Tea Leaves, which was self-published earlier this year by Tucson author Andrew Sandner, features 50 life lessons, each accompanied by short prose and an illustration, drawn by Victoria Hollins. After finding its way to the Weekly's booth at this year's festival of books, we caught up with Sandner to find out how Tea Leaves came to be.
What was the inspiration for Tea Leaves?
Originally, the inspiration for the book came from wanting to help kids gain the confidence and mental courage to standup to bullying, or at the very least, to shrug bullying off if it happened to them. But it morphed into a manual on prosperity and becoming a well refined person thanks to a book I had been reading (and still read) called The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian. Gracian's blunt, Machiavellian prose inspired the writing style. I wanted the book to be aesthetically pleasing as well, and that's where John Tenniel's art in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland provided the inspiration for the illustrations. I wanted to capture that "cartoonish/Victorian-esque" feel that helped catapult Carroll's wonderful story into the children's classic it is, and will forever be.
Is this your first self-published book?
What is the self-publishing process like?
Self-publishing is a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work. You wouldn't think it so; write and print, right? But everything is up to the self-publisher. Writing, editing, layout, formatting, print decisions, cover design, web-design, social media presence, promotion, etc. Obviously you can hire out some of these jobs, which is recommended, especially when it comes to editing, and web-design if you have no experience, but it is up to you to actually get it done one way or another! I am told that self-publishing is becoming more popular than traditional publishing amongst traditionally published authors these days because of the amount of control the author has on the process now. I would say to anyone who is thinking about self-publishing to go for it. Jump in with both feet and learn all you can about the process. Once your book is in print, it becomes part of your legacy, and consequently part of literary history forever. And that is pretty cool to me.
Who do you see as the perfect reader for a book like this?
I think this is a perfect book for the young reader who wants to attain happiness, wealth, and wisdom. But I also look at Tea Leaves as a kind of companion to anyone feeling lost, alone, or even possibly depressed. I want this book to inspire people to do what they think is impossible! Many people just aren't taught they can attain the things they desire through tangible practices and specific thought perspectives. It is my goal for the book that it opens this door of possibility for many, many people, regardless of age.
How did Ms. Hollins get on board with this project?
I found Victoria the old fashioned-way; through Craigslist. And while I reviewed art from probably 20 amazing artists, Vic happened to be the last for obvious reasons; her art was perfect for the project. She poured her soul into the drawings and the book would be nothing without her contribution. The circumstance was very fortuitous for the Tea Leaves project because Vic had told me during the "drawing period" that she rarely goes on Craigslist, and just so happened to be bored that particular evening. I sincerely believe the collection that Vic created will one day be extremely sought after. This young woman has a very bright future.
Are you working on anything else at this point?
I am playing around with the idea of doing a follow up book, but currently my time is spent on getting the book "out there." I truly believe it will one day be a bestseller, but it will take time, and a lot more hard work, so that is my focus for now. You can download the Tea Leaves iBook for free from the iBookstore through April 30 as a promo I am doing. Please check it out, or go to the website tealeavesbook.com for the hardback, or more info on the book.
In wrapping up, I will say that Tea Leaves is about figuring out who you want to be, and how to become that person through these 50 time-tested principles. We all strive to be happy, wealthy, and wise, and that means different things to different people, but how we get there for most is an unknown. Hopefully Tea Leaves provides some clarity and is a good jumping off point for anyone seeking to become prosperous.