We had the good fortune of connecting with Valerie Thompkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Valerie, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking has been monumental to my success. Writing my children’s book was the easy part, but putting myself out into the world in the way that I have, is a huge risk. I tapped into a new skillset and began creating content to offer awareness, and it went viral. In an instant, my passion project was broadcasted to my colleagues, childhood friends, and strangers across the world. Social media exposure can bring an outside audience to your platform, and I learned that not everyone has a positive reaction to diverse and inclusive children’s books. At the same time, I have parents searching high and low for a book specifically like mine.

A second risk was pivoting from the professional brand I established for myself in my industry. For the last decade, my primary focus was growing in a 9-5. After investing in myself, I soon discovered that I can experience the same growth and success by working towards my personal goals. Taking risks has been life changing for me.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The majority of self-published books do not sell more than a few hundred copies in their lifetime. I’ve been fortunate to find success on the first try and gain exposure through my marketing strategy. Rather than searching for a literary agent or hiring a publisher, I taught myself how to self-publish by watching YouTube videos. While, I ran into challenges every step of the way, I resolved them by doing the research to understand the risks and technicalities of the industry. The biggest lesson I learned is patience. I made mistakes when I overlooked certain steps or began rushing to meet a deadline. This is a process where you have to enjoy the journey en route to the destination. I believe that our greatest roadblock is ourselves. There is truly nothing standing in your way. Do not hold back in fear of what people will think about you. Remember that your friends and family are not your targeted audience, the rest of the world is. Ultimately, I want the world to know that I am on a mission to increase the child literacy rate and add diversity to children’s bookshelves. I’ve had mothers share that their daughters wanted to straighten their curly hair and dye it blonde in order to feel beautiful. I’ve also had parents share they searched every shelf of the bookstore and could not find a book cover with a brown skinned character for their little one. I know the work I am doing is necessary. Representation matters.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I just recently moved to Atlanta and still feel like a tourist. I would start with brunch every morning! Atlanta is the best brunch city, where a few mimosas usually turn into a day party: 9 Mile Station, Breakfast at Barneys, . We would visit the rooftop at Ponce City Market for games, food, and shopping. Atlanta Station is also a must for more shopping, and Phipps Plaza if we’re feeling like spending big $$$. I enjoy nature, so a walk through Piedmont park and a picnic in the city is a must. If we are feeling touristy, the Coca-Cola Museum and the Aquarium are well worth the trip. Since we have the time get active, a hike up both Stone Mountain and Kennesaw Mountain are on the schedule. I enjoy dinner with a nice vibe, so I recommend Ray’s on the River, the Garden Room, or Little Alley Steakhouse. For nightlife, I enjoy the rooftop at the Bellyard Hotel or the City Winery. There are truly so many options when it comes to food!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would first like to shoutout my parents, who read to me every night of my childhood and took me on frequent trips to the bookstore as I grew older. My reading and writing skillset allows me to excel in everything I do. Girls Like Me is a book they would have loved to read to me as a little girl because it personifies self love and confidence while exploring different careers. I also dedicate my shoutout to the girls who will read my book and find value in seeing a brown skinned, curly haired girl pictured in roles such as an astronaut and an airplane pilot. Those girls are my why, and I’m on a mission to encourage them to dream big because, “the limit does not exist!”

Website: www.authorvaleriethompkins.com

Instagram: authorvaleriethompkins

Linkedin: Valerie Terrell-Thompkins

Twitter: valtheauthor

Facebook: Author Valerie Thompkins

Other: https://www.amazon.com/Girls-Like-Me-Valerie-Thompkins/dp/1736182900/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=girls+like+me&qid=1638758593&sr=8-1#detailBullets_feature_div Here is my book, Girls Like Me on Amazon.

Image Credits
Marcus Wynn- Wynning Shots for studio photos.

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