Tag Archives: Publishing

STR8 OUTTA OAKLAND

Written by Wesley “Godfather” Hunter

 

I met this man in the darkest of circumstances, yet, I assure you, even then, the light of Stone Ramsey shined brightly, as you can not dim that which comes from within. Intelligent, charismatic, and keen of thought, are all words which only BEGIN to describe this brother. Author/publisher/director/manager/producer, etc. With roots stemming from the rap industry, even after 16 years of incarceration, this brother is a blossoming powerhouse of ingenuity on the move, and trust me when I tell you that if you think he can’t do it, he will definitely prove you wrong.
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When I first met Stone, we were just two inmates on a prison tier. He was in the back of the tier, I was in the front. He was from Oakland, I was from L.A. We had nothing in common, but the fact that we were both trapped in a cage in segregation. Dingy lighting, stale air, trapped and controlled like a beast. Someone told me that Stone wrote books, but I’d heard it all before, and truly wasn’t that impressed. After all, I was a published author myself, so why would I be? As time went on, he heard about me, and suddenly a bond was formed.

Stone and I were two men from opposing worlds, but quickly found a commonality. After all, men respect men, steel sharpens steel, and minds detect minds. Almost instantly, Stone and I connected and began to exchange positive energy and thoughts. Our bond growing beyond a cage. Our sharing of wisdoms and resources, far beyond a bag of chips or a shot of coffee. Odd as it may seem to some, over time I would go on to count this man amongst my super-limited list of friends, and can tell you, he is one of only two dudes I continue to keep in touch with, after having met on a prison yard. But, enough about me. This is about Stone.

Author Stone Ramsey, is an Oakland native and the renowned producer of ‘International Blunt Funk’ which is the Bay Area’s version of ‘The Chronic’. Having dropped in 1997, it is a compilation album of all of the hot hiphop artists of its time, including Richie Rich, Keak Da Sneak (of 3x’s Crazy), JT The Bigga Figga, Swoop G (Of Murder Was The Case soundtrack fame), etc. After having been released, in Sept. 2013, Stone Ramsey, has been heavy in the studio, and pushing hard at dropping International Blunt Funk, Vol.2, which is now set to be released in Feb. 2015, and will include such Bay Area notables as Mistah Fab, Philthy Rich, Keak Da Sneak, Too Short, DB Da General, Lorenzo Lamar, etc. Stone has also just released his debut novel, under his own Ramsey Publishing Group. ‘Yadadamean Bay Bizness’ is a joint effort, featuring rap artist Keak Da Sneak, with a foreward by Big Tray Deee (of Da Eastsidaz). Having read the book twice, I can promise you that this is a hot, true-to-life tale of urban love, thug passion, and music industry enlightenment.
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An active member of United Distribution, a youth outreach counselor, non-profit organization project coordinator, author, publisher, manager, promoter, music producer, husband, father, son and man on the move. Hell, just call him Boss! And, do know, that I am only giving you the basics. This man knows EVERYONE, and is right there at the beating heart of it all. Yeah, and he’s only just getting started!

A good dude, who’s always spoken with a content and positive spirit. I tell you, when you’ve known a man at his worst, and witnessed him in his darkest hour, it brings nothing but pure joy to witness him emerge into the light of his destiny. And I know he wishes, for me the same. A man I proudly call a trusted friend, here now, is Stone Ramsey:

 

 

 

 

 

Business Picks Up in Amazon/Publisher Feud

Hatchette will be the least of Amazon’s worries in the near future. If I were them, I would just try to wrap the spat up.

Why?

Because Simon and Schuster and News Corp has next when they come up for renegotiation. If  Amazon is already blocking pre-orders of books from names such as J.K. Rowling, Nicolas Parks and James Patterson, you know they will block Veronica Roth, Stephen King and any and everyone on the HarperCollins and Simon and Schuster rosters.

The way I see it may be a bit trite  and cliche but I promise you, if these publishers set it up the right way, they will win: Its always strength in numbers.th-1

 

Clearly, Simon and  Schuster and News Corp have been sitting in the cut, observing the Amazon/Hatchette spat. Make no mistakes about it. So with that said, I think that publishers should collaborate  and strong arm Amazon. They better, because what Amazon is going for is a larger percent of the retail price. If that happens, that could mean lower fees for authors. So what was once 25 percent of the publisher’s take on sales could be wittled down to 15 to less than 10 percent. Amazon on the other hand, will continue to win because by getting a bigger chunk of the retail price, the mega retailer can discount more while retaining the profit.

If I were these publishers, I would create my own ebook biz and not sell ANYTHING to Amazon. By doing this, publishers and authors can sell directly to the consumers. Look at all of the music artists starting their own “labels”. Thanks to itunes and even Napster before them, the only value that a record label has now is management and marketing.  It’s the same thing going on in publishing right now. There is no need for the middle man.

Another thing that the publishers can do is revise their relationship with Apple. Before the Justice Department popped Apple and publisher for collusion,  Apple took a 30 percent cut of each e-book sold through iTunes and their ibookstores.  Another option is to collab with them again and maybe appeal the Justice departments’ decision. The way I see it is Amazon is trying to make the publishers be in collusion with them. The difference is Apple was at least trying to hide their greed.

The bottom line is the outcome of this feud will change the landscape of literature as we know it. Its worth it for the publishers to come together and plan.round-two-amazon-vs-publishers-1

So what do you think the next move should be and Why? I would love to read your opinions on here or you can hit me up on my facebook (www.facebook.com/ jannelle1) or tweet me @jannelle12 directly or you can sound off in the comments section here on Straight No Chaser

Self Publishing vs. Publishing

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To sign or not to sign, that is the question. Everyone seems to have an opinion  about this, nowadays, yet, no-one’s truly addressing the real questions. It’s  easy, from an egotistical standpoint: why split my money with someone else  when I can keep it all for myself?.  And, this is especially true, when it takes  only a couple hundred bucks to go from manuscript to ebook, then, pay a  small bit for promotions, with the over-all intent that successful ebook sells  will lead to a (paperback) book printing budget, at which point you’ll sell  hand-to-hand, build a buzz, then formulate a “take over” while paying  relatively no start-up costs, overhead, office expenses or taxes. Verily,  verily, verily, life is but…
Not to say that dreams don’t come true, or that hard work and effort don’t pay off. I’m only saying that there’s a point where dreams and reality must confront each other or else it’s just a fantasy. And, many of us are living in a fantasy world; one step never quite leading to the next. Perpetually trapped at a stand-still, with nothing more than an ebook link and cover graphic to show for it.
While I am personally signed to Dc Bookdiva Publications and Ben Official Books, it is in no way my intentions, here, to advocate one way or the other, but, simply to offer an open and honest understanding of both options, and what the overall choices entail. It seems kinda dry, to hear people shout about do this or do that, without rightly explaining the overall challenges or taking an author’s, most times limited, budget and reserved introvertedness, into account.
Writing is a lonely job. Most writers are loners but a writer’s success is not measured by the greatness of his/her writing. For, just as the most intelligent kid isn’t always the most popular or successful, there’s a-whole-nother something which must be taken into account. Some might call it the “it factor” but, more specifically: writing a book and making it a bestseller are entirely two different things, for, you see, selling is an extrovert’s job. It’s that stand in front of a crowd “Hey you. Over here!” Approach that gets some noticed, while others are simply ignored. Now, to look at the points of money and distribution.
  The cost to create and launch an ebook is relatively nothing at all. Especially where so many simply skip the editing process, go with the most basic/inexpensive cover, pay a little bit for social media marketing and then spread the word to their family and friends. Printing/publishing and selling a paperback, however, is a-whole-nother thing, with a slew of other costs, especially if it is to be done right. These costs include, though are not limited to, the costs of bar codes, ISBNs, book printing, print advertisements, book shipping, packaging, storage, accounting, business/corp. start-up, opening business bank accounts, office services/record keeping etc. Not to mention the countless hours needed to network and develop meaningful

distribution channels. These costs and distribution networks are where a publisher’s meaningfulness is found.
Ebook publishers are everywhere. Everyone and their monkey can get signed to an ebook deal. If you’ve got a book, an ebook publisher will take you on, do a quick test read (call it an edit), split the book into 3 to 4 parts (.99, 1.99, 3.99) slap a cover on it and let’s go!  You’ll see your ebook posted and links floating within 30 to 60 days, for 33 to 50% of the profits. What do you gain? The chance to be a part of a large team (usually 15-30 or more authors) who all come in with their own family, friends and legions of followers. These team members will repost your links and yell salute, Salute, SALUTE!  And, you won’t have to worry about the little start-up costs either. So, it’s a pretty hassle-free, fun and exciting trip.  However, though ebook publishers seem to do okay over time, based on their shear ability to continuously crowd the market with new material and new authors almost every other week, the same can not be said for the ebook author who quickly comes, then, goes, relegated to go sit in a corner, write a part 2, 3, 4 and yell SALUTE, SALUTE, SALUTE for their next team member in rotation. At least, I don’t personally know of any such ebook author who’s managed to quit their day job and live off of the profits. For this crowd, writing is not a career, but, merely an after work hobby that gets them a bit of spare change and gives them a cool group to hang out with on line.
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 The paperback publisher, dare I say, is a-whole-nother animal entirely. It’s not just  about who can cover the print costs or who has the largest following on Facebook or  Twitter. A paperback publisher must be more selective, for, they must be willing to  go out there on the limb and risk their money and their name on your product. Look  at it this way, if a book flops the author can shrug and move on, but, all of the books which don’t sell, the publisher  gets stuck with while also tarnishing their brand, image and trust in the eyes of the  book sellers in their distribution network. Thus, they are not so quick to skimp on  costs such as cover designs or editing, as they intrinsically understand that what sells  on Facebook is NOT necessarily what sells in stores.  And, that there’ll be no team of  people standing by to yell salute this or hashtag that to encourage the purchase.  Unlike the .99 ebook craze, which is more like handing a friend or a panhandler a dollar, for a book they’ll probably never read, paperback buyers are a lot more picky and determined to find a good book. They are spending top dollar and they demand to get their moneys worth.

So, in a nut shell, it depends on how far you want to go, how big a network you have, what type of product you’re bringing and what kind of distribution you have available to you. To sign or not to sign?  Ebooks or paperbacks?  Remember (all costs considered) 10% of 5000 paperback copies sold, adds up to a lot more than 1000 ebooks, or even 1000 paperbacks sold on your own (minus all print, shipping, returns and other costs) and, then, there are those who simply don’t have the time to properly build and push a brand/book as a business or those who are trapped in a cage, or otherwise restricted. In those cases, getting signed is a dream come true. There’s a lot to consider, but, in the end, it’s all about what works for you. However, if you do choose to get signed, be sure to look for someone you can trust and someone with the distribution network to get your book on shelves and not just have you yelling BUY MY BOOK on Facebook.
Trust me, it happens.

Wesley “Godfather” Hunter

“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 Michhael Connelly.

Innovation w/Author & Publisher Thomas Long

“Most of us understand that innovation is enormously important. It’s the only insurance against irrelevance. It’s the only guarantee of long-term customer loyalty. It’s the only strategy for out-performing a dismal economy.”

 Gary Hamel

Sometime,  to get in the mood to write, I turn on some smooth R&B and Neo Soul. It puts me in my element. It helps me further immerse myself into the stories that I create. One artist that constantly stays in my rotation is Robert Glasper. His albums Black Radio and Black Radio 2 are certified classics. However, I tend to favor Black Radio 2 over the first Grammy winning installment.

It’s honesty a hard choice! Choosing which of the two albums is the best is like asking a die-hard NBA fanatic if LeBron James is a downloadbetter basketball player than Kobe Bryant. A heated debate will spark, along with flaring egos and raised voices. A fist fight may even occur! But, every debater and commentator has their opinions and views on why they think one is better than another. The same correlation can be attributed to my choice of Black Radio 2 as the better album.

One song that stands out to me on the album is I Stand Alone by legendary Chicago emcee Common. If I can call any song my theme song, this would be it! That’s not the only thing that endears me to the song. At the end it features a monologue by author, media personality, college professor and public intellectual Michael Eric Dyson. If anything separates the two albums, his brief interlude gives Black Radio 2an edge over the original Black Radio.

Many NBA fans say that Kobe is a better player than LeBron James based on the fact that he has five rings to LeBron’s two. In my honest opinion, that’s the only claim that they can hold onto! LeBron is a beast on the court. When he gets in his zone, there’s no stopping him. I can confidently say that Michael Eric Dyson’s feature is what puts Black Radio 2 over the hump. In his interlude, he talked about black individualism and innovation in the art realm.

 

The irresistible appeal of Black individuality – where has all of that gone? The very people who blazed our path to self-expression and pioneered a resolutely distinct and individual voice have too often succumbed to mind-numbing sameness and been seduced by simply repeating what we hear, what somebody else said or thought and not digging deep to learn what we think or what we feel, or what we believe.

Now, it is true that the genius of African culture is surely its repetition, but the key to such repetition was that new elements    wereimages added each go-round. Every round goes higher and higher. Something fresh popped  off the  page or jumped from a rhythm that had been recycled through the imagination of a  writer or a  musician. Each new installation bore the imprint of our unquenchable thirst to  say something of  our own, in our own way, in our own voice as best we could. The trends of  the times be damned!

Thank God we’ve still got musicians and thinkers whose obsession with excellence and  whose  hunger for greatness remind us that we should all be unsatisfied with mimicking the  popular,  rather than mining the fertile veins of creativity that God placed deep inside each  of us”

 -Michael Eric Dyson, “I Stand Alone”

 

When I first heard his commentary, I immediately thought of my novel The Diary of Aaliyah  Anderson. It’s so different from the other young adult novels on the market that it’s uncanny. I can even boldly state that a book of its kind has never been created before. It’s overtly positive, taking on issues that confront the youth of America in an innovative way. I blend in a little bit of drama and what I like to call “realistic ratchetness” to hook a reluctant reader in and keep him or her interested and then force them to think on a higher level.

Merrium-Webster defines the word innovation as “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods”. Simply put, you can’t be an artist, businessperson or entrepreneur without being innovative. You can’t be successful period without being innovative. Our elders say that there’s nothing new under the sun but that doesn’t mean that an already proven concept can’t be further built upon. Innovation and quality are the keys to longevity in any field.

Rappers and authors, I urge you to take note of my sit down interview with author and publisher Thomas Long. I had a chance to dialogue with him about bring a different voice to the book industry. And trust me, this brother knows about innovation first hand.  The story of how he got his first major book deal is even innovative!

Randall: You’ve been in the publishing game for a while. Your first novel Dayvon’s Story: A Thug Life came out back in 2004! download (1)In your opinion, has the book industry changed? If so, how?

Thomas Long: Yes, the book industry has changed significantly. Authors used to pound the pavements to push their work to persuade the average consumer to take a chance and buy a copy of their book. Nowadays, authors are lazy and believe they can have long term success just publishing ebooks on Amazon.  It used to be the standard to write full length novels but today authors confuse novels with novellas.  The craft and skill of writing a quality story has been eroded by so many pretenders and wanna be authors.

Randall: To get your first novel put out under the Urban Books publishing label, you approached Carl Weber personally with your manuscript. He was so impressed that he offered you a book deal instantly! Take us back to that day. How did your conversation with him go?

Thomas Long: I’m a very blunt person. I basically just told him that I had a novel that’s hot that I think he should read.  I sent it to him and his readers loved it because the story was so real and filled with passion and real emotions that the hood could relate to.  It was just that simple.

Randall: How important is desire to success?

Thomas Long: Success and desire go hand in hand because you can’t have one without the other.  You also have to have a plan of action to go along with them as well as steps you plan to take to get to where you want to be in life.

Randall: How did it feel to see your novel be adapted into the feature film 4 Life?

download (2)Thomas Long: It felt like a dream come true to make history and to share that distinction with the late, great Donald Goines.  It validated my potential and talent for me and set the bar high for me moving forward.  I feel proud to be able to open that door for the next Black author to walk through in getting their work onto the big screen.

Randall: When it comes to novel writing, is having mass appeal important?

Thomas Long: Mass appeal is a relative term. Some people write stories because they see a writing style or topic that another has that’s hot and try to duplicate that success, but that doesn’t always produce the expected results.  I write from the heart and my life experiences and pick topics that are of interest to me.  My books are for those that can relate to them and not for everybody.

Randall: How important is diversity and innovation to the modern day author? In your opinion, is it artistically and financially viable to cater to only one market for the time period of a career?

Thomas Long: Variety is the spice of life.  I try to bring a different flavor with each story. That’s why I write in every genre.  I never place limits on my creativity.  Also, I will always have a book that appeals to readers regardless of what their favorite genre is.

Randall: What’s your opinion on the state of black literature? Do you believe that storylines from black authors are starting to become more repetitive?

Thomas Long: I think that the bulk of urban lit or black lit sucks today to be brutally honest.  It’s full of the same recycled storylines with poor grammar and editing.  Many today don’t know the difference between a novel and a novella or short story and that’s sad. Readers are being encouraged to become writers to make quick dollar which I think is absurd.  However, through all of the garbage real writerd who respect the craft will still shine through.

Randall: By the time this article is published, it will be read by many young adults striving for better in the world. What is your message to them?

Thomas Long: I would tell them to always be an individual and have your own mind.  Educate yourself at all costs and always be open to new experiences outside of your environment.  Don’t feed into the stereotypes that many in my generation hold on to for dear life that projects a distorted perception of what being “real” or a stand up man or woman is.  Summing up, never place limits on yourself or let anyone else do that for you. 

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

Thomas Long: I just released a book in May called Love TKO which is the sequel to my novel Unconventional Love.  I have book coming in July at the Harlem Book Festival called High Society Gangster and a novella coming August called Blowin’ It.

Randall: Where can we find you?

Thomas Long: All of my titles and information about me can be found on my website: www.tlongwrites.com. My Twitter and Instagram screen name is @tlongmoney.

I would also like to say thank you young brother and I wish you much success.

 

Do you have any questions or comments for me? Is there someone you’d like me to interview? I would love to hear from you! Contact me directly at:

Email: thediaryofaaliyahanderson@gmail.com

Kik: @AuthorRandallB

Ask.Fm: @YoungandGiftedBooks

Twitter: @AuthorRandallB & @TeamYGB25

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

Check out a preview of my debut novel “The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson” on Wattpad today! It’s coming soon!

http://www.wattpad.com/story/6314747-the-diary-of-aaliyah-anderson

 

 

The Wild Wild West

Written by: Wesley “Godfather” Hunter

 

 The West is the new frontier. Hip Hop lit has taken a course quite similar to that of hip hop music in the 1980’s and 90’s. While the South has been a strong participant, like rap music in the 1980’s, urban lit first saw its real market on the streets of the Eastern shore. Where writers such as Teri Woods, Vickie Stringer, Relentless Aaron and others literally took to the streets on a hand-to-hand sales campaign and kicked the doors open to help create and, for the most part, define an entire industry. All the while, the West has been all but silent, with no big names in the game to truly speak of.

Not to be ignored, the West Coast has produced such authors as Stanley “Tookie” Williams (Crips co -founder and author of BLUE RAGE BLACK REDEMPTION), Sanyika Shakur aka Monster Kody (author of MONSTER and several others), Cupcake Brown (A PIECE OF CAKE), Colton Simpson (INSIDE THE CRIPS), Cynthia Miller(IN RARE FORM), Terrell “Loko” Wright (HOME OF THE BODY BAGS), Frederick Staves (GANGSTA: SOME TALK IT, I LIVE IT), myself (TRANSITIONS IN THE HOOD) and even Freeway Rick, among others. However, it is importantly noted, that the above are all autobiographical accounts. Aside from myself, there were literally NO urban fiction writers in the game. Until recently, that is.

First, there were authors such as Biz E. Bee (BE LIKE THAT SOMETIMES), Nyerere Jase (THE END RESULTS OF A SNITCH) and my own lesser-known Print on Demand (POD) items published through an online company called Infinity Publishing [that’s a-whole-nother article] and then came along a young fiery up-start by the name of Terry L. Wroten.

Though Terry was in California’s New Folsom maximum security prison, at the time, Terry was young (23 I believe), handsome, well-built, knowledgeable about the industry, fresh off of the streets (about to return to them) and, quite importantly, Terry stayed on top of his game, and while networking on social-media sites such as Myspace and Facebook. Terry met Kwan as well as several other authors, he kept up with the trends and was eventually signed to Kwan’s own Black Dawn Inc., just two weeks before going home. Terry subsequently went on to release TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. and several other urban novels, officially becoming (TLW) The Leader of the West, in that he was the first, true young street cat signed to/with a known/established urban writer/publishing company, and several others, including Nyerere Jase (G Street Chronicles) and myself (DcBookdiva Publications and Ben Official Books) have gone on to follow.

The West is now wide awake. Sitting in prison since 1989 writing and begging for any and everyone to give me a chance, many inmates would ask why I wasn’t signed, all the while, I was continuously being overlooked, and ignored, until it truly began to create a hopeless depressing feeling, as I watched so many lesser talents just hop on and pass me by, all because they had the resources or could simply get out and about, while I remained trapped with an energy bordering on combusting. I threw money at the problem, made [many costly mistakes] and still I couldn’t find my way. Yet, I continued to write and believe I’d one day have my day. I amassed an arsenal and, finally, the playing was leveled. Ebooks came, the industry imploded and publishers were everywhere actively scouting talent, willing to take on new challenges and consider new approaches but, I’m one of the lucky ones, for, there are still many trapped souls just waiting their turn. But, this is a West Coast tale so let’s get to it.

With the Facebook/Ebook thing so easy and accessible, all of those young West Coast urban authors finally had somewhere to turn to get on, or, more appropriately, they no longer had a need to wait in line or hope to be discovered by some non-existent West Coast brand. Instead of waiting, they began putting themselves on. And, this is how the West was won.

Our stories, our streets, our slang, our gangs, our troubles, our world. Just as hip hop showed with “Gangsta Rap”, the West simply has a style of its own. A different structure (or lack thereof) and an all out sense of lawlessness that only those of us from the West can rightly capture.

l look now and I see upwards of 60 young West Coast authors doing their thing and though only Nyerere Jase, JDee Cooper [of Da Lynch Mob] (Ghettoheat Publishing), Chanel Jones (Peach Dollhouse/SBR) and I (as far as I know) presently remain signed to already established non-West Coast brands, many are self-published and/or building their own brands. There’s a storm on the horizon y’all. We’re quaking, on the West, with that chronic. We’re coming and we’re coming hard, and, just like we did with the rap industry, in the 90’s, we intend to make our mark. So, when you hear that rumbling and you don’t know what to do, stop and salute.

Welcome to the Wild Wild West. 

Meet West Coast pioneer Nyerere Jase. Nyerere came hard, with nothing but a book and a dream. He had no one to guide him or direct him, but, he gave his all to the cause, hitting the block, dumping one book at a time, learning as he went. Til, finally, becoming frustrated and losing focus. In December 2013, Nyerere signed on with G-Street Chronicles, and, when asked why, he humbly stated, quite simply: “I needed help, I needed a family to support me and I felt that G-Street was that fit”. After this interview, Nyerere went on to turn himself in to begin serving a 10 year bid. So, let’s stand up you guys, let’s help this brother who’s done all he could to help himself. He’s going to be in prison for a while, and, every little bit we can share will count something MAJOR. Will you do your part? Stand up and show out! Now meet the man himself.

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Godfather: How long have you been writing?

Nyerere: I have been a writer for 10 years.

Godfather: What made you start writing?

Nyerere:  My final years in prison. I became board and wrote as an escape.

Godfather:I noticed that you started off self-published. What made you first go that route?

Nyerere: The challenge. The millions I thought I would make.

Godfather: Did you invest a lot, in the beginning?

Nyerere: It costs me zero dollars to publish my first book Gangsta Jake: The End Result of a Snitch, which I revamped to She Did It for A Gangsta for marketing purposes.

Godfather: Many say it’s best to self-publish. What made you decide to sign?

Nyerere:  I signed for exposure and the fact that I’m on my way to prison. 

Godfather: Who did you sign with? When did you sign? How did it happen? How did you reach them?

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Nyerere: I was contacted By George Hudson Sherman Ceo of G Street Chronicle Via Facebook regarding a book deal. I ultimately Signed with George because I felt comfortable with every step of our negotiations. He and Shawna have a winning combination that has been proven to work; that was a key fact that made it easy for me to sign. I signed December 13,2013.

Godfather: Besides yourself, Terry L. Wroten, (originally signed with Black Dawn Inc.), JDee Cooper [of Da Lynch Mob] (Ghettoheat), Chanel Jones (SBR) and myself (currently signed with DCBookdiva Publications and Ben Official Books) are you aware of any other West Coast author picked up by an established urban publishing company?

 

Nyerere: I heard of Black Dawn Inc., but not the other company’s that you mentioned. Freeway Rick is signed, but most Authors from west coast are self published.

Godfather: How many books have you written?

 

Nyerere: Five books.

Godfather: Where can your books be found?

 

Nyerere: Amazon.com, Barnesandnobles.com and smashwords.com.

Godfather: What’s your opinion about the future of the West Coast book scene?

 

Nyerere: I feel the west coast market is basically untapped however do have great potential.We are in a uptrend, more and more authors are getting on board with the west coast movement , the Eastsiders and Rick  “Freeway” Ross both just dropped books.

Godfather:What do you see for the future of urban lit. As a whole?

 

Nyerere: The future of urban fiction  has a lot of potential for movies, plays, video games, etc.

Godfather:What advice would you give someone trying to get in the game?

For new authors, just know that your first book will more than likely not get you rich. Stay the course have a solid game plan and know that its going to cost you some of your personal money to get exposure.

Godfather:  You’ve had some recent legal troubles how much time you facing? What’s the charge?

Nyerere:  I am facing 30 to life under the California 3 strikes law for residential burglary.

Godfather:Final thoughts: what have you got in the oven? What should we expect? Anything else you might want to share?

Nyerere: Currently working on Jase publishing house , G Street Chronicles imprint. First author JPH will be releasing is Toure Jase his story is entitled “The Opposite of a Square”.

How can you be reached?

Nyerere: You can contact me at Facebook, Twitter, instagram and LinkedIn

 

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.

 

Collective Bargaining

By: Wesley “Godfather” Hunter

In today’s market, the costs are high, the profits are low and the talent pool is greatly over crowded. So, just what is a publisher to do?collective

 Everyone’s got their own brand, their own label, their own publishing house, publishing company, imprint, division or WHATEVER. Everyone’s gone DYI on the fly and trying to find their way as they go. And, if they’re anything like me, they’re wasting a lot of time and money as they do.

Publishers, imprints, divisions, etc. Often work as a clique, a club or, for lack of a better term, a modern-day urban book publishing gang. Creating or hallucinating these imagined barriers which keep one group from working with the next. However, if Willie Lynch taught us nothing else, he taught us that to be divided we are already conquered. NO MATTER WHAT EXCUSE WE USE TO JUSTIFY OR DEFEND OUR DIVISION.

Networking, sharing resources, co-op advertising, joint product negotiations, etc. these are all areas where publishers can come together. Let’s say five publishers need books printed: one needs 500, another needs 2000 and still another needs 5000 books, etc. And this collected group of publishers decide to come together and approach a printer with one collectively huge order, explaining the total numbers and the promise of repeat orders of the same/similar/larger size in exchange for a continued overall discounted price (percentage).

NOTE: This offer could be extended to, say, 10 different printers to create a bit of a bidding war. This same collective bargaining technique can be used to put together a pool of editors which the publishers agree to choose from, where the editor agrees to a certain price/percentage discount in order to be added to the select list. The same for cover designers, on-line promoters, etc. This can even be used in purchasing ad. space in magazines, where the group agrees to purchase so many pages in so many issues and then divide or rotate the use of that space among themselves. It’s not about who likes whom, it’s about the collective power of unified numbers, it’s about business, it’s about common sense and money.

To really take it to the next level, the group could also share each others links on social media. It’s no different from having a bookstore where you carry and promote a bunch of different books. Especially if you are in-between products or your personal sales have slowed. Because, soon it’ll be you pushing a new piece and you’ll need the help: A favor for a favor.

Yes, there’s true power in numbers. Need I say more?

 

 

The Boss Life w/ Author & Publisher Rahiem Brooks

“Literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks at reality, then you can change it.”

-James Baldwin

All my life, I wanted to be a self-made man. I dreamed of one day becoming my own boss and owning the affairs of my life. I also dreamed about using my writings to uplift people around the world. As I look at the occurrences in my life I see that I’m inching closer and closer to achieving these childhood dreams. However, this task is easier said than done.

In the book publishing world, you have tons of independent publishing houses springing up. Some are legitimate companies releasing quality products in a professional manner to the masses of hungry readers. However, others are delivering hastily written E-Books and literary trash that the families of these authors wouldn’t even feel comfortable supporting. At this juncture in history, it’s hard to separate the real authors and publishers from the pretendersfakes and dirty hustlers.

Dictionary.com defines the word boss as “a person who makes decisions, exercises authority and/or dominates.” Simply put, a boss finds his way to stand above the crowd. You see it in every arena, especially in the sector of business. A boss is someone (male or female) who is defined by their morals and work ethic. They march to the beat of their own drum, forcing others to fall in line with their plans or get crushed if paths are ever crossed. A boss is a BMB (Business Minded Brother) or SRT (Sister Running Things) on steroids!

You can’t put a true boss in a creative prison. They walk their own path and create the projects that they approve of. The funny thing about it is that the work that these bosses release are always critically acclaimed in some sort of fashion. It’s almost like they force the consumers to see the world through their unique viewpoint.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to talk to Rahiem Brooks, owner of the independent publishing company Prodigy Publishing Group. He’s is also an award winning, national best-selling author of five novels. Rahiem is also known for his no-holds-barred advice and opinions on the publishing industry. As you read the interview, make sure you take notes. He’s really dropping jewels on subjects that are rarely discussed!

 

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Randall: How do you feel about the current landscape of the black independent publishing market?

Rahiem Brooks: Great question, which I hope you’re prepared to get me a body guard if I reply honestly. (chuckles) I can’t speak about the landscape per se. I work to be an independent publishing house, and not a “black” independent publishing house. There is a lot of the blind leading the blind. Not many people look to learn the business or pay people to effectively do things for them.

 It’s like being President Obama. He has a cabinet. Each cabinet member advises him on the things that he doesn’t know and provides him with options to make informed decisions. I don’t want to be an author without respect and being recognized for excellence. Outside of the authors performance one of my pet peeves is people that charge to promote sub-par material. It’s very saddening that people promote novels that meet the lowest publishing bar, and have people spend their hard earned money on these products. These same people turn around and want to petition Amazon to stop people from making returns.

I confess that over my four years in publishing, I’ve had three-five returns in the Kindle Store. Quality material is not returned. There are some people that do it right, and I applaud them as they continue to breathe life into the industry. But the many bad apples make people have no faith in the indie process, and prompts them to avoid buying any indie products.

Randall: What distinguishes a quality independent book from one that’s subpar at best?

Rahiem Brooks: Any book should have reputable and professional editing and proofreading. Professional book cover design, preferably one that sets the book apart from it’s competitors. That’s the great divider. The marketing, promotion, and PR will then determine who has the better product. Because an author writes better and has a better story line doesn’t mean they’ll sell more units. How that product is displayed will be the determining factor.

Randall: Earlier this year, you released a Google Play app. What inspired that move?

Rahiem Brooks: I found that my sales and demand was plateauing. I had to sit and think of plans to effective bolster my sales and brand. An app in the Apple and Google Play stores affords me the opportunity to meet people that are not connected to me through my social media networks. I am looking for avenues to advance my platform that doesn’t rely solely on me. All of my Facebook and Instgram friends that want my books and app already have it. The rest don’t and probably never will buy a book, share a status, or be of any benefit to my brand. So, I found it imperative to develop an app, adapt to audio books, and write for CNN iReport. The bigger the audience, the bigger the sales.

Randall: How important is having a strong social media presence to the modern day author?

Rahiem Brooks: Well, I am not so sure that a strong social media presence is a requirement. One thing that I pride myself on is operating the same way that publishing houses did prior to the Internet. As I stated early, you max out on your presence with FB. When I post things, I can predict who will like it. No matter how great you are some people are just not going to pat you on the back.

If they’ve been your FB friend for three years and you’ve published five books and they have none, they aren’t going to buy one. Focusing on them to make a sale is pointless.  Which is why I have been focusing on branding in areas not involving Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I can be at an event and have several people tell me about places I’ve been or things I did, but I don’t recall them liking a pic or discussing any of my posts. I make it a point to participate in my news feed, because I want to be engaging.

Randall: How do you effectively engage your readers?

Rahiem Brooks: I find that my readers like me as a man first and author second. They like my story. Where I’ve come from and what I now represent. Those people are my fans. I like to entertain and some people love me for that and some hate me, although neither group has ever met me. I focus on the people that love me.

Randall: At the 2014 National Black Writers Conference, AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson dropped a bomb on the world about the mass closure of independently owned African-American bookstores. What’s your take on this and how can we turn the tide?

Rahiem Brooks: I’ve written about this before, and I maintain that African-American owned book stores need to maintain a higher level of respect for authors and buyers. Some book stores look to make more off the sale of a book than the author. It’s absurd for an indie author to buy a book for $4 and sell it to a store for $6, but the store sells it to the consumer for $15, for a $9 profit. So the author makes $2. Many indie authors don’t have the capital to buy in bulk to get the bigger discounts. Also, many book stores don’t give new authors a chance. They expect to stay in business selling blockbuster series by K’wan, Wahida Clark, and Deja King. How is that possible? When their customers buy all of the top selling author’s books and there’s nothing new to buy, they have nothing else to offer. Many have not made the move into the 21st century either. If I owned a book store, I would sell E-books, as well. Everything is about going into the future.

 

Randall: Your novels are vastly different from the books that we see released from other black owned, independent publishing companies. How have you been able to keep your projects fresh? Also, how important is diversity in the African-American literary industry?

Rahiem Brooks: I am a black author, but that’s the extent of it. Race doesn’t play any part in this for me. I am keenly aware that I write to entertain fans of a genre, not a race. I had lunch with Walter Mosley for my 34th birthday in New York City. One of the questions that I asked him was should I make my main characters white, so that they’re widely accepted across racial lines. He adamantly told me that was not the way to go. He stressed that all of his heroes are black and no publisher would change that. And I now understand that. I have readers of all races and I’ve been expanding across cultures selling books in India, Israel, Australia and Pakistan. Again, people that like mysteries, thrillers, and suspense are not focused on the race of the characters, but the storyline and storytelling. James Patterson is most famous for the Cross Series. Alex Cross is African-American, the stories are well written, and probably the top selling series of all time.

Randall: By the time this article is published, it will be read by many young adults striving for better in the world. What is your message to them?

Rahiem Brooks: Education is king, know that. That doesn’t mean that you must go to college, but you must read and self-educate to help in making informed decisions. I constantly read magazines, books, and blogs on my profession. I sponge information like a doctor. I am always at workshops and taking courses on business related matters, even things that I may know. A new approach to an old topic could be beneficial. I read books on etiquette, too. I like to know how to act according to the world-at-large and not the neighborhood that I grew up in.

 

Randall: What upcoming projects do you have coming up?

Right now, I am doing more work as an independent editor, typesetter, and reviewer. I do that to have an all-around working knowledge of the business. I have five paperback novels published and working on numbers six ,seven , and eight simultaneously. They are tentatively titled: MURDER IN LOVE PARK (the sequel to MURDER IN GERMANTOWN), PRETTY BOY THUGS, and MR. CONFIDENCE.

Find out more about Rahiem Brooks at:

Web Site: http://www.rahiembrooks.comraheimbrooks

Apple and Google Play App Link: http://rahiembrooks.mobapp.at

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Novelist-Rahiem-Brooks/168128746598922

Instagram: rahiemthewriter

Twitter: @rahiembrooks

 

Do you have any questions or comments for me? Is there someone you’d like me to interview? I would love to hear from you! Contact me directly at:

Email: thediaryofaaliyahanderson@gmail.com

Kik: @AuthorRandallB

Ask.Fm: @YoungandGiftedBooks

Twitter: @AuthorRandallB & @TeamYGB25

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

 

Check out a preview of my debut novel “The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson” on Wattpad today! It’s coming soon!

http://www.wattpad.com/story/6314747-the-diary-of-aaliyah-anderson