Melanie Humphrey: On Hustling to Publish my Lifelong Dream | The Garage Group

Melanie Humphrey: On Hustling to Publish my Lifelong Dream

TGG is excited to welcome Associate Researcher, Melanie Humphrey, to our team! She brings over 25 years of branding experience for both Bigcos and startups. Since managing the IBM Exhibit at Epcot, she’s had a knack for consumer empathy and the consumer experience, something she put to great use as an author of children’s literature. She’s known for her positive outlook and courageous mindset, frequently encouraging teams to overcome barriers in pursuit of truly breakthrough ideas.

Hear more from her about her courageous, entrepreneurial journey toward self-publishing the first of four children’s books:

The courage and hustle I bring to The Garage Group comes largely from a decision many years ago to leave my job with IBM Corporate Marketing to chase a lifelong dream of being a children’s author.

A mentor asked me what my dream was and then was somewhat surprised with my immediate response. It turns out that most people he asked didn’t have a dream they were able to articulate. And, since I did and had written a picture book I hoped to have published, this trusted leader pulled more out of me and then encouraged me to self-publish.


He convinced me that all authors are involved in marketing their work, and that I might as well be the publisher, too. I ran with the idea and bought or borrowed every book on self-publishing I could find; and I took a class that guided me in writing a business plan. Many days, I didn’t know what I was doing; but I did know what I needed to accomplish that day to further my goal.  

As I reviewed printing quotes, and acquired ISBN numbers, and learned the basics of the publishing business, friends would ask, “Aren’t you scared?” “Yes,” was my response, “but I have never been more passionate and excited about anything.” This is the part where I should mention a few things: I was single; had a mortgage; was working part-time as a personal trainer; and there was a day when the balance in my checking account was 17 cents.

Receiving boxes of books with my work inside and my name on the outside was one of the most rewarding feelings ever. For years, I used to go into bookstores and look on the shelves to see just where the books with my name on them would one day be alphabetically in the picture book section. Now, with one thousand books in boxes in my home, I needed to get the books onto some shelves! I had success with mailing and pre-orders, mostly from people who knew me. But, I needed to walk into bookstores and gift stores and say to owners and managers, “Hi. I made a book. Would you be willing to take a peek?” Courage and hustle were my daily companions as I pounded the pavement in every city and state I could.

One of the best aspects of being a children’s author is sharing your books with readers. School visits were a major source of both joy and income. While visiting several schools in southwest Florida, a guy read an article in a local newspaper about my journey and came to one of my book signings, asking me to autograph a copy for his goddaughter. That man is now the love of my life (John) and became my husband the following year. John was also an entrepreneur in Colorado and the owner of retail stores in a mountain resort town. When we married and I moved across the country, I realized that my own entrepreneurial experience was crucial to the success of our marriage. Without it, I would not have really understood the challenges, demands and sacrifices of being a small business owner. As we operated that business together for the next 16 years, courage, hustle, and innovation were constant companions – without them, entrepreneurs and their businesses don’t survive.

Recently, I reviewed a box full of memories from the past twenty-one years since I published the first book. I came across the letter below from a student following a visit to his school. It reminds me that I do have the courage and hustle to go after goals and dreams. Kids, adults, startups, Bigcos: we all need courage and hustle to get where we want to to go!

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