For Terri Giuliano Long, self-publishing was never on her radar screen as she held tightly to a dream of publishing her first novel with a traditional publishing house.
She had earned an MFA, taught writing at Boston College, and completed the novel, but once her four daughters, now ages 30 to 36, moved out, she felt time was passing by as she waited for acceptance by a traditional publisher in a difficult market.
“I realized I could wake up and be 75” with no published novel to show for it, she said.
Timid at first, Long eventually dove headfirst into the emerging field of independent publishing. She created a platform for her book by becoming active in social media and staying in touch with readers — work that kept her busy “1,200 hours a week,” she jokes. The long hours were something she says she never could have found while raising her family.
Since then, she’s sold 125,000 copies of “In Leah’s Wake” and took first place in the Indie Discovery Award literary section. Her second self-published novel, “Nowhere to Run,” comes out this spring, and Long now has a full-time assistant and mentors other writers.
Beverly Breton Carroll, a lifelong writer and writing teacher, also mentors writers — with a unique nonprofit niche. In 2010, she applied for and earned a Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship, which honors the work of the renowned Rosie’s Place founder.
Carroll created SPARC — Support Partnership and Realtime Communication — a writing and mentoring program. SPARC empowers needy women from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds to improve their lives by enhancing their communication skills.
Carroll founded the program after her son, now 22, headed off to college, leaving her with a strong desire to do something that would make a difference, she says. The time was right to “walk through the door to the next adventure.”
At a recent fund-raiser, supporters attempted a challenging and fun writing exercise: to create a six-word biography. One woman wrote: “Nest is empty. Life changes direction.”
Mindy Pollack-Fusi is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.