties (as well as services used to help publish you), and then you get about $1.00 or less per book.
In a self-publishing setting, you pay the fees and services upfront, you have creative control, and depending who or how you self-publish you keep 100% of your royalties. Which could total $10.00 + more per book. You have no obligation to sell as you are not tied to a contract that could make or break your career.
In both settings, you are responsible for marketing the book yourself.
With “20 Beautiful Women,” I offered my authors everything upfront, including cover, design, etc.., a team, marketing, pretty much “everything done for them,” and that allowed them to just provide a chapter. This was great for people ready to tell their story and build their brand, who did not have a platform to begin with. They also had freedom to sell books or not.
3. Why did you decide to learn to self-publish, and why do you think it’s important for other authors to learn to do it too?
In the beginning, it did not feel like a decision. I fell into it and ended up learning more than I anticipated. I went to a Hay House Writer’s Workshop on a cruise ship that opened my eyes to publishing as a business. Spiritual or not, it is a business that takes strategy (as well as manifestation).
It is vitally important that authors learn at least the bare minimum to begin, as it can not only cost them thousands of dollars, but a massive amount of time to master it all.
If it did not take so much time and money, I would have never gone into business to make it easier for others.
4. As the publisher of over 200 authors, what made you switch your efforts, more heavily, to promoting and teaching self-publishing entrepreneurism?
My original vision for going into business was empowerment. Self-publishing is empowerment, but you know what is more empowering? Learning how to do it yourself and go into business for yourself. Therefore, my course will serve multiple purposes that will help people save money, as well as, make money.
5. Are there any ways that you think the publishing industry needs to change, including the ways publishing houses fail to prioritize author’s interests?
The publishing industry needs to offer authors options. Much like the music industry there needs to be more people pushing for independence, or being able to offer their own publishing label. No one is pushing the envelope, or pushing for change that leaves writers more empowered.
The options are as follows:
- The option to be able to have physical book distribution. While it is an option for ONE self-publishing printer (Ingramspark – that I know of) you would still have to call/ build multiple relationships with bookstores to get your book in.
- The option to be able to negotiate royalties.
- The option to hire help with self-publishing, affordably. Createspace was once a place to go to, as well as my company 7 House Media, but we both have since changed.
- The option to do it yourself with hands on help.
Those were problems I saw coming into the business that I worked to change. It kept me in business for five years. Now, I am switching gears by offering a course that solves that and more.
6. What do you wish you had known prior to starting your journey into professional publishing, that you can give as advice to hopeful, future publishers?
I wish I knew publishing is a marathon, not a race.
That in publishing, specifically in self-help and spirituality, a book is used for leverage to create multiple streams of income (multiple ways to help people). It is a platform to help people see you as an expert, and that can open you to coaching, speaking, or eventually traditional publishing. Most importantly, it is a marathon where you are building your brand like you would a resume for a high paying job.
7. As one of the few Black women in publishing, what challenges have you experienced in your career to get where you are now?
The respect level, at times, of course, can be challenging. But it was few, far, and in-between. My focus and intent at the start of my business was to work with a diverse group of people, while uplifting women of color. Women of color have made up over 80% of my business. I did it before it was trending, as it was put on my heart to do so.
Due to that, as well as daily practice of gratitude, I did not face many challenges. I am a firm believer in flow. Going where things flow and making that my focus more. Putting my trust in God and the universe of focusing on being of service to humanity also made things easier.
I will say this, I used to put on events for my authors, and that was like “herding cats.” LOL. I eventually had to stop doing events.
8. As a successful entrepreneur, what are your top three tips to successfully selling a book after it has been published?
- Start with friends and family and ask for support – people love supporting. It will help get you to at least break even as far as getting back your investment.
- Combine the book with a promotion, coaching, or package.
- Have an event and team up with local celebrities.
9. What is the most common mistake that first-time publishers make?
Overpromising and under-delivering. Not setting the proper tone for their new author that may have myths or false information, which could be their reasons for publishing.
10. With your knowledge of self-publishing entrepreneurship, it has been announced you are launching an online course called Publishing Empire, which will teach self-publishing and also work as a mentorship to selling your work. What can you tell us about it?
Publishing Empire is about ultimate empowerment.
Publishing outlasted the great depression and last year brought in $25 billion.
My course will show you how to tap into that, while teaching you how to start a business with no inventory, overhead, or long hours of work. It will also increase your visibility and credibility if you are a coach or speaker. Would you like to learn more? Go to www.mypublishingempire.com now.
The publishing industry is not discussed often, even though its status affects an author’s ability to get their original work created and sold. Saba Tekle’s insider insight has opened this conversation and brought to light information those just getting started may not know yet. The takeaway from Saba’s interview shows the trend towards self-publishing entrepreneurism due to its benefits over a publishing house. It is important for any industry to have a woman like Saba Tekle paving the way for its future and for other women to succeed.
Saba Tekle is a Sound Healer, Publisher, Mentor, Huffington Post Contributor and an Award Winning Best-Selling Author. As the founder of 7 Publishing/7 House Media, Saba has worked with over 100 authors worldwide. She is the creator, co-author and publisher of the best-selling book series, “20 Beautiful Women.” This compelling series of books inspired the #20beautifulwomen challenge (in which over a million women participated) and was a blog section in The Huffington Post. Since the release, she has received an invitation to deliver a TEDx Talk as well as been featured in the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, HLN’s The Daily Share, All Africa, Made Magazine, Afro Newspaper, + more. Currently, she is set to release her latest project, a self-publishing course, Publishing Empire, which can be found here: www.mypublishingempire.com.
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