There are many creative souls throughout the nation, even the whole planet, who feel as if they were born with creative will—that is, an imagination that sparks them to delve into creation through visual, audio, and written communication. It can be said that Alexis Pettway, who is a passionate and articulate poet, is one of those unique spirits blessed and gifted from the time she was small, as she was accepted in her city’s project The Young Authors’ Club at only six years old, and she knew from that age what she already planned to do with her life.
Alexis published her first book of poetry this year, Journey Thru Love, and is thrilled to bring her work to the public. Alexis plans on continuing her journey as a poet and writer, and speaks of her will to live life on her terms, through a poetic transformation from young woman to talented and inspirational poet and writer. Unlike many young authors, Alexis is also marketing savvy, emphasizing the importance of promoting her work, and the focus and diligence that task may take. She gives many young creatives hope, as she paves her way and tells the rest of us about tips for survival in this wonderful, but scary and huge, market of artistic-ambition-turned-profit.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I think writing was and always has been something embedded in me. I’ve always been naturally skilled at writing ever since I began school. The gift of poetry revealed itself to me at age twelve and my love for it has been growing ever since. That’s what inspired and still inspires me to be a writer today; the love I have for expressing myself in the art of words.
You were born and raised in Bridgeport, CT. What advantages and disadvantages do you face when it comes to your writing career?
I think an advantage I had at a young age was the Young Authors’ competition that the Bridgeport city schools hosted. That was something that gave me a sense of accomplishment. In first grade, I have my very first laminated and bound book. I was an author. That program/event nurtured my natural gift without me even knowing it.
I think a disadvantage of being from Bridgeport is the unity that is often lacking among people.
It seems a lot of people will only support who they know and no one outside that circle.
Another disadvantage is that there isn’t a large number of authors in the area, so a lot of resources aren’t geared toward us in terms of being in business as an author.
What do you hope to accomplish through writing?
I hope to accomplish living the life I dream about which is being a full-time author with multiple streams of income. I hope to give opportunities to others, especially those who are close to me. I hope to travel the world, meet people, inspire, and enlighten them. I hope to achieve longevity as an author and show future generations that it’s possible to accomplish whatever you wish to do and that you can live the life you dream of.
What books do you currently have on your bookshelf?
I have loads of books! Mainly I have psychology books like The Examined Life, The Minds of Billy Milligan, and The Marshmallow Test. I love to read about psychology. I have a lot of Sherlock Holmes books from when I was younger. Those taught me how to write in nineteenth-century English.
I also have books from fellow authors I’ve met at events and traded books with.
Journey Thru Love is a collection of poetry. What inspired you to travel the path of writing a poetry book?
Poetry is my life. Writing poetry is what I do. I’ve been writing a long time and I always knew I wanted to publish my poems.
The poems in the book were just therapy for me at the time, but they became a story I wanted to tell. Most of my books to come will be poetry.
How has the writing industry accepted you and what challenges have you faced?
As a first-time indie author, I didn’t reach out or market my book so much to the writing community. I focused more on my target audience, which was and still is women between the ages of eighteen and forty.
With my second book, I do plan to reach out more and hope my poems will be received well by the community. A huge challenge I faced and still face is marketing. Marketing is a constant investment and I wasn’t entirely aware of that. It also takes many different avenues to find which ones work best for me and my business and which reach my target audience best.
Building traffic to my website is another challenge I’ve faced and still face. It takes an enormous amount of consistency to create a constant flow of traffic to your website.
Financial investments into my business as an author are another large challenge I’ve faced as a first-time author. It’s been extremely hard funding my projects and ventures using my personal income.
As an independent writer and self-published author what do you think can be done to help indie writers have a bigger platform?
I think more platforms for indie authors should be created. There are many conferences and exhibition shows where an indie author like me can’t get into.
Media platforms such as radio and TV would also give indie authors a bigger platform. I think these platforms, directed to various types of readers, would give indie authors a better chance of success.
I also think affordable marketing services could help many indie authors expand their reach to readers and into the publishing industry as a whole.
How does social media play a part in your marketing efforts?
Social media plays probably the biggest part in my marketing. Over the past few years I’ve learned that consistency and content variety boost your following as well as engagement. I’ve also been able to discover what kinds of posts obtain more interaction and which social media sites I receive the most interaction from.
I’ve gained more followers since I’ve been consistent with my posts. Compared to a year ago, I have more poets, authors, and publishers who view my posts.
How do you empower other women?
I empower other women by following my dreams. A lot of women I meet or who see me on social media look at what I’m doing and what I’m trying to do as an author and become inspired. Whether they see me face to face or through social media, they see the passion I have and for them it’s inspiring.
Most entrepreneurs I know and support are women. Support is just as empowering as anything else.
I feel Journey Thru Love is somewhat empowering for women because it shows how I struggled between my heart and mind and how I grew from that. When I explain that the book is about the ups and downs of love and how I grew from that, most women’s eyes light up because it’s so relatable. I empower women by letting them know that someone else has felt what they felt and has moved on and grown from the experience so they can do the same; they too can turn a bad situation into a success story.
Outside of a passion for writing you have a love for the culinary arts, baking in particular. What is your favorite dish to make?
I love making salmon! I can make salmon eighty million different ways. I also love making lasagna with vodka sauce. I’m more of a cook than a baker these days as you can see.
As far as dessert, my favorite dish to bake is chocolate chip banana bread. It’s so easy to make and so good.
Cook, employee, writer: How do you balance it all?
I do my best to balance supervising a cafeteria, being a banquet server and author.
I have good days where I get so much done and I have bad days where nothing seems to come together and I have my lazy days. I just keep pushing because I know what I want and where I want to be in life. It’s not easy. Sometimes a whole day slips right by me.
I am really bad with long-term schedules so I try and make a schedule day by day to make sure I get done what needs to get done.
What advice would you give someone who wants to self-publish a poetry book?
I would tell them to have a plan. Many people don’t understand the consistency, the focus, and the aggressiveness it takes to market a book. If you go through the trouble of publishing a book, why not work to have as many people read it as you can.
I think creating a marketing plan is very crucial to success. That is something I learned with publishing my first book.
I would also tell them to just do it. Life is too short to not do the things or accomplish the goals you want. Live with as little regret as possible.
If you could end one thing in the United States, such as homelessness, hunger, homeless animals, etc., what would it be and why?
I would end hunger. Being someone who loves food I feel it’s an atrocity to go without food. I can’t imagine going without food for days, weeks, etc. I feel especially bad for child hunger. That breaks my heart. Food is something I know very well, so that would be the thing I could most likely find a real-world solution for. With all the chefs and caterers I know, I would end hunger in the United States.
Where do you see yourself in 2017?
In 2017 I see myself as an author with two poetry books, two children’s books, and a growing brand. I see myself traveling, meeting and connecting with more readers as well as more authors. I see myself being closer to achieving my goals. In 2017 I see myself, my brand, and my reach stretching further throughout the country. I also see myself getting my finances in better order and having a better strategy to becoming financially independent as well as a full-time author.
the VIRGO GIRL FIVE THINGS TO ASK:
What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
I would tell myself to start getting ready to become an author. It’s time. I would also tell my twenty-one-year-old self to start investing!
I start my day with . . .
Talking to God on the car ride to work.
If you could invite any woman to dinner, who would it be?
I would invite Oprah. I would love to talk to her and read my poetry to her. I would love to get any advice she could offer.
Best advice you have received?
The best advice I’ve received is to keep doing what I’m doing. It will be worth it one day.
Life motto you live by?
“I have to keep going, keep pushing until the wall, the door, is broken through.”