Today is the Day

Patreon-Announcement

Today is the day that launch a new way of getting more books and stories out to you all. I know it’s taken me a while but you can now join my Patreon page (patreon.com/dncwrites) to get everything from unpublished (meaning never hitting this blog) short stories and poems, extra scenes, book previews of my upcoming two books and so much more.

It’s time for me to push myself and my passion so that I can live the fiction writing lifestyle I’ve always dreamt of. There are many roads to get to that dream, most of which take a decade to fulfilled but you know–I’m too ambitious and focused to wait that damn long. I’m working to make it come true now and your support will help to get me there faster and books in your hands sooner.

What I do, the words and stories that I write are not just a “thing” for me. It’s so damn fulfilling that I’m willing to just throw myself out there and see where God points me next.

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Even though it would be so dope to quit my day job and just do this full-time, it’s not realistic…yet. So in the meantime, I giving you all, my passion-fy family, exclusive stories that have been catching dust on my hard drive and real uncensored videos and post about life stuff, just not writing tips, and then, when we hit a goal or two, I’m dropping my podcast!

So as you can see, I’ve listened to your requests and as promised I’ve figured out something that works sooner than later.

Go and visit my page, and if you’re ready, there is already a story, or two waiting for you!

With passion and gratitude,

DNC

P.S. Patreon is for my 18+ years and older family 🙂 You know what that means.

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Hard Facts about Being an African American Romance Writer

I read an article today that resonates so well with my writing journey that I have to share it, vlog it, and just sit on it for a moment.

It’s a #Longread from the Guardian title “Fifty Shade of White: the long fight against racism in romance novels“. The writer of this piece, Lois Beckett, dives right into the past and current issues with romance writers of color; it’s hard to break through when the industry is slow to see that change it needs.

As it stands, when it comes to the Rita Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the romance industry given by RWA (Romance Writers of America), there has never been a black winner, like ever. The first official RWA meeting occurred Dec. 1980 – yep not one winner for the past 40 years. But to be honest, as a black woman, I’m not shocked. I grew up watching black romance books being separated from all the others to fall into an Urban Romance category. Segregation comes in many forms, and that my friend, is one of them. I remember never being able to find them, they were always tucked somewhere in the back, as if a white woman with a flowing dress falling off of her shoulders with a guy raising her leg was so much more sophisticated than a black woman’s eyes or lips.

It was then that I picked up my first Zane book and got lost between the pages. Her words reminded me that the black POV of love and lust were different but still viable for all that read it. Zane inspired me to write my own romance stories, using imagery and words that resonated with my generation and my friends. She gave me the courage to go about this writing journey in my own way.

Fast forward to now, as I continue to push my own voice through my writing and pitch an African American romance, women’s fiction, upmarket/commercial erotic fiction book (it may fall into to some other categories but I didn’t want to go overboard), I’m wondering if there will be a delay in understanding the worth and message behind my words. My romance looks and reads differently, but it feels as good as other romance stories. Can a predominately white industry recognize its value? It’s in Beckett’s article that I find some hope that it will. I just pray that it’s sooner than later…I’m so ready to take this passion on full-time.

Here’s an excerpt from Beckett’s article:

For all this diversity of genre, the romance industry itself has remained overwhelming white, as have the industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony, the Ritas, which are presented each year by the RWA. Just like the Oscars in film, a Rita award is the highest honour a romance author can receive, and winning can mean not only higher sales, but also lasting recognition from peers. And just like the Oscars, the Ritas have become the centre of controversy over unacknowledged racism and bias in the judging process.

Last year, however, many observers felt that this was sure to change. One of the standout novels of 2017 had been Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union, an interracial romance set during the civil war. The book had already won a number of awards and made multiple best-of-the-year lists.

When the Rita awards finalists were announced in March 2018, An Extraordinary Union was nowhere to be seen. A novel rated exceptional by critics had been not even been deemed as noteworthy by an anonymous judging panel of Cole’s fellow romance writers. The books that had beat Cole as finalists in the best short historical romance category were all by white women, all but one set in 19th-century Britain, featuring white women who fall in love with aristocrats. The heroes were, respectively, one “rogue”, two dukes, two lords and an earl.

What followed, on Twitter, was an outpouring of grief and frustration from black authors and other authors of colour, describing the racism they had faced again and again in the romance industry. They talked about white editors assuming black writers were aspiring authors, even after they had published dozens of books; about white authors getting up from a table at the annual conference when a black author came to sit down; about constant questions from editors and agents about whether black or Asian or Spanish-speaking characters could really be “relatable” enough.

Then, of course, there were the readers. “People say: ‘Well, I can’t relate,’” Jenkins told NPR a few years ago, after watching white readers simply walk past her table at a book signing. “You can relate to shapeshifters, you can relate to vampires, you can relate to werewolves, but you can’t relate to a story written by and about black Americans?”

Read the full article.

 

How to Support Your Favorite Indie Writer

As an indie author, or independent author (i.e. I do everyone myself when it comes to the business and writing aspects), I’ve been asked by several people how they can support my journey and other indies. Outside of buying our work, there are several ways that you can support your favorite self-published author. Here are four ways to love on them.

  1. Buy their book, preferably directly from the writer and don’t wait for a discount. One of the hardest things a writer can do is get paid for their craft, directly. When I say directly, I mean without something or somebody taking a piece of the pie (after taxes that is so IRS don’t come after me). Choosing to buy directly from that starving creative guarantees that they see more than 50 percent of the revenue. This may seem a bit confusing seeing that we keep also sell our books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other platforms but to be honest, we have to. Everyone won’t see this blog and for those who prefer to go through a larger distributor, we have to spread our words as far and as wide as we can. But for those of you who are reading this…ditch the big distributor and reach out to the writer.
  2. Leave a review or tell a friend. Another reason we must put our books on large distribution channels is to encourage and streamline reviews. Reviews are one of the most important actions you can take as a reader to support an author. We need honest and specific reviews to encourage others who you can write or even talk directly to take a chance on our book.  Word of mouth changes the game for all companies and it’s the same for indie writers. Pass the word around.
  3. Follow them on their channels, including social media. This is an easy, quick and free way to support your favorite wordsmith. The great thing, and at times annoying feature to social media, is its like/share algorithm. When you follow or like someone’s post, the platform creates an algorithm to share out what you liked or shared with others in your community. In other words, like away and don’t forget to comment.
  4. Give the book to someone who could help. As I stated before, word of mouth is a powerful promotional effort. If you are able to get your favorite author’s words into the right hands, it could change that author’s life forever.

So, help an indie author out. We love what we do and if they are like me, we won’t stop because it’s our purpose.

Don’t have my book but want to read or support? Visit my Passion-fy Bookstore and pick-up Untraditional or/and my poetry collection Like. Love. Lust.

 

Where do I begin: To-dos Before Self-Publishing

So you’re a thinker, and as a thinker you’ve been writing, journaling, doodling and/or drawing. Now, you’ve hit the point where you’ve got a draft together of all your creativeness; something that you’re proud of and wouldn’t mind sharing with the masses. And then it hits you like a brick wall to self-publish your piece.

The idea grows, but what is the first step? How can you self-publish your own book?

Answer: The first step is to weigh if you really want to self-publish or go to a publishing house.

Here are some thoughts to consider when thinking about the world of publishing. This is insight I’ve learned from my own self-publishing experience and what I’ve learned about going to a publishing house through other creatives. Let’s weigh the options in several different categories.

1) Control
Self-pub: Going Indie is a freedom ride. Indie is a cool word to use for creative freedom in the any arena, but we’ll focus solely on writing. It allows you to have the freedom to write what you want, how you want to and make direct decisions on how you will market your work.Which also means that you have to have your hands in everything…EVERYTHING! You find your own editors; you find your own cover designers or do it on your own; you put out any and all messages promoting your book; you choose a book publisher; proof all printing proofs and any other components that you need to launch you book. On the other hand…

Pub. House: Depending on the size of the publishing house, your contract, and the publishing house’s processes, you may only have limited freedom when it comes to your cover, and different aspects of your writing style/topic. Commercial attraction is key for many publishers. A lot of times, just like in any industry, a successful publishing house has a good handle on what audiences like and will more than likely drive you to look at writing in a different angle than where you might have started. Which isn’t a bad thing, just different. And rather than having you hands in any and everything, they will take a lot of that work off of your plate. There are some smaller publishing house that ask you to handle the marketing side (social media, book tours, printed/digital promotion, etc.) while they work on getting your book on larger platforms and om circles you probably wouldn’t have been able to get to on your own.

2) Timing
Self-pub: Your finger is on the launch button. You decided to put it out to the public today or wait until next year. Self-publishing seems to give immediate gratification, at least on the end of finally releasing your work to the world on your time. Maybe not so much on the sales side…but maybe so for both.

Pub. House: There are so many steps that can occur far before a publishing house even gets your work. For 10 years, J.K. Rowling submitted her work to publishers before getting picked up. Dr. Seuss was turned down 27 times before his first book was published. And the mighty James Patterson was turned down 31 times before his first book was picked up. But look at them now—staples in the writing community. Legends for their perseverance and dedication to their passion.

3) Dollars
Self-pub: You pay for it all, which will dictate a lot of what and how you do things. Will you do a paper back or just an e-book? If you do a paperback, will you have an in-person book launch event or virtual? How much money do you have for marketing, because you HAVE to do marketing for your book in-order to get visibility? What’s the budget for editors and cover designers? Oh don’t forget about the copyrighting fee. Don’t get it twisted, being an indie author is a business, and just like most start-ups you’re probably going to be in the red your first year. Be prepared and stay optimistic.

Pub. House: The insight I have on the financial aspect with a publishing house is very little, but I’ll share the little I do know. For some, usually smaller ones, you have to finance any marketing that you do (ads, book tours, printed materials, etc.). And some larger publishing houses you don’t have pay anything upfront, but you don’t see anything until you make a profit. Much like what you see in the music biz…but again don’t quote me on this one.

4) Preference
Self-pub: Sometimes making the choice to self-pub or shoot for a publishing house is just a simple preference. Some self-publishers are creative beasts and refuse to the let anyone take hold of their creative pieces. Much like Chance the Rapper, who just turned down 10 millions dollars to stay an independent artist. For some, the value of being your own boss is worth all the work, stress, hours, missteps and all the other obstacles that may come with self-publishing. I have to agree that by self-publishing my book, I woke my soul. I’ve learned a lot and now I’m able to share that with whoever wants to listen.

Pub. House: For some creatives, the reason to choose this route is simply because they don’t want to be all up in the weeds; they just want to write. They don’t mind bringing in experts to handle all the “logistics” behind publishing the book. The less distractions on how to publish the easier it is for them to focus on one thing only—their words. But this isn’t to say they don’t give input, they just don’t execute that portion.

The Grey Area
Times have changed and self-publishing is constantly changing the writing game. So much so that a lot of writers just release their work on platforms like Wattpad, Kindle, serial writing sites or blogs, and then are picked up by publishers. And then there are those who have been picked up by larger publishing houses and decide to switch to the indie route.

Everyone’s publishing journey is different, but one commonalty that I’ve learned from the stories of various iconic and historic writers in both camps, is that their dedication to their craft is endless; their work ethic is superior; and there’s no one who can take their words away from them. Those words keep them breathing every day and remind them to stay focused on the message that they must share with the world.

As I look back at this exciting past year of self-publishing, I’m so happy I ventured out in that avenue, but now after doing all the work, I wouldn’t mind someone taking the reins now.

I’m a true believe that God is in control of everything, and no matter which route you decide to go, go at it 110%. If you’re like me, you really don’t have any other choice because this journey is what is etched in our purpose and we refuse not to live it to its fullest.