Coles College Senior Realizes Dream of Publishing Her Own Book
KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb 4, 2019) — Even as Coles College senior Lacy Bernhardt holds the physical book in her hand, she has trouble believing that she is actually a published author.
Bernhardt, a management major earning a minor in marketing, published her first book in December, called Whiskey Flavored Cigarettes. A collection of poetry written throughout Bernhardt’s time as a Kennesaw State University student, the book represents years of writing, re-writing, and perseverance.
She describes Whiskey Flavored Cigarettes as a celebration of life and all of its joys and sorrows.
“It’s about the things that people fear to feel,” she says. “It’s raw, it’s blunt, it’s in your face. It’s going to draw from the deeper parts of yourself that you normally stuff down inside and pull all that back up.”
Bernhardt’s poetry addresses universal themes of love, loss, hope, and regret. While many of her poems are about coping with unrealized goals, she says that writing the book is one dream that she refused to let die.
Writing poetry has been Bernhardt’s passion since she was a child, and she has always pictured herself as an author. However, for years she has juggled the demands of being a full-time student along with her full-time job managing a call center for Carl Black Chevrolet, which left little time for pursuing writing professionally. Inspired by the encouragement of friends and family, Bernhardt decided the time was right. She spent several months last year compiling and editing her poems for publication.
Using the Blurb self-publishing platform, Bernhardt printed a physical run of Whiskey Flavored Cigarettes for sale on the Amazon store and created a digital version for the Apple iBooks digital store. Her book officially went on sale December 27.
By opting to self-publish, Bernhardt knew she would face an uphill battle as she assumed full responsibility for marketing. Fortunately, her skills gained as a student in the Michael J. Coles College of Business have helped her tackle that and other challenges.
“A lot of what I’ve learned in my marketing classes has helped me in knowing how to reach a larger audience and in understanding what they want to see,” she says. “And management classes have taught me a lot about copyrights and knowing what material is yours, what you’re allowed to use, and how your work is protected.”
Social media has been Bernhardt’s most successful marketing tool. Leading up to the book’s release, she began posting excerpts on her Instagram page – @thrublacknwhite – to build positive word of mouth.
“The response has been huge,” Bernhardt says. “It basically allows me to communicate with people and have them spread the word for me.”
Bernhardt has always been motivated to succeed. According to Dr. Deborah Roebuck, a management and entrepreneurship professor who has taught Bernhardt, she always takes the lead in group assignments and is proactive about engaging with faculty when she has questions about the material or her grades.
“Lacy is positive, upbeat, and tackles any challenge given to her,” Roebuck says. “It does not surprise me at all that she would do something like this. I’m thrilled for her to express herself through this medium.”
Now that Whiskey Flavored Cigarettes is out, Bernhardt will continue promoting it on social media and plans to host book signings. Although editing, publishing and marketing the book has required a significant time investment, Bernhardt has not let that interfere with her plans to graduate in May and to achieve her career goals.
“When I started college, my goal was to one day own my own business,” she says, “which is still the case. My writing has taken off more than I ever thought it would, but I’ll still pursue a traditional career and continue writing for myself.”
For other students interested in writing their own books but who may be intimidated by the process, Bernhardt offers the following advice:
"Just go for it,” she says. “You’ve got nothing to lose. The worst case scenario is that people won’t read it, but they won’t even get the chance if you don’t write it. You’ll be surprised when you put your work out there and discover there are a lot of people experiencing similar emotions who will find comfort reading your perspectives, knowing they aren’t alone. Just be brave and pursue it.”