Hey, lit world, it’s your girl, Tameeka Mo’Nique: The Dysfunctional Diva, who moves different than the normal writer! For those of you who don’t know me, I am a lover of the pen and word play, a student with a major in business, a lover of music, hustling and keepin’ it real. Always serving it straight to the point with no chaser.
At first, just a hard core reader, I’ve been on the business end of the lit scene for four years now, pushing my pen in pursuit of my happiness. My journey has been filled with blessings, including book tours with move making indie publishers, as well as several urban lit legends. I’ve also been blessed to carve out a pretty nice living, buying books from various publishers, promoting those books, and selling those brands. Sealing the deal, with more money in my pocket at the end. Sure, I had the day job with the bi-weekly pay check. But then I started making those same figures, if not more, in just two hours of selling books out of my back pack, or straight out of the trunk of my car like the dope boys. Go figure… iSellBooksDoU? So, here, I take the time to educate aspiring authors, lacing them to the lit game and warning them against many common mistakes.
For one, clear your mind of any notion that your craft is just a hobby. This is a lucrative business and must be taken seriously! To understand the game, one must understand all aspects of the literary business. As a rich author or a poor author, remember your publisher is your partner who sponsors your business- you’re the entrepneur who creates a hot product!
Don’t believe me, invest in your future- take a class on publishing and find out how much money your publisher shovels out quarterly. Regardless if they have a team that can cut some of their publishing costs, risks are taken daily, leaving most publishers in the red [negative-net] from authors who don’t uphold their end of the deal and properly promoting their projects, or being diligent in turning in rewrites, sequels, etc. Remember that contract you were so eager to sign in the beginning of your dream? Your Publisher is your partner-the Sponsor who fronted their money to make your dream a reality. So listen to all of the fruitful pointers your publisher gives and show appreciation for their risks and faith. You just might learn a few valuable lessons and increase the numbers on your royalty checks.
The publishing industry is a numbers game, the more units you move the more you and your publisher stand to gain. People may lie but the numbers don’t. Having your books in stores that keep track of your ISBN is what gets an author numbers. Hello Amazon, Books a Million and Barnes & Nobles! An aspiring author should aspire to see their books on the shelves, not only in your local mom and pop shops recycling black dollars, but also on shelves that can get your numbers closer to becoming a New York Times Best Seller! But no matter where it’s placed, if you’re not motivated to push your product, your book will sit on a shelf and collect dust. I mean, truly, who aspires to be a mere one hit wonder/has-been with fifteen minutes of fame on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Your books don’t sell themselves they require an author’s input. So, come up with a strategy. Discover your strengths. Develop a marketing plan, get some marketing materials, and then, set out on a tour to move those units. You are the IT factor which will get that product popping. Your worth is your brand. Know your target audience and go get that sale!
I’ve sadly sat and witnessed, firsthand, as numerous authors set themselves up for failure, by not following the learned paths: They didn’t spend to invest in themselves and/or they got too caught up in the shenanigans on social networks.
Keep it in mind: any author serious about their craft, and looking to truly succeed in this business, must get off of the internet and take their hustle back to the old ways. They’ve got to get out and explore the great outdoors, introduce themselves to their supporters live and in the flesh!
I understand some authors are shy, but before you sign that contract, understand that the literary industry is a business, just like any other nine to five, and if you don’t put in the work, then you won’t receive a check, at the end of the pay period. Your publisher is your employer/supervisor, and when you put in that work and raise the bar, it’s only right that your publisher blesses you with your royalties! Bottom line is, you signed up for this, promising your publisher/partner that you would do your part. Your publisher believed in your art and sponsored the business, paying out of pocket, to cover the cost of the book cover, proper editing, typesetting, production, printing and getting your manuscript uploaded to all of the various eBook outlets. Your publisher held up their end of the deal, in making your dream a reality. Your publisher is not responsible for pushing your work, this is where you must do your part to uphold your end of the deal!
Reading is truly fundamental, your contract has your numbers shaded in black ink…if you signed up for let’s say 10% off an eBook that goes for $9.99 or $0.99 cents you only made a buzz for ten eBooks to be sold, keep in mind, Amazon gets a hefty cut before proceeds are sent out to your partner/publisher. Do the math. Simple: either hustle hard or stay your broke ass home! You’re a Rich-Author in your mind body and soul. Don’t let your actions cause you to become a Poor-Author singing the literary blues!
I really want to see more urban authors succeed! I’m not just in it to win it for myself, I’m in it to see my community soar to higher levels. The industry is saturated with authors who are so stubbornly stuck on ego that they don’t even realize that they’re only hurting themselves. Trust, I am on the streets daily, and the supporters speak up with no holds barred, but, I’ll save that for the next blog. I believe in leading by example, so my actions speak for themselves… Smile, aspiring authors, and even some of the vets’, let’s show the world what we’re truly made of. There’s power in unity! Let’s take urban literature back to quality over quantity, like the great black writers before us. The Harlem Writers Guild was a forum set up for African-American writers to develop and perfect their craft. If publishers can stick together and believe in unity, unlike some who are stuck on the crabs in a barrel mentality, so can authors.