IBPA Member Spotlight: Nancy Shugart
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Posted by: Christopher Locke
Author Publisher Nancy Shugart Proves Them Wrong & Wins Distinguished Award Along the Way
|IBPA member Nancy Shugart (left) accepts the Barbara Jordan Media Award. Ron Lucey (right), the Executive Director of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, provided the introduction.
IBPA member Nancy Shugart has an incredible story of perseverance and ambition. She went blind when she was 8-years-old from Retinitis pigmentosa, but instead of letting that impede her dreams, she became the first in her family to attend college, became an elementary school teacher for twenty-one years, and then began her own company, Prove Them Wrong, LLC, for which she is a motivational speaker and author publisher. Recently, she was awarded the Barbara Jordan Media Award in Austin, Texas for her contributions in “eliminating attitudinal, social, and physical barriers and encouraging accurate and progressive portrayals of people with disabilities.”
“Barbara Jordan was such an amazing woman, leader, and advocate for the rights of all people,” says Nancy. “To have my book, Prove Them Wrong: Be the One to Make It Happen, honored with the award that has her name on it has been extremely exciting for me! It means that my book achieved something that was rare to find in books when I was a child—accurate and positive representation of people with disabilities.”
|Author publisher Nancy Shugart holds her Barbara Jordan Media Award alongside her guide dog, Porsche.
Nancy applied for the award on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s website and was overjoyed when his office called to say that she had won. She especially enjoyed the ceremony in April. “I was overwhelmed with gratitude as my guide dog, Porsche, led me to the lectern to accept the award,” says Nancy. “The ceremony was an amazing event! The top Texas journalists and authors representing television, radio, print, photojournalism, and digital media were there to either receive an award or to support their colleagues. I knew I was among great people from the moment the ceremony began!”
Those around Nancy haven’t always been as supportive, though. “Four months before I was to graduate with my bachelor’s degree and Texas Teaching Certificate,” says Nancy, “a professor told me that no principal in the public schools would ever hire a blind teacher. This had been my life’s dream ever since I was five years old.
“I had to ask myself if I had the strength to continue, knowing there would be many more obstacles from those who have limiting beliefs about people with disabilities. I chose to ‘prove them wrong’ which later became the name of my award-winning company.”
This optimistic spirit and fearless attitude have served Nancy well, which is why she devotes her time to inspiring others to overcome their own obstacles and to ignore naysayers.
Her publishing company is now collecting stories for the Prove Them Wrong book series including stories about teens, teachers, first responders, health care heroes, and canine heroes who refused to quit. You can read their submission guidelines and submit a story by clicking here.
Four Questions with Prove Them Wrong Founder Nancy Shugart
IBPA: For other aspiring authors who are blind, can you share the tools you use to write and publish your books?
Nancy Shugart (NS): I’m so blessed to live during this time when there’s so much technology that allows me to do just about anything a person with sight can do. I write my books using my laptop computer and speech software which is called JAWS, Job Access Window Speech. Jaws reads everything on the screen to me. In fact, everything in my house talks to me. I hear voices all day long. Friends tell me there’s medication for that! I also have an app on my iPhone called AIRA, Artificial Intelligence Remote Assistance. When I tap the app, a live agent will then look through my phone’s camera lens and can describe any visual elements I need described. I can also grant the agent tandem access to my computer if I’d like them to help format documents. The resource that is the most value to me, though, are the talented people I invite to be on my team for the publishing of a book. For this book, my team included Bob Kelly for editing, IBPA members Hobie Hobart for branding and Kathi Dunn for cover and interior design, both with Dunn Associates, and Marty Merrell, for proofreading, with MGM Design.
IBPA: As a follow-up, how do you review the visual aspects of your books, such as your cover design and interior design?
|Author publisher Nancy Shugart's book, Prove Them Wrong: Be the One to Make It Happen
NS: I begin by providing the designer with my ideas of what I feel will be important in the cover and interior design. I then step aside and allow the designer to work her magic and create several possibilities for me to consider. With this third book, I then trusted and relied on the two people who were most instrumental in providing descriptions of the visual aspects of the book—Kathi Dunn, the designer, and proofreader Marty Merrell who owns a creative design company and provided eagle-eyed descriptions of the design work. Knowing there’s an additional responsibility to a designer working with a blind author publisher, I asked Kathi for her impressions after the book was completed. Kathi replied, “We actually found it exhilarating to be nudged to work outside the box, especially with someone as passionate and joyful as you. It was indeed challenging at times but it seemed we all found our way magically because we were all committed to the book’s message and to bringing your words to life. It helped us all greatly that you had visual memory to access images, colors and shapes I’d describe to you in great detail so you could get a picture in your mind. It was like drawing in words to paint a scene and it was so amazing to hear your reactions as each picture took form in your mind. It was also interesting for us to learn new ways to communicate more clearly as you used fascinating software on your end. I must admit that I couldn’t fathom at the outset how this could work as well as it did. You rank among the most professional, business-like, and serious of author publishers we’ve worked with and that left a lasting impression on us.”
IBPA: Can you list three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?
NS: Yes, the three key lessons that have helped me the most are:
- Have a knowing deep in your bones of who you want your book to help, entertain, or instruct and see your audience benefiting from your work. This will help take your focus off the obstacles that will jump out in front of you. Take the focus off yourself and put it on your book’s audience. They need your words!
- Network. Talk to other authors about who they trust for editing, design, proofreading, and printing/publishing. The ultimate decision is yours since you know your message better than anyone else. However, recommendations from others can help to form the foundation from which your decisions can be based.
- Believe in your work. Believe in your message. It may take time to get others to come on board with your message but that’s only because it may be a new concept to them. Repetition is essential. Keep your name and book’s title out there.
IBPA: How has it been beneficial to you to be a member of Independent Book Publishers Association?
NS: Oh my gosh! Oh my word! IBPA has been a priceless resource! I found key people for my team thanks to IBPA! I met some of them at IBPA Publishing University, and meeting face-to-face always makes it easier to build a connection. I read IBPA’s Facebook posts, plus I devour the wealth of information at IBPA’s website! This is a resource that no serious author or publisher should be without.
IBPA: Thank you for sharing your insight and story with the IBPA community! Congratulations again on winning this well-deserved award!
Click here to learn more about Prove Them Wrong LLC!
Share your own publishing news with the IBPA community! Send news about events or accomplishments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind that we reserve Spotlights for major news (such as, you’re a cookbook author who won a national cooking competition), unique news (such as, you wrote a book about cycling and now you’re riding a bike across the U.S. for your book tour), or human interest stories (such as, you visit shelters every weekend to read books to the dogs and cats there).
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