Adrienne Thompson always knew she was a good writer but never considered becoming an author.
She said she had “already lived several lives” before she began a career of writing and self-publishing her books.
Thompson, 40, now wants to help other aspiring writers fulfill their dreams of publishing a book. She will present a workshop, Self-publishing on a Budget: Making Your Novel Dreams Come True Without Breaking the Bank, from 1-4 p.m. March 15 at the Faulkner County Library, 1900 Tyler St. in Conway. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested. To register, call (501) 327-7482 or email Nancy@fcl.org.
“I will be covering everything from choosing a genre to networking via social media,” Thompson said of the workshop. “I will be giving a step-by-step account of the self-publishing process as it relates to my personal journey in this business.”
Thompson’s journey began in Pine Bluff.
When she was 15, she dropped out of high school to have her first baby. Thompson was married at 16 and divorced with three children by the time she was 24. During that time, she earned her GED and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, receiving a degree in biology in 1996.
“My youngest daughter was only 5 weeks old when I got divorced in 1999,” she said. “I couldn’t work. My ex-husband was good; he had paid all the bills.
“But I asked my father for help,” she said, noting that she is the daughter of Little Rock cardiologist Dr. Joe Hargrove and Bobbie Conaway of Pine Bluff, who is a retired school teacher.
“He said, ‘I will help you, but you’ll have to do something rather than nothing.’”
That “something” was nursing school. She attended the Jefferson Regional Medical Center School of Nursing in Pine Bluff and graduated second in her class in 2002. As a registered nurse, Thompson would have several nursing jobs during the next seven years.
“I never really liked it,” she said. “It was just something I had to do. I liked the patients but not the rest of it. It was very stressful.
“My oldest child had graduated from college in 2006, and my middle child began college in 2009. Things had slowed down, and I began to reflect and think about my job as a nurse. I realized that nursing was not my calling.
“I remembered that I had always been a good writer. I am an avid reader. By the time I was 18, I had read over 300 books. I knew I was a good writer, even with all the paperwork I had to do as a nurse.”
Thompson said this time of reflection occurred during the same year the pop star Michael Jackson died.
“I was a big fan of his,” she said. “I kept thinking, ‘He was a trailblazer. He did wonderful things. There’s got to be something more for me.’ I wondered if I could become a writer.
“I did some soul searching and lots of praying. I decided if God gave me a story, I would write it. That night, a story came to me. I wrote as fast as I could. I had to pray for the words to stop so I could get some sleep. That’s how it all began.”
Thompson titled that first book Tapestry.
“It has never been published and doesn’t need to be,” she said with a laugh. She followed that book with a sequel, The Emperor, which is also unpublished.
“That showed me I could write,” she said. “But I was a closet writer. I was afraid to let anyone read my work; I was afraid they would think it was trash.”
Despite those fears, Thompson kept writing. By 2011, she had written seven novels but had not shared them with anyone. She was still working full time and raising two children.
By this time, she and her youngest daughter had moved to Conway, the result of a job transfer with the state of Arkansas.
“It was a very stressful job,” she said.
“The thought occurred to me to start a blog. So I put four chapters of my book Bluesday on my blog. I was still not thinking about publishing anything,” Thompson said.
“I sent the blog link out to family and friends and received some good feedback,” she said. “I checked into self-publishing with some companies and found out it was so expensive, $700 to $900. I just did not have the money to do that. I came in contact with another self-published author, and she [told] me step by step what she had done.”
Thompson published Bluesday in July 2011 under her own imprint, Pink Cashmere LLC.
“It sold eight books that first month, and I bought five of them myself and gave them away,” she said. “Things weren’t looking good.”
But by December, she had sold 500 books. She published her second novel, Been So Long, in January 2012.
“That was my breakthrough book,” she said. “By May, that book was selling 1,000 eBook copies every month.”
Thompson quit her full-time nursing job in November 2012 and has never looked back. She has now published 11 books and is working on the next one, due out this summer. She has also published a story in an anthology, which is a free download on her website, adriennethompsonwrites.webs.com.
Thompson describes her work as “edgy, inspirational fiction” or “stories from the soul … for the soul.”
“I write about real people. I have a good fan base that is multicultural. The protagonist in my stories is always an African-American woman. That’s what I am and what I know about. And there’s always a love interest.”
Thompson’s eBooks are published, for the most part, for the Kindle and Nook eReaders. Her books can also be found on the Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo websites.
Thompson said her biggest challenge is marketing her books. She does an occasional book signing, but she depends upon “word of mouth” for advertising her books. She also uses social media such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.