Denola Burton found her passion for publishing books by first learning she didn’t care for the writing part.
Burton works with nonprofits to improve leadership and communication through her company, Enhanced DNA, and she ended up writing a lot of stories to incorporate into the workshops. The stories Burton wrote were about herself, so she decided to adapt them into a memoir, “If You Really Knew Me: The Life, The Lessons and The Legacy.”
Burton, who retired from Eli Lilly in 2017, joined the Independent Book Publishers Association and learned all she could about the publishing business.
“That’s where I felt like I got my joy,” she said.
Burton started her publishing company, Enhanced DNA Publishing, in 2019. DNA stands for develop, nurture and achieve.
Enhanced DNA Publishing has about 35 authors, many of whom are Black women. Most authors are in the Indianapolis area, but some are based as far away as Texas and Florida. Burton said the most common genre is similar to the memoir she wrote — where people want to tell their story for others to learn from — but she’s also published cookbooks, novels and devotional books.
The American Book Fest recognized three finalists under Enhanced DNA Publishing’s umbrella for awards in November 2020.
Tina Rogers was a finalist in the nonfiction anthologies category for her book, “She Became Me: A Letter to My Younger Self,” which features letters from 14 women to their younger selves.
Rogers said writing became part of a spiritual awakening she’s gone through over the last few years. She wrote her first book — a short, three-chapter book that took three hours to write — in 2018.
Rogers said she considered self-publishing and also looked at a couple of other publishing companies before landing on Enhanced DNA Publishing.
Self-publishing can be tempting for first-time authors because it seems like a quick and easy way to publish, but it’s a route replete with obstacles, many of which new authors often don’t consider.
How much editing does the book need? Who will do the editing? How will marketing work? Who will design the cover? Will the final product meet a high enough standard?
Burton isn’t an editor or graphic designer or marketer, but she has partners in various fields who can help as needed. It’s what she calls a “cafeteria style” of publishing.
“I’m just a vehicle to get their publications out there,” she said.
One of Burton’s main goals is to help new authors learn the publishing process.
“Until you meet that basic standard, she’s very honest with you that you’re not ready to publish,” Rogers said.
Chane’ Lucas found Enhanced DNA Publishing at a women’s conference in 2018, around the same time she started writing a play for her church. Lucas eventually turned the play into a novel, “Facing the Darkness,” which was a finalist in the African American fiction category at American Book Fest.
Lucas also considered other publishing options but decided she needed more of the personal attention Burton could offer.
“I just loved her warm spirit,” she said.
Authors haven’t had much time to get to know each other because of the pandemic, Lucas said, but they still cheer each other on because they feel they’re part of a team.
“You feel like you’re part of something that’s becoming great,” Lucas said.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.