An Interview with Loustella Perry
Written by Zachary Manthey on February 16, 2021
Loustella Perry, a sophomore at Kent State University at Stark, watched through tears of joy as her name rose to number one on Amazon’s list of top female poets. An accomplishment sought by many accomplished authors, but for Perry, all it took was the publication of her first book of poetry, Toast.
“Since I was young, I’ve always had a goal to write books. Of course I wanted to write fiction, but as my life progressed, here I am writing poetry.”
Like many first-time authors, Perry struggled with finding her voice. Writing every day hoping to find something in the endless sea of ideas and doodles. Something she wouldn’t hate upon a second reading, or more importantly, something her readers wouldn’t hate upon their first. It was after Perry had fallen on hard times, due to the loss of loved ones, when she began her struggle with depression. The stress of which had halted her writing completely, until eventually, she had forgotten why she ever wanted to write a book in the first place.
“But the act of ignoring my forever dream of writing drove me crazy, so I sat down one night and ‘wrote a book’ kind of as a joke.”
Perry describes that night back in 2018 as six hours of crying in her bed, making fun of the idea that she ever wanted to write a book. She had no intentions of anyone ever reading her work, which inevitably gave her the freedom she needed to pour her heart out onto the pages. The pages that would eventually become Toast. When she had started writing that night, Perry had no clear inspiration for what her book was going to be about. In fact, it was only after the first draft of her book was complete that she realized the message she hoped to get across was there all along.
“I think the goal that night was therapeutic writing. There was no inspiration when I first started, but once the first draft was complete, the message of the book was to seek professional help and then achieve your goals.”
Perry hopes that through Toast she can encourage anyone who may be suffering from depression or any mental illness, to seek the professional help they deserve. However hard or scary it may be to do so. Even so, she still had no intentions herself of ever showing anyone her work, and it wasn’t until two years after that she was asked: “If you could do one thing without the fear of failing, what would you do?” And for Perry, there was only one answer that came to mind “publish that book.”
Self-publishing was never something that occurred to Perry, but after sending out queries to different publishing companies and never hearing back, she began to research alternatives. “I got pretty impatient and decided to just publish myself.” That is when she learned about Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon.com, a fast and easy way to self-publish your work without the hidden costs.
“Moving forward with self-publishing… made the dream of writing a book way more attainable. It’s not as far-fetched and unreasonable as it sounds. It’s just the choice to do the thing.”
Though Toast was now published, and e-book pre-orders were on the rise, Perry’s work was far from over. For any first-time author, writing the book is only half the battle, the other half: marketing. And when it comes to self-publishing, the job of selling a book relies solely on the author. Which, for Perry, was just another first experience amongst many. But without a doubt, the hardest.
“There’s no right way to market a product, and there’s no way to tell if your strategy will work… It constantly feels like I’m not doing enough to get the word out… the marketing strategy will change, constantly. So you have to make sure you’re keeping up with what will actually get your target audience’s attention.”
In order to get the word out on Toast, Perry relied on the ever-growing power of social media. Releasing promos and excerpts on sites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Relying on friends to share her posts, and friends of her friends to keep the word spreading. And much to Perry’s surprise… it worked.
“I love when people read it, actually like it, and then message me and let me know that they’re excited. I have doubted the book so many times, and when I hear that people are actually excited to read the stories I want to tell, it’s just a really good feeling.
Coming off the success of her first book, Perry has officially begun work on her second. It may be too soon to tell, but it seems we can expect something very different from Toast.
“With Toast I developed how I like to write and how I can best tell a story. So now I can just tell stories and [have] fun.”
Toast is already available for e-book pre-sale and goes on sale with both e-book and paperback copies on April 9 on Amazon.
In the meantime, Perry leaves any aspiring author with a few words of advice:
“Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is on their own timeline. Things that work for some people might not work for you. Things that others say aren’t worth it, might be worth it for you… don’t worry about what people ‘like to read,’ just write. If you think your idea is cool, someone else probably will too.”
And most importantly:
“Make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Drink water and don’t give up! When you come across obstacles, it’s not the universe telling you that you’re on the wrong path. It’s the universe challenging you to gain stamina.”
And to always remember:
“You don’t have to go through it alone. If you can’t get ahold of your mental health, consider professional help.”