The journey from self-publisher to Barnes&Noble
When I started my book journey, I only knew that I had a story to tell and tell the story of my hometown. I'm not an author or a historian, so how am I going to make a book about history? Well, that was one of the many doubts and challenges, but I couldn't let any of that build fear and handicap me from making this dream come true.
My story was a little piece of me, that I had been keeping private for many years, and that was my battle with immigration. I won't bore you with the details that's maybe for another blog post. I was conflicted of how much to share, constantly doubting myself of even going through with it. But how could I tell my story, where I am not just another voice that gets lost? I decided to use my love for my craft and share my story through Las Vega's history, the city that is the foundation of who I am today.
I decided to dig up on some old books and read about this city's rich history. I scouted 30 locations that I pulled from my readings, to narrowing it down to 20 locations which were used on the book. I picked the spots that have a cool story in which you can't find on the internet, but some of my information came from actual interviews I conducted with Las Vegas locals whom have seen the rise and fall of some of these historic locations. Some of the books I read, were written by local historian Geof Schumacker, whom later I hired as my book editor. He read all of my writings countless of times, and after the 7th revision the editing was done. Having such a notable historian and celebrated author edit and approve my work, made me confident in creating a history book.
I drew a storyline board for what I envisioned each location to be photographed, what mood and emotion it had for me and how I wanted to capture that story. I gathered up props for each location, by using my mother's old vintage jewels and picked gowns from my previous collections, with hair and makeup mood boards inspired by the 50's through the 70's of vintage vegas babes.
Next, I had to put my team together, and the people in this were important to me as they would be each helping tell my story and always connected to me through this project, so I decided to stick with the people I already had within my circle.
The book photographer is Anthony Mair, whose photographs have so much mystery and charisma and Jon Estrada as his assistant photographer. Maile Bello did the fierce makeup and Sylvia J. creating hair looks, both stylists work complimented one another so effortlessly. Tiffany Weekes had assisted me in previous styling jobs and Kelley Goetz my former intern turned assistant, I felt confident in creating some vintage styled looks with them by my side. I was thrilled to have the model for the book be Alicia Hall, as she was the only one that could capture the emotion of the book in the way I had imagined. With a three day photoshoot, we were able to capture Alicia throughout downtown Las Vegas and got all of the shots needed.
After a year of reading, conducting interviews and researching, I was ready to put the text and images that went with the story in a book format. I couldn't had done it without the city's most recognized and respected creative director & graphic designer, Carlos Larios whom created and designed my book layout. I handed off the newly designed book format to Marty, a local printer whom handled all of the logistics with the book printing. He guided me in selecting all the details that make a book, and these weren't to be taken lightly as they could affect book cost and marketing angle.
I registered my book legally, got an ISBN, create a website, social pages and ensure that I owned all of the rights. I trademarked my title and logo, bought full rights on all of the images, got legally covered for shooting in all of the locations and permission to publish all of the businesses mentioned in my book. The legalities are a full time job when creating such type of book but its a step not to be skipped, in order to fully be protected. The 1st sample of the book was done, and after some tweaking, I got the book printed in over 300 copies. I'll never forget when I saw all of the boxes full of books, I felt like my life story was sitting inside those boxes. It was a surreal moment.
With the best local PR by my side, OneSeven Agency and I strategized and planned for the book launch, helping make this event a night to be remembered. I produced the fashion show with 21 models, dressed in all of the designs featured in the book, a team of backstage hair and makeup provided by the Kelly Cardenas Salon, stylists and dressers ready to get the models prepared and coordinated for the big debut. Thanks to my friend Heather Morton Vincent for helping coordinate the runway logistics. The music for the runway show was produced by Douglas Gibbs, with the food catering by my family (thank God for them) the open bar with drinks already being served as guests were coming in at the Metropolitan Gallery of Art in Las Vegas.
The book launch was on December 7, 2016, in which Mayor Carolynn Goodman declared as the official 'Ermelinda Manos' day. The event was officially started with Sancho Van Ryan as my host, whom is always so charming and elegant. The first guest that came in, was Robin Leach whom was also the first person I signed my first copy of the book to, something I'll always remember. The line of guests waiting to purchase a signed copy of the book was getting longer and I was shocked when I realized that over all of my copies were sold out. My book launch was a testament to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to and never let any fears hold me back. It took for that night to prove to myself more than anyone I was an author, a creator and anything I wanted to be, because I worked towards my goals consistently, and achieved them by not giving up.
My book 'Lost in Las Vegas' is now officially carried & published by Barnes&Noble. This wouldn't had happened if my book was simply an idea from an unknown and yet to be author. I had to create it on my own, create a buzz and prove it's value from record sales to demand, in order for this bookseller to even stop and notice me. You have to do the work first on your own, in order to be seen. I'm happy that I don't have to worry about printing the book on my own any longer, supplying endless inventory and hope it sells, worry about where to sell or who buys, do the shipping and packaging when the nations largest bookstore does it all for me. I had one special friend tell me once when I used to doubt myself, that one day I would get a publisher. It takes one small comment like that, to be replaying in the back of your mind, as a push and reminder that you'll get there one day, so thanks Molly Bailey. You can have thousands of ideas and goals but it takes only two things for me, to have the right attitude and be consistent in your work.
This was my book writing journey! Thanks to my family, friends, colleagues and the Las Vegas community for the unconditional support.