From communications student to published author

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In between classes and a part time job, Phillip Hines had little free time, as much as any college student would, and he spent this time doing what he loved: writing.

Hines had two books self-published on Amazon and another in the works when he graduated from Norfolk, Virginia’s Old Dominion University in 2011. The latest, “Mitt Romney in His Own Words” was picked up and published by Simon & Schuster in May 2012.

With aspirations to be the next Tom Brokaw, Hines majored in communications studies and minored in political science, then realized spending his career as a broadcast journalist would limit the amount of time he would be able to spend writing the material he was promoting.

“I was always interested in politics, and way back in Spring 2011 I started researching and compiling information about Mitt Romney,” Hines said. “I wanted to put together an even-handed view of his policies, and it just kind of turned into a book. I had self-published a couple of books in the past and was considering doing the same with this one.”

Hines still juggles real life with his passions. He works during the day for Virginia Beach Neptune Festival, an event planning company, as a production assistant handling tasks such as website management, copy and public relations.

“I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do,” he said. “I remember when I was 12 years old, back in 2000, I made up a sign that said, ‘Push for Bush, No More Gore.’ I’ve always been interested in politics, and right now I like writing and research related to that field.”

But how does a college student go from writing papers for classes to receiving a book deal with a publisher like Simon & Shuster?

“I think if you’re going to write then you should write about something you’re interested in; if you don’t, it will show,” Hines said. “If you want a big publisher, it’s going to be tough but there are a lot of stories about people who self-publish on Amazon and get picked up. My agent just picked up a fiction writer. He stumbled across her blog and contacted her and got her a big book deal. So it helps to have a blog. Networking also helps as well, but anyone can self-publish books on Amazon, that’s really fun, and if your book does well, then publishers will notice.”

It seems almost impossible to fathom successfully juggling school, work, family, finding a job after graduation and writing a book, let alone 3 books, but that’s exactly what Hines did.

“I think it definitely depends on what you have going on in your life,” he said. “For me, I like writing and that’s what I did in my spare time. It actually helped me with some of my school projects as well. It helped practicing those research techniques. I think if someone wants to pursue that and (is) capable, then they definitely can, it’s definitely feasible.”

Hines’ other publications are “Lebron James In His Own Words: An Unofficial Quotebook” and “How I Make $20/Hour Going to the Beach, Concerts, Festivals, and Professional Sporting Events and How You Can Too.”

“I hope my intention was carried out in that I provided a well-balanced compilation of Governor Romney’s views,” Hines said. “I provided contradictory statements as well, like his views on global warming. Some people will wonder why I didn’t include any information from the ’80s or ’90s, and I didn’t really think much of that was relevant. My intention was to provide people with the current, up-to-date information.”

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