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Project Spotlight: "My Mother’s Land" by Dena Olayinka Broderick

As a publishing consultant and service provider, I am lucky enough to meet some excellent writers with great stories to tell. In this spotlight, I’ll be discussing Dena Olayinka Broderick and her book My Mother’s Land.

Discovering Her Roots

Following the loss of her mother, Dena put together a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to help fund her trip to Liberia with the intent to meet her distant family, learn more about her heritage, and explore the country that helped shape her mother into the strong-willed and exuberant woman that raised her to be her own strong-willed and exuberant woman. With the help of her backers, she was able to make the trip to Monrovia, Liberia, in the summer of 2012.

My Mother’s Land is her account of those travels, and where it may have easily become a depressive recollection of her loss or the state of a previously war-torn Liberia, it is instead an ode to the beauty of life’s varied characters, the hope the future holds, and the joys the past has blessed her with. It is an easy read with plenty of heartwarming moments, humor, and a balanced amount of tact without leaning into the territory of dishonesty. It is this honesty that makes her voice so worthwhile.

My Mother's Land by Dena Olayinka Broderick

Let me strongly encourage you to consider buying it on Amazon. The Kindle edition is only $4.99. Just click the image above to learn more.

RHP’s Involvement

At the time I worked with Dena, I had not yet started Right Hand Publishing, but I had been offering the same services under my own name for several years. Dena came to me through Upwork, an online freelance marketplace, in February 2017 with her manuscript.

Her manuscript was mostly finished, and she had spent years putting it together. Her dedication to producing a great book is something I love to tell my new clients about, especially when they say they expect to finish writing, editing, and publishing their first book within two months. While I firmly believe that writers often have the possibility of “editing their work to death,” sometimes it just takes some time. (As a side note: it is certainly possible to write and publish a book within two months, but that’s not always a good idea, especially with something so close to home as a travel memoir and homage to your mother.)

As I began working with Dena, our first task together was handling line edits. We worked on a single major round of edits together, and we continued to chip at small pieces throughout the rest of the process. We made revisions as soon as a few days prior to the final publication. Thanks to the technological advancements of the 21st century and the benefits of print on demand, we’ve made some slight adjustments since publication as well.

I handled both print layout and eBook conversion for Dena. Our final design wasn’t too far off from the original, but we ran into problems with a specific font family that doesn’t print correctly due to errors in its production. We must have looked through 100 fonts or more trying to choose one that worked as well. If there’s one thing I can say about Dena and this project, it’s that the attention to details truly mattered. We established early on that we’d rather work on the project for another year than rush it out and regret anything later.

The original cover design she commissioned contained graphics that weren’t ideal for printing, and they came out quite blurry during our initial print proofs. A disheartening blow followed by another setback: the original designer disappeared and refused to correct the work. After some scouting work on Dena’s part, she found a designer that not only fixed the issues but vastly improved the cover with Dena’s input.

These setbacks cost us a lot of time because we opted to print proof copies between all our major revisions, but this is truly the best possible review method for someone that’s stared at the manuscript on the screen for too long. Dena never complained; she understood that being overeager to publish could ultimately be to the detriment of the final product.

Ultimately, my role in the project included:

  • Editing/proofreading

  • Print layout

  • eBook conversions

  • Some minor cover adjustments and graphic work

  • Self-publishing consultation

Once we finished the book and finally published it, she left me a 5-star rating on Upwork that reads:

I can't say enough nice things about Robert. He is patient, knowledgeable and great at his job. By far the best freelancer I've worked with. I am very pleased with the outcome of my book.

We still occasionally catch up, and to date, this is one of my favorite projects and clients I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

Learn more about My Mother’s Land and Dena Olayinka Broderick…

Dena is a travel writer, and you can live vicariously through her blog at

And again, you can find her book on Amazon at:

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