|Posted on January 6, 2017 at 6:25 PM||comments (0)|
Will Facebook Live and Periscope be the Death of the Church…The Kim Burrell Saga
By Tracy Darity
Something funny happened the other night. I was unfriended and blocked by a preacher on Facebook. It went something like this…He made a post to the effect that in light of the Kim Burrell incident people need to know how to contain their content. I replied that if it can’t be recorded then it shouldn’t be said. He responded asking me to see the post in the context in which he was writing. Fair enough. He then indicated that only the church’s media people should be recording and that is how it’s done in his church; and went on to say that in mega churches like The Potters House (Bishop TD Jakes) they have signs that indicate no cameras or recording devices allowed. My reply was two parts because I missed the Potter’s House part when I first read the response, or he added it after I replied. Part 1: “Can you really stop people from recording in the church because everyone is doing it. Plus, I remember watching a Youtube video where Pastor Charles Jenkins was performing at a COGIC event and there were at least ten clergy with their cameras out recording him from the pulpit. But that’s a conversation for another day.” Part II: “I watch services at The Potters House every Sunday and you can see people recording with their phones.”
If you know me, I rarely get into in-depth conversations on Facebook posts. I’m like two replies and I’m out. So I was watching a video someone posted when I received a notification that the preacher man had replied to my comment. I finished watching the video and decided to see what he wrote, well low and behold he had unfriended and blocked me. I was like wow, if that’s all it takes to ruffle your feathers I would hate to be a member of your church. Now I will be honest, my blog was going to be called “I can’t stand tender-toed narcissistic negro preachers,” because there was other things I wanted to say about this particular “man of God.” Instead, I decided to focus on what he was trying to articulate in his Facebook posts and subsequent Periscope videos regarding Kim Burrell’s sermon. Yes, every day he has talked about this issue.
I am not a true fan of Kim Burrell, nor do I follow her career. If this preacher had not made a post on his Facebook page about the now viral video, I never would have known anything about it. Actually, by the time he initially posted about it the video had been removed from Facebook. I was able to watch her two follow-up videos before they were removed and I finally saw the actual sermon in a Youtube broadcast addressing its content. Since then, a few pastors have done Periscope videos stating that although they agree with what she said, they feel her delivery has hurt the church. I’m not sure what that is supposed to mean, because I can think of a whole bunch of stuff that is hurting the church and most of it coming from within its four walls.
Anyhoo, Mr. Preacher Man who blocked me on Facebook, turned around the next day and invited his followers on Periscope (which included me) to watch a scope, in which a female pastor was addressing the aftermath of the Burrell video. He then hosted his own scope afterwards, whereas, part of his conversation mirrored the lady preacher’s content.
In essence what they were saying is that preachers or anyone in the public eye has a duty to control the content that he or she is putting out because you don’t know how that content will be used later on. In addition, they were saying that only one person should be in control of recording sermons and conferences and this person needs to be someone that the pastor knows personally and can trust. Also, the pastor has full control of what is being recorded, captured, streamed, etc, and can order people to put away their phones and other recording devices. Last, preachers should not go into other churches or conferences and preach on sensitive topics. Those should be reserved for their congregations only.
First, I agree that public speakers, regardless of profession, have a duty to protect their image and control their messages. Second, the majority of churches these days have a media ministry. I agree it should be someone who’s trusted and has the church’s best interest at heart. However, I think we all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. At the church I formerly worked at, one of the points of contention that the pastor refused to deal with effectively was the director of the media ministry intertwining his private photography business with church business. He uses church video to promote his business, places his logo on photos taken at church services and functions, and even charges members to create videos for funeral services. So with that lack of integrity how do you hold the members and visitors accountable? On the third point, I think the church can ask people not to record, but how do you mandate it without becoming a distraction or disrupting the service. Do you have ushers take the phone or tablet after the second warning? Do you have security escort the person out? Does the preacher stop his sermon to call people out for recording him or her?
Now I for one have recorded at church to get footage for the church’s social media and it is very awkward and can be annoying as both the recorder and as someone trying to enjoy the service. I also am that person that wants to scream put your tablet down, the video of the dance ministry will be posted on Youtube in a few days, or you can purchase a copy of the sermon for $5.00. However, I know it’s pointless because people are going to do what they want to, regardless if there is a no recording policy or not. Hell, I was at a Jill Scott concert recently and security was ripping and running the entire show asking people to stop recording…and yes, I was one of them.
On the last point regarding only preaching certain messages to certain audiences I have a problem with that. It goes back to the whole don’t say it if you don’t want it heard. In his Periscope from yesterday, the preacher implied that legal action is going to be taken against the person that recorded Ms. Burrell’s sermon and posted it online. I am a firm believer that you should say it like you mean it and stand firm in what you believe. Not everyone is going to like it or support it. The fear of losing money and endorsements should not be a silencer if you truly believe in your message. The thing with social media is that people all over the world are following preachers, that’s the benefit of live-streaming. So if I am in Florida and I follow a pastor from California and he comes to my area, I am going to see him so I can experience first-hand what I see online. Not some watered down version that has been tailored for specific guests…maybe if you’re going to the White House, but not if you’re visiting another church.
So what say you on the topic of not allowing people to live stream or record in church services? Do you think churches can stop people from live streaming? Do you live stream in church? If your pastor is going off in left field would you stop the video or keep it going for the world to see? More important, do you think people need to put down their phones and tablets and simply enjoy the activities they attend?
Let’s get the conversation started, leave your comments below, like and share the content.
Love & Blessings,
Tracy L. Darity is the author of three novels, He Loves Me He Loves Me Not!, Love...Like Snow in Florida on a Hot Summer Day, and The Red Bear Society. Available in print and e-book. To learn more, visit www.TracyLDarity.com or Amazon.com
|Posted on March 22, 2016 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
Digital Doping seems to be the phrase of the day when it comes to the latest innuendo surrounding the ease in which people are making tens of thousands of dollars off of loopholes in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited KENPC model. Just check-out these graphics allegedly from the royalty report of a 15-year old who claims to have earned over $70,000 by taking advantage of weaknesses in the KENP system.
For those reading this post who are not familiar with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU) program, per Amazon’s website “it is a service that allows you to read as much as you want, choosing from over 1 million titles and thousands of audiobooks,” that allows users to “Freely explore new authors, books, and genres from mysteries and romance to sci-fi and more. You can read on any device. It's available for $9.99 a month and you can cancel anytime.” The KENPC (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count) is the model Amazon uses to pay authors for downloads of their work via the KU program. Previously, authors were paid roughly $1.30 every time their book(s) were downloaded. This royalty varied by the month based on different variables. Under the KENPC model, authors are now paid by the number of Kindle pages read. These pages are not your typical book page. For example, my novel He Loves Me He Loves Me Not! is 435 pages in print form, but is about 1200 KENPC pages (Amazon continues to tweak the formula for calculating KENPC page counts causing this number continue to change), so every time someone reads my full novel via KU, I earn approximately $4.24 per book. Yes, that equates to less than ½ a cent per page read.
Back to the digital doping saga…It has been speculated for some time that it is very easy for unscrupulous individuals to scam Amazon when it comes to self-publishing on their Kindle e-readers. Over the years authors have claimed to have seen their books stolen and a new cover and author name slapped on the front. There have been scandals involving fake reviews, whereas author’s devised a scheme to get 100’s of reviews that ultimately boost the placement of their books. The idea being, the more visible the title the more likely someone is it give it a try. Now the latest is the accusations that scammers are uploading Kindle books loaded with bogus content (to the tune of thousands of pages), placing a link in the front of the book that encourages readers to click on it, which sends them to the last page of the book. Amazon then considers all the pages read and pays the “author” accordingly. So what does that link say that would encourage someone to click on it? It’s simple, offer something for FREE.
It’s a complicated ruse that author, Selena Kitt, has so eloquently laid out in her blog SCAMAZON – Amazon “Kindle Unlimited” Scammers Netting Millions. Give it a read and let me know what you think. Can a company of Amazon’s size, be this easy to get over on?
Peace & Blessings,
Tracy L. Darity is the author of three novels, He Loves Me He Loves Me Not!, Love...Like Snow in Florida on a Hot Summer Day, and the Red Bear Society. To learn more, visit www.TracyLDarity.com
|Posted on November 10, 2012 at 6:20 PM||comments (0)|
Are writers selling themselves short by only publishing in eBook format? Don’t they realize physical books still net billions of dollars annually? (See Stats) There also seems to be a huge misconception that everyone who owns an eReader only reads eBooks. Some eReader owners never read eBooks, while others read in multiple formats. There are even people out there who received eReaders for Christmas simply because it was on the list of the hottest technology, not because it was on their list.
;In my last blog I briefly mentioned a woman at a recent festival who only published in eBook format. The scene was something like this…Imagine white-tented booths lining a city block on both sides. Most are filled with books on display and authors happy to place one in your hand, while offering literature as a later reminder or to share with a friend. As you stroll along checking out the titles someone calls out to you, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I have several eBooks out, do you own a Kindle or Nook.” Since we are at a book festival, 9 out of 10 responses are a polite no, as the person strolls by. For the one person who stopped to see what she was offering, they seemed as surprised as I was that she didn’t have anything to share about her books. No postcards with a synopsis, no excerpts to hand out, not even a computer set to her website or Amazon.com so the potential customer could download the book at that moment. Just, here is my card and you can look me up when you get home. Now I’m not saying being at the festival was a horrible idea, but it definitely wasn’t one that was well thought out.
Here is another odd experience with an author that only publishes in eBook. I received a web inquiry from my website; an author was asking if I do book reviews. On occasion I do, but mainly for books I purchase for my own reading enjoyment. We begin an email exchange and she asks if I have a Kindle or Nook, so she can gift me a copy. I let her know I do not read eBooks, to which she responds that’s the only format the book is available. Sigh, “Well I can’t help you.” Her next response is she’ll email me a PDF. Uhm, wouldn’t that be equivalent to an eBook…almost? But what she suggested next pretty much sealed the deal. If I didn’t want to read the book on the computer I could print it out and read it. Right, I’m going to waste my ink and my paper to print your book so I can write you a book review…and what’s in it for me, again.
Was she serious? I’m sure she was, but my advice to her was to take her PDF and her book cover over to Createpace.com, or a similar service provider, and make it available as a physical book. It wouldn’t cost her a penny, the book would be available on Amazon and other online outlets; and best of all she could create a web-store on their site and sell her books directly, reaping a bigger profit. She would never, ever, ever, have to order a copy of the book after the proof purchase, unless she wanted to sell them at a festival, at a book signing, or, have some on hand just in case. Hey, it happens for me all the time at the gas station, grocery store, etc.
There are many changes in the publishing industry, but trying to eliminate the physical book shouldn’t be one of them. Indie authors are already towing a heavy line trying to get readers to give them a chance; so why make it that much harder.
Peace and Blessings
|Posted on October 28, 2012 at 1:20 AM||comments (0)|
Last weekend I participated in the 20th Annual Times Festival of Reading presented by the Tampa Bay Times and University of South Florida, and once again I encountered authors and others in the publishing industry behaving badly. Let’s just get to the point of this blog. When people pay their money to participate in an event as a vendor they are there to promote and hopefully sell their books. This is not the time for you to post-up outside their booth to network, socialize, promote, or debate about books.
If you are not sure where I’m going with this, let me point out a few things you should not do at a book festival.
• Do not distract the author from interacting with a potential buyer
• Do not try to pitch your book or other services to the author
• Do not try to tell the author about the horrible experience you had at the event in prior years
• Do not try to steal potential customers from the author, especially when the author is still speaking with the person
• Do not lay in wait to approach people who have just purchased a book from an author who writes in the same genre as you
• Do not confront authors or try to lure them into philosophical debates regarding the content of their books
Here are a few of things you can and SHOULD do.
• First and foremost, rent a booth at the festival and let people see that you are serious about your business
• If you want to share with another author, before or after the event ask for their business card and let the person know that you will be in touch
• If you want someone to support your work, try supporting theirs first
It’s really that simple. I’ve said it before and I will say it a million more times if needed, we are NOT in competition with each other, the business is not a dog-eat-dog affair. Millions of books are sold every year, and readers buy numerous books. The goal is to make yours stand-out and part of that is being someone the reader wants to support.
For more on my experience at this year’s Festival of Reading, click here.
|Posted on September 29, 2012 at 6:40 PM||comments (0)|
In 2005 Paul Ruditis wrote a book titled Rainbow Party. It is a fictional account of a high school sophomore who decides to host a party, where girls dun a different shade of lipstick and when the lights go out they perform oral sex on random boys. When the lights come on the boys compare their penis’s to see who got all shades of lipstick. In the book the party never takes place because the father of the guy throwing the party, returns home early. The book caused a stir and was ill-received by parents who were appalled that someone would write such a book in the name of educating kids. At the time the book was released no one was really sure if rainbow parties actually existed.
Fast forward to 2012 and Rainbow Parties are definitely a reality, among other unsafe sexual activity among youth. Several daytime talk shows have covered the topic, with no trouble getting promiscuous teens to admit having participated in one or two, of having known someone who has for sure. Many parents and adults don’t want to believe that this type of behavior exists or that their kids could be involved. The truth is there are a lot of otherwise good kids partaking in questionable and risky behavior that can have a devastating affect on their young lives.
Earlier this year I released a novel, the Red Bear Society. It is fictional story centered on the lives of several teens at a highly acclaimed high school that touts an International Baccalaureate, and medical program, located in a predominately black neighborhood. A major accident leads to a blood drive that reveals shocking secrets about the diverse population of students, and its administration. Check-out this excerpt and then pick up your copy of the Red Bear Society to see what else these kids get into and what happens when it is all revealed. Readers around the country have started open-dialog with their teens after reading this compelling story.
“So will I see you tonight?” Xavier asked Mallory. The two had been talking for several weeks and he was ready to move things forward. They were coming to the end of the school year and with several football camps to attend over summer break; he needed to know where things were headed between them.
Mallory debated if she should share with him her true plans or say she had to attend a family function. She really liked Xavier but wasn’t sure if he would be down with what her and her friends would be doing later that night.
“Why the hesitation?” he asked. “I thought you wanted to get to know me better.”
“I do,” Mallory began. “It’s just that my friends and I are going to a party and I didn’t think it would be something you’d like.”
“What kind of party? Will I know anyone there besides you?”
“You probably know everyone who will be there.” Mallory replied as she picked through a stack of t-shirts neatly placed in her dresser drawer by Mrs. Ruiz, their housekeeper.
Xavier wondered if her reluctance was due to his being black. He had dated white girls before and aside from the black girls at school, it was never an issue. Mallory was the one who pursued him so he didn’t understand her reservation.
“You can come if you like,” she finally said, placing the call on speaker as she pulled the t-shirt over her head. “But come alone.”
Mallory watched the door for the better part of the night. Part of her wanted Xavier to come but a bigger part didn’t. There were at least twenty kids in attendance. Most were students at Johnson White High School, which was to be expected since it was being hosted by Kevin Albritton, a student in the medical program at JW.
“Hey Mal, who’re you looking out for?” Carlie asked as she handed Mallory a red plastic Dixie cup filled with a mixture of punch and Vodka. Mallory and Carlie had been best of friends since meeting at teen camp, Mallory’s first summer in Florida.
“I invited Xavier but I’m not sure he’s going to come. It’s kind of a long drive from St. Pete to East Lake.”
“Xavier? The Xavier, are you kidding me? You told him what type of party it was going to be?” Carlie couldn’t believe it.
“No, I just told him some kids from school were having a pool party. Now I’m regretting it.”
“Well hopefully he won’t show. Come on, let’s dance.” Carlie pulled Mallory to the center of the room as Katy Perry’s; I Kissed A Girl, flowed through the speakers. Other girls joined them as the boys in the room began chanting, “Kiss, kiss, kiss.”
Outside, Xavier debated if he wanted to go inside. He’d heard about the parties that some of his classmates hosted and he wasn’t sure he would fit in. The drinking and drugs wasn’t something he was into, but the other activities he was curious about. He thought about Mallory and as much as he liked her, if he walked in on her doing something crazy his feelings might change. As he approached the door he could hear guys chanting the word kiss, over loud music. He recognized the song and a visual formed in his head. Smiling, he rang the doorbell several times but no one answered. He decided to turn the doorknob. The door opened, and he entered.
“Xavier, my man, what’s going on?” Kevin asked, greeting Xavier as he approached the entryway of the den. “Hey everybody, look who’s here, it’s Xavier Jones.” the room erupted in cheers.
Mallory stepped away from Carlie and ran over to Xavier. “I’m glad you came, can I get you something?” she asked.
Xavier scanned the room. Everyone looked wasted. There were liquor bottles strewn about and white dust on a coffee table; residuals of cocaine, he surmised. He looked to Mallory to see if she too was high. She seemed to be okay, but when he bent down to kiss her he smelt the alcohol on her breath. He was immediately turned off. “Maybe I should get going,” he blurted out. Mallory was hurt.
“So, Xavier, you and Mallory hooking up?” Kevin asked as he handed Xavier a red Dixie cup full of spiked punch.
“We’re just talking. No thanks,” he added as he handed the cup back to Kevin.
“Hold up,” Kevin chuckled as he took the cup and headed into the kitchen. He returned with a bottle of water and two different types of soda. Xavier smiled and grabbed the bottle of Sprite. Kevin placed his arm around his shoulders and guided him through the den to a large leather sectional.
It only took Xavier a few minutes to begin feeling the effects of the tainted soda. The room was suddenly hot as an oven and he could feel the sweat beads rolling down his face. Someone was tugging at his pants. He looked down and could have sworn it was Kevin.
“Kev, Kev, man what chu doin man I don’t roll like that,” Xavier slurred.
Scanning the room to see who was looking, and who could come to his rescue, Xavier noticed everyone was naked but him. The guys were on one side of the room and the girls on the other. Everyone was laughing and giggling but him. Mallory finally came over and pushed Kevin away but instead of pulling his jeans back up she finished what Kevin had started. His penis being swallowed by her mouth brought an abrupt end to any thoughts of continuing his protest.
Xavier was awakened Thursday by his cell phone vibrating in his pocket. He looked over at the clock. It was almost three in the afternoon. He jumped out of bed and headed to the bathroom. Glaring into the mirror, he didn’t even recognize himself. Blood-shot eyes stared back at him as he inhaled the foul odor that was seeping from his closed mouth.
“Damn Zee,” his younger brother Maurice said when he saw him. “Man, you rolled up in here after two this morning. I had to get you out the car and up to your room before mom got up. I don’t know what kind of shit you was on but man, you need to check that.”
“I guess I should say thanks. I can’t believe I missed school, why didn’t you wake me?”
“Cause you was wasted. Man take a shower and brush your teeth, you smell like straight-up pussy.” Maurice waved his hand back and forth in front of his nose as he closed the bathroom door and headed back to the living room.
Xavier turned on the shower and as he waited for the water to heat up he brushed his teeth and gargled with mouthwash long and hard. Next he peeled off his clothes and tossed them haphazardly towards the hamper. Reaching for his member to urinate he blinked in confusion at the psychedelic maze covering his shaft. He looked down at his discarded clothes and saw the same mass of colors in the crotch of his white boxer briefs. He jumped into the shower and began to scrub himself clean. A half hour later he sat in the tub trying to recall the night before but it was pretty much a blur.
After dressing, Xavier checked his phone. There were several alerts for picture messages. He opened the first and it was of the girls at the party. They were all bunched together smiling, and wearing various shades of bright colored lipstick. The next was of Mallory crouched down between his legs. The pictures became more graphic as he clicked through each one. Suddenly, he felt sick. The underwear, his stained penis, the pictures, it all made sense now. He’d heard about it at school, the rumors about the parties, but he never imagined Mallory would be someone who would do something like that. The alert sounded on his computer. When he opened his inbox it was flooded with emails, all with the subject, Rainbow Party.
Readers alike agree the Red Bear Society is a must for teens and their parents…
“I picked up The Red Bear Society thinking I had a good understanding of what it was going to be about…Darity turned the story into something more. Subjects such as teen pregnancy, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, drugs, sexual abuse, self-esteem, peer pressure and HIV/AIDS are tackled and addressed. Through a fictional story that readers can enjoy and even relate to, Darity delivered a strong and informative message. Johnson White High School could be any high school, or even any middle school, in any city in any state. Its relevance is timely.” ~OOSA Online Book Club~
“I must say, I have never read anything like The Red Bear Society by Tracy L. Darity before…it is a big book filled with jaw dropping, head shaking, tear-filled eyes, of a chain link of events.” ~ Jennifer Coissiere "The Tough Critic"~
“As an educator working with teens, I knew immediately that although fiction, the themes of the book rang true in the world that is my work with students. Darity's book brings us face to face with what many of us would prefer not to believe is the truth about the activities many of our youth are engaged in that are not just dangerous but deadly. The story is fast paced but then so is life in the typical high school setting and the social circles of so many of our teens…”~Dr. Cynthia E. White~
“The Red Bear Society was an EXCELLENT novel. It is a novel that parents and teens all need to read…It is a novel that will open your eyes to some of the things that teens of today are going through. Startling statistics are written throughout the novel that will have you stunned.” ~Urban Reviews~
BUY NOW Available for Kindle, Nook, and Paperback
Peace & Blessings,
|Posted on August 3, 2012 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
Today comedian and radio host Steve Harvey kicked off his 10theAnnual Hoodie Awards in Las Vegas. The Hoodies is Harvey’s way of recognizing those doing positive things in the black community. The categories range from Best Church Choir (for which my church Mt.Zion Progressive is one of four finalist…Woohoo), to Best Community Leader. With all the Indie authors getting their hustle on in the hood, I couldn’t help but wonder why he doesn’t have a category that encompasses the literary community.
While thinking about a Hoodie for authors, I was reminded of an event I attended last year that honored book clubs. I thought it was an awesome concept since book clubs play such a pivotal role in the author’s journey. Although it was a great idea, it didn’t really resonate with authenticity for me. There were twenty-five awards given out, but they were all for Best Book Club. I sat there wondering, how every book club could be the best club, there has to be some uniqueness, something one did better than the other, or something authors could nominate the club for doing well.
Finally I decided, instead of nominating authors for an award, what if authors nominated book clubs for their contribution to promoting literacy. Now you are probably wondering what categories would we nominate the clubs for? Well I’m glad you asked…
• Most Books Read – This club didn’t just have a book of the month, they had a book of the week.
• Youngest Book Club – It’s never too early to start promoting literarcy
• Oldest Book Club – Unlike the youngest club award, this award is not about the age of the members, but the years they’ve been sharing their love of books.
• Most Supportive – They want to see talented authors who take their craft serious succeed, so they go above and beyond to spotlight as many authors as possible. The host literary events, do book giveaways, host a website, etc.
• Most Participation – Like perfect attendance in school, this club has members who attend every meeting, buy every featured book, read every featured book, and actively participates in every group discussions.
• Most Community Service – What good are club dues and fees if they don’t go towards a worthy cause? Holiday parties are great, but there is nothing better than showcasing your club through community activism. This could include, scholarships, Toy’s-for-Tots, feeding the hungry, etc.
• Best Friends of the Library – They volunteer at the library promoting literacy, hosting fundraisers and ensuring good books make it to the shelves, and the library keeps its doors open.
• Most Chapters – Not books, but clubs. Some book clubs have become incorporated and have chapters all over the country, and even abroad.
• Most Diverse Club– Women aren’t the only people that read, this award would go to a club with both male and female members, and various nationalities.
• Most Diverse Reading List – Your club loves supporting African-American Authors, but you recognize there are great books written by people who are not African-American. Also, the book selection is composed of various genres, fiction and non-fiction.
• Best On-line/Social Media Book Club – They not only bring readers from around the world together, but all members participate in group discussions and take an interest in getting to know featured authors.
• Most Reviews – Your group read the book, discussed it, and then told the world about it on various book/review sites.
• Best Host – Whether in-person or via Skype, this club wants the author in on the discussion. They have themed meetings centered on the book, from food to decorations to door prizes.
• Outstanding Book Club of the Year – They are the best of the best and their club has a little bit of all the above going on. Now that’s what’s up!
Feel free to add your own categories to the list. Bottom line, Book Clubs Rock!
Peace & Blessings,
|Posted on July 8, 2012 at 6:40 PM||comments (0)|
It’s been fifteen years since I attended the Essence Music Festival that would ultimately change my life. The year was 1997 and the empowerment seminars were just that, empowering. No comedians trying to take center-stage, no reality TV stars with a platform; and when we still believed Tavis Smiley was the next great Black Hope. Essence Music Festival is still all that and a bag of chips, but for me the 1997 festival will go down in my memoir as that pivotal moment when I first decided it was my time to get on stage.
Authors are often asked, when did you start writing, how did you know you wanted to be an author, and how did you get our start. Like most, the desire was always there, an over-active imagination as a child, a love for reading, a desire to write and journal, are just a few traits that most writers share. But it wasn’t until that July 4th weekend in 1997 that it all became crystal clear.
I ventured down to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for the scheduled seminars. The Just Sisters forum, moderated by Dr. Gwendolyn Goldsby-Grant—which I didn’t know at the time—would become the backdrop for my first novel, He Loves Me He Loves Not! Afterwards, the Just Brothers discussion kicked off. Tavis Smiley, who at the time was host of BET Talk, moderated the discussion. There had been so many nuggets of information dropped by panelist such as Sister Souljah, an author and community activist, Rolanda Watts, former talk show host, and Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, a noted author and lecturer, that I was like a sponge soaking all their knowledge. But the biggest nugget of them all came from Smiley, who told the audience of over a thousand, “We all have a God-given talent, but it’s up to us to define, develop, and deliver that talent. If not, we’ll always be in the audience and never on stage.”
After that awe-inspiring aha moment, I went back to my hotel room and reflected on what he said. At the time I was an employee for the City—not really enjoying my job, and knew without a doubt I didn’t want to be like some of my co-workers who were content having been on the job for 20, or 30 years. The next morning we had a late flight out so I decided to head back to the convention center and check-out some of the vendors. Once there I made my way into the book marketplace to peruse the hundreds of titles for sale. Over the weekend many notables were having signings. Les Brown, was on tap with his motivational book It’s Not Over, Dr.Dennis Kimbro, was offering Visions for Black Men, Bertice Berry (where is she now), had Sckraight from the Ghetto, and the list went on. But as notable as the line up appeared, it was three relatively unknowns that caught my attention. They were standing side-by-side hawking their books to the many people browsing the stacks of available books. I was first drawn to one of the two guys; he introduced himself as Michael Baisden. His book was titled Men Cry in the Dark. My first impression was; this guy is really cocky. After I listened to his sells pitch I asked the next guy about his book, he was a little more humble as he introduced himself as Eric Jerome Dickey and told me I would love his book, Friends and Lovers. The female in the group, Tananarive Due wasn’t as aggressive; she stood back and watched as the other two worked me for my dollars. In the end I purchased a book from all three, and as it turned out, The Between, by Due was the book I loved most.
If you’ve ever experienced the Essence Music Festival you know that as much as you take in, there is still much you didn’t get to see or do. This may play a large role in the success of the festival and why it is one of the largest annual festivals hosted by the city of New Orleans. As I left with my books I was so energized with thoughts of defining, and developing my gift. After witnessing the confidence and exhilaration of the three authors who would go on to be successful, in ways probably beyond their wildest dreams at that time, I knew it was time for me to take my writing past the pages of my journal. I returned home and immediately began penning my first novel. Although it took me ten years to finally present it to the world, I am glad I did. Now with three novels under my belt and in preparation for the fourth, I am happy to say that my talent has been delivered, and I owe it all to a weekend in 1997 when I ventured to New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival. It’s true what they say, “It’s a party with a purpose,” and that purpose for some is to say, your destiny begins today.
Peace and Blessings
|Posted on July 6, 2012 at 9:30 PM||comments (2)|
We all remember that opening line by Erykah Badu when she introduced her hit single Call Tyrone. Believe it or not, artist are sensitive about their shh (I mean art). Whether a painter, photographer, sculptor, musician, poet, or author; when we put our work on display we want people to like it and to appreciate our talent, imagination, time, and everything else that go into our craft. Regardless of the many accolades we may receive, if we aren’t mature in our spirit it is easy to allow one negative comment to throw us off balance.
Recently, I have had the unfortunate opportunity to witness authors behaving badly and let me tell you, it isn’t a pretty sight. Particularly when the author “assumed” someone was speaking negatively about their work. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t. To the innocent bystander the tirades make no sense, and leaves a bad impression…where I may have given these s a chance, I definitely won’t now because their behavior spoke louder than their work.
When I see people responding negatively to public opinions about their work I am reminded of an episode on Oprah’s Lifeclass. In this episode Oprah and her guest were discussing the overused term “hater.” Oprah explained that when we automatically assume someone is talking about us, criticizing us, or otherwise not responding to us in the manner that we think they should, it is really our ego taking control. Who else has bigger egos than artist, I mean seriously, it takes a lot to put yourself out there for publicly scrutiny, and even more to gracefully accept public critique. But truth is that’s what being an artist is about. We have something inside of us that starts with an idea and we manifest it into something that is an expression of our inner-self.
Goodreads.com, a website for booklovers, in response to authors behaving badly, created a feature that prompts the author to take a moment before responding to reviews about their books. I think this is very telling of the new culture of authors hitting the scene. It’s probably nothing new, however, much more prevalent in today’s society.
As an author, I am always grateful when someone has not only taken the time to read my novels, but also was moved in some way to talk about it. We all want glowing reviews and every reader to love what we have created; unfortunately, there is no growth in that. So if you are an author or artist in another field, please remember that our art is a gift we give to the world. No matter how sensitive we are about it, people have the right to feel anyway they want, and the right to express what they feel. Not everyone likes everything and someone not liking something about our art doesn’t mean we have failed, it just means it wasn’t for that person. It also doesn’t mean they will never support our work again, but if we keep wearing our sensitivity on our shoulder, they will remember that long after our work has faded from their memory.
Peace and Blessings,
|Posted on May 15, 2012 at 9:45 PM||comments (0)|
If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it make a sound? This is an age-old question, which has infinite answers, depending on who you ask. Using similar analogy, riddle me this, “If a book is downloaded to 50,000 Kindle devices and Apps and no one reads it, has the authors work been exposed to 50,000 readers?” If you are following the debate over Amazon’s KDP Select program, you’d come to the same conclusion…the possible answers is infinite.
A quick lesson – KDP Select is a program implemented by on-line seller Amazon.com that allows independent authors and publishers to enroll their eBooks into Amazon’s lending program for Kindle owners; and share in a monthly cash pot of $600,000 (the average). In exchange for 90 days of exclusivity (the eBook can only be listed/sold on Amazon during this time) Participants can utilize special promotional tools for 5 days. What these promotional tools are is still somewhat of a mystery to me, but what it all equates to, is author’s giving their books away for free on these 5 days.
After enrolling my first novel, He Loves Me He Loves Me Not! into the program back in December, I asked several Kindle owners if they received any form of promotion about the book. The answer was yes, something came up on their Kindle, listing free books. Is that it, I’m not sure, but you’ll see that’s really all it takes. At the end of my first 2-day promotion (the 5 days can be done in any increment, or never used) my novel had been downloaded over 1800 times, and reached #262 in the “Top 100 Free Kindle Books.” list, #2 under “Family Saga, and #17 under Contemporary Fiction. By the end of my 90-days, there were a little over 3000 downloads, about 30 borrows (yes people actually used their 1 free borrow for the month on my book) and sales peaked on both the eBook and physical book. My biggest surprise though, was the number of international downloads that I received. The UK was hot, and Deutsch was impressive, as well as a couple in France. Add to that a few new reviews and I can say I did get something out of the deal.
Unfortunately the peaks were very shot-lived—approximately 2 -3 weeks after each promotion. More daunting is that by the time I placed my other two novels, Love…Like Snow in Florida on a Hot Summer Day and my newest release The Red Bear Society into the program, something in the atmosphere had shifted. Now whether the shift is seen as a positive or a negative, lies with whom you are speaking to about their experience in the program. For me it is a negative because I am not sure if what’s happening was Amazon’s intention; and if it was, then shame on them.
So what is it…the term, FREE*FREE*FREE* If you haven’t seen it on your Facebook wall, your Twitter feed, Goodreads updates, or wherever you may venture for your social media enlightenment, then either you or your friends (or both) are not reading folks. In a nutshell, the free aspect of KDP Select has taken on a life of its own. The initial concept sold by Amazon was if they offered $500,000, to be divided evenly per book borrowed, and 100,000 books were loaned out; authors could earn $5.00 per borrow for their titles. Of course this was hypothetical, but no was prepared for the 295,000 books that were actually borrowed in December, giving a real royalty of just $1.70, per download. This was seen as a win for the author whose book was only .99 cents to start with, but an epic failure for others whose titles were selling for a little more. Amazon answered by raising the payout total the following month to $700,000, but dropped it to its current $600,000, in February.
Amazon released a glowing press release touting the success of KDP Select, back in January; but subsequent releases have been pretty limited in terms of royalty information. Authors have seen some growth in the royalty for their borrowed books; it has risen from a dismal $1.60 in January (yes, even with an extra $200,000 authors earned less) to $2.48 in April. The increase really isn’t much to celebrate because it could only mean one of two things; either less authors are participating, or less books are being borrowed. I think it is a little of both, but since Amazon isn’t revealing its numbers as they did in the initial release, I can’t say for sure.
What all of this really means is that the free promotions have taken center-stage. Websites are popping up that use apps to pull the titles of books being offered for free and promoting the information on Facebook, Twitter, eBlasts, etc. Followers of these sites then post the information to their networks. There is actually a “free eBooks” page on Facebook that has almost 37,000 followers. To some authors this is seen as a great thing because it means their books will be downloaded by more people...but will they be read, reviewed, and recommended.
Remember that question I asked at the beginning? Well this is where the conversation gets tricky. When I enrolled in the program I did so because I bought into the theory that if x amount of people downloaded my books, and enjoyed them; they would tell x amount of people, and they would tell x amount, and by the time word spread the free promotion days would be over and the second, third, and so-on group of people would either buy the eBook or borrow it. This seemed to be the case in the beginning but I think the readers devised a plan of their own, and here is what I consider the “shift” I mentioned earlier.
• Since KDP Select is geared towards Indie authors and publishers, the average reader already believes he/she is taking a chance on the work so getting it at no-cost is a win-win situation, especially if the book is a great read. No loss if it’s a dud. Shift. So many books are being offered for free the reader never has to buy another book unless he/she wants to—and the decision is usually reserved for the authors they have followed a long time or who appear on “real” best seller lists.
• When a title is offered through KDP Select there is a notation that the book is $0.00 for Prime Members (customers who can borrow from the Kindle Lending Library). Shift. Readers have learned that if the book is available through the lending library that the author has 5 free promotional days, so why buy the eBook that you’ve heard so much about, just wait for it to be offered for free again…no problem since they already have an overabundance of unread books. Right?
• There use to be a time when the artist determined the value of their art, and their audience was the people willing to pay for the artist time and talent. Shift. With the inception of eBooks everyone who has ever dreamed of writing a book can. Many placed the value on their work at $2.99 and even as low as .99 cents, and oddly enough, many established authors felt threatened and followed the trend. With KDP Select the bar has now been lowered down to free. As long as this trend continues, the market will find it hard to correct itself and some truly gifted writers will be lost, and whether the reader in search of the free book believes it or not, that is a huge loss.
• Many factors determine which books are downloaded more, and which ones sell more. Many authors’ get caught-up in rankings but as you saw above, He Loves Me He Loves Me Not! had 3 significantly different rankings based on different categories. Unfortunately, fiction, which I write, is oversaturated with titles and these authors will see lesser success than those writing in more unique genres, with how-to books leading the way.
I am not sure where all of this is headed, but I no longer have any of my books enrolled in the KDP Select program. I won’t say that it was a mistake to enroll, because I do know for a fact that some of the books were read, as I have had people provide feedback, and I did see an increase in sales, even if it was limited. To all the author’s who will counter and say that it has been a great success because they saw their sales increase by 100, 200, 1000, or even 3000% after joining KDP Select, and their rankings skyrocketed; I say good for you.
At the end of the day, I can only hope that Amazon will take a fresh look at this program and try to stop the bleeding. It has to be hurting their sales as much as it’s hurting the average author out here. I have heard a lot of interesting comments, scenarios, and testimonies on the pro’s and con’s of the program, so whether or not it is a success may go down in history as one of those questions with infinite answers, just remember, regardless of the experience, the numbers don’t lie, or do they.
Peace & Blessings,
Tracy L. Darity
|Posted on December 12, 2011 at 10:00 PM||comments (0)|
Some call it paying it forward. Someone does a good deed for you and in return you do a good deed for someone else. Paying it forward or reciprocity (you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours) is a simple concept but one we don't see in action as often as we should. In the world of writing, it is a simplistic approach to marketing that is free and if used wisely could make a huge difference to many independent authors, yet it's an opportunity that is overlooked all the time.
John Locke, a marketing guru was the first self-published author to sell one million ebooks on Amazon.com, and at the time of his accomplishment was only one of eight to lay claim to such a feat. Locke did not sell one million books because he is a great author, or because he writes phenomenal books. He sold one million books because he devised a plan in which he enlisted people (family, friends, Facebook buddies, Twitter followers, bloggers, etc) to help promote his work. In addition to writing multiple books, and selling them for .99 cents, his most important and beneficial task was to get people to share, like, and forward whatever he posted on his various social media accounts. It's really simple math, get 100 people to each share with 100 people, and then get all of those people to share with everyone they know. Once people started downloading the books he encouraged them to rate his books, and write reviews. It didn't matter if they liked the books or not, just write the review, and he would do the rest.
So what does that have to do with reciprocity? Just imagine if there were other indie authors--and there were--joining in his efforts, and once Locke was successful he in turn rewarded those authors by assisting them in their own marketing campaigns. Now you have numerous authors reaching levels of success that they otherwise would not have reached had they not made a conscious decision to assist Locke in proving a relative unknown author could be equally successful as a best-selling author with a powerhouse publishing company backing him or her with unlimited marketing dollars.
Why do I believe most African American authors lack the understanding of the power of reciprocity when it comes to marketing their work? I see it everyday on various social media sites. Authors rarely give each other praise, recommend each others work, or share information they come across that may help someone else. But what really prompted me to write this blog is one scenario in particular. I have a friend on Facebook by the name of Faydra Deon. She wears many hats but among other things, Faydra is an author and also the African American History columnist for the Examiner.com. Recently she decided to host a feature in her column entitled Fresh Faces in Black Books. Her goal is to feature 100 new and up-and-coming black authors. I thought it was a great idea and decided to sign on.
Now in my mind, if 100 authors are featured, each story should have 100 likes, 100 shares, 100 tweets, 100 comments, etc, at the bare minimum;even if all the authors have not been featured yet. But with the first 9 or so authors/books posted, and almost 70 authors signed-up to participate, I find it disheartening that Faydra's time and effort to put this together is seemingly going by the wayside. It's as if the authors do not understand that they must make the most of every opportunity presented to them. What is the point of being featured in a blog, or on a website, if you aren't going to let people know the information is out there? And if the author being featured isn't trying to garner interest for their story then what motivates the others to support that person? More important, why should Faydra continue to pour her time, talent, and efforts into assisting authors gain notoriety if they are not going to make use of this free service and awesome platform?
We authors must learn the importance of paying it forward and the give and take of reciprocity. We need to shed the attitude of “I’m not helping him or her because she isn’t helping me,” and “If I tell someone about her book they may not buy mine.” Readers are looking for books and many want to give indie authors a chance, but they need to know we are out here. I know some of you are saying, “Well if I haven’t read a book I’m not going to recommend it.” Sharing a blog, interview, or article about a fellow author doesn’t mean you’re recommending their work; it’s a selfless act that shows you’re willing to share the stage with someone else. It’s like being at a party and introducing the person you just met to your friends...who knows where or how far that introduction could go.
DISCLAIMER: I did not write this blog for, or on behalf of Faydra Deon. I only used her project as an example, but I do encourage you to check-out the interviews and support the authors if you are so inclined.