Tag Archives: book stores

Cali’s At It Again

Paperbacks are dead, is what they said. Ebooks are taking over, that’s what they told us. I remember exchanging letters, with Fwy Rick, back in 2009. Trying to convince him that I was onto something hot, with a bookstore/retail outlet idea I called Raw Truth Distribution. At the time, bookstores were closing like crazy, and, the entire industry was in an uproar about a coming doomsday device called an ebook, which was set to detonate and crumble the entire publishing game. But, they forgot about the West Coast. They forgot that hood books are read by hood folks (most times without an eReader) and they forgot about the long-lasting shelf life of urban lit., in an industry where 10-15 yr throwbacks like True to The Game, the Dutch series and the Cartel series, to name a few, still have people checking for them. An industry where people take pride in their collection of books and like to hold on to them.

Like hip hop music in the 1980’s, hip hop lit also found its initial footing on the Eastern shore. The South came alive, dumping books out of beauty salons, and the industry, as a whole, gathered steam, gaining distribution through the likes of Carl Weber and other powerful industry insiders. But, what about the West? Who’s moving books on the streets of the West? Who’s got the West Coast distribution on lock? Again, we search for names.

On the East coast, it’s common to find young urban authors/publishers out selling on the corners or opening their own bookstores, but, you think of the West and you hear crickets. Well, I’m warning you now: You better keep listening, for, it is most definitely the quiet just before the storm.
calikim
Cali Kim is one of the hardest working boss chicks in the West Coast book game. More than just talk, this Queen peeped the need then set out to fill it, opening her store right in the heart of (gun smoke) Central Los Angeles. Having just gotten into the retail game, she is leading the charge and doing amazing business, selling books as quick as she can get them, reminiscent of the East Coast book game some 10 years ago.

Not to be ignored, California has long had independent stores where urban books are sold, such as Smiley’s Bookstore in Carson Ca., Zahara’s Books and Things in Inglewood Ca. and Milligan Books in L.A. Ca., But the energy and vibe of those spots are not as you’d see on the Eastern shore. For example, I can tell you, first hand, as a guy who’s personally written letters reaching out to try and get my books carried in those very stores, no one, absolutely nada, ever even replied. However, through the help of a friend, I did eventually get my book placed in Zahara’s. But, that’s just it, these stores are mostly ran by older women who are not in tune with, nor compassionate towards, the struggles of the average independent urban author who’s just dumping books “out of the trunk” and has no ready “distributor”. Thus, to them, my cries meant nil. Enter the likes of Cali Kim.

Cali Kim (author of Devil in A Red Dress by DaReal Bo$$Lady) is an independent urban author who’s chased the dream and drummed the sound of the urban author’s struggle. And, having done so without distribution, she readily understands the struggle, so, she openned her doors and openned her heart and the readers have responded.

By being an author herself, Cali Kim knew how to tap into the audience she intended to serve. Instead of a reader going out to some quiet little store being ran by some sweet little old granny, with gospel music softly playing in the background, now, readers could go out and experience the urban culture, get ahold of independently released titles (which might not be in many stores) and meet an author face to face all at the same time. Starting to sound like the East Coast a bit? Oh, and, by the way, this Queen does have my book on her shelf. How awesome is that? Thanks, Bo$$ Lady!

Well, enough of that. Let me step back, and turn the light where it’s meant to shine. In case you haven’t heard or don’t already know, here’s the go-getting, beautiful and intelligent Bo$$Lady Kim herself.

 

Godfather: How long have you been writing?

Kim: . I’ve been writing since I was about 9 years old.

Godfather: Who/what first inspired you to write?

Kim: Life’s experiences is what inspired me to write.

Godfather: What books have you written and what were they about?

Kim: The first book that I wrote is called “Devil in a Red Dress. ” It’s about jealousy, greed and the type of things that go down behind the scenes of the music industry.

Godfather: What’s the name of your store and where is it located?

Kim: The name of my store is The Beauty Bar & Bookstore. It’s located in South Central Los Angeles, inside of the Slauson Swapmall.

Godfather: I notice that you sell more than just books, talk about that?

Kim: Yes. I sell 100% Virgin Hair, Make-up, Essential Hair Care Products, Books and so much more.
Wes: What made you open a book store?

Kim: Well, I’ve been selling books out of the trunk of my car since 2007. So, I always knew that if I had a location, I would do good.
Wes: How is business? On average, how many books do you sell per day?

Kim: Considering the fact that my business, is fairly new, I can’t complain. Business goes up and down, so it’s hard to say. But all I know is that I’m blessed.

Godfather With ebooks going for pennies on the dollar, how are readers responding to the average $15.00 price of a paperback?

Kim: We get a lot of people, all of the time, who say they have a reading device, but prefer to flip through the pages of a paperback. And, yes, we have some who don’t buy, because they say they prefer to pay the low for a download. So, I try to be as reasonable as possible to entice the readers to support.

Godfather: Do you plan to expand or open any other locations?

Kim: Most definitely. It’s already in the making.
Godfather: What’s your take on the pulse of book distribution on the West Coast?

Kim: I believe that a lot of authors from the West Coast prefer to sell ebooks, and aren’t really interested in distribution outside of Amazon & Barnes & Nobel. Maybe because it’s the easiest way out, but when you’re a born hustler and failures not an option, you have to be willing to go hard and expand your reach.

Godfather: Are a lot of your customers also Facebook friends or no?

Kim: No, not at all. A lot of my customers are those who I reach out to, by way of promoting.

Godfather: Are authors helping to promote, doing book signings, supplying you with enough books, etc? How would you say author support has been?

Kim: Well, let’s just say that I have more strangers sending me and dropping off books than those that I personally know.

Godfather: What are your biggest challenges?

Kim: I don’t really get much author support.

Godfaher: Has anyone in the industry stepped up to help guide you or lend support?

Kim: My biggest challenge is getting my people to see that support comes in many forms and fashions. You don’t necessarily have to spend money to support someone or their endeavors. Just spreading the word sometimes is more valuable than the money.

Godfather: Are you currently working on any other project? What’s next in the clip for Cali Kim?

Kim: Yes. I am currently working on the sequel to “Devil in a Red Dress”, which is called “The Fine Black Widow” along with a few other projects that I’m  working on.

Godfther: What’s your advice to new authors?

Kim: My advice to new authors is, just do your research. You can’t go wrong by doing your own research.

Godfather: What would be your advice to anyone looking to get into the retail side of the book business?

Kim: The more bookstores, the better for us all. Why do you think there are so many alcoholics around? It’s because there’s liquor stores on every corner in the hood. If we can get just as many bookstores as liquor stores on the block, that would be excellent. And last but not least, location is everything.

Godfather: How can people go about getting their books on your shelves?

Kim: All they have to do is contact us at the store or email us.

Godfather: How can you be reached?

Kim: The Beauty Bar & Bookstore, 1600 west Slauson Ave #B17, Los Angeles Ca 90047 phone: (323)753-3963    email: beautybarandbooks@gmail.com

 

“GODFATHER” Hunter is an incarcerated author from Los Angeles, Ca. He has  written several books covering a variety of genres, to include self-help/how-to/advisory, autobiography, poetry, urban romance, erotica and street lit. Godfather has even taught urban lit during his many years of incarceration. He makes an added effort to lace his writings with history, social-political consciousness and other such pearls of wisdom while penning  in a style which many have compared to the likes of James Patterson, John Grisham and Michael Connelly.

 

PHOENIX RISING w/ Cynthia Miller

Do the ladies run this mutha? Go ahead and say it: HELL YEAH! It’s long been said that women are the backbone and well known that behind every great man is an even greater woman. We see it from the Whitehouse (politicians in general), we see it in the home (or the family at large) and it would take an absolute blind damn fool not to see it in the urban book industry, where the average reader is a female and just about every single successful indie pub. Co. is either owned, ran or managed by a woman. And let’s not even talk about the authors/publishers whom are or have been incarcerated, Lord knows, they wouldn’t be or never would’ve been anything without the powerful force of a woman to help channel their energy and move their thoughts. So, is it any wonder, then, that women are also the main force of power on the retail end? How many male bookstore owners do you know? And, of those that you do know, how many hire women to run the ship? But, that’s not really what this is about, because that’s just the norm and Cynthia Miller (now Cynthia Miller-Scott) is not hardly normal.

Former drug addict, ex-con, kidnap victim and stripper…serious titles, huh? Yeah, well, with over 17 arrests, and 23 years of addiction, Cynthia Miller-Scott has worn them all, at one point or another, but none of it, absolutely NONE of it, even    BEGINS to describe this awesome mother of 5. Cynthia Miller-Scott is just a go-getter. She’s a wonder on heels and a hustling giant who literally knows what it means to take nothing and build it into something.         cynthia

Cynthia isn’t one of those who grew up wanting to be an author, or who felt that she’d write a bestseller and live happily ever after. No. Trust me, Mrs. Miller-Scott is much too practical and down to Earth for that. This isn’t the tale of some sweet little ghetto angel who grew up AROUND the madness; it wasn’t her cousin, a boyfriend or her brother and them that she SAW in the mix. This isn’t a woman who went to school and got good grades then lived a basicly normal life in the ghetto AROUND all of the madness. No. Cynthia is one of those rare hood chicks who came off of the porch, out of the yard and got rigit there in the mix with the best of them. She played in the mud and found comfort in the filth, and just when people thought they had her all figured out, she changed. She burst like a flame: went down into the soot and emerged in Arizona like a phoenix. Now, how prophetic is that?

When I first met,  Cynthia, she sent me a copy of her autobiography, ‘IN RARE FORM’, a tale so gritty and so openly raw that I instantly felt connected to this sister. It was like I knew all there was to know and I still had to shake my head. I remember thinking: This chick is bad! Only once before, can I say an autobio truly touched me in that way and that was an autobio written by another West Coast queen called ‘A PIECE OF CAKE’ by Cupcake Brown. Both of these books give a no holds barred, no shields present look into the absolute ugliness of an all out animalistic existance. Both stories are of abuse, neglect, drug addiction and a real live look into what a true struggle to over-come looks like, and both stories are epic pieces, which shall inspire any souls they grace. But, who could’ve known that it would be a little book that would become the igniting charge in the rocket of change catapulting Cynthia to a whole new realm of stability and success?

Don’t get it twisted, IN RARE FORM didn’t reach critical acclaim, or become some sudden run away overnight bestseller. And no one paid Cynthia Miller-Scott a chunk of cash to tell the tale. That’s not what I’m saying here at all. In fact, Cynthia is self-published, and she would be the first to tell you, that she made many bad decisions getting into the bookgame. So, no, this isn’t the rags to riches tale of some little guy picked up by the majors, then paraded before the world as some shining example of what hope can do. No, this isn’t that tale at all. This, like Cynthia Miller-Scott herself, is a tale rooted in real life: the bitter, the raw, the truth. A tale about a broken woman and the little book that could.

You see, IN RARE FORM, though never selling record numbers or achieving critical acclaim, has been a slow but consistant seller and even more so, it has been the magical key which has gone on to help Cynthia to open many doors, including, not the least of which, her very first bookstore/boutique/retail outlet which she has now grown to three! Yes, not only has Cynthia Miller-Scott made something wonderfully spectacular of herself, but, she’s now also the employer of many. A hands-on, hard working woman who still doesn’t mind stepping off of the porch and getting in the mud to get it done.

 

Godfather: How long have you been writing?
Cynthia: I feel I have been writing my entire adulthood. When my children became victims of a horrific crime, I started to write poetry to release my pain. When I would wake them up, I would present them with a poem giving them step by step instructions on how to function throughout the day. I felt they had survived a horrible situation and the last thing I wanted them to do was to
make plans without me.

Godfather: Who/what first inspired you to write?

Cynthia: When I was incarcerated the very last time, a sheriff there hired me to write a poem for her daughter giving birth. The poem had to be special
because during the pregnancy she lost her husband. I nailed it. In return for my services she brought me a book called “Yesterday I cried” by Iyana Vansant. When I first opened the book and read the poem I broke down. Her book touched my heart. I asked the sheriff if I could use the computer to write my story and the rest is history.

Godfather: What books have you written and what were they about?
Cynthia: My first book was, In Rare Form. This is the story of a family that survived a horrific crime, only to be infested by the aftermath it had on the entire family. Yes, it is my story. It is a story inside of survival not about survival.
My second book was, On Rare Occasions. This is a book full of powerful short fiction stories. Some will sound familiar. You see, Godfather, we all have a story that ties like a knot to other humans on this planet.

Godfather: What’s the name of your stores and where are they located?
Cynthia: My store is, Real Women Revealed boutique Store and more.
4801 E. Mac Dowell suite 100, Phoenix AZ 85016
I recently moved out of the first location and put all my efforts into this project with the boutique.

Godfather: I notice that you sell more than just books, talk about that?
Cynthia: Over the past few years since I started writing I noticed all the comments about book stores failing and closing. I just could not accept that. See, sometimes when life changes addresses on you, then you have to change your method of delivery. I had become pretty successful in a marketing and consulting business in Phoenix. The owner of the company was a 31 year old
black man who had walked into the very company he owned four years prior and had become the owner. That was so powerful to me, when he told me his story, that I started talking to him about the book business. When I went to him one day and told him I was going to partner with a smoke shop he told me that was absolutely brilliant. So my first book store was actually a smoke shop. I wasn’t pulling enough from just the books. I needed to catch the community’s eye so I created a line of T-shirts. I made sure my shirts had powerful unique sayings on them, and I shopped around for great prices, so I could offer the lowest price in the community. I built a reputation for having the “$10.00 Tee’s and books”. I started going to businesses as well, and promoting my T-shirts, letting them know I was a local author, and sold my books in a package deal.  Audrey Jenkins, my business partner in the boutique has been in my networking circle for three years. We always supported each other on events that either of us had. I came up with Get up and show up because we always messaged each other “hey girl you can count on me showing up”. I thought about that and developed a program called Get up and Show up. It was the one thing I did on a consistent level, after my release from jail, that put me in the position I am in today. I believed in it so much I had a video made and sent it to schools and prisons everywhere. Audrey & I had a conversation one night about how people are always talking about something but never get up and show up to do it. She and I sat there, over our hot wings and Martinis, and shared our dreams of a boutique, that would not only generate money, but also serve the many homeless, abused and/or former drug addicted  women in recovery in our community. We didn’t just talk about it either. That night, while I was on line, Audrey sent me an email with several store front locations. The next day we went looking. A week later I found a place. Two days later, we had the keys. We simply moved on faith. I knew I needed a platform to sell books and I wanted to do a clothing line. We came up with the name, because Audrey had a web based talk show, that I had been on several times, called Real Women Revealed. I had the get up and show up events, so we combined our dreams, and God carried us the rest of the way.

Godfather: What made you open a bookstore?
Cynthia: The desire to have a platform for others as well as myself. It is my goal, to have a lucrative business, where people can not only dress their bodies
but also dress their minds.

Godfather: How is the book business in Az?
Cynthia: The book business is what I make it. My books in the store don’t jump off the shelf. I pick them up and place them in the hands of readers. I do
events centered around various subjects. I sell Cynthia. The books are part
of the package.

Godfather: With ebooks going for pennies on the dollar, how are readers responding to the average $15.00 price of a paperback?
Cynthia: I have absolutely no problem with my paper backs. As a matter of fact my paperback out sells my ebooks any day of the week.

Godfather: Do you plan to expand or open any other locations?
Cynthia: Wesley, not only do I plan to open another location, we are working onbuilding a chain of stores. Stay tuned. My dreams are goals that I will reach.

Godfather: What’s your take on the pulse of book distribution on the West Coast?
Cynthia: I don’t have an opinion on that. I feel there is power in numbers whether it is one or one hundred. As I said before it is all in the delivery. If we
can deliver together we will all win together.

Godfather: Are a lot of your customers also Facebook friends or no?
Cynthia: No. I do not find my readers on Facebook. I commend anyone who does. My method of operation is different. I sell Cynthia in my daily hand to hand method, and then I send them to my Facebook page for more of me. I rarely advertise my books via Facebook. I advertise life, positivity, inspiration and courage. If you receive those messages, from my social media sites, thenyou will also look for my books.

Godfather: Are authors helping to promote, doing book signings, supplying you with enough books, etc? How would you say author support has been?
Cynthia: Outstanding. I reached out and authors provided.

Godfather: What are your biggest challenges?
Cynthia: Time is my biggest challenge. I am constantly working on new ventures and ways to reach my goals. So I often find that 24 hours just is not enough.

Godfather: Has anyone in the industry stepped up to help guide you or lend support?
Cynthia: Yes, very much so. Jm Benjamin stepped up and offered me a ton of support. James Scott, who at the time was not my husband, offered me so much support I married him. Smile. Wesley Hunter has given me more support than I can even grasp viewing his location. Treasure Blue helped me with a blue print for taking control of my books.

Godfather: Are you currently working on any other projects? What’s next in the clip for Cynthia Miller-Scott?
Cynthia: I am currently stepping up my writing game. I am in the middle of a few projects. I have a book entitled “The Willing. Profile of a female serial killer” and I am also working on a very powerful project with Jm Benjamin. And, I just wrapped up a project for Big L a music distributor in Atlanta. Plus, my partner, Audrey Jenkins, and I are in the kitchen of the minds right now stirring up another goal. We plan on making our store a household name.

Godfather: What’s your advice to new authors?
Cythia: Get up and show up for your life. If books are your life treat it that way.

Godfather: What would be your advice to anyone looking to get into the retail side of the book business?
Cynthia: Stay prayed up. Stay focused. Find something to bring them in the door. Then plant your books in their hand. Books don’t talk to people unless you give them a voice.

Godfather: How can people go about getting their books on your shelves?
Cynthia: I am so easy to work with. Go to my site: http://www.getupandshowup.com. Inbox me on Facebook. You see, I am an author first, so I know the challenges. I pay up front for all my books.

Godfather: How can you be reached?
Cyntha: Facebook Cynthia Miller-Scott
Twitter: Inrareform Join my Facebook page: Real Women Revealed Boutique Store and more

Godfather: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Cynthia: If you ever need a reason to get up and show up, or you just need a little
inspiration look up my utube video. Get up & show up by Cynthia Miller

Purchase the book at,
http://www.inrareformbook.com/purchasebook.html