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Meet Toneal Jackson of APS Books & More in S. Lawndale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Toneal Jackson.

Toneal, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My literary journey started when I published my first book in 2010. In 2011, I ranked #3 as the National Black Book Festival’s Best New Author. I spent the next couple of years promoting my books. In 2012, CBS Chicago recognized me as one of “5 Indie Authors and Publishers to Watch Out For”. In 2013, I founded my organization, Authors Promoting Success (APS) with the goals being to (1) educate indie authors on what it takes to make it in this industry and (2) help them gain exposure and achieve success in this industry. In the same year, I became an International Award-Winning Author as my fifth title, Inspiration from A.B.O.V.E., gained recognition with Readers’ Favorite.

I started my imprint, APS Publishing in 2014, and have worked with over a dozen authors. In 2015, I opened APS Books & More, a book boutique deemed to be “Home to the Independent Author” as we primarily house indie titles. We initially opened inside of Ford City Mall but relocated in April 2017. This was the same year that I created the APS Book Awards and accompanying Gala. It is a contest open to indie authors with books from all genres except erotica and street lit. The winners of the contest along with various members from the organization are honored at the Awards Gala.

Has it been a smooth road?
As an author, it wasn’t totally smooth. The initial experience was joyful, but learning the actual business behind it was fretful. I lost a lot of money along the way participating in events that were not well promoted. I endured hardships trying to market my book and quickly learned that self-published authors are highly discriminated against.

As a publisher, it has been a relatively smooth road in terms of solidifying clients as all of my clients to date have been referred.

As a bookstore owner, the challenge is always finding new ways to intrigue customers, especially in the new location. You always have to find ways to promote your business and your brand.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with APS Books & More – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
APS International is like a literary tree. Its branches are the organization; the publishing company; and bookstore. In short, we offer a variety of platforms to help indie authors gain exposure. I’m most proud of the relationship that we have with one another. Unlike most organizations that are all business, we have created a familial support system that extends beyond the literary realm. Our mantra, We Are Better Together, has developed into a lifestyle, and I believe that this is also what sets us apart from other organizations. We’re more concerned about each other’s well-being and success than we are the bottom line.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What I like the best about Chicago, ironically enough, is what I like the least about it; the fact that it is a “big” city. As a resident, it’s wonderful because it’s always something to do, somewhere to go, and something to see. But as a business owner/entrepreneur, BECAUSE it’s always something to do, somewhere to go, and something to see, being overly saturated makes it extremely difficult to stand apart from the rest. Everybody is throwing an event; everybody has a business; everybody is an expert. So sometimes, I’ve found that I’m more successful when I go to smaller markets, where my experience and expertise are better appreciated.

Contact Info:

  • Address: APS Books & More
    2653 S. Lawndale
    Chicago, IL 60623
  • Website: www.WeAreAPS.com
  • Phone: 847-942-6135
  • Email: apsnternational@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @APSNternational
  • Facebook: @APSNternational
  • Twitter: @APSNternational
  • Other: YouTube: APSNternational

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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