Mildred D. Taylor
Just so you know, I fell for you first. Maybe it’s because that Logan boy and I shared the same name I was birthed with. I mean, back then I had never been to the deep south and I’m sure Stacey Logan knows more about the land than I do. Anyway, I was in 6th grade when we met. You didn’t know it then but you introduced me to black literature and I’m not afraid to claim that title or to separate black writer’s into a category of their own. How could our experiences not be likened to the Roll of Thunder? You were that seed planter for the rooted passion I now carry with me.
You always kept it real so Imma return the favor. You see my eyes hypnotized every young man who lusted for my lil sweet self. All fresh and new and walking all lady like. And then you came knocking at my consciousness like the Coldest Winter Ever but claimed No Disrespect. I’m sure we connected by way of the struggle. You see I was brought up in the Robert Taylor projects on Chicago’s south side so crack heads, rats, and hunger didn’t alarm me. I fell in love with the way you never sugar coated the truth and anyone whose been where we’ve been knows just how real your words are.
How long must the caged bird write before she sings? I can’t credit myself for coming up with that line. You showed me how a poet can use metaphors to write fiction too. Even though your memoir is all truth, your talent transformed it into something that can be considered just as poetic as phenomenal women. Your voice was passionate and strong and thundered like waves of air across the sky. Even in death is your memory, still that uplifting arm rising like dust and written down in history.
Speaking of poetry, ever since I heard you speak I wanted to write for colored girls. You brought me back to those Souljah days with your raw tongue. How it unfolded from the very bottom of your gut and lifted the skirt to every pain black women have endured since the days their slave masters told them that rainbows weren’t enough. You didn’t write the way that I was taught in school, you wrote the way that I spoke. Like when my friends and I crowded around de front porch and ma boyfriend waz whispering quite literally, sweet nothin’s in my ear. And I laughed stupid like “You pretty” was something revolutionary enough to show my privates for.
By the time I got to you my thoughts started to evolve into a wanting I couldn’t put my finger on. My mind had gone from reading for entertainment to studying the books I read. I was on a search for something deeper than cotton fields, magnolia trees, and project rats. By the time you came along I was reading in-between the lines and trying to find that thing called freedom. And I wondered just how deep I had to look for that Tar Baby.
As soon as I found out you were from my home town we bonded. Was real cool like besties from the low end on the South Side. Bonded like 47th Street and State, Bronzeville, or Englewood. You see your lyrics had depth like the deep south you was born in, but had that look about it that screamed Chi-Town. Simple poetry that spoke volumes. You taught me that if I loved him the right way, saw him the way I was supposed to, that a man became more than just a body.
This relationship of ours! I can read you anytime and Lewis will always seem like the same Ray Ray and Pookie we all know. You perfected the art of black family life and character development. Every book I read of yours sends me into that world and I’m just laughing and shaking hands with your people like they my people because they are. I have stayed up plenty of nights turning pages and laughing and trying to figure out just what it means to be A Day Late and Dolla Short.
A Love Letter to the Black Women Writers Who Liberated Me Read the title of an article written by Ashley Gail Terrell, a freelance writer from Michigan working on her first novel. Her post was inspiration for this piece.
I believe there are stepping stones to everything in life. That something that leads and guides us from one place to another so that we can reach the place we’re supposed to be. It can be anything from music, movies, television, people, places, things, and even books. Now, because of choice we do not always see these stepping stones for what they are; do not always notice the impact they are having in the moment in which we experience it and for some of us, perhaps we never will. But when I read this title, I thought back to the writers who I have come to love over the course of time and I began to meditate on how they have influenced my writing. When I was not yet where I am, spiritually, mentally, and physically, these writers (although not just these writers) became valuable launchpads on behalf of my writing today, sparking a flame of passion for the art that I still carry with me.
I’m all about simplicity. To me writing should be fun and all of the talk about business this and business that can be overwhelming and also suck the fun out of your writing life. So today I thought it’d be fun to discuss some not so technical things that you can do easily and go from Author to Authorpreneur.
From the EC Mental Dictionary
“An Authorpreneur (play on Entrepreneur) is a Self-Published author who has turned their work as a writer into a full blown business.
Authorpreneur is a term that is being used more and more everyday. With the explosion of the Independent Publishing Industry, authors are claiming the title to represent their work as serious business people. Below are 8 ways you can join them:
Legalize Your Name
I know that sounds weird, your name is already legal! Right, but here I’m speaking of your business name. Decide on a name for your business. If you write under a pen name, register it as a business. You can file the paperwork easily through Legal-zoom under an LLC, Sole Proprietorship, or S-Corporation (please Google these terms for further understanding of what they are). Or, you can just get a DBA. A DBA is a doing business as name that gives you the opportunity to legally write and conduct business under your pen author name. You’ll be able to set up a bank account to separate your author royalties from your regular income, use a debit card under this name, and even set up a PO Box.
Register Your ISBNS
This means you have to first invest in purchasing a block of your own ISBN numbers. You can get them from Bowker or Publisher Services for your books and register your ISBN with your company name as publisher. This will look more professional as your business name and ISBNS are now connected and will show up on Amazon or whichever platform you use, as publisher instead of Independent Publisher.
Obviously, you probably don’t have a brick and mortar unless you’re a bookstore owner already, but you can set up a PO Box in your new business name. This will make it easier (and safer) to send and receive packages without having to give away your home address. It also looks more professional on your business cards.
Go to Vistaprint or hire a professional print company and print some business cards. On them, use your new business name and PO Box.
Set up a company email address. Gmail is the best email service provider but you can surely use others. If you have a website, your provider probably offers you a unique business email. yoursuper awesomebusinessname at gmail dot com. If possible, use a business email connected to your website such as yoursuperawesomebusinessname at yoursuperawesomewebsite dot com.
I keep saying this and maybe it’s because I’m weird but in my humble but also professional opinion, a blog is not the same thing as an author website. A blog is a blog. Your website is the yourdomainname.com place without the constant stream of posts. It’s a place that showcases your work without any other distractions as a place people can go to purchase your books. It may be wise to incorporate your blog into your site. Setting up a website means you’ll have to register a domain name. The most common sense thing is to register a domain name matching your business name.
Set Up An Inventory System
Using a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet, keep track of your inventory of books. This can also work as a basic accounting system. You can use it as a very simple way to track and record your business finances and products. When you are ready to publish your books, calculate the cost of publishing said book and record this data to go back to. How much is editing? Cover design? Formatting? Print and distribution? Landing page or website? You can use this to save the money you will need to cover everything. Publishing doesn’t have to be expensive but it’s also not free. You will have to invest some money to get this book published even if it’s just a small amount.
Last but not least, set up an email list where you can add the contacts of those who are interested in the business of you. Most people recommend sending emails once a month. I do not think you have to follow this advice. Times have changed and sending an email once a month doesn’t work for everyone. It’s okay to send emails every two-three weeks if that’s what works for you. It also helps to build a relationship with your readers when you are in touch with them on a more consistent basis. A lot happens in a month. Send your emails whenever you have something important to say but monitor them to see if your strategy works.
Yecheilyah is an Independent Author, Blogger, and Poet. She writes Black Historical Fiction, poetry, and books that inspire. Learn more at www.yecheilyahysrayl.com.