- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Telling one man’s story transcended into Diane Taylor and her husband, Garrett, creating a business that has manifested into helping authors publish their stories and pursue their dreams.

Taylor Made Publishing Inc. was started in 2014. Although co-owner Diane Taylor did not set out to start a business, she has embraced it since its inception.

While working at Carolina Donor Services, Taylor, a former reporter, met Carl Long, a former Negro League baseball player and realized that the local legend had a story that needed to be shared.

“He lived here and had an awesome story to tell,” Diane Taylor said. “The first time I met him, he told me I was going to write his book. He said, ‘God told me I was going to write his book.’ When I finished his story in 2013, I asked him who was going to publish his book, and he said, ‘You are.’”

Coffee and tea at the Taylors’ home where Taylor would transcribe notes during a 90-day process resulted in Long’s autobiography, “A Game of Faith.” When Long received an invitation to the White House to meet President Barack Obama, he urged Taylor to have the book prepared. With encouragement from her husband, she immersed herself into learning the business and was able to fulfill the request.

“I knew I loved to read and write,” Taylor said. “As a journalist, I loved good stories. I believe all of us have a unique story that needs to be told. … When he inspired me to self-publish his book, I decided to, and I don’t do anything halfway.”

Publishing Long’s book served as the foundation for the business in which Taylor paired her and her husband’s entrepreneurial spirits with gifts of people she met during her journalism career.

“What was so cool and how God works, is if my husband couldn’t do it or I couldn’t,” she said. “I had illustrators, editors and graphic designers from all over the country. It’s like God surrounded me with all these people, and it’s been an awesome experience.”

Taylor said her company creates individual marketing plans based on the book, author and genre.

“We offer self-publishing as a service for individuals who want to package a professional product,” she said. “We decide what books we publish under our logo. We review each submission. … People send us work, and we make them into books.”

Taylor said the business primarily focuses on children’s books, nonfiction and inspirational books. “A Little Pirate’s ABCs,” by former East Carolina University football coach Ruffin McNeill, is among the books the company has published.

The company hosted a book signing parting earlier this month at Barnes and Noble for the couple’s 6-year-old daughter, Morgan. “Daddy’s Little Princess” introduces princesses of color from around the world.

While the company has found success, Taylor said some of the challenges are upfront capital, which means not always being able to be in a position to publish a submission.

“We are looking at $5,500 to $6,000 every time we choose to publish a book,” she said. “It’s thousands of dollars we are investing. … What has helped us overcome that is a pace we can control and allowing the business to run itself.”

Seeking out resources in the area and being relentless about learning how to improve as a business owner has been essential to the company’s development.

“One of the great things I enjoyed about starting the business in Greenville are the resources,” Taylor said. “A lot of resources go untapped, and they are a real benefit if they are used. … I think as a whole the city of Greenville has a number of resources to assist. Pitt Community College has a small business center; they have a number of free courses.”

While Taylor is a black business owner, she wants others to know that does not limit her business to only blacks. Being known and respected as a publisher who can provide services for a diverse range of people is a priority.

“I think the blessing is in being a black woman business owner, because there are are specific resources set aside to assist with being successful,” she said. “The challenge will and will continue to be making sure people understand that just because it’s black and female doesn’t mean we are not professional or that we don’t know what we are doing. I still have that goal to educate people about who we are and what we do. I would not be honest if I said it didn’t exist. We have all African-American authors except for one. That’s not my design, that’s not all we are capable of doing.”

Delving into a new experience gives Taylor a voice to encourage others to pursue their passions.

“I would encourage people to be prepared,” she said. “I can’t tell you in just my short time how many folks were unprepared to start similar businesses. Preparation is key. I’ve seen so many great ideas not come to fruition. It’s not the passion and love, they just weren’t overall prepared.”

Maintaining the flow of business is important for Taylor, who said the company averages about one or two submissions daily.

“For us to be able to work with first first-time authors and local authors has been awesome,” she said “I think what makes us unique is we believe in everyday people with extraordinary stories.”

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Information from: The Daily Reflector, https://www.reflector.com


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