Deatri King-Bey began in the publishing industry in 2001 as an editor for Third World Press Inc., the oldest African-American owned publishing company in the country. Though she supported the nonfiction and literary mission of Third World Press Inc., she found commercial fiction more to her liking. On the fiction side of developmental editing, she freelanced for several publishing houses over the years and has edited for authors such as L. A. Banks, Beverly Jenkins and a host of others. Deatri is also a women’s fiction and romance author. In 2008, her title Whisper Something Sweet won the Emma Award for Best Steamy Romance of the Year. Deatri also writes dangerously sexy suspense with Curtis L. Alcutt under the pseudonym L. L. Reaper.
Deatri is currently the Chair of the Romance Slam Jam Organization, the place for readers and authors of Black romance to meet, is writing, editing, conducting workshops and whatever else she can get into.
The publishing industry has shifted 180° in the decade Deatri has worked in it as a developmental editor and author. The traditional route is no longer the only way to become a legitimate published author, and self publishing is no longer a dirty little secret. As an author, should you travel the traditional or self published route? Become A Successful Author does not tell you to pick one over the other or pit one against the other. Become A Successful Author gives you steps to capitalize on the strengths of both to build a strong brand readers can’t get enough of.
What is branding? How do you grow a large, loyal reader base? How do you break into traditional publishing? How do you publish your backlist? How do you format a book? How do you find your target audience? How do you market your books? It’s all in there and a whole lot more. With the advances in technology, anyone can be a published author, but not all authors are successful. Keep your focus: Increase quality, credibility and visibility of your brand.
Why did you choose to write BECOME A SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR?
Over the years I’ve worked in the publishing industry, I’ve received numerous questions on how to do this that or the other, but from the traditional publishing aspect of things. In Oct. 2010 I released my first self-published title, and within a week my inbox was swamped with self-publishing questions from my traditionally-published friends. I found myself repeating the same information over and over, and decided I need to write a book. Not about self or traditional publishing. Not about how to become a published author. But about how to become a successful author. It doesn’t matter if you go the self or traditional route (I say do both and capitalize on the strengths of each). Next thing you know, I was 60,000 words into Become A Successful Author, which is a how to for the self and traditional paths of publishing.
What are three chapters of BECOME A SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR that are absolutely vital for new writers to read RIGHT NOW…and why?
- Chapter Two: Learn the Craft – Many new authors think it’s just about writing the book that is in them, but there is much more to it. This chapter explains different avenues authors can take to learn the craft.
- Chapter Five: Developmental Editing – All authors need to read this chapter, and I know people will skip around in the book, but I say a few times in the book to go back and read this chapter. This chapter breaks down the elements of fiction from characterization to pace. It gives the reader a foundation to build upon and is a reminder for seasoned authors.
- Chapter 14: Marketing & Promotion – Much of your marketing and promotion need to start before you release your book. This chapter explains everything from finding your target audience to building your loyal reader base.
Let’s talk social media, technology for a minute. Even the cover states, “With the advances in technology, anyone can be a published author, but not all authors are successful.” What do you see as major ways in which authors misuse technology and social media in their pursuit to be published authors?
The main issue I see with authors and social media is some look for quantity instead of quality. I wrote a piece about this a few months ago called: Everybody Loves Me!
You have authors out there whose main goal is to get as many people to “friend” them on Facebook or join them on Twitter as they can. Often times these authors don’t care who the bodies are on their lists. They just want large lists. Same goes for their mailing lists. There are authors out there who add everyone whose email they can harvest onto their lists (without permission). I understand what these authors are trying to do. They believe the more people you have on your lists, the more possible sales you can get when you send out blasts. This is true, but is it the most productive way to spend your time? No. It’s better to have a list of 100 members of your target audience than have a list of 2,000 individuals who may or may not be interested in your work. From that 100 you can continue to build and grow a loyal reader base. From the 2,000 you’ll probably get a lot of “unfriends” and blocks and resent from being spammed.
Remember six months or so ago when authors were adding people to their Facebook groups without permission and sending out emails by the dozens. There was a serious backlash against authors who did that. I know I blocked every author who did that to me, and I know others who did the same. Now authors are adding people to email lists without permission. This has actually been a practice for years, but now that everyone and their dog have email accounts, it’s gotten worse. Authors are turning people off by spamming. The electronic age has made it a little too easy to contact each other.
What are three pieces of advice you’d give authors in regards to using social media tools to brand themselves as authors?
- Take your time to find and build your networks from within your target audience. Your lists will grow slower, but they will be much more productive lists.
- Never add people to lists without their permission.
- Be personable. Don’t just push your book. Let the readers get to know you the person and you should take the time to get to know the people in the groups you join.
How do you see the landscape of publishing changing in the next five years for authors?
I see self and traditional publishing merging even more so. Self publishing will become the “agent” of the industry. I know there are a lot of self-published authors who look at Amanda Hockings and say they don’t need a publishing house. Well, she actually takes her self-published books through the entire process one would go through at a traditional publishing house, many self-published authors don’t so will not have a chance at the same success. This is what I had to say about this subject in an article a few months ago:
“Self-published authors love to point out Amanda Hocking’s success story as evidence of why they don’t need traditional publishing. I like to use her example to show why all authors should go both routes. Let’s break out the numbers. For argument’s sake, let’s say Amanda sold her million copies in one year. At $0.99, that would be approximately $333,000 in royalties from Amazon’s digital services. Wow, that’s great.
With her doing so well, why do you think she signed a traditional publishing deal? Here are a few reasons: James Patterson, $80 million, Danielle Steel, $35 million, Stephen King, $28 million, Janet Evanovich, $22 million, Stephenie Meyer, $21 million in sales last year. Self publishing is the new “agent” of the industry.”
Amanda used self publishing as her “agent” and there are other authors doing the same.I believe once authors grow a large enough reader base on the traditional side, they will leave their publishing houses to go the self-publishing route. Until recently, many of them didn’t understand the importance of growing reader lists and didn’t’ know “how” to self publish or were worried about the stigma attached to self publishing. That’s no longer true. Self-published books in general have a bad reputation, but as individuals, if the author doesn’t take short cuts, their self-published books do not carry that negative connotation.
I’m always big on allowing authors the opportunity to pimp their wares…and although we are doing that for BECOME A SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR, I also know that you are a great writer of fiction. Tell us what you’re doing fiction wise these days. Any good books we need to pick up?
Well thank you very much.
Writing as L. L. Reaper I have a dangerously-sexy suspense called Black Widow and the Sandman: A mysterious illness is killing children in Cuba, and all indicators point to a terrorist organization being behind it. Black Widow, a drop dead gorgeous scientific genius, and the Sandman, a mercenary the likes you’ve never seen, are brought in to do what government and scientific channels have failed to do — find a cure and stop those behind the plot.
It was really nice to have the freedom needed to write this piece and I’ve received fantastic feedback about it. Order Print version from: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Borders, Indie Bound or from my website directly (at a greatly discounted price)
I just released a romance called Santa’s Helper, which is the second installment of the Write Brother’s Series. It’s available as a single title in eBook format or in print with the first installment of the series, Tell Her How You Feel. I’m getting lots of emails about this family and people really seem to love this set of characters. At the end of each novel, I ask for the readers to let me know whose story should come next and that’s been FUN. The print version of both books is available at Amazon.
Tell Her How You Feel: Latifah Azimi discovered “too good to be true” literally meant “too good to be true” the hard way. Lesson learned, she swore never to make that mistake again. Then all too right Austin Write came along, tempting her to believe in love again.
The impossible happened—control freak Austin Write lost control and fell in love. Unfortunately, the object of his affection has good cause to be leery of love and him. With love and affection, Austin plans to show Latifah what they can have isn’t too good to be true but their dream come true.
Santa’s Helper: Marybeth Write is a kindergartner on a mission many deem impossible—to see her dad marry their neighbor by Christmas. To accomplish this mission, she’ll have to go straight to the top—her grandmother and the big guy himself—Santa! A kid’s gotta do what a kid’s gotta do.
Five years ago when District Attorney Houston Write lost his wife to breast cancer, he began going through the motions of life without truly living. Then choreographer Sabrina Ingles moved in across the street and reignited a fire within him he thought was long gone. Now Houston is ready to live again and give his child the mother she deserves.
When Sabrina Ingles’ marriage went down in flames, she swore off relationships and the trouble that accompanies them. But how could she shield herself against the most adorable little girl ever? Marybeth quickly became a part of Sabrina’s heart as Sabrina’s undeniable attraction to Houston grew stronger. Guarding her heart against the type of man fantasies are jealous of has become a full-time job, but she refuses to be burned again.
One last thing—I know I’ve already said a lot YIKES. I have a holiday sale going on until Dec. 31 with discounts on just about all of my books, eBook and Print. Please check it out for some great deals on the great reads: Holiday Sale. I’m also giving away two of my titles on that same page.
One more last thing—SMILE—Thank you soooooo much for having me here today. This was really nice and I truly appreciate it.