Why You Should Never Pay an Editor or Book Cover Designer Upfront

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I should have titled this post “Folks Behaving Badly Online, Part 3.”

Maybe I’ve been hanging out in the wrong places, but I’ve seen several instances lately of folks behaving badly online; from harassing book reviewers for posting a negative book review to asking strangers for 5* reviews, folks really seem to be in their feelings lately and, as my grandmother would say, showing their natural behinds.

I’m not a psychologist (although, I used to want to be one. A rapping psychologist actually, but please don’t ask me about that) so I can’t tell you why folks are running around showing their behinds. I can only assume that they all drank a big ole cup of crazy, made another batch, and then passed it around to their friends.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve talked about authors behaving badly, but today I’m going to talk about industry “professionals.”

Here’s some background:

An author was unsatisfied with an editor’s work. Long story short: she paid the editor beforehand, but when the editor got the manuscript and started reading it she realized that the book wasn’t her cup of tea. So of course, the editor tallied up the amount of hours for work already done and refunded the rest of the author’s money, right?

Nope.

She kept the money. Now, during the online slugfest (more on that later), the editor responded, saying that she had already explained her actions to the author in a private message and would not stoop so low and ruin her already starting to be ruined brand by elaborating further. Now, I’m no psychic, but I’m assuming that the private message went something like this:

Dear Dude:

I’m truly sorry but I couldn’t get through this novel. I didn’t realize it at the time (even though your blurb is pretty much an encapsulation of, like, the entire novel) that the novel was about puppets. And I have to tell you: I hate puppets. So to mitigate your damages (please note: I use the word “mitigate” very loosely here), I am returning your manuscript. I won’t be refunding your money, however, because I am using it for a good psychotherapist to help me deal with my puppet issues. I will say this: I totally dug the part where the protagonist faces her stage fright. I do love a strong-willed heroine! Anyway, as I’m sure you already know, editing is a very subjective business, and I can’t, even after accepting full payment, take on every client. Anyway, if you ever have any stories about cats, please do send them my way.

Looking forward to working with you again!

Muah,

A very shitty editor

Dear friends: what do you think happened after that? Well, the author went online and lambasted the editor from here to Tchoupitoulas. She went to a very popular social media outlet and posted several scathing reviews (and called the editor out by name). And honey chile, let me tell you: it was NOT pretty. What resulted was a public back and forth between author and editor that got so crazy that others eventually chimed in and told them to quit it because they were both starting to look a little woo-woo.

My two cents? If the editor really behaved that way, she won’t be in business for long. But I understand the author’s frustrations because I went through something similar with a no-good cover designer who shall remain nameless. Did I go online and trash him? I wanted to. But instead,  I cut my losses and added him to my “never again, not even if there are icicles in hell” list of vendors.

Moral of the story: never pay anyone up front (not even your cousin Frank). Half before the service, and if all goes well, half later. That way, if you’re ever unsatisfied with the work you can at least walk away with some of your money. But if you happen to read this post too late and fall victim to a shady vendor, please don’t go on a week long bad mouthing tour, because as bad as the vendor will look for his/her shady behavior, you’ll look just as bad.

What about others? Any editor/cover designer/industry professional horror stories? Industry professionals: have you ever dealt with any nightmare clients?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


How (Not) to Respond to a Negative Book Review

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I recently heard of an author who got a less than stellar book review and went ham, cheese, and bologna on the reviewer (for my readers who may not know: to “go ham” is slang for acting  a complete and utter fool). I won’t post any links (Mama ain’t raised no fool. I don’t want folks coming after me here on my precious blog, trolling me and what not) and I won’t name names but I will say this: nobody likes negative reviews. Everyone wants to believe that their book is so spectacular that it will end up on all the best sellers lists and that Hollywood will come a-knocking, begging to buy the movie rights.

But Linda. Honey, listen: not everyone is going to like your book. If you’re lucky, after you publish a book, you might get some reviews. Some will be good, some will be bad but keep this in mind: it is not a reviewer’s job to lift you up (that’s what your family is for). If someone has an opinion about your novel that is contrary to how you view your masterpiece, then guess what? That’s okay! It’s just an opinion. And if you can’t handle negative reviews don’t read them. Or, if you can’t stop yourself from reading them and then going out and attacking folk all willy-nilly, then chile, maybe you should stick to knitting cause ain’t nobody got time for that maybe this book publishing thing just ain’t for you.

And if you get the desire to respond to a negative review: don’t. What’s that you say? You’ve already written your scathing rebuttal letting the reviewer know how stupid they are and how they just don’t get your masterpiece because everyone, including your Grandma Fran, has been going on about how rad you are? And your hand is on the send button and it would be too much trouble to lift it? Hit delete. Immediately. Now back away from the computer and keep your hands where I can see them. Slowly. Slowly. Now that’s a good author.

*Update: the author somehow got ahold of the computer  when my back was turned and hit “send” anyway. What resulted was a good ol’ fashioned Twitter dragging and slugfest on Goodreads between author and reviewer, and now the author’s reputation is ruined. People are reviewing their book negatively on purpose now to “teach them a lesson.” They are receiving one star reviews and people are putting their book on the “Not even if the author paid me a million dollars” shelf on Goodreads and also the “Not even if the Lord came down from heaven and demanded that I read this mess” shelf.  The author has since moved to Bermuda and has adopted seven cats. She has quit writing and has taken up knitting.*

If you happen to get a less than stellar book review, here’s what you should do: nothing. “But Quanie!” you say, “What if people don’t buy my book based on some idiot one-starring it and saying how no one, not even Socrates, could decode that 70,000 word mess masquerading as a novel?”

Do nothing. Even if you have to sit on your hands: do nothing. Readers aren’t stupid. If your cover, blurb, and first few pages reel them in, they will more than likely still read your novel, despite the negative reviews. But whether or not other readers are going to like it and leave a stellar review…well, you’ll just have to see.

Bottom line: if you get a bad review it’s okay to feel bad about it, but for the love of God, please don’t respond publicly because word of a bad reputation travels fast in this industry and things on the internet live forever. Instead, focus on building your support system of writers but most importantly, honing your craft and writing your next book.

What about others? Do you respond to reviews? Have you seen instances of authors behaving badly online?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 

 


Book Review Query Etiquette

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I was on Twitter last week when this caught my eye: “Writer sends messages to strangers on FB asking for 5* reviews.”

Of course, I clicked on the link (how could I not? I had to know who this person was, going around the internets asking folk for 5* reviews and to see if this method was working so that I could maybe employ this strategy for myself )and discovered author Terry Tyler’s blog. Her post had me in stitches. Sidenote: I am having a lot of trouble spelling “stitches” this morning and my spell-check is going haywire. But I digress.

Anyhoo, in the post, Terry talks about the brilliance the nerve of this author trying to solicit reviews from people who may not have even read their novel. You can read the post in its entirety here, but here’s what had me in stitches:

I have a HUGE but important favor to ask PLEASE!!! If you haven’t already: Could you PLEASE do a 5 Star review of ***name of book**** and maybe corral a few others? During this year I’m going to seek an agent to help me land the elusive book deal. I’m really trying to bump up the current 4.6 Amazon stars to 4.8! Thus I’m shamelessly networking for 5* reviews with a minium of 20 words from you and anyone else who has an Amazon account.

*Faceplants*

Folks, I couldn’t believe what I was reading! I thought “Is this how the kids are doing it nowadays?” Forget forging meaningful relationships with other bloggers who might read your book and recommend it to their friends or worse (gasp!) querying bloggers based on the genres they like and politely requesting a book review. Is this what’s going on nowadays?

Of course, this got me thinking about plain ole etiquette. I was contacted recently by a stranger on Goodreads who asked me to send out a message recommending his/her book to all of my friends. And someone else recently sent me an unsolicited email (not a personalized email, mind you) with (I’m not making this up), an attachment full of promotional material for their book. The person thanked me in advance for helping to “make this upcoming release a success!” What I wanted to say: “Excuse me, honey, but the last time I checked my name was not Boo Boo the Fool.” What I actually said? Nothing. I deleted the message.

We are all pursuing the same dream. I want reviews and promo for my novel just as much as the next gal, but do you see me going around all willy-nilly, asking folk for 5* reviews, or for them to recommend my novel to their friends, or sending you, my dear blogger friends, unsolicited attachments with my author photo, book cover, and blurb with the expectation that you’ll promote the novel for me because you’re too afraid or nice to say no? No, ma’am! (But I can if you want me to…)

I think that if you’re going to query people for reviews you don’t necessarily have to grovel (unless it’s specified in the blogger’s review policy). All you have to do is be professional and courteous.

Here are a few simple guidelines:

1. Address the blogger by name. Dear “You” or “Hey there” just won’t cut it.

2. Know the genre(s) the blogger reviews! This takes some time and research but if someone specifically states “no horror” please don’t send it.

3. Be nice! Even if someone doesn’t review your book after one query doesn’t mean that they won’t review another book of yours down the line. And if you were a real a-hole to them during your correspondence, consider that a bridge burned.

Here’s a sample, no-frills book review query letter:

Dear (insert blogger’s name),

I recently found your blog on ___________________ and really enjoyed your post on ________________. While looking around your blog I discovered that you also review (insert genre). I was wondering if you would be willing to review my novel, _________________.

Per the instructions on your website, I am also including the blurb (copy and past the blurb into the body of the email). If interested, I’d be happy to send the novel as (insert format: mobi, epub, PDF, print copy, etc).

Thank you for your time,

Your name.

Sound easy enough, right? What about others? Has anybody else gotten any crazy review or promo requests? How do you go about querying for 5* reviews, I mean um, book reviews?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

*There are MANY review groups on Goodreads where authors can post book review requests. Some are peer review groups and others have forums where you can post your request and people who are interested respond. Some of the groups are even genre specific. This is a great way to get reviews!*

 

 

 

 


The Truth in Fiction

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I took a creative nonfiction course in college. At the time, I wasn’t ready to share personal (or even slightly personal) details about my life. As a result of that, my essays turned out to be sorry attempts at humor that only explored areas of my life that I felt safe enough to share. Truthfully? They were all vapid.

But lately, I’ve found myself wanting to write about more personal things; particularly, I’d like to explore certain real life issues, but through fiction, and I’m wondering about how “truthful” I should be.

There’s a movie called The Best Man where friends get together for a wedding many years after college. The main character has just written a novel based on him and his friends and a secret is revealed: in college, the main character slept with his best friend’s girlfriend. The friends read the novel and start to piece together which character is which, and before long, the groom-to-be gets his hands on the novel, realizes that it’s based on real life, and discovers before his wedding that his best man and wife-to-be were once intimate. As you can imagine, chaos ensues.

I recently found myself writing a character who was eerily similar to someone I know. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that this person is probably the most self-absorbed person I’ve ever come across. So much so, that if I put him/her on the page as they are, it’s very likely that no one would find the character believable. I find myself wanting to write about this individual to explore possible reasons for their behavior. To make sense of it on the page in a way that I can’t do in real life. To right wrongs, even if I can’t do that in life. Even, perhaps, so that this person may experience some sort of poetic justice, even if only in a fictional world. There are other situations that I would love to put on the page but I find myself hesitating because I fear a “Best Man” scenario where everything is revealed and as a result of that, relationships are ruined.

We all write for various reasons: to entertain, to make people laugh, to explore things that happen in our lives and make sense of it, to get through pain, to sort out our feelings. Sometimes characters are reflections of the people in our lives but once characters are on the page, they take on a life of their own and the truths they reveal  may not end up mirroring the truth of our actual lives. But what happens when they do?

Does anyone else find themselves hesitating to put certain characters on the page because they resemble people that you know? Has anyone ever experienced a “Best Man” scenario as a result of writing things that are close to home?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 

 

 


Writing Character Descriptions

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Lately I’ve been perusing the internets for a good book. I find a lot of books by indie authors (on Goodreads, Google +, and Twitter), and most of the time, I will click on the link and read the first page to get a feel of the author’s style. There have been at least three instances in the past week where I made a decision not to purchase a book because there was an onslaught of character description.

I won’t name names (I never do!), but here is an example of something I ran across:

“Jamison, when are you going to marry me?”

“Girl, you wish!”

Denise folded her skinny arms and whipped her sexy, black hair cut towards the window, so much so that her boyfriend, with his almond colored skin and mustache that looked like a handlebar, scratched his Mohawk and furrowed his pecan colored eyes in confusion, all while whipping his long, muscular arms in the air as the waitress, who had long, blonde hair and eyes so red she looked like she’d been crying, and a stain on her uniform that looked like coffee but very well may have been tea, walked by and offered them some more lemonade.

“I don’t want any lemonade!” Denise said in a huff, and as the waitress left the table (also in a huff), she realized that she was on rollerblades, pink rollerblades with little flashing lights at the bottom, in every color of the rainbow.

She looked at Jamison across the table. Although she was mad at him for not wanting to marry her, she laughed because he was still whipping his arms in the air.  Oh, how she’d always loved those arms! In fact, that’s what had drawn her to Jamison in the first place, the fact that he looked like a basketball player, and would have been one if his five foot nine frame had only been taller and if his mother, with her dark red hair, plus sized body, hazel nut eyes, and girlish smile, had only allowed him to leave their house, which was blue, not quite decrepit but getting there, and owned by his grandmother, who was sick and shut in, but still managed to gamble away the family’s fortune through online slot machines….

Obviously I had some fun here (tehe), but I think you get my drift: too much description can definitely be a killer.

When it comes to describing my characters, my personal preference is not to be too heavy-handed (I also don’t mind light description when I’m reading because my imagination fills in the gaps). I don’t describe every single character as they are introduced on the page because I think it reads a bit too much like Writing 101: Insert Description Here. I do describe the main characters, not just by giving what Sol Stein calls “Movie-house ticket taker” description: I try and tie the physical description with a trait that reveals something about the character’s personality or life: something that will (hopefully) add another layer to the character. Is the character beautiful? Well, this might be important if she often uses her beauty to get what she wants in life. Does the character have a strange birthmark? Well, that might be helpful when she sees a news article about a kidnapping that happened thirty years prior (and a picture of the stolen baby with the same strange birthmark…).

Or sometimes, I might just say, “The lady walked into the room. She was wearing a hat.”

Of course, everything depends on the story and genre, but I don’t think there’s a need to describe every single character (especially nonessential ones), and when we do describe characters, I don’t think there’s a need to go overboard with the description.

What about others? As writers, what’s your approach to character descriptions? And as readers, what are your likes and dislikes?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 


The First Three Chapters

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I was on a writing forum recently and noticed a call for beta readers. Several people responded (saying that yes, they would be willing to read), and the author said something very interesting about their novel. I can’t remember verbatim, but it was something along the lines of: “Well, the first few chapters are kind of boring anyway. It doesn’t get good until the middle.”

*Throws computer through window. Cries real tears.*

As you can imagine, I was shocked. It was my assumption that everyone knew that the first three chapters are the launching pad to any novel, otherwise, agents wouldn’t request them…right?

So many important things happen during the first few chapters! We’re learning who the main character is, what issues are plaguing them, what kind of story we’re getting into, etc., all while building up to something so momentous that the character will never be the same again and will spend most of the novel (the middle) trying to restore order.

But what makes a good first few chapters? Well, I guess that’s subjective. What’s good for you might not be good for me, so just off the top of my head:

  1. An interesting main character. They don’t always need to be likable but if I’m going to spend 300 pages with somebody, they better at least be interesting. What makes a character interesting? Well, their perspective on life. The things that they do or say, the people they surround themselves with (the list can go on).
  2. Good narrative voice (not what is said, but how).
  3. The writer presents a real life problem for the main character that readers will care about. It doesn’t have to be life or death, but the main character should care enough about the problem so that the reader cares. And even better, the character should care enough about the problem to try and (actively) find a solution.
  4. A good supporting cast. Nothing like great secondary characters to make a story pop.
  5. This one’s personal, so if you don’t mind this one just skip it: for me, I hate it when a book starts off too fast. Like when there’s a dead body on the first page and I haven’t spent enough time with the characters to even care about who’s dead. Or, a story that starts off with a car chase, or so much action that I find it hard to ground myself in the story. My personal preference is for a slow build (but not so slow that we’re still moving at a snail’s pace halfway through the story) that leads to a heart pounding climax. Just my preference….

So that’s my two cents. What about others? What kinds of things do you like to see in the first few chapters of a novel? What turns you off?

And to writers: what methods do you employ when writing those first few chapters?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 


Paid Blog Tours…Are They Worth It?

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Lately I’ve seen a few discussions on Goodreads about blog tours, mainly from people looking to start blog tour companies. First off, I think if someone is organized and connected enough, a blog tour company is a great business idea. Especially if that company can provide an impactful service for authors who aren’t connected enough or who just don’t have the time to organize their own blog tour.

But for authors: are paid blog tours worth it? I can tell you from personal experience that my feelings about them are mixed (I had a few of them last year when I released my first novel). I won’t disparage anybody here, but let’s just say that there are blog tour organizers who aren’t able to deliver what they promise and who also don’t have the best followup skills (but that’s a story for another blog post).

What types of things should an author consider when looking at blog tour companies? There are several things that come to mind:

Price. I’ve seen tours range from $50 to $800. What is “reasonable”? Well, I think that depends on an author’s budget, but also consider this: what kind of return are you getting on your investment? If you don’t get at least a few sales during your tour, increased page views, etc., then you might decide that it’s not worth it to book a blog tour for your next release and just roll up your sleeves and do your own marketing.

What’s being offered? I think the main thing that authors want from blog tours is reviews, so how many will you get?

Number of tour stops (The more the better.)

Amount of traffic/page views/comments for participating blogs. I don’t mean to suggest that participating blogs need to have thousands of readers, but if nobody is reading that blog, then you’ve pretty much wasted your money. My personal thoughts? Even if that blog only reaches one person who bought your book, depending on how much you paid for the tour, that might still be worth it: if that person likes your book they will tell their friends, and their friends will tell their friends, and so forth.

Another thing that might help an author decide is the “success” of  a company’s past clients: how many reviews do their books have? If a blog tour promises 5 reviews but the book has zero (or only a couple) reviews, that might be something to consider. Side note: blog tour organizers are normally up front about reviews: they can’t promise that reviewers will post them, but if very few reviews are consistent across the board for their past clients, that says something about their blog tour hosts (and not something good).

Does the blog tour organizer have a decent social media following? If they don’t, then you might want to have a conversation with them about how they are going to reach bloggers and help you spread the word about your book (or pick somebody else).

I think that blog tours are a great way for authors to get exposure for their books. Blog tour companies are good for authors who are short on time but I strongly believe that a well connected author can successfully organize their own blog tours. Heck, even an author who isn’t so connected: all you really have to do is gather a list of bloggers, tell them who you are, don’t be spammy, and pitch them your blog tour idea. I also think that an author should consider what a blog tour company can offer them and weigh that against what they can do for themselves. If there’s not much of a difference, then it might be worth it to save that money you were going to spend on a blog tour and use it towards something else (like towards the cost of a good book cover for your next novel).

What about others? What’s been your experience with paid blog tours? Do you recommend them? Any horror stories? (I hope not!) I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Also, for anybody looking for a blog tour company,  I had a very fun (and from what I could see, successful) blog tour with Chick Lit Plus. The organizer, Samantha March, was by far the most organized and professional blog tour organizer I’ve come across. Her followup skills were impeccable and she let me know what to expect pretty much everyday.

Here’s a couple of other companies I’ve come across in my search that seem to be pretty reputable:

Pump up Your Book. Their prices are waaay out of my range but during my research I discovered that indie author K.L. Brady used them for her debut novel, The Bum Magnet. She eventually ended up getting a traditional book deal (probably not as a direct result of the blog tour, but definitely something to consider).

Fabulosity Reads

Bewitching Blog Tours

As always, before booking a blog tour with anyone, do your research! 


Writing What you Love Vs. Writing What Sells

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When it comes to writing, I generally follow the Toni Morrison rule: “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

That’s why I write the kind of books that I write: southern paranormal fiction and humorous fiction. I generally write the types of books that I would walk into a bookstore and buy.

But there’s another issue here: actually making a living as a writer.

Before I started my publishing journey I was aware of a few things:

It’s hard out there for an author, especially an independent one, without the marketing muscle of a big time publishing company. There’s no guarantee that the book you spent a year, two years, or even ten years writing will ever make a dime.

But there is a genre that seems to be raking in the cash: erotica. In an article titled “Why Boomer Women Are Hot For Erotica E-Books” author Julio Ojeda-Zapata discusses the convergence of two trends: a rise in e-readers (fans can now read these books with anonymity) and a mainstream acceptance of erotica (the success of books like 50 Shades). In fact, in 2012 romance and erotica books raked in $1.4 billion in sales. The erotica book business seems to be a-boomin’.

I recently came across a blog post where an author was saying that the genre she loves the most doesn’t sell well but her erotica titles sell something like 2,000 copies a week (yes, that’s 8,000 copies a month).

After I read that I said to my husband: “I think I’m going to write erotica under a pen name.” And you know what happened? He laughed at me! I said, “What’s so funny?”

He said, “You don’t even like erotica!”

“So?”

“I think you should just stick to what you’re doing.”

I have to be honest with you: I have been seriously considering trying my hand at erotica (under some sexy pen name like Veronica Sizzle) just to see what happens, but you know what? My husband is probably right: I should probably just stick to what I’m doing because a book written without passion is sort of, well…meh. And the last thing I want to do is get outed by TMZ for writing subpar erotica. No, ma’am!

So I guess I’ll just stick to writing what I love and do like all the other authors who came before me: read as much as I can, hone my craft, and hope that with a little dedication and persistence, my writing career will eventually take off.

But it is very tempting to try and write the trend in expectation of getting a huge pay day. Very! So if you ever see a book by Veronica Sizzle, just don’t judge me, okay?

What about all of you? What genres are you writing in? Do you think about book sales when you write? Does what you write just so happen to fall into a genre that’s hot right now?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 

 


Does Color Matter?

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Recently I came across a blog post by author Kenya Wright titled “To have a Black Woman on the Cover or Not….

In the post, Wright talks about making the decision to put a black woman on the cover of her novel, Fire Baptized. She says she got advice from people telling her that if she took the black girl off the cover she would get a bigger audience.

That really got me thinking! As most of you probably know (based on the picture of yours truly here on this blog…), I am (big revelation here) black, as are many of my characters because…well, my family is also black and most of my characters are (sorry, mom!) based on them. And the thought of someone making the decision to not buy one of my books because it featured a black woman on the front? #faceplants.

Wright also says: “…This is what many publishers and authors wonder when their heroine is ethnic. They battle with if readers are really going to purchase a cover with a black woman on it or not.”

I heard about this issue a few years ago when the US cover for Justine Larbalestier’sLiar” appeared. The novel features a black protagonist but there was a white character featured on the cover. The publisher eventually changed the cover—perhaps because it stirred such a huge debate.

Larbalestier vents her frustrations in a blog post titled “Ain’t That a Shame.” You can see the original cover (and read the post in its entirety here). But here is some of what she says:

Every year at every publishing house, intentionally and unintentionally, there are white-washed covers. Since I’ve told publishing friends how upset I am with my Liar cover, I have been hearing anecdotes from every single house about how hard it is to push through covers with people of colour on them. Editors have told me that their sales departments say black covers don’t sell. Sales reps have told me that many of their accounts won’t take books with black covers. Booksellers have told me that they can’t give away YAs with black covers. Authors have told me that their books with black covers are frequently not shelved in the same part of the library as other YA—they’re exiled to the Urban Fiction section—and many bookshops simply don’t stock them at all. How welcome is a black teen going to feel in the YA section when all the covers are white? Why would she pick up Liar when it has a cover that so explicitly excludes her?

The notion that “black books” don’t sell is pervasive at every level of publishing. Yet I have found few examples of books with a person of colour on the cover that have had the full weight of a publishing house behind them. Until that happens more often we can’t know if it’s true that white people won’t buy books about people of colour. All we can say is that poorly publicised books with “black covers” don’t sell. The same is usually true of poorly publicised books with “white covers.”

Are the big publishing houses really only in the business of selling books to white people?

What say you, folks? Do you buy books with people of color featured on the front? Do you agree that “black covers don’t sell?” Does color matter? Is this something you’ve ever even considered before???

And to authors of color: what’s been your experience?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 


Interview with Horror Writer Latashia Figueroa

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When I heard that author Latashia Figueroa was releasing a collection of short stories, I knew I had to read it. I grew up reading a lot of paranormal fiction as a child (R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike), so I knew that her short story collection, This Way Darkness: Three Tales of Terror, was right up my alley. And it does not disappoint!

Latashia was gracious enough to answer some questions about her recent release and writing process. I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to add This Way Darkness: Three Tales of Terror to your Goodreads shelf.  And when you grab your copy remember: leave the lights on!

 

DarkPath

Wrapped in Small Flesh and Bone: 
Robert and Linda desperately want a child but are unable to conceive. Linda will do anything to get pregnant. Robert’s love for his wife brings them to an unconventional decision. They put the miracle of making a baby in the hands of a witch. 

The Alternative: 
After her mother dies from cancer, Lorna Powel realizes she does not just fear death, she hates it. But there is someone who understands Lorna’s disdain for her fragile mortality. He knows because he has been watching her for a long time, waiting in the shadows to offer an alternative to death. 

The Retreat: 
Brad Levee has joined eleven others on a life-changing spiritual retreat that was promised to bring them closer to God. But the charismatic leader, Aleister, has a different plan for his followers that will shed blood. And Aleister isn’t the only one Brad should fear.

 

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, I am very imaginative and I hope that shows in my writing. I worked in the fashion industry for over ten years and then I decided to pursue my writing. I am a thrill seeker (love heights – give me a roller coaster any day of the week), and I am a big music lover.

2. How does your upbringing influence your writing?

You know my mom was the one who encouraged me to write as a child. She worked pretty long hours but I remember leaving my tattered notebook on her nightstand and in the morning she would ask me questions about the story, with enthusiasm. “Keep writing.” She would say. In middle school I did a book report on Stephen King’s book Pet Sematary. I got an “A” and the teacher was impressed. My mom again encouraged me to read what I liked. So, I read books by Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe, Dean Koontz. She didn’t think it was strange that I liked all those dark stories; she just encouraged me all the way. And she still does.

3. Tell us about your latest book and how it came about.

This Way Darkness is a collection of short stories. But what you don’t know is that two of those stories are prequels to upcoming novellas. I started writing “The Retreat” two years ago and it was supposed to be a novel. I got sidetracked with another project. When I went back to writing “The Retreat” I couldn’t focus on the characters. So I stepped away and said, Okay, if you’re going to write these stories, start off small and see where they take you.

4. I am particularly interested in “Wrapped in Small Flesh and Bone.” It’s my favorite story in the collection and I was really intrigued by Rose’s back story and how she came to be, and also, what happens to little Jenny. Is this something that you’re going to explore in another story?

I get that a lot. “Wrapped in Small Flesh and Bone” seems to be a favorite for a lot of readers so far. I’m glad because this is one of the prequels I spoke about. It was fun to write. I plotted the entire story in my head in one day.

Once I began to write the story I couldn’t stop. Rose’s character should have a back story and I am planning something with her character. But right now I am writing about Jenny. What happens to little Jenny, or a better question, what happens to the next unsuspecting person she comes in contact with? Hmm, we shall see.

5. What was your favorite story in your collection and why?

If I had to pick a favorite I would have to say “Wrapped in Small Flesh and Bone.” Creepy kids always makes a good horror book or movie in my opinion.

6. What are your main influences?

I think inspiration can come from something as simple as a quiet house on the street or a little girl riding her tricycle, or a particular music piece. I think writers pay more attention to the details of everyday life. And we should. There’s plenty out there to inspire us.

7. There seems to be a religious thread in your writing. Can you tell us about that?

My beliefs definitely play a big part in my writing. This Way Darkness is really about the choices we make and their consequences. In “Wrapped in Small Flesh and Bone” for example, the protagonist Robert clearly knows that there will be consequences to his actions. He’s anticipating from the beginning and in the end his worse fears are realized. We hear that little voice telling us “No, don’t,” all the time. And we ignore it. We want what we want. Sometimes the very thing we are reaching for can do us more harm than we ever imagine.

8.What are you working on now and when can we anticipate your next project?

I am working on two projects right now. One of them is the follow up to “Wrapped in Small Flesh and Bone.” I’m hoping to have it done by this fall.

9.Do you write in other genres?

I write what I love to read and that is Horror, Paranormal and Thrillers. I do like mysteries as well. At this point I cannot see myself writing a romance novel, unless I throw in a few demon-possessed lovers.

10.Most of us are trying to juggle full time jobs, family, writing, and marketing ourselves. How do you manage to find a balance?

Yes, especially since marketing is a full time job. You just have to set aside a few hours a day; even if it is just one hour. If not, your writing suffers. You become bitter, disillusioned and before you know it you’ve closed your laptop and broke all your pencils. If you really love to write, you have no choice but to write, and you will find a way to make time.

11. What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?

I have a great sense of humor. I can be very silly. I think when you tell people you write horror they’re expecting a certain presence. I love to laugh, have fun. I like being around people and enjoy company. Just don’t piss me off or I’ll chop off your head and throw it in the woods. Well, not really. But I’ll put you in one of my books and have one of my characters do it for me.
Thanks for the interview, Quanie! Here’s to you and much success.

Author Bio:

As a chmy bio pic 3ild, Latashia was told the house she lived in was haunted. Perhaps that is the reason the dark and macabre, the strange and unknown captivates her mind and often refuses to release. Since those malevolent little thoughts constantly haunt her, she has decided to explore them. And although her stories may be disturbing, Latashia assures she is perfectly normal. Her husband disagrees.

This Way Darkness is Latashia’s debut short story collection.
She is currently working on a novella.

Beyond writing, Latashia loves the arts, is a self-proclaimed wine snob and is obsessed with roller coasters. She lives on the east coast with her very supportive husband.

Learn more about Latashia Figueroa on her blog writeofmind.wordpress.com

Connect with Latashia online!