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Today, we interview author Diana Layman, Author of "The Magic Strand,"

Why did you start your business?

In the summer of 2007, on a family trip to Glacier National Park, we visited an electromagnetic anomaly with "mysterious" properties. I had an idea that this place would be the perfect spot for an access point between dimensions (alternate-earth time-space). As a long-time professional ghost-writer and mother, with my eldest child approaching puberty, I thought about writing a book about a human girl who is raised in an alternate dimension who is returned home to (our) earth as she turns 14 - sort of a reverse Wizard of Oz, mixed with Gulliver's Travels, Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan and Harry Potter.

After feeling out-of-place growing up as a giant in a magical Lilliputian world, Aurora (aka Rory) finally comes "home" only to be confronted by all the issues facing teens in America today. I wanted to explore the concept of "fitting in" in a way that empowers young teens and confront some of the issues they face without lecturing like a parent. Under the guise of fantasy and adventure, I wanted the story to teach or at least present issues without giving clear answers or making a parental opinion clear while still providing tools for good decision making. Further, I wanted to explore the issue of how the Internet, movies, TV and phones influence our perception of reality without our knowledge or permission. Several teachers who read the completed manuscript indicated that they believed I had created a classic story that could benefit anyone who read it, and it seemed like I had a responsibility to make sure people got a chance to read it.

What unique challenges did you face in starting your business and how did you overcome those challenges?

Even though I had professional writing credentials, to date I have been unsuccessful in finding a literary agent. This happens to many thousands of writers, both good and not so good. To make light of the acceptance of a difficult situation, I say that I could, "wallpaper my bathroom" with the rejections I have received from the agents I have contacted. I have not given up and will continue to contact them, hopefully strengthening the case for traditional publication as I go. After receiving my 40th rejection, I began to lose hope that the book would ever be published. I saw my dream of making something of value available to parents and children nationwide slipping away. Somehow, I just couldn't let that happen.

As I spent many years as a marketing exec in high technology business and I had a vision the whole time I was writing of what a great movie this story would make, I started thinking that I could make the book available on the net in a really cool and possibly unique way. I liked the idea of taking the elements found in a movie and inserting them into the book and onto a website to spark interest. I also believe that if agents and publishers can get a real “feeling” about the story from the web site, I might be able to “strip” the wallpaper away.

I started with a shoestring budget, pulled and melded together two separate flash templates which I purchased online for less than $200, researched the Internet for the right kind of music and images, wrote all the text and hired a web design company to get it all up and running. I applied for copyright and an ISBN number and the site went live on April 15, 2011. I give visitors illustrated story excerpts and two sample chapters to read before purchase. There is a testimonial section with comments from other readers, a Q&A section with the author, and photos of actual places that appear in the story. To make sure parents feel comfortable purchasing the book online, I provide a printable document explaining the concept of the book and how to purchase it online. Even if the traditional publishing world doesn’t get it, I believe that young readers will. Why do I believe that? Keep reading.

Increasingly, books are becoming available online. The advent of the Kindle and the Nook are converting readers to e-books at an astonishing rate, "...$90.3 million in revenue in February -- roughly triple the sales reported in the same month last year," (source: and paper book sales decline every year. And these figures do not even include phones as sources for electronic reading.

In addition, schools are getting into the act changing from paper text books to online textbooks in an effort to save districts money and tap into the growing positive feelings about online reading and learning. "Nationwide, 15 percent of elementary schools have turned to Studies Weekly {online materials} for their core materials in social studies and science." (source:

Young people love working with online materials and are excited by the kinds of graphics that make reading materials more interesting. Although most 9 to 14 year old readers don't have access to their parents' e-readers, many do have access to a computer at home.

To meet the growing demand for computer-based reading material, entrepreneurial authors like me are designing their own web sites and graphically illustrating their work to make reading more attractive for online readers from 9-14 and on up, to adulthood.

Finally, as many teachers will readily admit, comic books have always been an impetus to spur reluctant readers. You have only to investigate the growing popularity of graphic novels (virtually unheard of 20 years ago) to know that illustrated work appeals to a stratum of readers who rarely, if ever, read anything of novel length unless it is illustrated. If I can reach younger readers who do not read traditionally published novel length fiction, especially with this kind of message, so much the better.

What kind of publicity activities have you done for your business?

My public relations activities are in their infancy. First, I built The Magic Strand’s Face Book Fan Page (now accessed through Like). Every bit of publicity will be posted on it as well as on my personal Face Book page. I designed business cards and have been distributing them through school libraries wherever possible as a spur to reluctant readers as mentioned above. I have sent business cards out to 150 friends and family and have asked them to distribute them as well. One of my college friends forwarded one of my Face Book postings to a famous sci-fi writer (Robert Greenberger) who gave me a plug on his Face Book page. I am pursuing “mom” bloggers and children’s book reviewers, offering free copies of the book. I have a friend who is a public relations agent who is pursuing several avenues for me, but the most important thing I hope to do is make The Magic Strand available online for free at public libraries across America. I intend to get nationwide editorial coverage to publicize the availability to the general public.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs out there who want to make their business ideas a reality?

Never say die. There are few things as strong as faith - people are willing to die for it - and I have faith in myself and my story. The hardest thing I face every day is the knowledge that the odds are stacked against me. In some ways that is a freeing experience, because there is no place to go but up, but in others, it makes every activity feel like climbing Mount Everest. I believe in myself and I believe in the quality and intrinsic value of my story and its message. I just keep thinking that I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and that if I can help one kid understand how to make a good decision when there are no good options, it is worth it to me. I think every successful entrepreneur needs that unshakable personal faith and faith in their product or service to succeed.

I will send a free copy of the e-book to anyone who knows of a child whose family cannot afford the price of the book. Contact me at

Thanks for your great tips and advice Diana. How about you? Do you need help with your self-published book? Please contact me here or at Thanks!