Monday, June 27, 2005

It's Official

Well, after a long bout of 'when is the book coming out,' GETTING HERS is finally in bookstores and my first tour stops and early responses have been wonderful.

Wanna thank all the folks who came out to Nubian Heritage Bookstore in Brooklyn to help me celebrate and of course to the folks in Houston, Beatrice Hester and her fab bookclub and for giving me a great kick-off.

Now it's on to Essence Jazz Festival. Sure I'm going for the booksigning and the exposure, but the real truth is that I'm going for the food ... and the drinks!

After that I'm heading out west to sunny California. Can't wait. Hope to have some great pictures to post.

Most of all thanks to all of you for your love and support. If you've read the book, be sure to tell a friend and post your thoughts on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. All the buzz helps!

And if you haven't read the book, its a great summer read!

Thanks everyone

Monday, June 13, 2005

Celebrating My 15 Years!!!

Fifteen years ago this month (June) my very first novel, Rooms of the Heart was published by a small black publishing company--Odyssey Books. I owe the publisher Leticia Peoples so much for having the vision to launch Odyssey Books and for giving me a shot. It was her vision that sparked the African American Romance Revolution.

Little did I know how far that first book would take me (the original is now a collector's item). It has been a wild and glorious ride. The world of writing has opened so many doors for me and allowed me to travel, meet incredible people, make some of my closest friends and live my dream--to write.

But bottomline, I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my readers and fans. I cannot thank you all enough for always being there, buying my books and telling your friends (and don't stop now! LOL). I truly appreciate it.

And what better way to celebrate 15 years in the industry but with the release of a new book!! Be on the lookout for Getting Hers, hitting a bookstore near you.

I looking forward to the many years and challenges to come and I hope you all stay along for the ride.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Black Books and Authors

Excellent article on Black Books and Authors

Staggering Implications of Market Research Results for Black Businesses!

When Anita Diggs of Warner Books wanted to find out statistical information from the data collected about African Americans' buying habits, she realized that the information she wanted was nonexistent. Such a study has never been done in the African American communities and the information given to her had no value to her marketing plan. As a result of this shocking revelation, Anita, with others initiated a study to find out about the buying habits of African Americans. The study has started and is presently in progress and the shocking figures are coming in. Without the completion of this study, other observations have already hinted about the tremendous amount of buying power of the African Americans.
Results: From the figures just attained so far, African Americans spent $300 million buying books and over & $3 billion in buying computers and computer products in the past year. Evidence also suggested that Blacks do not buy books using the bestseller lists. African Americans buy books and products through the recommendation of a relative, a friend or a neighbor. Sixty five percent of books being published by the main stream publishing companies are of no interest to the Black communities according to Anita Diggs.
Value of Research: Many big businesses are able to attain figures of market research done by many independent organizations including the government to design their marketing strategies. When such information is not available, a lot of money is spent to collect such data. The value of this data is very important to sales and advertising managers. Without such information, marketing becomes a hit and run tactic and in most cases advertising money is wasted in a medium that may not be useful.
Scientific information carries the power of predictability of the behavior of consumers. Any wise marketing manager or advertising executive will direct marketing to mirror the results obtained from such research. For example, it will be very unwise to advertise in a newspaper in which Black people hardly ever read. Similarly, it will be a wrong business decision to ignore the buying power of African Americans.
Another interesting information fastly emerging from other observational studies is that the minority pool is getting larger and larger, and will eventually attain enormous economic power. Hispanics are joining hands with Blacks and tapping into the African American market. Some Asians are dissatisfied when not included in the minority pool because being a minority today finally has its value and economic power. For example, the panel discussion about the "Minority Publishers: Where is Everybody?" was sponsored by a women’s group and was centralized on African American issues. If we put all the minority groups together and also included women, then we have a majority with a giant political and economic power!
Implications of Research Results: Years ago African American businesses died in the processes of trying to get the word out since advertisement was and it is still very expensive on the mediums that are more effective. Those Black businesses unable to afford large advertisement money later disappeared into history. Today, things are different because the Internet becomes a giant equalizer against the monopoly created by big businesses. Any online business willing to work very hard with effective low cost promotions can start tapping very deep into the revenues of the market place. It does not take a giant company to develop and maintain an effective website to sell products to people. The most important issue however is to know how to reach those potential consumers in the African American communities. Better still, it is important to know how to get the attention of the buying middle class.
The Role of the African American Newspapers and Magazines: An effective communication pipeline connection must be constructed between the consumers and the sellers to help the Black dollars circulate in the Black communities. Black radio stations are fewer, and radio advertisement is generally expensive for small businesses. Years ago an observational study indicated that African Americans do not easily buy or embrace new products when advertised on Black radio stations except when such a product was associated with an event. Television advertisement is out of the question for small Black businesses except if done collectively in the case of exposition fairs. The only effective pipelines to consumers from sellers are the African American newspapers and magazines.
However, for those newspapers to be empowered in delivering sales information to the Black communities at large, they must be affordable and run parallel reports. For example, a newspaper serving the Black community no matter how small, can follow "a book review" section of the newspaper with a low cost classified or display advertisement section for publishers, authors and bookstores. Similarly, the same thing can be done for restaurants, gift stores, business services and the choices are endless. Such a relationship between the Black newspapers and booksellers or Black businesses will create an enormous economic empowerment for African Americans. It will also deliver valuable information to the Black community while small Black booksellers will be able to effectively tap into the $300 million book market. It was estimated that a Black newspaper with a good circulation can earn an additional $100,000 from each issue. This can be accomplished if a well designed and effective classified advertisement section is included in the paper or magazine and also on the Internet version of the same paper. Internet is very important to help market every newspaper today.
One of the biggest problems for Black businesses is the lack of information or statistical data to help market to Black communities. Another big obstacle is the high cost of newspaper advertisement. African American Magazines with national circulation like Ebony, Black Enterprises or some local magazines with impact into the Black communities can initiate low cost classified advertisements to help promote small Black businesses. It is a win-win situation for everybody. If the Black media and the Black small businesses can enter into such an alliance of helping each other, the future is very brilliant for small Black businesses.
For the alliance between Black media and Black small businesses to work effectively, the media must be ready to deliver the service cost effectively and the businesses must be ready to deliver quality services and products at competitive prices to the Black communities.
Also, the Internet has created an effective and cheaper way to communicate with the Black consumers. Based on market research, an average African American middle class home has one Internet accessible computer system. Black newspapers can now utilize their online websites to market to the Black communities and especially the Black middle class.
Although some business owners may want to worry about competition because of pipeline connections of businesses online. The present evidence suggests that online competition is insignificant for loss of revenue due to a very small number of traditional Black bookstores and websites marketing books to the Black communities. Even the big businesses are joining hands online and constructing pipelines to booster website traffic. Why should small Black businesses not utilize such strategies? The reality is, businesses making huge money selling to Black middle class and within the Black communities are not Black owned. In some situations such services have been detrimental to the Black communities because they took money out of the community and failed to invest within the same locale. Consequently, the big guy is getting bigger and the Black communities are economically dying. This has been the trend before the Internet services came into play. The competition is not between Black independent booksellers compared to the struggle against the big bookstores chains or other big businesses. With the new trend in e-commerce, if the Black newspapers refuse to combine their regular newspaper services with online services and market to the Black middle class, outsiders will retain control of the market and Black businesses will be at great loss. The time to make an impact is the time of a changing technology or changing trend. The time to reach Black and minority businesses and influence buying habits and impact Black buyers is now!
It is important to mention here that the poor Black communities are still detached from online marketing compared to Black middle class whom are already connected and making waves. The digital divide is not a racial issue as it is an economic issue regardless of race. If the Black businesses are able to aggressively tap and control the sales to Black middle class already controlled by the big businesses, this will be of great benefits to the dying inner cities. We see what has happened to the inner cities over the years and there is no evidence to believe the rescue team is coming from the outside into the Black communities. If Black businesses thrive, Black organizations will no longer have to rely on big businesses for sponsorship. They will turn to successful Black businesses to fund programs which will jump start the inner cities. As a result, such economic empowerment will cause the decline of racism of any kind. The central focus of racism is economics. Twenty years ago, there were very few television commercials featuring Blacks. Today almost every commercial on television features both African Americans, Hispanics and Asians. The reason is clear, the big guys with obnoxiously long cigars counting the dollars know where some of the money is coming from and will therefore be unwise not to market to such educated consumers.
Understanding the African Americans economic power and their buying habits will help small Black businesses to effectively aim their marketing strategies. But it will take more than just knowing the facts and figures as much as directing the operation of Black businesses to construct connection pipelines for economic empowerment in joint partnership with the Black media.
Remember a common African saying, "Who cares about what people think , as long as they do not have to feed me?" Economic empowerment of Black businesses can help to disconnect the pipeline of racism. The only reason we worry about being judged by the content of our character and hopefully not by skin color is the dependency on an unfair system. At the moment of economic empowerment, Blacks will seize the control of their destiny, just like other groups have done, at such time, ladies and gentlemen, we will have attained freedom at last!
Article by 'Yinka Vidal, Managing Editor, OUTCRY Magazine
As a result of this article and discussions with some Black businesses, is constructing an online Black Wall Street. The site is currently listing Black businesses FREE in a process of constructing a connection pipeline between Black businesses across the nation and perhaps internationally as well. So if you have a unique product to sell online and do not have a website, list your business name, product, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, E-mail address and a brief description of the product or service for FREE. If you have a business with a website and it can benefit the Black community to know about your product or service, do not hesitate to list your URL with the site at:
In addition to the above, a national calender of events and book signing schedule will be posted. If you have any activity going on in your area or you have a book signing schedule any where in the nation, do not hesitate to send us not more than a half a page press release. These press releases will be posted free of charge. Report by 'Yinka Vidal
OUTCRY Magazine June Issue: Coverage of the Chicago Book Expo
Book Expo Press Report #1
OUTCRY Magazine

The Value of Online Writing Courses

Writers, writers everywhere. Everyone who has ever had a dream about being a writer is tossing their hats in the literary ring. But is your manuscipt the best that it can be? Will it past the critical editoral or agent eye test? Those are the challenges that face all writers; from developing a strong storyline, three dimensional characters, dialogue that sizzles and descriptions that put the reader right inside the story.
Unfortunatly, most writers hold down a day job and a family and do not have time to sit in a classroom to hone their skills. That is where online writing classes come in so handy. There are many too choose from but one that has recently come online and certainly offers all of the basics and then some is The cost is affordable and it offers everything from grammar to finding an agent, self-publishing, character development and more.
If writing is what you want to do, and you want to even out the odds in getting published, this is certainly an online course that should interest you. Even if you are a published writer there is something for you to learn as well.
See you online!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why We Are Where We Are--And How to Get Out

The following is from a post that I submitted to another online group, but I thought that it was worthy of sharing as it talks about the powerlessness of the black writer--no matter how many books we put out there.

I don't chime in much. Mainly because every other time that I do, I am politely informed by Yahoo that I am not a member of this group...sigh... :-( and when I do post I don't get much response. The only reason why I chimed in today was there was all this yipping about folks not making comments etc. and what was this list for beside finding outabout checks and sending out congratulations. I, for one, never thought that's what this list was for. I'm pretty sure that the majority of folks on this list don't have the luxury of all day access to the internet and email, which is the only reason I didn't get too undone when I posed the very question that is being raised here today... and got NO ANSWER from ANYONE AT ALL .

A little over a week ago, I let the group know that I would be speaking with librarians from across the country. The decision makers, the ones who BUY OUR BOOKS... and I wanted to know what are some of the issues that they should be made aware of, things we want, etc. Not a peep from a soul. And ultimately I spoke to them about this very same issue. A room full of white folks on the topic of ... the marginalization of black books. And do you know what the general consensus is? They think that WE want to be separated in libraries and in bookstores. Their customers come in looking for "the black section," and it makes it easier, just like in the bookstores. They were surprised but enlightened to hear that we want to be where everyone else is. (Wow what a novel idea--pun intended) The deal is, the consumer has been programmed over the years, intentionally, to find black books in the black section of the store. Why? Because the publishing industry is of the belief that the only ones truly interested in our books is US. Period. And if you get that crossover, you are just lucky but they have no intention of facilitating that effort. And unfortunately the few black editors that are in these houses taut the same mantra.

It's very true what someone said earlier, it's not that they wouldn't read us, for the most part we never cross their minds. We are invisible, until someone brings us to their attention either through conversation, sharing a book, meeting one of us in person etc. And we will continue to remain invisible to them if we are forever relegated to a "designated" section of the store and library and we don't enter contests and we don't join organizations.

The answer is not necessarilyto spin off and form "the Black Romance Writers." Truth be told, we'd still be in the same position, with the same folks, doing the samething. Cause we cannot attain a position of power if we are continually outside that circle of power. And again, the white folks(who seem to be the target market) will think "see they want to be by themselves."

No, we do not have enough readers to absorb the number of books that are being published. And yes, you will have black readers who won't pick up a black romance but read a white one. Those are the same folks who only shop in white stores, believe the white doctor and feels they will be treated better by white folks. Just like back on the plantation. Same story, different day.

So what can we do? First and foremost you must continue to write quality work. You need to make concrete decisions about your career and the house you are with. Establish a solid relationship with your editor. That is the one who will push you. Go to the conferences, join groups, make yourself visible in some kind of way. What we do is a job. We can get all flowery and say it's something else, but it's a job and it's business. And like it or not, businesses are about making money.Yes, getting paid, a check, where is it? You could be the nicest person in the world but if you are not making money for your business (the publisher), they will find another nice person who can.

Networking is key as well, with each other and others. Sharing information, marketing strategies etc. But at some point we have to move out of the comfort zone of each other and out into the world and beseen. And as quiet as it's kept 90% of writers have a day job, or aloving husband. So don't despair. :-)

Friday, June 03, 2005


As a writer there are moments, days, weeks and sometimes months when we question what we do and why the hell we do it. Especially when the checks don’t come on time, the store doesn’t have a copy of your book, your publicist says no tour, a reviewer trashed your book and your kids are begging you to pay them some attention and you have a deadline looming in front of you. It’s times like those when you just wanna say fuck it all. I can’ t do this anymore.
But then there are days like the one I had yesterday at Book Expo America, held at the Javits Center in New York City. The first day is designated as “the black day”– in the politically correct world Black Booksellers Day.

This was the day in which all the black literati big and small came out to celebrate us, our existence our perserverence and our value to the literary community.

Book publishers, authors of every ilk, publicists, buyers, agents and readers were out in force. Damn it felt good!! Folks like L.A. Banks, Victor McGlothin, Toure, Maryann Reid, Francis Ray, Brandon Massey, Bernice McFadden, Brenda Thomas, Iman (yes the supermodel), Mary Monroe, Gwynne Forster, Mary Morrison, Brenda Jackson, Victoria Christopher Murray, James Guitard, Nancey Flowers (ME) and a whole host of others… the list goes on.
It felt good to know that I could count myself among them, to see friends and share a moment of sister and brotherhood, war stories and triumphs.

To be truthful, I am often at odds with the whole notion of us black folks needing to “have something black” to effectively set us apart from everyone else. But I must admit, it is a sensational feeling to be among your own, to bathe in the glow of our successes and celebrate it in the only way black folks know how–by having a good time!!

Although I was terribly ill (with a helluva cold), I came away feeling revitalized, needing to make a contribution, wanting to be better at what I was doing, wanting to help others to be the best they could be.

Dang… I almost came home and wrote those 250+ pages I needed to finish this book!! Almost. I took a pill and went to bed.

But… I go back on Saturday, for that last shot of literary adrenaline.. I know that will be the one to push me over the mountaintop!