Category Archives: The Bizness

Writing Is Art w /Author Jannelle Moore

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

Andy Warhol

In this world of instant gratification, the concept of making quality work is foreign. The time it takes to make true art is rushed, only to make a quick buck. The reception to this phenomenon varies depending on who you talk to. Casual readers only value a story that can temporarily help them escape from their lives. Avid readers, however, both enjoy and analyze the literary works that they decided to indulge in.  They look at the writing style and character development. They read through plots with a fine tooth comb and try their best to look over tacky typos to prevent them from putting down the book altogether.

Although avid readers are tough critics, they become loyal fans if correctly catered to. The only way to captivate an avid reader is through the correct combination of business and art. Making sure the piece of literary work is visible to your perspective customer is important but why not aim to capture their attention and make them loyal fans of your brand? Why rush your respective art when you can craft it to perfection like a seasoned sculptor and get a fan for life?

Writing is a business. Let’s make this fact plain and clear! But putting together a product worth a customer spending their hard earned money on is the most important part of the business process. I had the chance to talk about this topic with author and journalist Jannelle Moore, among other things. Jannelle the author of Uppity, the explosive novel chronicling the life of feisty superstar journalist Kenya Blades as she manuvers her way around the sexism and bigotry of the print journalism industry. She has a wealth of knowledge about the fine line of art and business in writing that readers and authors alike would definitely benefit from hearing.

Randall: As an author, what genre does your work best fit in?

Jannelle Moore: The genre that my work best fit in is African American Women’s Fiction. I’m okay with that label for my work because it gives me a bit of autonomy in my writing. I’m not stuck in only romance, only street lit or erotica. I believe that the product of an author’s imagination shouldn’t be pigeonholed into one genre, especially if that’s not the author’s intended purpose.

Randall: How has writing changed your life?

Jannelle Moore: I must admit, I have a nasty habit of holding on to grudges. I hold on to them like a singer or rapper holds a microphone sometimes!  Since I started writing creatively, it allowed me to purge those toxic feelings and to create something positive from negativity.

Randall: In your opinion, should literature from African-American authors or about black culture as a whole be separated from books made by authors of other races?

Jannelle Moore: Sadly, African-American books are indeed separated like you implied in the question. If you go to Barnes and Noble, Target and Wal-Mart, you will see a whole section of African-American books. In most stores around the country, that section is apart from the other books in some way. I think it’s problematic for retailers to segregate African-American authored books from works written by non-black authors. This shows me that the retailers lazily generalize us and our work. All of us aren’t writing in the same genre just like all of us don’t look alike. Retailers doing this is the equivalent of saying that we “look” or, in this case, “write” alike.

Randall: Has your previous work experience as a journalist helped you out in your other writings?

Jannelle Moore: It hasn’t. In my case, it’s the other way around. Being an author made me a stronger feature writer.

 Uppity

Randall: In your opinion, is there a place in the current black literary market for fiction that has an overt message and tackles real world issues?

 Jannelle Moore: Absolutely! The response I received from my latest  book “Uppity” is great example of that.  This book tackles the struggles  of being a double minority in the workplace.   When I shared a few  snippets of the story Facebook statuses earlier in 2014, I received not  only likes but a few comments from my Facebook friends saying, “This  has happened to me too”, “I can relate to this”, and “This sounds like  me”.  This book and others like it will create realistic dialogue about  workplace discrimination as well as entertaining my readers. 

Randall: What’s your take on the “black” book industry?

 Jannelle Moore: I believe that the black book industry is as rich as it  has ever been and we don’t even know it.  I believe we have the  potential to create our own version of the Harlem Renaissance but we  have to consistently put out quality work. We have to stop feuding and  start conducting ourselves like the talented writers that we are. You  look at the Walter Moselys, the Terry McMillians, the Zanes and all  of those mainstream African-American authors and you don’t see a lot  of nonsense that we as indie authors face or indulge in.  We all can be  on the level of these authors but we have to put the work in and realize that success and money, more often than not doesn’t come overnight.  We also have to realize that cranking out the same plots in different covers aren’t getting us anywhere but lumped together.

Randall: What upcoming projects do you have on the horizon?

Jannelle Moore: My second full-length novel Uppity is out now! You can get the eBook and paperback versions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and dcbookdiva.com.

Randall: By the time this article is published, it will be read by many young people. What is your message to them?

Jannelle Moore: My message to them is to always be true to yourself. Don’t let anyone rob you of your ability to dream or deter you from your purpose. People will try to stop you but that’s all they can do if you’re determined!

Purchase Uppity now!

You can find Jannelle on:

-Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jannelle1?fref=ts

-Twitter: @jannelle12

-Website: http://www.jannelle.net/

The Randall Barnes Experience

-We came, we saw, we conquered! My debut publishing effort “Riverview High: Circumstances” reached #2 on the Amazon charts! Check it out on Amazon today. Don’t forget to leave a review!

http://www.amazon.com/Riverview-High-Circumstances-Young-Fiction-ebook/dp/B00O2FCWGY/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

-“The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson” is out now! Make sure to go get it!

http://www.amazon.com/Diary-Aaliyah-Anderson-Randall-Barnes/dp/0988762196/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404822785&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Diary+Of+Aaliyah+Anderson

Do you have any questions, comments or concerns? Was I right or wrong on this issue? I would love to hear from you! Contact me directly at:

Email: thediaryofaaliyahanderson@gmail.com

Kik: @AuthorRandallB

Ask.Fm: @YoungandGiftedBooks

Twitter: @AuthorRandallB

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randall.barnes.501

Bookstore Spotlight: Zitro Books

Urban bookstores are undergoing challenging times. They need authors to place books on their shelves and to come in to do book signings. They need readers to drop in and support (instead of always running off to the big box or chain stores). These are OUR people, selling OUR books. Which helps us to make a living, telling OUR stories, OUR way. And we need to do OUR part to support them. So Dc Bookdiva Publications and StraightChaser.com has decided to do just that. We will now be bringing you a weekly profile of the independent bookstores/vendors across America. We’re doing our part, so, please do yours and contact these  locations for book signings, or simply call them up and order a book. Oh, and don’t forget to always ask about the latest DCB titles. At DC Bookdiva Publications and StraightChaser.com we are always seeking new ways to serve the literary community we love, so hit us up, if you own a bookstore/retail outlet, if you know of a store/outlet/vendor you’d like for us to spotlight, or if you’ve simply got an idea or two. We always love to hear from you, and so would your local vendor. So call them up, to let them know you’ve read their spotlight and tell them you appreciate that they are there.  LET’S ALL DO OUR PART!

Today’s BOOKSTORE SPOTLIGHT is on:

 

zitropicture

ZitrO Books
504 N McPherson Church Rd.
http://zitropublications.wix.com/zitropublications
zitropublications@yahoo.com
910 475 7919
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ZitrOBooks?ref=hl
(Twitter:)@AuthorDivineO

1. How long has your bookstore/outlet been in business?

We opened this particular location on October 3rd, 2014, but we had another location before that for a month and a mobile bookstore before that.

2. Do you carry just urban books, or do you carry other genres as well?

As long as the author is black we will carry their books.

3. What other items do you carry besides books?
Just books.

4. Have you ever written a book? What brought you to the retail market?

Yes. I have written several books that are published under my publishing company, ZitrO Publications. My online sales are doing very well, but I wanted to make a strong paperback presence and give other authors an opportunity to have their books on my shelves.

5. What are the challenges for book vendors today?
My challenge has been inventory. It is sometimes hard to get decent wholesale prices for the newer titles that readers are looking for.

6. How has eBooks effected your business?

It has spoiled a lot of readers.

7. Author support. What actions do you need from authors, to help grow your business?

Better wholesale prices.


8. Publisher support. What actions do you need from publishers, to help grow your business?


Again, better wholesale prices.


9. What are your buying/purchasing arrangements and how often do you pay out?


I purchase books from several different sources, both online and through various distributors. I try to offer my readers a large variety of titles to choose from. If I accept books on consignment I try to pay for those books as soon as possible. I do not return any books to the authors whether they sell or not.


10. Any last words to readers, authors or publishers?Any special events or announcements?


I am planning a large author book signing for November 29th, but our doors are always open for any authors to come and do a book signing.

 

Writing Tip: Sex and Violence

Written by: Wesley “Godfather”  Hunter

 

Though I’ve personally done so, on all accounts, it’s been said that it’s not in good form to show graphic sexual scenes that involve molestation, rape or incest. However, when it comes to sex and violence, for the most part, there are no structural rules.ratchet

Sex and violence are the big payoff. The reader has followed along and patiently waited as you developed the plot and let it unravel, so give them what they’ve earned. Don’t try and cut it short or sum it up in a paragraph or two. Sex and violence are your action scenes and, unless you just go completely beyond the outer realms of all reasonableness, and, as long as the scenes are smooth and well told, the reader will not mind or even notice if you drag these page turning scenes out for a while. In fact, they will be grateful for the on-going element, as long as it’s not all clunky and poorly written. Action scenes are where an author shows their depth and strength as a writer, and if it’s well written, the reader won’t even notice the lengthiness or the rule violations.

For instance, though it normally irritates and takes away from a scene  during the other parts of a story, I personally love to play with the P.O.V. during scenes of sex and violence. Switching with just about each paragraph, to help the reader to get a good feel. From the varied perspectives:

[EXAMPLE]:

”Ooh,” Tanya uttered softly, feeling him pierce her core. ”Go slow,” she whispered. ”It’s been a while.” The hard floor adding to her discomfort. Not to mention the old beer bottles and trash strewn about. In the distance, there was the blaring sound of an ambulance racing by. It was barely night. She wondered if someone might be dying.

Stern was the kind of guy who liked to know that he was felt. Pushing forward, he entered her harsher. Deeper. ”urrrgh! You can handle it.” with his hands beneath, he gripped her shoulders. Pulling her into his charge.

”Wait!” Tanya squirmed  trying to pull away. ”Oh, shit!” she locked her legs around him, then thought better of it, and opened again, while using her thumbs to push at his hips. ”Oow! Stop!”

Stern bit her neck, pulled at her shoulders, and pressed in even harder. ”Uhn! Yeah. Yeaaaah!”

”Oh, my God! Ohh!” she gasped for breath. ”Oh, shit!” she shivered. ”Sss-uh!”

”Shut up.” he whispered. ”Take this big-ass dick, you little bitch.” a crisp wind blew through the broken window. Timbs still on, he had his baggy cargos down around his knees. Her jean skirt was bunched at her wairt. Her jacket beneath her to cover the filthy floor.

Tanya dug her nails in and held on tight, hoping he’d feel her pain. ”oh! Fuck!” she breathed with a growing passion. ”You bastard.” a car raced by. She heard water splash in the wake of the speeding tires. No doubt, having pooled from the growing rains.

Stern bit her neck hard and fucked her harder, burying himself in to the hilt, desperate to bask in the full glories of her womanly wonder.

”My man gon’ kill you.” she said.

”Fuck him.” he told her.

 

Bookstore Spotlight: Frugal Bookstore

Urban bookstores are undergoing challenging times. They need authors to place books on their shelves and to come in to do book signings. They need readers to drop in and support (instead of always running off to the big box or chain stores). These are OUR people, selling OUR books. Which helps us to make a living, telling OUR stories, OUR way. And we need to do OUR part to support them. So Dc Bookdiva Publications and StraightChaser.com has decided to do just that. We will now be bringing you a weekly profile of the independent bookstores/vendors across America. We’re doing our part, so, please do yours and contact these  locations for book signings, or simply call them up and order a book. Oh, and don’t forget to always ask about the latest DCB titles. At DC Bookdiva Publications and StraightChaser.com we are always seeking new ways to serve the literary community we love, so hit us up, if you own a bookstore/retail outlet, if you know of a store/outlet/vendor you’d like for us to spotlight, or if you’ve simply got an idea or two. We always love to hear from you, and so would your local vendor. So call them up, to let them know you’ve read their spotlight and tell them you appreciate that they are there. LET’S ALL DO OUR PART!
frugal
Today’s BOOKSTORE SPOTLIGHT is on:

1. How long has your bookstore/outlet been in business?

We’ve been open since 2008.

2. Do you carry just urban books, or do you carry other genres as well?

We carry all genres including urban books, children’s, crime & mystery, cookbooks, African-American Studies, New York Times bestseller’s and the list goes on.

3. What other items do you carry besides books?

We also carry greetings cards, calendars, journals, art by local authors and planners.

4. Have you ever written a book? What brought you to the retail market?

Neither one of us has written a book, but it has always been a dream of ours to have a bookstore in our community.

5. What are the challenges for book vendors today?

The challenges have been getting people to support a Black-owned bookstore as opposed to buying on Amazon.

6. How has eBooks affected your business?

Ebooks have affected us a lot, because people like the affordability and convenience of downloading an ebook, rather than have a physical copy in their hand.
7. Author support: What actions do you need from authors, to help grow your business?

Authors should promote the bookstores which support them by carrying their titles. Shout them out on social media as much as possible, to help bring in more business.

8. Publisher support: What actions do you need from Publishers, to help grow your business?

The same as above, provide promotional material for advertisement. Encourage authors to visit and conduct book signings.

9. What are your buying/purchasing arrangements and how often do you pay out?

It varies with each publisher and author. Contact us for more detailed information.

10. Any last words to readers, authors or publishers? Any special events or announcements?

Help support black-owned bookstores by encouraging readers to patronize these establishments, because they are diminshing.

Frugal Book Store
“Changing Minds One Book At A Time”
Inside the Washington Park Mall
306 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Boston, MA 02119
617-541-1722
facebook.com/frugal.bookstore
twitter.com/FrugalBookstore

Cowboys, BBQ & Books?

The city of Dallas located in the North of Texas is known for a lot of things. The most famous is their “All-American” Football team appropriately named The Dallas Cowboys, barbecue meat and perhaps anything fried. Besides the football and hearty meat, Dallas has a budding arts district for the eclectic and artistic individuals as well.              Bookshelf

In self-publishing creating a relationship with an independent bookstore could lead to your book being on the selective shelves of that store, receiving a stellar recommendation from the bookstore owner, and an opportunity to gain new and diverse readers. Before you scratch Dallas off your list of cities not interested in reading, let’s explore some of their coolest independent bookstores tucked into the nooks and crannies of the city.

Chapter Two

2 Highland Park Village, Dallas

214-520-0101

http://hpvillage.com/store-listings/chapter-two

High-class and independent. This bookstore’s inventory is filled with local and international authors that talk about art, travel and fashion. A cappuccino shop sits right next door and allows you to browse books, International Vogue magazines and daydream while sipping your brew.

Half-Price Books

(Flagship Store)

5803 E. Northwest Hwy. Dallas, Texas 75231 214-379-8000

http://hpb.com/

Hey Look! A bookstore that was homegrown in Dallas! This bookstore may have 120 locations in 16 states, but the huge flagship store is in Dallas. The flagship stocks used books, but also has a complete section dedicated to new books for readers and host a plethora of author events and book-signings at this location as well.

Lucky Dog

(Oak Cliff Location)

633 West Davis St. Dallas, TX 75208 214.941.2665

http://www.luckydogbooks.com/

Did the name sell you already? It did for me. Lucky Dog has two locations, with one being in Oak Cliff, Dallas. I like to refer to Oak Cliff as a little New York City. All kinds of people live and hangout in Oak Cliff and together they make up one big melting pot of fun! Besides finding the local authors on display here, you can find quirky art hanging from the wall and consulting for young entrepreneurs looking to open their own independent bookstore.

The Wild Detectives

(Oak Cliff)

314 W 8TH ST

Dallas

http://thewilddetectives.com/

Book Bar? Yes! Book B-A-R. I saved the best for last! Beer, wine, or Chai Tea with a snack can be found here along with over a thousand of highly-selected books from local and international authors. Only a select few hit these bookshelves and if you make it in, then your book is sure to be seen by every book-lover in Dallas. A hang-out spot for the locals to drink, converse and talk books, this is a favorite amongst locals.

 

 

This was just a few to check in to! I’m on the look-out for more.

So let’s not count out the “everything is big state” just yet. Their list of independent bookstores may be small, but the stores are jewels.

 

For quick info on how to sell your book to an independent bookstore, click the link below:

http://www.wikihow.com/Get-a-Self-Published-Book-Into-Bookstores

 

Penelope Christian is a freelance writer and poet. She’s currently working on her debut novel, “Coffee & Cream” for publication. When she’s not writing she enjoys working out, cooking and playing in her natural hair.

Facebook: Penelope Christian

Instagram: p_christian_

 

 

Ratchet INK 2: Beefs and Crab Barrel Politics

In publishing, just as in any entertainment based industry, I believe in these two things:  One, there’s enough of success and money to be had for anyone who is willing to work hard and grind for it. Two, your work will speak for itself, regardless of whatever the competition does.

With that said, it seems to me that some literary feuds go beyond general competition into something very childish and viscous.  You see the posts: an Author blast his or her gripes with a publisher over money. Authors taking shots at each other out of pure jealousy and envy. You also see the comments of avid readers saying how petty the latest round of beef is and later, you see these same readers post how they stopped buying books from authors and publishers because of how bad some of them act online.

 

ghetto2

 

Just in the past three months, I have observed an author lashing out at a book club that gave his book a poor review, another author airing out issues with a publisher , and  some authors trying to dictate how a reader spends his or her money.

So let me get this straight: A reader doesn’t have the right to read another author’s work and buy another author’s work because you think it’s a betrayal of your product? To me,this kind of thinking is rooted in insecurity. Nothing more and nothing less.   If you as an author know the kind of hard work that you put into your product and into building your audience, there’s no need  for shaming and intimidation tactics. If you write amazing stories, they will come. If you write amazing stories on a consistent basis,they will stay. Yes, they will read other people’s work from time to time, but  I promise that you will still be in their library.

As far as author/publisher feuds are concerned, it’s very easy to forget that books are a business and with businesses, Rule #4080 (shout out to A Tribe Called Quest) sometimes applies. Whether it applies or not, fulfilling a contract should be a simple, painless process.

There shouldn’t be a beef with someone playing out their contract and moving on.  It’s a problem when the publisher takes business personal and begin berating said author for moving on and doing everything in their power to blackball and intimidate him or her for moving on. To me, author/ publisher feuds that are  being played out in public has to be the most shameful and tacky feud of them all. They are the tackiest because the burden of perception is on the publisher. Authors, would you like to sign with a janky publisher, who blast their business matters on Facebook? Readers, would you want to buy books from a publishing company that is always in the middle of the mess that they start?   If I were a betting woman, those answers are a resounding “NO”.

When I think about the feuds and shadiness of the industry, I think about the root of the problem.   Here’s my theory: In the world of African-American publishing, we are operating off of a sense of lack. We believe that it isn’t enough of room for everyone in the game.  It really seems that way when readers throw crumbs of their money to us when they buy our titles for $.99 to $2.99.  We think there’s just crumbs for us and we are all doing whatever it takes to get our lion’s share of the crumbs.

Another theory is most of these authors aren’t used to much and when they get something, they hold on to it with everything in them. They cling to it like static to clothes in a dryer without softener. For some, it’s their first taste of legal money or their first taste of some kind of acclaim. So they do whatever they can to keep it, even if it means applying some of the same tactics learned on the streets to solidify their position in the game.   Regardless of the theories and causes, the beefs and the shady dealings are unnecessary and beneath us. I believe that there is enough of talent in the industry to create great work, and create it consistently. There is no lack in opportunity. It’s there for you to seize it and embrace it. It’s impossible to do that if you attend every argument you’re invited to.

Authors: What do you think is the source of the feuds and what could be done to get the focus back on the books?

Readers: How has the feuds displayed on Facebook and twitter influenced who and what you read?

 

 

About the author

Jannelle is the author of “Wild Cards” “Thirst”, “Thirst II”, and “Love’s Hangover” and is a fresh voice in African-American fiction, spending time on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for two of her four titles. She’s also a freelance journalist. Her DC Bookdiva Debut, “Uppity” will be released in November, and is available for pre-order now at www.dcbookdiva.com

 

uppitypromo

 

Website: http://www.jannelle.net
Twitter: @jannelle12
Instagram: writerdiva
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jannelle1

Ratchet INK

Disclaimer: By no means am I criticizing  for the sake of it or calling out anyone in particular. These are just my observations and opinion.  However, if you are offended by my views don’t take it personal because it is not my intent to bash.

On my Facebook feed this week, the theme seemed to be the presence of trifling titles and tasteless covers in Urban Lit.  I couldn’t turn around without seeing a status about some low budget and base title or a cover that leaves nothing to the imagination and devalues the words between the front and back covers.  In Urban Lit, it is nothing to see the grit and rawness of the streets, because anything less would  water things down a bit .

However, when there’s a “bitchapalooza”  (ie hoards of books with “bitch” in the title after it’s been done before), covers with images that would put porn mags to shame festering on the wall of African-American and Urban lit like  kudzu, it’s beginning to become a problem with  some readers. I have heard thoughts like this:

It (The book) might be a good story but I’m at the point where I can’t look beyond the title anymore”

“Using profanity in their titles and pretty much X Rated pictures on the covers. Deal Breaker. Turn Off.”

“Just because a story is based on ghetto reality, the title doesn’t have to be ghetto. With some books, you can tell it’s ghetto as hell just by the title. It’ shouldn’t be that way.”

The irony in all of this is the complaints by some about Urban Lit not being taken seriously. The titles and the covers  are only two  of the reasons why the genre is being vilified.  I get that the author wants to appeal to their demographic  and wants to sell, but I really believe that it could be done without the  outrageous titles, covers and fonts. I go as far as to say that watching what you put on your covers should be mandatory. Before you look at me with a skeptical eye, picture this:

A reader strolls into Barnes And Noble, really thristy for a great novel. He or She searches endlessly for that little section in the store reserved for black authors in the corner. The store lumped them all together because if we “look” alike, we may “write” alike, but I digress. The eager reader sees  tastefully done covers on the shelves such as   Treasure Blue’s ” Fly Betty”, Terry McMillan’s “Who Asked You?“,   Jason Mott’s “The Returned” or even  Zane’s “Afterburn” or  Walter Mosley’s “Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore”  next to your “ Hand Me Down Bitches part 3″, “Shame On You, Bitch 2” or “My Baby  Daddy May Be Shit But He’s My Lump of Shit and I love Him“. What would they think? I’m willing to bet you that  they’ll either scrunch their face and frown  and frown before moving on and away. If it isn’t that,  they’d probably  pickup the book  and laugh at the title before putting it back on the shelf  and going on facebook to tell  their friends about the tomfoolery  that they found in the store. Either way,  you lost a customer and a potential fan with those covers and titles.            ratchet

For some, maybe your aim isn’t Barnes and Noble. However, the same principle applies on Amazon. The covers and titles will still turn them off.

If some of these readers see it, you better believe that some authors are paying attention as well. I believe that while a huge percentage of authors are serious in their titles, there are some that wrote a story and came up with such a crazy title and cover just to see if it would sale or get a bunch of reviews.  Sadly, they get the pop of attention  and the reviews to go with it sometimes.  Even if an author get the reviews and the acclaim from that experiment or even those who are serious about the titles, the billion dollar question of the hour is “will they keep the readers coming back in the long run?”

Readers! I would love to hear more from you. What kind of titles and covers appeal to you generally?

Authors! I’m not leaving you out either.  Why the graphic titles and covers in the first place? Is it preference or is it profit that’s driving you to put them out there or both?

About the author

 

Jannelle is the author of “Wild Cards”  “Thirst”, “Thirst II”, and “Love’s Hangover” and is  a fresh voice in African-American fiction, spending time on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for two of her four titles. She’s also a freelance journalist.  Her DC Bookdiva Debut, “Uppity” will be released in November, and is available for  pre order now.

Twitter: @jannelle12
Instagram: writerdiva