Wednesday, March 4, 2020

DIVERSITY VS SEGREGATION

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow author about segregation and diversity.

An an African American author; I would hope that I am being diverse in my writing. I have "black" characters but I also have characters that I have not 'colorized' and hope that people read into it what they want. 

One of my favorite authors, writes an action thriller novel and I always thought his character was black. When I asked him about it, he says. "His character is whomever you want him to be. People have told me that they thought he was white. Others have said they thought he was black. But I purposefully didn't give him a distinct ethnic background. I want my readers to be diverse and telling them the color would not make me diverse."

I found that very interesting.

Talking to other African American authors, they don't seem to know the difference. They want to "write for the black readers." 

That's the difference with me. 

I want to write for ALL readers. I want my audience to be diverse and not segregated. Take for instance a group on FB that is called Mystery Writers of Color. They welcome all people of color. Black, Hispanic, Italian, Indian, etc. 

Imagine what kind of backlash this group would get if it was called the Mystery Writers of White People. They would only welcome white authors. 

Would we (people of color) be offended? Would we demand that they "include" us? Would we ban together and demand that FB delete that account? Would we begin posting that people shouldn't buy their novels because they are segregating other authors from their group?

Is this segregation or diversity? Is it diversity when we create groups for ONLY people of color. What about being called Mystery Writers of FB. How about that? 

Another interesting comment was made to me. Some think that people of color should be given discounted rates for attending conferences because we are "people of color" and might not be able to afford to attend. This same person said that Thrillerfest is mostly white and I pointed out that although it is mostly attended by white authors. They pay their money just like me to attend. Well what about the white authors that attend the same conference and have to pay full price for attending. Should they get a discount as well? 

I asked E. Jerome Dickey why he never attended Thrillerfest. A conference for thriller writers. His words, "they need to reach out to me to attend." 

In what world! I wanted to scream. No one there is big enough to have Thrillerfest reach out to them. Mostly everyone pays for attending that conference. Only NY Times best sellers have publicists that tell them to attend this conference. They push their author out there. Even NY Times best sellers have to pay for a hotel; just like me. Unless their have a mega contract and their publisher decides to pay for their hotel. 

You would be surprised in the amount of times that actually happens. Most of the time, they have to pay for their food. Just like me. Why is he different? Because he's black? Get out of here! If he paid for that conference and the people that run it, do their homework like they always do, then they would reach out to him. 

He is a big name in the African American community but no where else. Why is that? I am not sure why. 

I'm confused. We (people of color) want to be noticed for our writing yet some of us only write to a black audience. 

The very first speaking engagement I had was to a room full of white women for the Chamber of Commerce where I was residing at the time. They were welcoming and very entertained by my novel. Although my novel had main characters that were black, the problems that they encountered were problems that everyone has. Money issues, cheating in a marriage, business issues and wayward teenagers. They didn't see the characters as just black, they saw them as people and that is what I wanted.

My next novel doesn't describe the characters as either black or white. They are simply twins, living their lives and trying to find love. 

What do you think? Are authors of color trying to be diverse or are they segregating themselves by only writing and attending "people of color" events?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

NEW YEAR NEW YOU

As an author you constantly have to stay relevant to your authors.

Are you?

What do I mean by that.

Now is the time for you to begin thinking about re-branding yourself. 

Think about your cover photo. The one you took five years ago and have never updated it since.

Think about your bio. The one you wrote five years ago and still use today.

Are you saying that you haven't changed at all? Are you saying that your bio is still accurate and that the photo on your website or book jacket is still you? 

I know that I have changed a lot in five years. I have more grand children. I have gained a little more weight and my appearance has changed. 

I am constantly trying to re-brand or update myself.

Every author should do that. 

EVERY YEAR.

I met an author who said we had met before. Ok, I took her word for it but I didn't recognize her. I go home, pull our her book and holy smokes. She was correct. We had met; even took a lot of selfies together but she looked nothing like I remembered her. I checked her website and the woman that I met was still there. The woman I met in person was not her.

Would her fans recognize her now? She hadn't gained weight. Instead she had lost it and all of her features were different. Why didn't she update her website? Why didn't she let her fans know of her new look.

I think many of us put up our website, FB page or Twitter feed and forget about it. Sure we change the content but we don't update the most important part. We need to update ourselves. We need to change that picture as often as we change the content.

What do you think? Do you still look exactly like you did at that first book signing you did. Do you still have the picture of yourself five years ago on your website. 

Why not take the time this month to update all of your pictures and bios. 

I know I am.

Keep writing because I am. 

Monday, December 9, 2019

NOT ENOUGH NETWORKING

Authors have a very difficult job to do.

First we must right a novel, then we have to edit the novel. After that we have to approve a cover, write a synopsis (which is harder than you think) and then we have to begin marketing the novel. Then we have to come up with an elevator pitch. (more about this later)We must do all of this BEFORE the book is even out.

Then we must network but that is the hardest part.

You would think networking would be a great thing to do but it is not when you are only networking with other authors.

This is not something you want to do a lot of. Sure you want to network but who is your audience. Other authors? Sometimes. But most of the time, your audience is your readers.

Are you networking with them? Are you going where they are? Are you showing up at an event thrown by a friend, not as the guest but as the "celebrity" making a "guest appearance"?

Sounds corny, right?

But think about it. 

You get invited to a Christmas party. You go because you are supporting your friend. Once you get there, find out if there are readers there. How do you do that? Ask? duh! If there are a lot of readers, say about half of the crowd, pull the hostess to the side. Ask them if they wouldn't mind introducing you as an author and allowing you ONE MINUTE of their time to introduce yourself and your novel (elevator pitch) . 

Keep it to a minute because the party isn't for you. Even if you don't have a lot of readers in attendance, you may still be able to make a sell because they know someone who loves reading. 

Networking with fans is way more important than networking with authors. Why?

Some authors feel you are their competition and although they will be 'happy' for you, they aren't going to buy your novel and spread the word about you if they feel you are taking their potential sales. 

Instead, you need to network with people you are trying to reach. After all you wrote a novel for READERS, right?

So get out there and begin networking with READERS. They are you audience and remember use every opportunity to tell at least one person that you are a published author. 

What do you feel about networking? Do you do it a lot or is that "not your cup of tea''?

Let me know on my FB page or tweet me @bswanginwebster

Thursday, October 17, 2019

LIFE KEEPS INTERRUPTING ME

I have been MIA since May. My goodness where did the time go.

It's already the middle of October and I am not anywhere close to my goal of blogging every single month.

Well, life keeps interrupting me.

Social engagements, sickness and writing has pulled me away. I guess that is a good thing; especially the writing part.

That's not an excuse; its just my reality.

Well at least I haven't been daydreaming or binge watching my favorite "Chicago" themed shows.

So, my novel is finished. It is with the editor.

My business is going very well.

My tiny house is moving forward, at a snails pace, but still moving forward.

What has been happening in your world? 

Please keep up with me on my social media pages and if you don't see a blog from me next week; leave me a message on my FB author page.

Sometimes I just need a little nudge. 

Who am I kidding? 

I need a push and a shove!

Keeping reading and I'll keep on writing. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

DON'T DO IT

Yesterday I was at a marketing event and as usual there was a business card exchange.

You exchange cards and hope to make connections with the people there and hope that they reach out to you.

We were told, in one session to get up and give a 30 second 'pitch' and I nailed it.

Being an author has helped me tremendously with being prepared. 

The speaker commended me for three things.

1. I had on a shirt with my name and company on it
2. I had business cards available
3. I knew how to give all of the right information

He called others up to do the same thing and I noticed a few things about them. They didn't have an elevator pitch, they didn't have business cards and they didn't have anything that said who they were or even their business name on it.

Now this goes for everyone. Please pay attention.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy those cutesy, odd shaped business cards. Why?

Well I received two of them and they didn't fit inside of my business card holder that I keep for such events.

I had to toss them into my purse; and if a lot of you saw the inside of a purse; you would understand.

Not only were they not the standard size, they were also very odd shaped. One was a perfect 2x2 square and the other was a 3.5 x 2.5 rectangle. 

While they did look nice; I lost interest immediately. Sorry but it's just me. 

If I have to find a spot to put your business card; chances are I am not going to ever remember where I put it or if I will ever find it in my purse.

Also, please make sure that the information you put on your business card is accurate. The perfect square business card will be trashed. Here's why. The company website; when typed in, doesn't work. The email bounces back and the FB and Instagram pages that are listed has only 3 photos of random people and no title or information about the person or company on it.

Not a good way to do business wouldn't you say. 

So when going to an event; please make sure to have a REGULAR sized business card and also order business cards in small batches. That way all information will always be up to date and you don't have to worry about being tossed in the bottom of someone's purse or worse, being thrown away because nothing on the card works.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

WHAT TO DO NOW?

Now that you have gotten your taxes out of the way, what to do now?

Now, you sign up for those fall conferences to make sure that you get on panels or are able to speak or moderate.

Why now?

When you sign up early, you are almost guaranteed a spot on a panel, to be a moderator and may even be asked to give a keynote speech.

What could be better than being a speaker and being able to sell your novel or your works while doing something that you didn't think you could do.

I'm just getting back into the swing of things but my conference schedule includes the Creatures, Crimes and Creativity conference in Columbia, Maryland.

If you need to see what I am talking about; please follow this link. #MDC3Con is the hashtag that paid registrations can use to be entered in a chance to win a fabulous prize. They also have the opportunity for authors to raise money for the literacy program in Howard County Md.

How? By asking authors to put together a 'reader basket" that all attendees can buy tickets for and win some great prizes.

Yes, we do more than just write; we also give back to our community.

Are you signed up yet? Gasp, you're not? Well it's not to late. 

Meet me there and I promise we can share a drink, some stories and you will get a look at my newest novel.


Monday, March 25, 2019

DISCRIMINATION IN THE WRITING WORLD

At some point we have all encountered some form of discrimination.

As a writer, sometimes authors of color find themselves fighting discrimination of another kind. 

We have our own section in the book store. We have our own section but why? Some authors think this is a good thing but I don't.

My writing should be listed and shelved with every other book in the store. My book shouldn't be singled out because it was written by a black author. 

Yet, we aren't shelved with other books. We have to have our own section. This is a form of discrimination. Plain and Simple.

Our books are priced higher than books in the same genre as white authors. Our books are marketed to a specific audience but why does this have to be?

If you write romance, why can't your book be listed with the other romance writers? If you write mysteries, I shouldn't have to go to the 'black' section to find a black author's book. It should be under "Mystery" like all other books.

Not only do we face discrimination in the bookstores but we face it when we are asked to be on panels at writing conferences. Why am I on a panel with all black authors instead of on the panel with authors discussing the writing style of mystery or romances. 

Some of us are making great strides in breaking the stereotype. Cerece Renner Murphy, is an african american woman author of Sci-Fi and she is taking that world by storm. In part because there is not a black sci fi section in bookstores and because she puts herself out there as being one of the best woman writers of Sci-Fi. 

Make no mistake about it; there are a lot of black authors making a wave in the author world but not enough of them are getting the recognition that they deserve. 

Why is this? Because mainstream is not seeing them. Why? because they are shelved in the 'black' section of the book store. 

Next time you go into a store; make sure you check out my theory and while you are at it; make sure you check out the price of the books. 

That might also surprise you.