Laura Howard: Drawing Inspiration From Real Life with Toby Neal


Drawing Inspiration From Real Life with Toby Neal

One of the first books I bought to learn about self-publishing was a little .99 mini-book by Toby Neal titled  Building an Author Platform That Can Launch Anything

 Once I delved deeper into the subject, I saw Toby all over the Self-Publishing world doing guest posts and on Twitter. 
When an author has their hand in several things, you begin to recognize their name and picture. My respect for Toby grew as I began following her. Now, I've read her book, Blood Orchids and I am a full-fledged fan.  

I love this cycle: Recognition-->Respect-->Trust. I've seen it referred to as the ISYOT factor: I've Seen You Out There.
Some of the things we talked about:

Started writing at an early age- went to school for journalism/creative writing.

Got serious about writing when her kids were in high school.

Moved by a tragedy in her community where she was part of the Grief Response Unit.

Worked through her own grief by writing an anonymous blog about the death of two teen girls.

So inspired that she started a novel based on the tragedy, with her own twists.

Querying loads of agents, before signing with first agent.

Completely rewrote Blood Orchids at least once, meeting current editor during process.

Her agent retired before selling Blood Orchids to a publisher- prompting her to self-publish.

The amount of time and work involved in the self-publishing process.

How important it is to have a high-quality production team behind you.

Platform is essential for all authors self-published or traditional-published.

Her three part philosophy for authors: 
  • Producing Top Quality Work
  • Always Give Value For Your Readers
  • Pay It Forward

Blood Orchids and Torch Ginger, the first two books in the Lei Crime Series are both available now.

Tweet with Toby or visit her on her blog!

If you've learned anything in this interview, please share with your friends!

And, as always, I love your comments!


  1. I love Toby! She is an inspiration and a gifted writer. Excellent feature.

    1. Thanks, Heather! Toby was so much fun to interview- and she's a great example to follow!

  2. Can't wait to watch this! Toby was on the Ladies Who Critique blog and I loved her answers to my nosey questions :) No doubt this will be a fab interview.

    1. Thank you, Laura! I'd love to check out those answers... I think you and I share not nosiness, but a similar curiosity. :)


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