Industry Influencer: Allena Tapia

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Allena Tapia took some time this month to let our Industry Influencer spotlight shine on her! We first found Allena on About.com where she is a regular writer, but she is also the founder of GardenWall Publications LLC, a freelance writing, editing, and translation company located in Lansing, Michigan. Allena’s knowledge of the poetry biz and her blogging experience makes her advice invaluable, and we’re happy to share it with you!

What’s the most crucial advice you would give an aspiring freelance writer?

If they are in it for the career, I would advise them to approach freelance writing like a business. Make your decisions from a business perspective. For those who simply love to write about certain subjects, or want to see their name in print, I’d push them toward volume. You’ll not meet your goals by dabbling.

How important is blogging for authors? What tips do you have for writers in regard to creating a successful blog?

For authors, as in book authors, I would say it’s of middle importance, as long as it’s in line with the remainder of your platform building. Think of this from a reader’s standpoint: You love a book. You miss the characters when you are done. What do you do? You search for the author. You see what else they’ve written. You want to read their thoughts and maybe some insider info on the characters. A lot of this can be served by a static website. The blog is an extra, personal step. But blogging takes time, so using other platforms like Twitter or a Facebook fan page might be a smarter bet for some authors.

How did you get into specializing in Latino issues in your career? Do you think a writer has a better chance at success if he/she has a specialty too?

I always recommend developing a specialty for several reasons. 1) It’s how you climb the cash ladder. People are willing to pay more for an expert. 2) It cuts down on researching. Researching kills your bottom line and hourly rate (especially for people like me who are knowledge hungry and highly distractable!). I studied Spanish in high school and college, and ended up marrying into a large Latino family. My children identify as Latino, so, as a mother, I made knowing and understand the culture my business. I’ve been steeped in this culture for more than a decade, and am open to the unique challenges, issues, and benefits of it. My family has a home in Mexico, and my Spanish continues to improve.

How do you think Twitter has changed the writing world?

It’s all about the platform. If you look back to before the Internet began, and then, even before social media specifically began, what was the writer’s platform at that time? I don’t know! I wasn’t in the business then. But this ability and need to communicate with your audience in such a unique way is exhilarating.

What’s the most common way that you learn about new authors?

I’d have to say through Facebook. I hear about new authors and titles through friends and other writer colleagues.

Thanks to Allena Tapia for taking the time to answer our questions and shed light on these publishing industry issues for our readers. Follow Allena Tapia on Twitter, find her on Facebook, and check out her piece about Writer’s Relief on About.com!

QUESTION: Before the advent of social media, how did you promote yourself as an author?

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