Live Chat – 6/19 4pm EST #BlerdBookClub

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Quick update.

I should’ve posted this earlier in the week but with everything being hectic I almost neglected this. I will be a part of a live chat about writing diverse characters and what diversity means in books.

I have been a part of this chat before and I loved every minute of it. It’s an honor to be back on this with some very talented writers. We will mix it up and it will be good times. You can access it on YouTube via the link below and if you are reading this after the fact you can just press play and see what you missed.

 

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New & Improved

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I’m in a great mood. In fact, I’m feeling so great that I will write two blogs today because so many things good things are going on right now. Look around this screen. Bask in the greatness that is the new design of this blog. I like here and hopefully you will to.

Besides the obvious look, what is different is the way I wish to engage people who come to visit this site. First and foremost, I wanted people to be able to order books directly from me. So when you visit The Book of Isabel page, you have a choice of where you want to go complete with prices. I love this change because it gives me more ownership of book sales. Continue reading “New & Improved”

Today is THAT day! #bookfofisabel

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This is the day I have been looking forward to the moment I was done writing the first draft. I can now share with all of you the second book.

First, let’s talk about the some of the challenges. Editing and proofing is never, ever, easy and it took me nine months to complete this phase. I estimated that today, June 14th, would best time for this book to come out and I wasn’t wrong. In fact, I was still correcting errors on Friday.

Continue reading “Today is THAT day! #bookfofisabel”

Here’s the Proof

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Very few things in this process get me as excited as seeing my work in print. I got my proofs of The Book of Isabel yesterday and they look so good. Sure, I have tiny reservations here and there about the cover finish but overall I cannot complain too much.

It feels rewarding to see something like this come to life. I wrote this book about a year ago and when I was done the process of making a book began. I love the cover art. I feel like it looks even better in print than it does digitally. Continue reading “Here’s the Proof”

Inside 30 Days

Life is crazy. Life is crazy busy. My life is crazy busy.

I feel like I just woke up from the haze of spring semester at Barnard College. So many things happening. So many events and so much work. Let’s also not forget that my woman just graduated from The Tepper Business School at Carnegie Mellon University. Life is has been such a blur and yet, somehow, I have found the time to get this book done.

I mean, I wrote this book last year but I’m talking about the other things that need to happen with this novel. The editing and the managing. I’m waiting on a final proof and this book comes out in less than 30 days. Continue reading “Inside 30 Days”

Book of the Month #BlerdBookClub

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I’ve been teasing this on Social Media for sometime now but I finally have a date for my guest appearance on the Blerd Book Club chat. Assuming that you have no idea what I’m talking about, I will fill you in on some details of how we got here.

I joined the Blerd Book Club in December when it was recommend by a few writer and host Thelonious Legend. Because I’m a devout listener to Black Comics Chat (a dope podcast) we ended up following each other on Twitter. Once he found out that I wrote a book, he asked me to join the club because every month they read a new book and I can nominate Hanging Upside Down for any given month if I chose to. Of course I was sold.

12195763_10154008417704040_8527905421711099943_nI nominated the book in January but lost to another amazing book called The Mark of Noba. The second time around proved to be a better result. My novel was chosen as February’s book of the month. What that means is that my book is recommended to the members of the book club to read so that they can gear up for a discussion the following month.

So the following month is now upon us and the book discussion is happening on March 13 at 4pm EST. So how this works that the link below takes you YouTube and on this day I will be there along with some peeps and we will discuss Hanging Upside Down. Even if you miss it, you can watch it anytime after the fact. The hashtag to follow along on Twitter is #BlerdBookClub

It should be a great discussion in which I hope to really get deep into some themes about masculinity and identity. I plan on talking very briefly about The Book of Isabel and my work behind that. I would also like to talk about my on going project of Naked City. Lastly, I plan on releasing the title of the Third Book.

I’m very excited about this and I hope you check it out.

Happy Book Birthday (to me).

HudI can go into this whole thing about what the book is about and how I spent hours upon hours of writing. I can tell stories about how I went through three drafts and had to re-write the ending. I can talk about isbns, self publishing, and the creation of the cover. The thing is, I just don’t want to. I feel that all these things are just to get people excited about a book that came out a year ago.

Instead, I will talk about what it means to be an author. I was having a discussion the other day with a friend a mine and she was telling me that she felt that blogging has become flooded. Everyone wants to blog and if that is the case, does that mean everyone is a writer? I’m not sure I can answer that. I don’t have an MFA. I don’t run writing workshops.

What I do know is that being a writer is something that has defined who I am. I’ve always done it. I’ve always written stories, I just never followed through. Hanging Upside Down is the first real literary work that I’ve followed through on. This does not include research papers, essays, old and new blogs, poems, or short stories that I’ve codified in a nice little folder. The act of following through for me is what changed my status from a writer to an author. It is that act of follow through that has gotten me to finish the second book. I never wanted to be an author of just ONE book.

I’ve enjoyed my rookie year as author. I’ve learned a lot about the industry, about how book sales and royalties work, and I’ve learned how to handle the various amounts of bullshit that comes across my way. I’ve come to respect those who have come before me and those who come out with books almost every year. I find myself enjoying other people’s work a lot more because I can see the little nuances in every chapter while questioning if I would have written some passages differently.

I’ve learned to soak in the successes and deal with the failures and to be honest, there enough on both sides to cancel things out. My measure of success is based on the goals I’ve set for myself. I have never, nor will I ever, base my success on money or fame. Consistency is the only way I can continue to make strides. If I’m constant in what I’m doing the rewards will be far more than I can imagine.

There are some rewards to this. I’ve never said no to anyone who needs advice about writing a book. I feel it is my duty as an author to help writers with their goals. I have a particular interest in writers of color so much so that I have really thought about doing some drastic things. The problem is that I have no time to do anything more than just be a guide.

Lastly, I feel that I need to address a perception that I think people have of authors from my limited point of view in this space. I think there is the perception that because I have a book out that I’m automatically a success in the field. I get the feeling that many people who have not read or bought the book think, I will get to it sometime, he is fine. I say this as a writer of color and not just some self published writer, you cannot simply bypass a product simply because you assume our work is doing well. At the same time, you cannot assume something is not good if we are not mainstream.

Being an author means I’ve joined a community of folks who followed through on their writing goals. I look forward to sharing this journey each step of the way. I still can’t believe it has been a year but pretty soon I will be saying, I can’t believe I wrote a second book.

Paperback Dreams

IMG_8284I would like to think that when one becomes a writer, there are certain goals that is held in higher regard than others. Obviously the first goals are to start and finish a book but what comes after that? I suppose getting a copy on sale would be the next logical step so in this age of digital literacy having my novel being sold on Amazon or on E-book is not that hard.

However, being that I self published Hanging Upside Down and it is indeed my first time, not everything has come easy. I’ve done most of the work myself when it comes to the selling and distribution of this book. There were bound to be missteps along the way but with every mistake came an understanding of the process which ultimately led to a greater success.

Since the book launched in October, I’ve had a series of successes like book signings, book readings, interviews, and great reviews. Through out all this, I felt that there was something missing. I didn’t feel that I was quite where I wanted to be yet.

It’s hard to explain but since the book launch anyone that wants to purchase the paperback version of my novel only has a few choices. There is Amazon, La Casa Azul Bookstore (if you live in NYC), or emailing me directly for a signed copy. The one thing that I wanted from the beginning was for Hanging Upside Down to be sold at Barnes & Noble. That is the dream.

I know that Barnes & Noble represents many things depending on who you are. During the 90’s people can blame them for putting many of the small novelty books stores out of business. Its not hard to see how a movie like You Got Mail gets it’s basic story premiss from this. I’ve come to know this store as I’ve grown more mature. It’s a place to go to and spend hours perusing their shelves or maybe perhaps have some coffee and read a magazine. In my world, this was the place to have your book sold.

As I said, with this being my first publication mistakes were made. In the rush of trying to get this book out on time, I misread some of directions when it came to publishing options. I missed one little check box and my entire dream of having Barnes and Noble sell my novel was put on hold. Of course, I had to settle for selling the novel on their e-reader called the Nook. At the very least, I could say that I was on the B&N Website.

A few weeks ago, I noticed my error after talking to a friend who just put out her cookbook. I noticed that she was already on the B&N website and I immediately knew I did something wrong. So this time I went back and corrected a mistake I made with some distribution items and guess what? A few days ago the paperback is now available on the B&N website!

But what does that mean exactly? The novel is not exactly in the stores, however, if someone were to ask for it at the desk, they can now order it and have it in the store in a few days. What makes this HUGE is that any bookstore can order my novel now. So this makes my job easier when people want to know how to purchase a copy.

I mean, let’s face it, I may not be burning up the sales charts but I am opening up more options. At the end of the day, the novel will be out there which paves the way for book two.

Everything is Marketing

IMAG1225It seems like one of the golden rules in any business is that you need money to make money. Sure, talent helps if you want people to believe in your product but without capital to invest, selling anything becomes an uphill battle.

Of course there are ways around things and that’s usually what Public Relations is all about. I did a brief internship in a Public Relations firm in Syracuse when I thought that was what I wanted to do. I learned about press releases and how to represent clients without blatantly advertising for them. To be honest, I liked it but I was not mature enough to be committed to the work. However, one thing that stands firm is that no publicity is bad publicity so anything I do in the public eye is book marketing.

At the end of the day it’s all about getting my name out there. Sure I can tweet and instagram the hell out of my book, Hanging Upside Down. I can post on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn all day. I know 90% of those people and they know me. The real challenge is to step beyond that circle into a larger sphere. I knew that from the jump.

Let’s be real, if 90% of the people I knew and follow me on all those social websites actually bought and read the book I would be golden. You would probably see me on Huffington Post Live talking about Self Publishing or better yet, I may be on my way to an actual book deal. But truth is, books are hard to market whether you know your audience or not. People will only buy if they see other people buy. Thus I need to market the shit out of my book. lol

That is why I make sure whatever appearances I make that I have my sharpie and an extra book if possible. I think about the last two appearances I made:

SomosI was on NPR last week for LatinoUSA (click picture for link) where I talked about how I identify myself as Afro Latino. It was a great time for me because this is a show that is narrated by the great Maria Hinojosa. While I was not interviewed by her, I did meet her in person. I made sure that I did give Daisy (my interviewer) a copy of my book with the hopes that she will read it and spread the word on how good it is. The best result for me was my book being said on air to potentially 1000 people. You cannot buy that type of marketing.

Branding and Millennial WomenI also moderated this lovely panel last week. Here are four great young women who are doing amazing things in their fields. I know them all from Syracuse so we have a bond that allows us to have an honest conversation about how they are successful. Now, again, this panel was not about me. I never said one thing about my book or how people should buy. However, there was someone in attendance who had a copy of my book that wanted it signed (I had my orange sharpie that I always carry) and another person who wanted to know if had any extra copies.

These are great ways for me to stay true to my marketing scheme without breaking my bank and to be honest, I haven’t spend the money that I really want to on marketing…yet.

So it makes me laugh when someone tells me that my marketing game is strong because I’m not sure it is. If I can get out of the little cluster of friends and acquaintances I think I have a real shot at my goal of 500 sold this year. We will see.

The Point of No Return

110-1964x15382I can’t go back. I’ve pushed myself and this process to a point of no return. Despite any fear of failure that I have, I’m past the point of resignation and it’s too overwhelming to think about.

Every day is a combined feeling of angst and fear. The angst comes the fact that much of this process is a waiting game. I just want this whole thing to be over already. I want to be able to just talk about the book itself and not the process of publishing one. As an admitted over thinker, waiting just gives me room to analyze shit that hasn’t even happened yet. I can think for hours about the number of books I need to sell at a certain price to recuperate my expenses. I can painstakingly think about people rating my book publicly which means I need to prepare for the worst.

Then the fear sets in. The thoughts of not being good enough run through my skull because who in the world would like what I just wrote? I’m sure there are people out there that will hate all 412 pages of this book. The language and the adult situations I present in the book give me a little bit of a pause and I don’t even know why. Did I become a prude at this point in my life or am I afraid that people will see a side of me they never knew existed?

The point is that this book has become very personal to me. I’ve put in a lot of hours crafting a story that I think is worth telling. There is a lot of depth behind the words that I write and my fear is that any of the points that I’m making will get lost in the shuffle of the raunchiness and language that I use.

I’ve read this book six times now. Each time I think about whether I should change something here or there because I’m afraid some family member may not like a word here or an action there. I’ve successfully fought off every temptation to change the book based on how other people may feel. I thank God for those test readers. They survived the book and have given me some hope that this book might just be decent.

But this waiting game is real. I want the book and it’s appearance to be a particular way. I do not want a generic cover. I want something that reflects me and my work. Unfortunately that desire will cost me time and money.

So this is where I am. A point of no return. I can’t go back and say that this book is not going to happen. Shit, I can’t even say that I can go back to being the person I was before I even started writing it. I’m in the middle of my leap of faith. I hope I land on the other side.