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

Hi ShonTe’, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Children’s books written by authors of color in 2020 increased by 3% to 26.8% compared with 2019, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center. I was motivated by the legacy of Black authors and the dearth of kid’s books addressing social issues, so I seized the opportunity to become an indie author and write freely about this time in history. The thought process behind writing my first published book “Malcolm in the Mirror,” was to create meaningful discussions among families about societal issues. I understand that the best way to achieve that is by artfully weaving a message into an eye-catching picture book.

My son Malcolm was also a primary reason why I began writing. I want Malcolm to have the understanding to always look in the mirror and see the greatness within despite the obstacles he may face. This is a lesson that all of our children need as the world continues to evolve.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Drawing from my experience as a mother during the first year of the pandemic, I created a book that offers a view into 2020—a year marked by isolation, mass protests, and persistent change— through the lens of a young Black boy and helps him to make sense of his surroundings and own his story. What sets me apart from others is I did not write a flowery children’s book, but it is a love letter to kids, especially Black boys like my son, Malcolm. It’s meant to challenge young readers and spark stimulating conversations with families about identity, racial injustice, and the impact of COVID-19 on our emotional health.

I also challenged the traditional indie author selling method by not putting my work immediately on Amazon; the only way to purchase the book is through our site or at book signing events that I attend weekly. I self-published without any distribution and aimed to sell 1000 copies independently. Which rarely happens amongst self-published authors. It is not easy, but I continue to show up; since February 1st, I have sold over 500 copies. Knowing my son Malcolm is watching me, keeps me going.

One of the lessons I learned along the way is to let life flow. We can either go through life with flow or frustration; the choice is in our mindset. The more in tune with allowing life to flow, the more opportunities naturally come our way.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend was visiting we would start the day of by getting brunch, followed by a day party, go back to our stay for a evening nap and end the night with a nice dinner and drinks.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have a long list of people who contributed to my journey, growth, and accomplishments. However, as a woman of faith, I must first shout out GOD for ordering my steps. Immediately after God is my family, my best friend Nicole, my mentor Carol Stewart and most importantly, my son Malcolm. Often, people influence our lives without even realizing it. Especially with the gift of social media, we have access to follow people’s journeys and be influenced by their words of wisdom, and apply their gems to our lives daily. Those two women for me are Lucinda Cross and Chris Miss. I began following Lucinda Cross in 2014 and have been drawn to her Activate vision ever since. Through her, I learned the importance of asking for what you want in life. Through Chris Miss, I learned the importance of showing up as your authentic self and naturally attracting your audience. I am who I am today as a result of the love from my village.

Website: www.malcolminthemirror.com

Instagram: Shontedsmith

Linkedin: ShonTe D Smith

Facebook: ShonTe Smith

Youtube: ShonTe Smith

Image Credits
Kasi McKoy Studios

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