(Interview with Candace Salima, continued. Click here for part one.)
C.S.: Recently you've parted ways with your publisher, Spring Creek Books. What was that like?
CANDACE: It was the not the easiest thing I've ever done. But when Spring Creek went in a different direction than what I needed I had no choice. In all honesty, my publisher told me my goals were too big for him. He pulled my books from the national market and told me that market was no longer available to me. Then he returned the rights to my first two books and kept the rights on the third. So it's been an interesting change which has sparked an idea which had earmarked five to ten years in the future, the launching of my own publishing house.
C.S: It's a bold new world for you now, being completely in charge of your books. What are your goals?
CANDACE: Initially, as soon as the rights of my books were returned to me I purchased the remaining copies and immediately signed a distribution agreement with Brigham Distributing which got my books back into both the LDS and national markets with very little downtime. As I spoke to different publishers and examined their schedules, marketing strategies and goals I realized there was no publishing house doing what I needed. I needed a publishing house willing to aggressively go after both markets.
I started crunching the numbers, first for self-publishing and then for launching my own publishing house. I got the distribution and marketing channels in place, offered the Publisher job to a man I knew could take the company to the top, established tasks and goals for the company and began creating a business plan to offer to interested investors. I am now working hard to launch Valor Publishing, Inc., a company that will aggressively compete in both markets.
I feel no fear with this task, only that it has to be done and finally, a publisher who does what has to be done and puts the money and effort where it needs to be put will be available.
C.S.: For a writer, what is the percentage blend then between creating/writing and marketing?
CANDACE: Easily 50/50. As hard as you work to write the book is how hard you have to work in the marketing. Your book is not going to jump off the shelf, do a "Buy me! Buy me!" dance and launch itself into the consumer's hand to be merrily carried off to the cashier where hard-earned dollars will be plunked down on a virtual unknown. As much as I wish it worked that way, it just doesn't. You have to get out there and make yourself known to the public. Promote your work. You wrote it. You believe in it. Now get out there and sell it. Do book signings, speaking engagements, firesides, craft fairs, radio, television and print interviews . . . literally, make your name a household name. You must stand tall and proudly. You have accomplished what so few have accomplished in the history of this world. You have taken a dream and brought it to reality. That's huge! Now you have to go the rest of the way and share why everyone needs your book in their home.
C.S.: How does one balance this most effectively?
CANDACE: Well, that is not an easy task. For me, I get up early in the morning and write during the hours when every one else is sleeping. Once the phone starts to ring I get ready for the day and write in and out of marketing arrangements and commitments. But the bulk of my writing, good writing, is completely done in the predawn hours of the day. It takes great discipline to continue writing as you promote another book. But if you hope to be more than a "one-hit wonder" you have to exert that discipline and really organize yourself. It's the only way to get the job done.
C.S: Your book, Forged in the Refiner's Fire, really touched me. What was the process like to bring this about? And what was it like to co-write a book?
CANDACE: I was approached by Elizabeth Cheever, my co-author, to write this book with her. We each contacted people we knew to gather stories of trial, tragedy and ultimately, inspiration and were astounded at the strength and courage of each individual who shared their stories. As the book came together, I was amazed at how powerful it was and was so pleased to write that concluding chapter and pull it all together.
Coincidentally, this book was released on February 1st of this year, the day my husband was admitted to the hospital and what began the most harrowing six weeks of our lives. As I read this book to him in the hospital, there were times I was so choked up I could not continue. It gave us great hope as we struggled through this incredibly difficult time. Elizabeth and I hope that it provides much encouragement and inspiration to everyone who reads it. We hope that it has given people a little perspective to know why we all face our trials and tragedies and we are not alone in walking the thorny path of mortality.
Co-writing a book is not the easiest thing to do, because not only do you have to please yourself, you also have to please your partner. The up side is simply that you have someone as invested in the project as you and great ideas are grown of brainstorming sessions.
I am currently writing a book with Merrill Osmond and have found it to be a very intriguing process. So all in all, it's something I intend to do in the future but I will never stop writing my own books either.
C.S.: Well, I'm glad that your husband recovered. Isn't it interesting how your work to bless the lives of others came round to bless you! What new plans do you have for this coming year?
CANDACE: I need to finish books four and five, get the funding for and launch my publishing house (Editor's Note: For anyone interested in funding such a company, please contact Candace directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the particulars), finish remodeling my house, get my life under control, put together the promotional tour for Merrill and myself for February or March of 2007, complete all my book signings and speaking engagements, research and outline books six and seven . . . and I believe I have some nights of sleep scheduled in there too.
C.S: In your opinion, how does a Latter-day Saint best use their talents and gifts?
CANDACE: Our talents and gifts were given to us for the specific reason of completing and accomplishing our missions in life. While I always wanted to be a singer on Broadway, I simply don't have the pipes for it. So we have to discover our talents, spend time in humble prayer to discover what we are to do and throw our whole heart and soul into making it happen. We are given what we are given so that we can aid others in the building up of the Kingdom of God. It's really as simple as that. Hiding our talents is one of the worst betrayals of the Savior out there.
C.S.: So your words of advice for others?
First, what are your interests and talents? What is your greatest talent? (Me, I can sing, draw, plan, organize, play the piano and write. But what I'm best at is writing.) What training is necessary to hone and perfect that talent? What do you have to do to accomplish that training? Make a plan to complete that training and put it into action. Stick with your training and never, never, never let anyone talk you into giving up. Even though twenty years may pass, never give up. The greatest dreams are only gained through the greatest of sacrifice. Your greatest advocate and inspiration will come from the Lord. Do not deny yourself this marvelous gift because others do not understand it. Believe in yourselves. Prior to being born into mortality you knelt at the feet of your Father in Heaven and Savior, Jesus Christ and made promises. It's time to keep them.
C.S.: It was a treat meeting you at the LDSBA Booksellers event. You and your husband make such a sweet pair. What keeps your marriage strong?
CANDACE: It was great finally meeting you, too. I really look forward to interviewing you on my podcast and learning more about your music and writing.
As to my marriage, My husband I each put the other first. His wants, needs and concerns are mine, and vice versa. We are the best of friends and sweethearts. We spend time together laughing, loving, studying the gospel, cheering on the BYU football team (Go Cougars!) and so much more. We are each other's greatest advocate. Of course, neither one of us has achieved perfection so we do not have the perfect marriage. But it is as close as we can come. I love him more than life itself and have spent untold hours petitioning the Lord on my husband's behalf. He is one of the greatest men I know and I feel so privileged to be his wife and look to the gift of walking into the eternities with him. I am very blessed.
C.S.: Speaking of your podcast, here is a link for our readers to learn more. You've interviewed a lot of delightful people. Now for a deeper question, is there a guiding scripture that helps you in any moments of doubt or despair as to whether you're meeting your purpose on this earth? Or perhaps you never have those kinds of moments?
CANDACE: Without question "Nephi's Psalm" found in 2 Nephi 4:15-35 gives me great comfort and peace. Also Alma 32 (the entire chapter) and Mormon 9:31 gives me profound strength at times. The scriptures as a whole give me such peace, strength and knowledge that I carry them with me in my heart and mind at all times. I simply love the word of God, for I know that the answers we seek to every question can be found within those pages if we will simply search for them.
Yes, indeed I despair at times of accomplishing the missions and purposes for which I was put on this earth. At times the physical burdens life throws at us seem too great to bear. But never, never, never can I forget that my Savior and my Father trusted me to complete these missions and I WILL NOT FAIL THEM! I cannot. I made a promise and I so deeply long for the presence of these two in my life that it thrills me beyond belief to share the gospel with the world. This is part of why I write. My testimony is strong and unassailable. I refuse to be deterred and I will, regardless of the difficulties, accomplish what I must.
At times, when I grow most discouraged, going to the temple grants me surcease from the pressures of the world, as do being at the tops of mountains. Conversations with friends and family who seek after the same things as I grant me strength and comfort. And always, the greatest comfort is found in humble prayer with my Father and Savior as I pour out my heart to the Father and find peace and comfort granted unto me in return. We are so privileged to have the ability to fall to our knees and speak to the Supreme God of the Universe--why would we deny ourselves this?
My greatest strengths are found in my Father in Heaven, my Savior, Jesus Christ, my husband and my family and friends. I am the most blessed woman in the world.
C.S.: Any final words of encouragement to share with our readers?
CANDACE: Never, never give up. The only limitations we have are the ones we set on ourselves. Trite, but certainly true. When I was growing in the wilds of the American West never would I have dreamed that one day I would be a published author, about to launch companies of my own, married to the most wonderful man in the universe and surrounded by the greatest of family and friends. Regardless of our circumstances, for certainly I grew up in poverty, there is nothing we cannot accomplish if we have knelt and asked for guidance to know what we must do. Believe in yourself. This would be the greatest thing anyone can do. For once you believe in yourself, the world is yours to conquer, figuratively, not literally.
I thank Candace for taking the time to share with us a little bit who she is and what she seeks in life. At this time of year, as we contemplate gifts for loved ones, I recommend any of her books, but especially Forged in the Refiner's Fire. It is a book that brings the spirit and inspires you to remain firm until the end.
Struggling with your teens? C.S. Bezas book has been called the perfect aid for parents and youth leaders. Powerful Tips for Powerful Teachers: Helping Youth Find Their Spiritual Wings is available in most LDS bookstores and online at DeseretBook.com. Order it today and watch changes begin.