Cynthia Gomez. Founder & CEO of StoryTime Me. Sunnyvale, USA

Cynthia Gomez Founder & CEO of StoryTime Me

Like so many people in the world today, Cynthia Gomez found herself wanting more from her career. A trained journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing, academic and professional development publishing and design, Gomez decided to launch her own publishing venture . However, her concept isn’t your typical book publishing company, rather it is a unique way for average people to tell their own stories to pass down to family and friends.

In early 2018, Gomez launched StoryTime Me, a full-service book creation company that takes the stories of normal, everyday people and turns them into children’s books. StoryTime Me allows parents, grandparents or anyone who wants to share a story to do just that, and Gomez’s team of high-quality writers and illustrators takes care of everything.

Recently, Gomez took time out of her hectic schedule to speak to Total Prestige Magazine about her one-of-a-kind company.

Cynthia, StoryTime Me is a unique, one-of-a-kind company that allows people to tell their stories in book form. How did you come up with the idea to produce other people’s stories, and how does StoryTime Me work?

StoryTime Me is actually a product and division of CG Communication & Design, which I launched in early 2017 after being laid off from a position as director of publications and content development at a small company. I was burnt out and didn’t really like the idea of going back to work for someone else. With CG Communication & Design, I help businesses and organizations tell their stories to gain visibility, stand out from the competition, and better engage with their clients. I’m a storyteller at heart, so this seemed like a profitable use of my skills.

However, I found that I just didn’t have the enthusiasm for marketing my business like I should have been, and it was because that wasn’t the kind of storytelling I really wanted to be doing. So, as I found my income streams dwindling late last year, I knew I had to do something different — something that would allow me to wake up excited to get to work every day. But I didn’t yet know what that was. The idea for StoryTime Me came from speaking with my best friend one night. He said it was clear to him why I was, and had been, unsatisfied with prior jobs and my current work. He pointed out that I had studied journalism because I wanted to tell people’s stories and I wanted to make a difference in the world; but I wasn’t doing that. He was right.

It all came together from there. I had toyed with the idea of children’s books in the past, and it occurred to me that children’s books could be a way for people to teach and be taught, in a fun and accessible way. I’ve always felt that we all can learn something of value from every person we meet. Think about it. As human beings, the stories we tell ourselves and others about our lives are so much more than just stories. These narratives allow us to extract meaning from our experiences, develop a sense of identity, hone our sense of purpose, and better understand one another. While people may know us from our shared interactions and social conversations, can they really know us until they understand the set of personal experiences, social interactions, cultural frameworks, environmental factors, and intrinsic nature that made us who we are? However, the most common way for people to share their life stories is through memoirs, and well, let’s face it, not everyone has the skills or desire to write a long book.

Meanwhile, personal storytelling is increasingly getting lost in the modern world. Children no longer sit by fires listening to the tales and reflective insights of their elders. We’re so preoccupied with the daily business of living that we’re forgetting that the most important thing we can share with the world is ourselves. My background in journalism and all the years I spent in the publishing world meant that I had the complete toolbox of skills to launch a successful children’s book publishing venture. However, StoryTime Me isn’t just a solution for my own professional dilemma. It’s a solution for a world that needs more wisdom, and in which not enough is being passed down. It’s also a way to help writers and artists with whom I contract to write and illustrate to make a fair living from their respective crafts. StoryTime Me represents the belief that it’s possible to use our artistic skills and talents to make the world a more beautiful, kinder place.

I understand that book publishing can be daunting, so I set out to make the process as simple as possible. Clients can choose their package from our “Pricing and Options” page. Books are illustrated digitally using high-quality stock illustrations that are customized as needed to better fit clients’ stories and lives. However, clients can also choose the “Custom Artwork” add-on if they want a professional illustrators to hand-illustrate their projects from scratch. Other add-ons allow clients to receive an elegant electronic flipbook and order additional hard copies. Orders normally come with four hard copies of their books. Clients may also email us for projects requiring special pricing. We offer special pricing for large book orders, or if say, someone wants to write or illustrate his or her own project, since we’re not doing all of the work.

Once payment is received, we email clients a “story-naire” to complete and send back. This is a questionnaire designed to help clients tell us the basics of the story they’d like to tell. It helps us to create a basic lifescape. The story-naire contains a unique order number, which they can use when calling or emailing with questions. We’ll then schedule a phone or chat interview between the clients and the writers assigned to their projects for filling in any gaps in their story-naires. Once a story takes shape, clients receive a draft to review and approve. When they’re happy with the story, a designer — or illustrator if they chose the “Custom Artwork” option at checkout — will be assigned to the project. We may ask clients for additional information at this time, like the color of the house in which they grew up, or what their childhood pets looked like. This is to make sure that everything about their story is uniquely theirs. They receive a PDF to review before their books hit the printer, and books then go directly from the printer to them.

Who are the people that contact you to produce their books? Are they everyday people or are they people with incredible stories that would make for great reading?

StoryTime Me is for anyone with a story to tell, and I believe everyone has a story worth telling. Think about grandparents, who have lived through so much of our modern history, and are now turning their thoughts to the kind of legacy they want to leave behind for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Parents can use StoryTime Me as a way to help their children get to know them as more than providers, and share the big life lessons they want to pass on. StoryTime Me is also a great option for expecting parents as a way to tell their future child how he/she came into existence, and the kind of life they want him or her to lead based on what they’ve learned about life along their own journeys. I mean, what a cool birth present, right? Individuals getting married can chronicle their road to the altar. Blended families can create a story of how they came to be. Family members of deceased individuals can chronicle their loved ones’ lives for younger family members to remember them by. Individuals with medical conditions affecting memory can get their life story in writing before it’s gone. Patients can chronicle their battles with illness, because whether they win or lose, the battle is important. Pet parents can create a record of their fur babies’ lives and the lessons they taught them, because our pets never live long enough. Even business owners can use this as a way to share their what they’ve learned along their professional journeys. The possible applications of StoryTime Me are endless.

StoryTime Me recognizes that all of our lives are the ultimate works of art. As human beings, we transform experiences and circumstances into wisdom. We weave from our highs and lows beautiful tapestry and extract from the pattern a meaning that only we can truly see. On an individual level, recognizing our life stories as the meaningful work of art they are can help us gain greater clarity and purpose while also healing painful wounds. We extract meaning from our lives through our personal narratives. Our stories are worth telling, and not just for ourselves. On a family and community level, wisdom sharing through storytelling turns us into transformational leaders; change-makers. Think of all of the things you wish an older, wiser version of you had taught you along your journey. We can all light the way forward for others in our respective circles, helping others as we help ourselves.

On a global scale, StoryTime Me recognizes that we hold the creative power to heal our world. If narrative storytelling is how we make meaning out of the chaos of our lives, humanity is how the universe makes meaning out of the chaos of existence. After all, we’re the ones who can tell the stories about ourselves and others. When we allow our collective wisdom to emerge, we are able to come to a greater understanding of our interconnectedness, and rise together to meet the challenges of our times. While we’re living in dire times, we get to decide what the future looks like. A children’s book may seem like such small a thing for such big problems facing our world. But the story of us may be the greatest gift we can give to ourselves, to our loved ones, and to the world. Our stories all hold wisdom, and what we do with them can make all the difference.

Self-publishing has become a way for unknown writers to get published and reach audiences. How does StoryTime Me take the idea of self-publishing and expand on it?

When most people think of self-publishing, they may think of taking something they’ve written and putting it into printed book format. The problem with that is that not everyone has the talents and skills needed to do justice to the story they’re trying to tell, and others simply don’t have the time or inclination to sit down and write, much less illustrate or figure out how to lay out a book. StoryTime Me is a start-to-finish solution.

Our contract writers and illustrators have been carefully selected and vetted to make sure that they can do our clients’ stories justice. They understand that while they are creating a perfectly factual account of clients’ stories based on the raw information provided, stories must be written and illustrated in such a way that the resulting book would be adequate for reading to a young child as a bedtime story. That’s not always an easy thing to do, so I’m very proud of the collection of contractors we’ve assembled with the necessary skills to do this well.

In addition, we do all the layout work and deal with the printer, so clients literally need only to convey their stories to us in their words, and the rest is up to us. That’s important for two reasons. Writing and illustration work aside, book layout work is a technical skill that most people simply don’t have. If you were to write and illustrate a book and then go out and find someone to do layout and design work, you could be looking at spending almost as much as we charge for everything. And when it comes to printing, most printers who do small runs require a minimum of 25 books. We’ve done our research to find the best and most reasonably priced printing solution for very low print runs, because we understand that most clients only want a few books, which will become family heirlooms.

Additionally, StoryTime Me is flexible in a way that many companies are not. Many companies offer a set number of products or services, and that’s it. We’re happy to work with clients to offer the customized services they need, not just our pre-packaged services. If someone wants, say, 100 books to distribute to wedding or funeral attendees, we will work with our print partners to get him/her the best possible pricing. We’re here to facilitate personal storytelling, and we’re ready to flex as needed to do that.

Finally, because at the heart of StoryTime Me’s mission is to create a kinder world, we look for all sorts of ways to give back. For instance, we are happy to work with fundraisers, schools, and nonprofit organizations by gifting a percentage of profits from StoryTime Me orders made as part of an organized fundraiser to a school or designated charity. We can even provide promotional materials to make their fundraiser a success, and print organizational logos and awareness ribbons on books upon request. What’s more, we offer the opportunity for any client to give to the charity of his or her choice when making a purchase. By simply writing in the charity of their choice in the special instructions section of the checkout page, we will automatically donate five percent of the sale price to their chosen charity.

Will any of the storybooks created by your company be published on a large scale for people to purchase through Amazon or other booksellers?

We like to keep our eyes open for particularly neat stories. We feel that some stories have a whole lot to teach a whole lot of people, and we want to make these stories widely available, via our website and Amazon. The form that clients receive prior to the production of their book asking them to sign verifying that they’ve reviewed the galley — the unpublished but finalized version of your book — contains a section asking whether they are willing to grant StoryTime Me permission to sell their books online. Most books will not end up available for public purchase, but we like to ask up front, even though StoryTime Me owns the copyright, because we recognize that clients’ stories are uniquely and preciously theirs.

If we do decide to sell a book publicly, the client upon whose story the book is based will receive a 15 percent cut from any profits we make. In the publishing world, authors typically receive a 15 percent royalty on the sale of books they write themselves. So, why is StoryTime Me willing to offer clients whose life stories we turn into books a similar cut when we’re doing all the work? If we’re choosing a story for public sale, we believe there is something remarkable about it, and about what it can contribute to the world, and we want to reward the client for a life well lived. Clients whose books we choose to make available for wider distribution may also choose to have their 15 percent cut go to a charity of their choice.

Some clients may know up front that they want their book to receive an ISBN and be made available for purchase through Amazon. Those individuals would need to let us know up front, as the pricing would change a bit, based on the fact that we’re paying for an ISBN and to set up a book for wide distribution without having a sense of whether the story has wide appeal, but we’re happy to oblige. This may be a good option for individuals who want to use their stories to do good. For example, someone with an inspiring story related to autism might see publishing a book that can be purchased by the general public as a great way to raise awareness and funds for a nonprofit that helps individuals on the spectrum by donating all or part of their royalties.

The company only just launched in 2018, and it is a brave move to go into publishing with the world turning to eBooks more and more. Do you believe there is a place for physical books or will more of the reading we do go digital in the next 10 years?

For sure, it’s a risk to go into publishing with the world increasingly turning to digital content, but it’s one worth taking. I do believe there is a place for physical books, particularly when it comes to children’s books. There is something about sitting at the edge of a child’s bed, reading a story and leafing through book pages together that is simply not replaceable by technology. Personally, some of my fondest early memories were of being read to at bedtime, or sitting in a library, book in hand, learning to read in English. When you combine the fact that for a lot of people, the act of holding a physical book and turning pages to read holds positive memories, with the fact that more than a book, the stories we create become family heirlooms, no, I don’t see the increasing move towards eBooks as a threat to the ability of StoryTime Me to succeed. Plus, one of the services we offer clients is their books as electronic flipbooks. As StoryTime Me grows, I’m sure we’ll also expand into offering those books chosen for wider distribution as eBooks as well.

Cynthia, you have worked for over 20 years in content development, journalism, and information design. In that time period, how has the content writing and content development industry changed?

In the 20 years in this journalism, publishing, content development, and design, the one thing that has remained constant is change. I became a journalist as newsrooms everywhere had begun to shrink. Internet access was becoming ubiquitous, and newspapers were trying to figure out how to erect pay walls effectively as advertising revenue and subscribership shrunk. I grew up, professionally, under a constant threat of layoff, like most journalists from my generation. I left for the publishing world thinking that might provide more stability, but the same fate that first befell newspapers struck traditional publishers too, just a bit later. They’re surviving, but the threat of layoffs are a constant, and increasingly smaller organizations must maintain their print operations while expanding into new publishing models, with fewer and fewer people. The good thing about that, of course, is that you really learn to do a whole lot. From writing and editing to designing covers and laying out books to working with authors, editors, designers, and printers to get a book published, I’ve really done it all. And if I hadn’t had those kinds of experiences, I wouldn’t now be in the position to provide A to Z publishing services for StoryTime Me’s clients, so I’m truly grateful for how my professional journey has unfolded.

It seems that with the rise of blogs and different content creating websites, everyone believes they can create great material that people want to read. What is the difference between a content development professional, and others who sell their content through third-party websites, but have never worked for an actual marketing or copywriting company?

Effective writing doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a combination of talent, skill, and expertise, and not just in writing, but also in human behavior. A content development professional understands what writing “voice” is needed to achieve a specific goal, what information should be presented in what order, and how it should be presented. I’ve worked with people with doctorate degrees and legal degrees who have valuable information to share and clearly have a good grasp of the language — because you don’t get that far in school without knowing how to communicate in writing — but who still need help creating good content. A lot of what I’ve done in the past is work with experts in a variety of fields to take their raw content and make it into something that’s not just easily digestible, but also engaging. It’s not just about editing and rewriting, but often about getting into people’s heads and pulling out the information they want to convey but don’t know how to express, and even information they don’t know they want to convey, but is essential for understanding the rest of their message. In a way, that’s what we do at StoryTime Me, except that instead of technical, academic, or legal knowledge, we’re helping people tell their personal stories and extract the meaning from those stories.

Cynthia, what is a day in your life like?

Hectic! I currently juggle StoryTime Me with other work through CG Communication & Design. Right now, I’m in the middle of a big technical editing contract for a municipal agency, editing and laying out a novel, a couple of small website design jobs, and of course, growing StoryTime Me. My hope is that one day not too far into the future, I can focus solely on StoryTime Me, because I feel that this is the kind of work I was placed on this planet to do. For now, I literally work nonstop. But that’s OK, because I know I’m growing something truly worthwhile.

What makes you smile?

Animals, trees, and nature in general. I’m told I’m a bit of a hippie.

What scares you?

I’m trying very hard to learn to live without fear, because fear keeps us from taking risks and leaping into the unknown, even when only good things are waiting for us. But to be honest, the fear of failure can be hard to shake. I’ve always managed to come out on top professionally, so this fear of failure is simply my brain running through possible negative future outcomes without any past basis of failure. So, I do a lot of meditating, which helps, and I try to be fully present in the now. I also wear three bracelets I made, each with a message that I feel keeps my life on the right track. They state: Be kind; Be brave; and Be free. I look at that second one a lot as a self-reminder.

What is your secret talent?

I don’t know that I have a secret talent. I try to use all of my talents as much as I can, so none is really a secret.

Which historical figure do you most admire?

This is difficult to answer, because too many people have done quite admirable work, but also because too many everyday people go unrecognized who do hard, admirable work every day, whether that’s saving animals or advocating for civil rights or saving human lives. Naming one historical figure seems a bit like piling dirt on the already unrecognized achievements of all those individuals.

Cynthia, do you have any hobbies or interests?

Of course! Not that I have much time lately for my hobby and interests, but when I’m not working, I’m busy rescuing animals, spending time in nature, or planning my next music festival trip.

What are you never without?

My laptop, because I don’t like to fall behind on my work, and Carmex, because I seem to be allergic to every other lip balm. I’m working on allowing myself to disconnect from technology though, because balance is important.

Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?

“Leap and the net will appear.” — John Burroughs

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and get up eight times.” — Paulo Coelho

What inspires you?

My animals, who inspire and teach me; friends who make me feel far wealthier than I am; and the helpers of the world — people who make it their lives’ work to fight the societal ills most might prefer to look away from, and help those who are less fortunate than themselves.

If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

Apathy. Imagine what the world could look like if everyone was more empathetic to others who seem to be unlike them. It’s my hope for StoryTime Me that it becomes a powerful vehicle for fostering understanding, compassion, and kindness.

To create your own StoryTime Me book or to find out more about Cynthia Gomez, please visit



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