SPARK Publications specializes in custom design for magazines, catalogs, and books for print, digital, and interactive formats. Founder and President, Fabi Preslar, gets personal and shares the story behind her writing, insight for prospective writers, and how SPARK Publications helps simplify the complicated world of publishing.
What motivated you to write two books? Has there always been a writer itching to get out?
No. Never. I didn’t want to do it. I am not a writer, However, I am storyteller. One night, I was awoken by the sense of urgency at 2 AM—something inside of me said I need to document a story. I got up and wrote an entire table of contents in what felt like an instant. The next morning, I wholeheartedly tried to talk myself out of the entire idea. But then I knew that I had a story inside of me that had to be told. You go through life, learn hard lessons, hit hard times, and come out the other side. There is so much knowledge inside that process that eventually becomes of value to another who is wading through the same muck.
And then you end up stepping up to the challenge not once, but twice. You authored On Heaven's Couch and most recently, Fabulous F Words.
Who is the audience for each book?
On Heaven’s Couch:
I wrote this book for young women who are in the midst of trying to discover who they are. This book became the first time I allowed myself to lay out my entire life events in sequence, on a spiritual level and on a getting-through-life level. The book centers around my lifelong mentor, Yvonne, who challenged me to reflect and grow until the very end.
Yvonne was amazing—she taught me so much about commitment, about life, about being good to yourself. Every Monday for ten years, I would make a four-hour round trip drive to visit with her when she was ill (think Tuesdays with Morrie), right in the throws of having just started my business. Looking back, Yvonne taught me about priorities, commitment and sacrifice, as well as complete love and compassion. My time with her helped mold my character.
Fabulous F Words of Business Ownership: Redefining Choice Words to Fuel Your Small Business:
This newly published book was written for the small business owner looking not only to create a sustainable business but also to thrive. Through my own wicked ups and downs, I have amassed business lessons that I have found to contribute to my own success: run your business with heart, centeredness, and soul, more than just the bottom line (although critically important). Fabulous F Words™ like foundations, foresight, fear, failure, faith, focus, fatigue, fraternizing, and fortunes headline chapters that impart honest, vulnerable wisdom that came out of running a 20-year business.
After authoring two books, what is the core of writing essentially about?
Writing comes from a deep stirring inside of you that tells you life is not just about you. There comes a time when knowledge is not yours to keep any longer.
Any other books on the horizon?
Fabulous F Words™ will turn into a series pertaining to life and leadership. The books are available in print and ebooks (soon as audiobooks) at FabiPreslar.com
Going back to Yvonne, what is your perspective on mentorship?
Mentors are invaluable. In fact, I’ve created a mentorship circle to help others grow alongside their businesses. The group will also focus on self-care. Our businesses are only as healthy as we are.
Mentoring and letting someone “pick your brain’ are very different things. Do the former. Don’t fall for the latter.
And what I mean by that is mentoring should be a long-term relationship where trust is built. While the mentee gains much out of the relationship, the mentor gains far more.
What has been your most successful writing routine? Any advice for writers who can't get it together?
At SPARK Publications, we counsel clients to find their own writing rhythm, whether it’s 4 AM or finding 20 minutes a day. Find what works for you. Personally, I am a blitz writer—I find a time when I can write for six or eight hours in one day. I mentally get ready for longer work and claim that time for myself and to others by sharing, I am not available today. Setting expectations for others around you, for family, is important to your success. Outside of writing times, I use notes to capture ideas for those brilliant moments.
As for writers who can’t get it together, once you understand your “why” and know “for who” you are writing, you’ll find it much, much easier to move forward.
Since stories can be told numerous ways, how do you know when you have your final draft?
After multiple rewrites and rounds of edits, I ask if the work in front of me is a good representation of what I’ve learned to this point. Finding the right time to say this is where it needs to be at this time becomes known when you trust your intuition.
Do you belong to any writing groups?
I wrote my two books using the same process that we use with our clients. The process includes a writing coach and professional editors who help with content, topics, writing, and grammar. SPARK Publications clients also have the option to work with a peer group led by a professional editor. The benefit of working with an editor is that they can extract the unnecessary; it’s not personal to them.
Our carefully selected peer review team provides honest, constructive feedback. When you put your heart and soul out there for everyone to see, you can receive painful, yet incredibly helpful, feedback. I went through this valuable process with both of my books and urge our clients to do so as well.
How have you reflected back on your own storytelling?
I am deeply grateful to have received letters and reviews on how my books have impacted readers. You just never know how your story will resonate with your audience, how your words will become of written value to someone else. There comes a time when your story isn’t your own anymore, and you owe it to your audience to pass it on.
As the founder and president of your company, SPARK Publications, what is the one question you get asked the most?
How do you work with your husband and daughter each and every day?
Truly! That is the most asked question! We get along by setting boundaries, respecting one another, and with lots of love and laughter. It also helps that they are so very talented and a great part to our overall team.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you see clients make before you begin working with them?
I meet so many people that have a great book or magazine idea. Some prospective clients come in not knowing what their message is or who their audience is. Always know who you serve and what you provide them. If it takes five minutes to describe your idea then you’re not being clear. The clearer the client is, the more successful they and their projects become (Our consulting services help our clients to reach that clarity).
Learn the value of your book—who is your audience and how can they apply your knowledge. Who is reading your work and what do they need to get out of it?
Clients who can show that they can go through the process—laid out on our website—will have a successful partnership with us. Not everyone is a fit, and it’s OK. People who expect high quality and an effective final product will do well with our process.
Tell us more about SPARK Publications!
The core business of SPARK Publications is actually our magazine and interactive work—national clients who have sought out a highly specialized custom product. And in the mix, we attentively work with about a dozen independent authors a year who are looking to publish highly effective and creative books.
You can explore examples of our work at SPARKpublications.com
Since Fabi is quite modest, we decided to share these awards on her behalf!
Fabi’s accomplishments include being awarded the 2018 First-Generation Family Business of the Year by the Charlotte Business Journal, the 2017 Women Business Owner of the Year by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)-Charlotte Chapter, and 2015 Marketer of the Year by the Business Marketing Association of the Carolinas. She also received the Career Mastered National Leadership Award and has twice been celebrated as one of Mecklenburg Times' 50 Most Influential Women.
While many would brag and boast, you remain modest about your accomplishments. Why?
While the SPARK Publications team has won over 200 industry awards, awards are a reflection of the work we have done collectively and are not a personal accolade. While I am honored to have also won personal awards, I know I couldn’t have done it without the collective. We are appreciative of the industry recognition, since awards do help to establish credibility and awareness for our clients and our firm. Interestingly enough, when we find out we have won an award we collectively do a quick cheer then it is back to business as usual. The fun part is notifying and celebrating our clients.
Where can we purchase your books and connect?
Fabulous F Words of Business Ownership can be found here.
On Heaven's Couch can be found here.
Will you always keep pushing the goal line farther out?
Absolutely, every time I reach a goal, you can bet I am pushing the goal line out once again. It’s deeply ingrained in me to keep moving forward and to constantly create.
“A farewell is a ‘goodbye for now’ that leads to the next chapter of your next great thing.”
- Fabi Preslar, Fabulous F Words of Business Ownership
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