Virtual Book Tour: Interview with ChaChanna Simpson, author of LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: WHAT YOUR PARENTS AND PROFESSORS NEVER TAUGHT YOU

ChaChanna Simpson is an editor, professional speaker, syndicated columnist with The Connecticut Post online (www.connpost.com) and author of her first book Life After College: What Your Parents and Professors Never Taught You. She has been featured in The Stamford Advocate, NewsTime180.com, Power 104.1fm’s radio show, What’s Good Hartford? and 89.5fm’s radio show, Black Prospectives, empowering twentysomethings with real, no holds barred advice on successfully transitioning into life after college. Her favorite quote is "You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try."-Beverly Sills

Her website Twentity.com, is an Internet magazine dedicated to advising recent college grads on their next steps after graduation. This idea came to her when she walked into her own apartment for the first time and was hit with the realization that she was the one who was supposed to get the light and cable turned on. "Don't they come with the apartment?"

Realizing she wasn’t the only recent college grad who had no clue of how to do anything, she created Twentity.com, a website dedicated to providing answers to questions such as: how to find an apartment, what is life insurance and why do twentysomethings need it now, how to meet people after college and many more questions. The response was overwhelming and as a result of this need, ChaChanna recently began visiting college campuses working with students on "real world preparation" skills and successfully transitioning into the work world.

ChaChanna is a strong believer of helping out in the community and spends her “free time” volunteering at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, E-mentoring on icouldbe.org, and preparing meals for St. Luke’s Lifeworks community center once a month. She has been known to say: “I believe that we are all on this planet for a purpose: to help others. I refuse to believe we are on this planet to just wander around and only care about ourselves. Yes, we are born alone but we don’t exist alone.”

A graduate of The College of New Rochelle, NY, this Norwalk, CT resident is an active member of Give 'N Take Network, Stamford Chamber of Commerce, The Urban Professionals Network and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

You can visit her website at www.twentity.com.

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Welcome to The Writer's Life, ChaChanna. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Sure, I am the editor of an Internet magazine, Twentity.com, which is a place where recent college grads can go to learn what to expect after college. I’ve been running it for four years, this month. Before that I had my own copywriting business and I was writing copy for direct mail companies. I have been writing for 12 years.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Gladly! Life After College: What Your Parents and Professors Never Taught You answers questions such as: I've graduated from college, now what do I do? How do I adjust to moving back home with my family? Why is it taking so long for me to find a job? How do I focus on what I want to do rather than what my parents want me to do? How do I manage my finances? And much more

This book provides solutions readers can immediately use to help make their transition from college life into the real world easier. I’ve also included stories and tips from recent college grads sharing their wisdom and experiences so college grads know they are not alone in trying to make it in the real world.

What kind of research was involved in writing Life After College: What Your Parents and Professors Never Taught You?

I used my own experiences from graduating college as a guide for what a new college grad would need to know. After that it was a matter of contacting experts on the topics, verifying information and finding resources to recommend.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I had total input on the cover. I just told the designer what I was looking for and she went from that.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

It’s actually smooth sailing because I used a print-on-demand company. So I didn’t have to bother waiting to get a contract then waiting a year or more to actually see my words in print. I don’t have much patience.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

It took two months. It would have been sooner but when I got the proof I noticed some errors and had to make corrections.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

No, I didn’t work with an agent. If you are looking to get a traditional publishing contract, I would definitely recommend getting an agent. They already have the contact with publishers or know how to find a way in. You do have to be careful on who you allow to market your book. Sign on with an agent who is not going to charge you up front before showing you any results. Usually agents get their cut from making the deal with a publisher. So, just keep that in mind.

I didn’t go with an agent because I was always planning not to go the traditional route. I want to retain all the rights to my work and get more of the profit. So for me, the only way to go was print-on-demand.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I am working on a book about dating and relationships for twentysomethings.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I am definitely a morning writer. My brain just works so much better in the morning. By the afternoon, I lose momentum. And at night forget it, I’m looking for my pillow not a pen.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A public relations firm. Writing the book was the first step but now I have to promote this thing, which is a lot of work. A PR firm already has contacts with the media. And is trained in how to promote and entice the public. That is something that I am having to find out on my own.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Self-promotion is essential if you want to actually sell your books. It doesn’t matter if you go the traditional route or self-publish it. Just because you put your book out there doesn’t mean that people are going to be stepping over each other to get it. That would be nice. They have to know about you and your book and the only way that is going to happen is if you promote yourself.

I am promoting myself by doing social networking, sending out notices to my email list, scheduling talks at colleges, libraries and bookstores. Also doing a blog tour and sending out press releases to the media to hopefully get some press and generate interest.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Yes, I have had plenty of people tell me that they want to write a book and ask me how do I did it. And to all those would-be authors, I want to say if you want to write a book, just start writing. You don’t have to write the whole book in one day. Commit to writing one sentence, paragraph or page a day. And after awhile you will have a manuscript. Take it one step at a time.

Thank you for coming, ChaChanna. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Thank you for letting me share with your readers! To get more information or to purchase my book you can visit www.lifeaftercollegebook.com.

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ATTENTION: This interview is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion. As a special promotion for ChaChanna Simpson's book, LIFE AFTER COLLEGE, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away one FREE virtual book tour or $50 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments on ChaChanna’s blog stops during her virtual book tour in July. Leave a comment below to have a chance to win one of these prizes! For more stops on ChaChanna's book tour, visit www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com.
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