Fashion designer turned self-published author shares her journey

Kelly Inglis

Donna Vernon was a fashion designer and university professor before finding her true passion: spiritual writing. Upon having this epiphany, she set out to write and publish not one, not two, but FOUR spiritual self-help books — with plans for 11 more!

We sat down to chat with Donna about her decision to become a self-published author, as well as the work that it takes to get there. If you’re thinking of publishing a book or two yourself, read up on her journey and find the motivation you need to get writing (and publishing)!

Customer Snapshot- Donna Vernon

– You had some interesting jobs before you became an author. What inspired you to start writing books? The Divine was my inspiration for writing. It all began with a nudge during my hiatus from teaching (due to a serious illness) and progressed to a hard shove as I moved to the island of Hawai’i. At this point I realized that my life work was to become a spiritual calling. The books I was being asked to write would get my message out to the women who needed it.

– What do you find to be the hardest part of the writing process? That’s easy. One word: focus. I struggled with this for my first book, Transformation, and by the time I began writing my second, Cheers, Donna V., and my third, Aloha, I was so much of an expert on the topic that I am using my knowledge of the subject to write my fifth book, Focus.

– What would you say is the hardest part of the overall publishing process? The hardest part was deciding exactly which way to go. There are so many choices out there.

– Did you know from the start that you would embark on this process on your own or did you initially try to work with a publishing company? Initially, I contacted a renowned publishing company in my writing genre. There were too many hoops to jump through — too many people to convince that I was a good spiritual writer “worthy” of publication. I just kept writing…until the D.I.Y. (do it yourself) option was born. That’s when I jumped in with both feet.

I loved the idea of the D.I.Y. platform and the print-on-demand policy which came with the availability of a listing on and Kindle. I now had the ability to chart my own course through the potentially rough waters of the publishing industry, hiring my own captains as needed. I was truly in charge of my destiny.

– Was it intimidating making all your own decisions in a brand new industry? Not a bit. I left behind fear and worry in Australia when I began my fashion design career (the topic of my second book, Cheers, Donna V.). I was poised for success and the challenge invigorated me!

– That’s very inspiring! It looks like you had some pretty specific ideas already in mind for your book covers — where did these ideas come from? Were the designs you ended up with what you had in mind upon launching the contest? As a successful fashion designer, I was always on the search for drama. One day I saw an old pair of boots resting against a white background — the imprint for all my book covers was created at that moment.

You can’t be the “lone wolf” in this business. Even though the cover designs were “uniquely” mine, I needed help in application — spacing, fonts, point size, etc. That is where 99designs came in. For my first book, Transformation, my designer exceeded even my expectations. For book number two, Cheers, Donna V., the cover design was exactly what I had in mind. For my third book, Aloha, I received a gift as a title font — perfection!

DV snapshot cover 1

Design by line14; check out the contest here

– Did the contest help you in your personal branding process? Yes, definitely. I get compliments on the beauty of my books daily. My readers know to look for white books with elegant and dramatic printing — my branding idea that 99designs helped me materialize.

– Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself as the most successful “female” spiritual writer and speaker on the planet.

– Love your ambition! Any more books in the works? Books and a “new” lecture series, which begins this year with my fourth book, Rejuvenation. At least eleven more books in this current series and then on to another one. The ideas keep coming…

– What’s your advice for other self-published authors out there? Follow the three rules:

  • Rule #1: Believe in yourself.
  • Rule #2: Never, never give up.
  • Rule #3: If doubt begins to creep into your mind, refer back to Rule #1.

If Donna’s infectious positivity doesn’t inspire you to get going, I’m not sure what will! Click the links in the post to check out her books on Amazon.

The author

Kelly Inglis
Kelly Inglis

Kelly works for the marketing team at 99designs. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Kelly lives in San Francisco where she can often be found eating cheetos, playing ping pong or frequenting one of the Bay Area's many parks and cafes with a good book.

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