Mariellen Ward is a Toronto-based freelance writer with a BA in Journalism, a certificate in yoga teacher training and a passion for sharing the beauty of India’s culture and wisdom. Aside from traveling extensively in India, she writes for magazines, newspapers and many online travel sites, publishes an India travel blog, http://breathedreamgo.com/ and leads custom group tours to India. She recently published her first book – Song of India: Tales of Travel and Transformation. The book is a collection of 10 tales about her attempt to recover from grief, understand the essence of yoga and rediscover the joy of living by traveling, studying yoga and volunteering in India.
India seeps from your pores. You breathe it, live it, dream it and write about it. What’s the magnet?
I always wanted to go to India. I painted turret-topped Maharaja palaces on my bedroom walls when I was a child. I practiced yoga for many years. But I never thought I could actually get on a plane and fly there. It just felt too far away, too unreal. Actually, that’s how I felt about all my dreams for most of my adult life. But I was hit by a series of losses—including the deaths of both my parents—when I was in my late 30s and early 40s, and fell into depression. Yoga helped get me out of the depression and led me to manifesting a dream to become a yoga teacher. During yoga teacher training I suddenly felt compelled to follow another dream and go to India. So I planned and saved and at the age of 45, bought my first back pack and went to India for six months. I was afraid to go, but felt that my life depended on it.
What prompted your decision to publish a book and how did you proceed?
After several trips to India, I started Breathedreamgo.com and joined the global, online travel blogging community. I also started publishing travel features in print as well. But I wanted to be a travel writer first and a blogger second. Deciding to publish the book (to highlight my travels to India) was a strategic decision. In the process, I started to research self-publishing and decided to go with Lightning Source (LSI) because they are so professional. Also, when you publish a print on demand (POD) book through LSI, it is automatically distributed through Amazon.
The whole process took a couple of months, and the learning curve was steep; but not expensive. I was lucky, though. My graphic design friend gave me a good deal and another friend proof read it for me for a very good price. The total LSI cost was about $200, and I ordered a carton of books for about $380. So I spent less than $1,000.00. The one thing that held me up was getting the book catalogued through the Library Archives of Canada as I learned about this step late in the process. But I’m glad I took that step; I wanted to do the whole thing as professionally as possible.
I sent copies to everyone listed in the acknowledgments and also other writers and reviewers I know who I think would like it. I started collecting comments and I have four very positive reviews. I wrote a blog post about the book and I am uploading it to several places, and offering it to bloggers (I call this a “blog tour”). I have been to a couple of independent book stores and now that the books have arrived, I can start taking them around to more places, like yoga studios.
As Breathedreamgo, I am also pretty active in the social media world, so I am also promoting it through FB and through Twitter.
I didn’t write and publish it to make money, but to showcase my writing. So I am looking at the big picture, the long term, not the short-term sales as my goal.
It’s hard to make a straightforward living from writing—but the barriers to publishing have never been so low. Change your mindset, become an entrepreneur: publish a blog, a POD book or e-book (or both), get on the social media circuit, use the technology to your advantage. Dive in, the water’s fine.
Note: Mariellen is working on a plan to help other writer publish electronically. In the near future, for a flat fee (depending on book length and complexity) her company will:
- help authors get ISBN and Catalogue in Publication information
- design cover in InDesign
- set up files to LSI’s exacting specs
- help set up author’s account on LSI
- receive the proof and approve or reject it
- ensure authors know how to order books from LSI
If you are interested, contact Mariellen directly: breathedreamgo (at) gmail . com
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PS. If you have any comments or questions for Mariellen, click on Comments and fire away!
Really enjoyed this interview. I know and love Mariellen and am so pleased to see that she is finding her way — spiritually and professionally.
Yes Doreen, it’s really a joy to see people you care for blossom. And a joy to write about them! Can’t wait until I get a chance to feature you on these pages too! You’re a great role model for wanna-be travel writers and authors.
Great interview! I have to buy the book now!
That’s two of us Jennifer! Pretty impressive, eh?
Like Doreen, I know Mariellen and really admire her determination to pursue her dreams. It’s an inspiring interview, Sandra!
Mariellen has given us much to think about. It’s as if she’s put her hook on a star and is reeling it in!
Great profile! I especially appreciated the information on e-publishing from someone who has done it successfully. Thanks for sharing that. And find Mariellen’s “strategy” interesting – her short-term VS long-term picture. Something to think about.
I’ve been on Mariellen’s blog list for awhile but haven’t made the time to go in and read her entries yet but definitely will now!
Good to see that you’ll be checking Mariellen’s blog now! You’ll love it. Packed with information, insights and lots of heart. She’s a great role model for sure.
Thanks for the comments everyone! It feels great to inspire others. I really am of the belief that if I can do it, anyone can. I think it’s all about the decision to go for it — followed by hard work of course. As they say, 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.