Keith Shovlin’s life is devoted to spreading the word – whether it’s in print or digital.
By day, the 35-year-old is a binding technician at the Library of Congress, processing books for long-term storage, but by night he’s the founder and publisher of aois21 Media, a Northern Virginia cloud-based publishing and production service that helps writers tighten and market their digital stories.
“There are a lot of people who write because they think they can, but they don’t have a good story to tell. It’s all in trying to find a story that is unique, that needs to be told and helping it to be the best story that it can be,” Shovlin told Technical.ly DC. “Anyone who writes a political rant on Facebook thinks they can have their own blog and that they can have enough for a book. That’s not to say that there are not good stories out there.”
Shovlin founded the company in 2014 with a small team of editors and designers. He said he had a hard time publishing his first novel, the coming-of-age Polk’s Soliloquy, and was told by publishers that he needed a literary agent, that the story didn’t mesh with market demand.
“I don’t have overhead, don’t need storage space for books,” he said. “A lot of people go at it alone. I did, and I was able to foster the skills and build the tools with a small amount of success. There’s a lot of people out there who write for a release, for expression and there are people out there who are willing to help and listen.”
AOIS21’s services range from $50 for cover art to $225 for a basic edit on up to major surgery. Authors learn to market their products, participate in public events and learn the ins and outs of podcasting, audiobooks, e-books and visual storytelling. The company is now working with 15 authors.
Print books are still outselling e-books (for now), largely due to poor production value. But if done well, an e-book can have a worldwide audience.
“You can go on Amazon CreateSpace or Lulu.com and just throw your book out without being edited and no one can stop you,” Shovlin said. “Sometimes there are gems that need refining. A diamond needs to be cut, and we try to find those diamonds and cut them and polish them.”
Shovlin has a couple pieces for advice for new writers.
“Start writing first and then figure out what you’re writing later,” he said. “And you’re not finished writing until you have had someone else read it. You may think you have War And Peace on your hands, but until you’ve had someone else read it and give you constructive criticism, you’re not done writing.”-30-
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