Always and Forever, Love: Otis G. Sanders (Guest Author)

As part of the Black History Month book bloggers hop organized by Mocha Girls Read. This week is about business related topics pertaining to black authors. And so my guest author today is Otis G Sanders, a lovely African American man I met at the Los Angeles Black Book Expo where I did my first book Signing. He bought a copy of AHTM because he had visited Lagos before and wanted a contemporary take of the city in a novel. He also told me about his book project on love and marriage, and we decided to keep in touch. The book project was completed late last year and I was blown away when I received my copy of Always and Forever, Love: Success stories of 20+ years strong.

Enjoy my interview with Otis about his writing journey below. It is a two part interview and tomorrow, we'll round it up with the stories behind finding these couples. Don't miss it, one lucky commenter will be getting a free copy of Always and Forever, Love.

Q: Tell us about the book, Always and Forever, Love.

This book is a celebration of the institution of traditional marriage. With approx. 50% of all marriages in America ending in divorce there is a desperate need to bring to light the other 50% of marriages that survive where the couples are happy and in love after 20 years or more of marriage. This book, "Always&Forever, Love" consists of approx. 50 married couples of different Ethnic groups that have been married not less than 20 years. Each couple was interviewed and photographed to produce this book. Each couple has 2 pages in the book, one page will be highlights of what they have done to make their marriage work, and the opposite page will be a full page photograph of the couple. Different Ethnic groups were used to demonstrate that there is no difference between the races when it comes to the institution of marriage. What makes a marriage work for an African American couple is the same for an Anglo, Hispanic, Interracial, or Asian couple.

Q: Tell us more about your own life, and how does that affect your writing?

A: Well, since the age of 12 I’ve been involved in photography.  That involvement has gone on now for more than 20 years. During that time I also developed a love for reading, but more importantly I developed a love for the craftsmen and women of the written word.  It’s always been a desire of mine to write.  I’ve always thought that if I could write well enough to convey as much information as a photograph could I will have accomplished my goal.  Since Always and Forever, Love is my first book and I wrote from information gained through interviews, I think it’s a good attempt to get my foot in the door of writing.  Thus far the things I write about will have to have a photography aspect so that I can use those talents along with the written word.

Q: What do you do in addition to writing? Where can readers find you online?

A: In addition to writing, I'm involved in photography and Home Improvement.  I can be found online @ http://alwaysandforeverlove.orghttp://seventhson.org,
twitter: @alwaysn4everlov, @77thePlace

Q: I see that the people in the book live all across the country. Did you have to do a lot of traveling?

A:  I didn't have to do any more traveling that I would have done anyway.  I have a son in Atlanta that I often visit, so I chose couples in places I that visit frequently.  During this project I had to drive cross country a few times as I had to take photography equipment with me to photograph the couples and flying and renting cars for such a long period of stay would not have been economically sound.  I was away from home a lot because of the project and scheduling the couples in different states.

Also, while I was traveling I set up Home Improvements while away to make some of the money back I spent while on the road.   During the span of interviewing and photographing couples down south I was able to remodel 3 bathrooms, install 100 toilets and perform any number of Home Repair jobs.

Q: What was your publishing journey like, from thinking of the idea to when you held the first copy?

A:  Wow, it has been a journey indeed!!  I would not trade the experience for anything, I've learned a lot!  There were times when I came in from work knowing I had to write articles for the book, but was just too tired to do anything. Other times I just could not put the words together, even though I was well rested.  There were other times I had to stay at home and write, interview couples or photograph them while my family was out having a good time taking trips and having fun.  There were times when I wanted to just stop the whole project. I drove cross country last year in January getting caught in snow and ice storms to finish up couples for the book.  I was always on my last dollar doing this project, but it was all worth it when I saw the book coming off the presses and held the first copy in my hands. When that happened, I felt that I had done one more of the things I wanted to do before I left this earth.

Q: What has been the reception for the book?

A:  The reception for the book has been great!  It's not being sold everywhere, but the places it's being sold and during my book signings people have been expressing the need for such a book on successful marriages. I think judging from the reception thus far, when I'm able to spread it far and wide the reception will be even greater.

Q: So you are self-published, what has the business side of writing been like for you?

A:  The business side has been interesting, because being self published means you have to do everything yourself!  Now that the production is over, the marketing and selling begins.  All in all it's been good, just a little slow because I can only do so much in a 24 hour day while having to work other jobs. I decided before the book was finished that since it took 3 years to finish the book I will dedicate not less than 5 years marketing the book.

Q: How do you distribute your books, and do you make enough money to remain in business?

A:  I'm working on getting a distributor to help get my book out to book stores, but until then I will continue to set up book signings, speaking engagements on my own, sell the book on my website: and on and any where I'm allowed. (I keep at least 5 copies of my book with me at all times as I'm constantly telling people about the book.) Hopefully when the book is finished being converted to an E-book I will get more activity in different areas as e-books can be purchased world wide.

From the beginning, I didn't expect to make money from the book until the second or third printing.  Since I do other work along with writing I didn't expect writing to be the end all as far as money is concerned.  I would like to make money from publishing, but I do realize it's just like everything else, there is a learning curve in writing, publishing, marketing, and selling as it relates to books.

Q: Do you ever plan to publish another book? Will it also be related to your photography?

A:  Yes! Definitely!  I'm working on a follow-up to "Always & Forever, Love" right now, and I'm planning on publishing a photography book of my Character Portraiture within the next three or four months.  Thus far, all the books I'm planning to publish in the near future will include my photography.  I've always wanted to put words with my photography, and this is the best way thus far to accomplish that.