Last month we announced our new weekly series, She’s So Ambitious, to highlight the entrepreneurial spirit of women. Our inaugural spotlight focuses on the Public Relations and Publishing industry.
Dawn Michelle Hardy is an award-winning publicist who founded Dream Relations, PR & Literary Consulting in 2004 after running the day-to-operations for New York Times Bestselling Author Teri Woods (True to the Game). She was awarded the 2010 “Book Publicist of the Year” honor by the African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) at the 1st annual Baltimore Urban Book Festival. Some of her author clients include National Bestselling Author Niobia Bryant (Message From a Mistresss), Black Expressions featured authors Ebonee Monique (Blitz) and and recipient of the 2013 Phyllis Wheatley Award, Sadeqa Johnson (Love in a Carry-On Bag) along with Essence Bestselling Authors, Kiki Swinson (Cheaper to Keep Her), Miasha (Secret Society), Danielle Santiago (Allure of the Game) and Michele Fletcher (Charge it to the Game). Her agency also represented the Producer Kaven Brown and Director Mills Miller for the Behind the Books documentary on urban fiction.
In 2011, Dawn Michelle Hardy added another title to her publishing resume. She became an associate agent at Serendipity Literary Agency. In this role she manages author writing careers and facilitates the acquisition process for their manuscripts to publishing houses. Her client lists includes a Washington Post sports writer, Editor-in-Chief of UPTOWN, along with contributing subjects for CNN Black in America and the SYFY Channel’s Paranormal Witness. Dawn Michelle has been featured with her colleagues and quoted in Ebony, The Network Journal and Black Enterprise discussing the state of book publishing. Dawn Michelle has a strong reputation in the book publishing industry for taking novelists and self published authors’ out-of-the-box and beyond the book pages. The results are powerful, seamless, consistent messaging that is conveyed across all platforms of media—print, radio, online, television, and new technologies.
How did you launch your career and get to where you are today?
I launched my career as a book publicist after a 2-year period working for a self published author. I networked and met folks along the way who appreciated my work, so when I was prepared to move forward as an entrepreneur I sent emails, placed phone calls and took meetings with authors, bookstore vendors, distributors and magazine editors, and let them all know that I started Dream Relations, PR & Literary Consulting Agency. My agency offers publicity and book consultations to debut and independent authors. This was at the end of 2004 when self publishing was becoming the popular choice to get ones book to readers.
What have you had to sacrifice along the way, if anything?
I have sacrificed a lot more than family and friends realize. Red bottom shoes for one. Nah, just kidding. Well I’m not kidding, but that is not important to me. I may have sacrificed starting a family. I am extremely invested and passionate about the work I do. There have been endless times were I have preferred to stay home and read, write or watch a film that is based on a book than go out on a date with someone new. I just considered the work I was doing at home more important than going out with a new guy.
How do you define success?
If I had to answer this question 9 years ago, it would have started with the amount of money I have in my bank account, but what I realize today is that being a single female entrepreneur for 9 years living in Brooklyn, New York on my own terms…that is success to me. I have helped authors launched their writing careers, win awards and land on bestsellers list. I help journalists fulfill their dream of becoming published authors and I am able to help a single mom land a book deal after she self-published her memoir. Helping others fulfill their dreams without compromising myself is how I define success.
How do you balance work and life?
It took me some time to learn to do so. I live a well balanced life now, because I do not consume myself with all things work. I am a runner. I run half marathons, which requires me to put in no less than 15 miles a week mixed in with some spin classes and weight training. Running helps me refresh my brain. My weekends are for family and friends. I have gotten much better about declining meetings on weekends. Most Fridays I take time to catch up with loved ones after work or stay home and relax on my sofa. I also participate in NFL Fantasy Football and I date more. I have learned that all work and no play is not a good thing for me.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I would love to have published at least two books. I’ve had this conversation with colleagues over the years. I need to find the right topic. I respect the process to much to produce fluff. Book-to-film. I really want to have some of these under my belt by then. In 5 years I would have found my breakout projects, the ones that change the trajectory of my agenting career. I believe I am going to check that off my list in 2014. Every literary agent wants those BIG books. Titles such as Harry Potter, a 7 book series with movies and merchandise attached. The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Gray, Chicken Soup for the Soul series and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho translated into fifty-six languages, sold more than twenty million copies.
Who is your role model or mentor?
My role model is the President of Serendipity Literary Agency, Regina Brooks. I work as an associate agent at her agency. Being a literary agent is tough work. It is great to have someone who is knowledgeable, connected and willing to help you navigate through the tough terrain of book publishing. She is a big sister, boss, mentor, friend and confidant rolled into one. Regina encourages me to not second guess myself and go after what I want.
What advice do you give your fellow entrepreneurs?
I believe that delving into entrepreneurship takes skill, resources, but also heart. There will surely be tough times. When challenges arise, it will not matter how smart you are or who you know. What matters in those moments will be the sincerity in your heart to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Most entrepreneurs were not the straight “A” students, but they were surely some of the most passionate folks around. Passion is what has kept me going. I love what I do and any person who pursues entrepreneurship should love what they do.
If you’d like to nominate someone for She’s So Ambitious, email [email protected] with the nominee’s name, their email address, a link to their company or website and tell us why you’re nominating them and we’ll do the rest!