Author Norma Lehmeier Hartie's independent spirit and environmental streak create a winning book and take home the grand prize in the Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards.
Recycling is cool. Bio-degradable products are in. From award-winning documentaries to big-name corporations, popular culture is going green. Norma Lehmeier Hartie taps into this cultural zeitgeist with Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet, which she submitted in the inspirational category.
Gathering knowledge from her years as an interior designer and a newfound interest in feng shui, Hartie began practicing her method of "Harmonious Adjustments" on family members and friends. Practicing her unique take on feng shui, with an emphasis on de-cluttering and using ecologically friendly products, Hartie found that people, and their environments, responded well to her touch. She decided to combine her practices in a book to help others live ecologically and emotionally well.
Instead of working with a traditional publisher, Hartie chose to practice her eco-friendly ideals and self-publish her nonfiction book, Harmonious Environment. The risk was worth it, as her book beat out 2,404 entries to win the grand prize in the 15th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards. Her prize includes $3,000 cash, $100 worth of Writer's Digest Books, and expert advice on marketing and promotion.
Harmonious Environment brings down to earth the abstract concept of living in a more ecologically friendly manner. She discusses how to de-clutter, clean and organize your home or office, and buy products that use natural ingredients. Using her feng shui knowledge, Hartie guides the reader through re-arranging and intuitively settling the home environment to bring positive change and peace to everyday life. For Hartie, the last step is the best step. "I try to teach others that you can make your home a beautiful sanctuary and at the same time help the environment."
THE INSIDE SCOOP: NORMA LEHMEIER HARTIE
LIVES IN: Crugers, N.Y.
It took two years for Hartie to complete Harmonious Environment; a year of that was spent researching. "I surrounded myself with piles of books and had to make myself turn away from the research and write," she says. She moved and stopped writing for seven months. When she returned to her book, she found her new home was a perfect, blank canvas. "I could work on my new home from scratch," she says. "Greening your home is a process, but it's also an art."
When it came time to publish, Hartie first sought the traditional route. But then she read How to Get Happily Published by Judith Appelbaum and decided to do it herself. So she formed her own publishing house, Lingham Press.
While Hartie used her own skills to self-publish, she believes in hiring an editor, copy editor and book designer. "Using professionals was an extremely positive experience," she says. "It's worth it."
Once Hartie published her book, it was time to market it. She developed a website to promote the book (harmoniousenvironment.com), began a blog, marketed to various online communities, used flier programs through independent book publishing associations and relied on the feedback section of her Amazon page. Hartie advises other writers to know their nonfiction niche and develop online relationships with like-minded online communities.
For Hartie, self-publishing isn't only a daily reality; it's also the theme of her next book venture published by Lingham Press. Her next nonfiction book will focus on the publishing industry and how the Internet has changed the book industry, leading more and more writers to self-publish. She also includes her own down-to-earth advice. "Self-publishing is gratifying because you're in charge. But if you're not a take-charge person, forget about it."
And like any good writer, Hartie follows her own counsel. "This book is about energy, creating a beautiful environment and what you see and how it feels. People say my house looks and feels good. That's how I know it works."
About the Contest
This year's grand-prize winner, Norma Lehmeier Hartie, wins $3,000 cash and marketing advice from self-publishing guru Dan Poynter, with six hours of book shepherding from Poynter Book Shepherd Ellen Reid. Plus, Writer's Digest editors will endorse and submit 10 copies of the grand-prize-winning book to major reviewers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. In addition, Book Marketing Works will provide a one-year membership in Publishers Marketing Association, as well as a customized Book Market Map Directory, guaranteed distribution to bookstores and libraries through Baker & Taylor, an all-day PublishingGame.com workshop with Fern Reiss and guaranteed review in Midwest Book Review. Other category winners receive $1,000 each.
The 15th annual competition was open to books published or reprinted in 2005 through 2007 for which the author paid the full cost of publication.