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Meet Shamirrah Hill | Children’s Book Author & Self-Publishing Expert

We’re so pumped about our conversation with Shamirrah Hill. Shamirrah is a Children’s Book Author, Self-Publishing Expert and is also a content partner. Content partners help Voyage in so many ways from spreading the word about the work that we do, sponsoring our mission and collaborating with us on content like this. Check out our conversation with Shamirrah below.

Hi Shamirrah, thank you so much for sitting down with us again. For folks who might have missed our initial interview, can you start by briefly introducing yourself?
Shamirrah Hill is the co-founder of DG Self-Publishing and the author of the best-selling children’s book, The Shy Monster. Her online course helps people go from confused aspiring authors to successful published children’s book authors. Her company specializes in illustration packages and start-to-finish support for self-publishing authors.

A lot of people say that they choose DG Self-Publishing because they’ve done their research and there is no one else like you. What do you think people mean by that? What is it that sets your company apart?
We are a one-stop shop. There are many people who offer just coaching services or just editing or just illustrations or just cover design, but we offer it all. We simplify the process that is typically very complicated, stressful, and overwhelming, especially for first-time authors. Also, we represent Black excellence. People are consistently commenting on how professional and organized we are. It really sets us apart and it’s a huge part of why people love working with us. People also love that we are a Black-owned company, lead by a husband and wife, and that we have a full team of professionals who specialize in their individual aspects of the book creation process.

I hear that you’ve been getting a lot of great feedback on your online course called “What to Expect When Self-Publishing a Kid’s Book.” What was your inspiration for creating this course and how does it feel to receive such amazing feedback from the students?
Many aspiring authors have great ideas for children’s books but they fail because they lack the knowledge to properly execute their vision and because they don’t know how to navigate through the self-publishing process. They do things out of order, they skip important steps, they hire the wrong people, and they end up with a book that looks so amateur & unprofessional that no one outside of their close family and friends wants to buy it. We wanted to solve this problem and equip people with the information and tools they need to succeed. It feels amazing to be receiving such amazing feedback because it shows that the hard work and all the time and energy, we put into building this course was well worth it. And it’s awesome to know that, through this course, we are helping so many people, many of whom would not have had the means to purchase one of our full-service illustration packages. It is making the opportunity to self-publish a high-quality successful children’s book more accessible and it’s making a lot of people’s dreams more attainable. We are in the business of making dreams come true, so it’s great to know that we’re now able to do this for more people.

I know you have a lot of free resources available for authors as well. Can you tell us about some of those free resources?
Sure. We’re doing a free training on the “5 Common Mistakes First-Time Children’s Book Authors Make” that people can sign up for through our website. We also have our “50 FAQ For Aspiring Children’s Book Authors,” which is a downloadable guide full of information that anyone looking to self-publish a children’s book should know. We’ve received lots of questions over the years from doing consultations with aspiring authors and working with our clients, so we put this together to answer some of the most common questions that come up and to serve as a helpful resource. We have a free writing guide which is a great tool for people who want to write a children’s book but aren’t sure where to start, or they have an idea for a book, but they’re not sure how to flesh out the idea or how to structure the story. We also have some resources for authors who have already published a book, including “DG Book Club,” which is our Facebook group for children’s book authors to network and share tools, tips & resources that will help them with building their author brand and increasing their book sales. The second resource for published authors is a free list of Black-owned bookstores. This is to help authors with connecting with Bookstore owners who may be interested in ordering copies of their book for their store and it’s also one of the things we are doing to support other Black businesses, which is something that we believe in. All of these free resources are available on our website in the “FREE STUFF” section. Additionally, people who are on our mailing list or who follow us on social media get access to helpful videos, tips, and giveaways, so connecting with us in that way is definitely helpful. For instance, we post informational YouTube videos and Instagram videos and we host weekly conversations on Clubhouse through our club entitled “Black & Self-Publishing.” Participating in our Clubhouse rooms is a great way to network & learn from other professionals in the industry.

Can you talk to us about how the work that you’re doing is making a difference for Black authors and the Black community in general?
More and more people are becoming aware of the diversity problem in children’s literature. There’s a huge need for children’s books that feature Black characters. When children read, they need to see positive images of characters who look like them. It’s an important part of developing their self-confidence and self-esteem and their sense of belonging in the world. Recently there has been a huge wave of Black authors who have decided to answer the call to create Black children’s books and improve diversity in literature, but lots of them don’t have experience with creating or publishing children’s books and they don’t have anyone to guide them through the process. We’re eliminating the barriers that have prevented people in our community from progressing from the idea phase to the completion phase. We’re doing that by either listening to their vision and then turning that vision into a book for them (through our full-service illustration packages) or by giving them the tools to be able to execute their vision for themselves (through our online course). Also, lots of illustrators struggle with illustrating Black characters. It’s difficult for them to capture our features in a way that truly represents the beauty of Black people. The shape of our lips, noses, and eyes, our hairstyles, our body types… all these things are very specific and lots of aspiring authors get frustrated when they hire someone who ends up drawing their Black characters like minstrel show characters (which is quite offensive) or like characters who have Caucasian features with brown skin. Most of our clients are Black authors with books about Black characters, and one of our specialties is drawing beautiful Black characters, so when our clients come to us (oftentimes after firing their previous illustrator), they feel like we are a breath of fresh air and they can finally relax and know that they are in great hands, knowing that they are being taken care of by a company that understands their culture and their vision, the importance of what they are looking to accomplish, and how to accomplish it with excellence.

What products or services do you have available for people who have already published a children’s book, but are looking to grow their author brand or increase their book sales?
We have our social media content calendar for authors, which is a product specifically designed to eliminate all the second-guessing about what to post on social media. It has content ideas planned out for over 365 days as well as content templates that can be customized or posted as-is. We also have DG Flipbooks, which is a service we offer to authors looking to adapt to the times by converting their book into an interactive digital flipbook. Authors submit their book files and we turn their book into a flipbook that can be viewed on any device. It allows people to virtually turn through the pages and even hear the sound of pages turning while they flip through the book on their tablet, computer, or cell phone. It’s also really nice because it allows for instant contact-free delivery and it can be used as a review copy for authors to send out to bookstores, libraries, and other reviewers. Plus, it’s a great took for virtual author visits and virtual storytimes. Also, our online course is a great product for both aspiring authors and authors who have already published a book, because taking the course will prepare them to be more successful with their second book since they’ll be equipped to do things better and more strategically than they may have done with their first book.

For people who are not authors, but would like to support the work that you are doing, what are the practical ways that they can offer their support?
They can follow us on social media, share our posts, refer aspiring authors to us by sending them a link to our website (we do offer referral rewards for our packages), join our affiliate program for our online course, and contact us via email if they are interested in partnering with our company, making a donation, or providing a scholarship so that an author who wouldn’t otherwise have the means, will be able to receive one of our full-service illustration packages. They can also email us if they’d like to interview us and/or feature us on their website, blog, podcast, or other platforms. We are always open to making connections with like-minded people who are doing positive things.

It was so great to reconnect. One last question – how can our readers connect with you, learn more or support you?
Our website is dgselfpublishing.com and our Instagram is @dg_selfpublishing

An email can be sent to our team by using the Contact Us section of our website and any aspiring author interested in our packages, which include editing, illustrations, cover design, layout/formatting, and marketing materials, can schedule a free phone consultation using the Consultation link on our website. Also, for people who have already used our products or services, you can leave a review on our Facebook page and on Google. We love receiving specific feedback about what people enjoyed about their experience with us and this feedback helps other people find us and connect with us so that we can be of service to them as well.

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Image Credits
DG Self-Publishing William Flowers Winston Hill Donald Hill Shamirrah Hill Ashley Diamond Terril Bates Jonelle McCollough Shonn Alexander Keneesha Judge Natalie M. Kennedy Shanequa Waison-Rattray

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