So You Have Written a Book, Now What? (Part 2)

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” – William Foster

As a book club we are often contacted by authors and publishers for advice about editing and suggestions for quality editors. In the hopes of providing useful, helpful, practical and accurate information as a reference guide, we’ve decided to offer a series of Open Mic pieces where we go straight to the “horse’s mouth,” so to speak. For this second guide, we’ve reached out to a few editors for their tips and advice to those looking for an editor to ensure the quality of their books. Collectively, this group has over 30 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge.

Each editor was simply asked one question - What advice or tips would you give to someone looking for an editor to edit a book?

School is in session…

Shonell Bacon: I've written about this very question a few times in various commentaries and articles. We talk a lot about how diligent a writer should be in his/her quest to find a good, reputable literary agent or to find a publisher; we need to talk just as much about the importance of finding an editor that fits for your needs.

1- Think about what you WANT and NEED in an editor. Are you looking to build a relationship with your editor? Are you looking to learn and become a better writer through your editor-writer experience? Are you looking for a quick, drive-thru like service with your editor? Do you need someone who is going to contact you throughout the editing process? It is important to think about the type of relationship you need with an editor, what you hope to receive from the editor besides an edited manuscript. Knowing what you WANT in the beginning of this process will help you more effectively find someone who fits those needs and wants.

2- Understand what your book needs. There are different types of editing, and it's important for you to have a general sense of what your book needs done so that you can match those needs with the right editor.

3- To actually FIND an editor, check out the acknowledgments of some of your favorite books. And especially those books that fit in your genre. Most authors give shout outs to their editors. Jot those names down and do searches for them online. Many of us today have a cyber home and various ways to contact us.

4- Get references. Ultimately, you are paying this person for a job. It's perfectly fine to ask for a few references so that you can learn from other writers how well (or not so well) the editor performed his/her duties.

5- Ask about editor's editing process and see if editor provides sample edits. Before spending money for services, it's a good idea to ask potential editors of your book if they provide sample edits. This way, you can see their work in action on your story and ask questions if necessary. Also, asking about the editing process beforehand allows you to see if the editor's process meshes with your needs.

In the end, whether you are looking to self-publish or to go the traditional publishing route, having a well-edited manuscript is vital to the process. These works are your literary babies, so you want them cared for by the best people. Your editor should be one of those "best people". Just like you would learn about the person taking care of your bundle of joy to ensure the person had your baby's best interests at heart, you should do the same for the stories you have birthed.

Shonell Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, educator–everywoman. She has published both creatively and academically. Shonell is an editor (12+ years in the trenches) who loves helping writers hone their literary craft. She is an educator, having taught English and mass communication courses in addition to fiction writing. Shonell also finds the time to pursue her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University .

Michelle S. Chester: There are plenty of expert freelance/independent editors. However, there are also many who go into business with inadequate experience and few qualifications. These individuals may be entirely well meaning, sincerely believing that a love of reading or a career as a teacher or some technical writing experience is enough to qualify them to edit others’ work. But such people rarely possess the specialized skills, not to mention the industry knowledge, that are essential for a professional-quality line or content edit.

Still, other freelance/independent editors and editing services are outright frauds. How to avoid editors like this? Below are five things to be cautious of when selecting an editor:

No Experience in Your Genre - Be sure the editor’s experience is appropriate to your work. Most editors specialize in certain genres. Someone whose main experience involves nonfiction may not be the ideal choice to edit your sci-fi novel.

Inefficient Website - Be wary of an editor’s website where the text is hard to read or the page is littered with errors. If the editor won’t take the time to maintain a professional website, that editor may not be the best choice. Also, if the website lacks information, that may be a red flag. Any site that says “I edit stuff, send me your manuscript” may not be the best choice!

Not Willing to Show Examples of Work - If an editor is not willing to show examples, how will you know you can trust him/her? Be wary of editors who hesitate to show samples of their work. Editors should also provide a free sample edit of your work so you will get an idea of what you’ll be getting for your money.

Not Willing to Provide References - Also, it’s important to get references and check them. Other than a recommendation from someone you trust, it’s probably your best way to judge an editor’s professionalism and effectiveness.

Not Willing to Provide a Contract - You should know exactly what you’ll be paying for, including the scope of the work to be done, the charges you’ll incur, the approximate time period involved, and who will be doing the editing. Obtain a contract or a letter of agreement that covers all these areas.

Bonus Tip #1 — Never trust an editor who ensures publication
Good editing may improve your manuscript, but finding publication depends on more than just the quality of your work. Effective targeting of your submissions, editors’ judgment of readers’ taste, the perceived marketability of your book, and what the publisher is already publishing all play a part. An excellent, polished manuscript is essential, but it’s just one piece of the total picture. There are no guarantees. Any editor that can promise publication is not trustworthy.

Bonus Tip #2 — Know what an editor does
Do you know the difference between a content edit and a copyedit? What is substantive editing? Line editing? It’s important that you know what these types of edits involve so you can have a good understanding of the service you will receive. Each editor may have his/her own definition of the type of edits offered, so it’s important that you ask probing questions so there are no misunderstandings.

In summary, editing is a worthwhile step in the road to publication. Even a piece of work you consider near perfect can benefit from the attention of the right editor. One of the most important things you can do when selecting an editor is to get educated and ask the right questions. That will make the difference between receiving superior editing or being disappointed — or worse, getting scammed.

Find a reputable editor or editorial service that meets your needs. Getting referrals is great, but if your referral comes from an author who wrote a non-fiction, self-help book and you wrote a sci-fi novel, that editor may not be the one for you. Research and investigate an editorial service like you would any other professional and you’ll greatly improve your chances of getting great service. Most importantly, make sure you trust your editor. If you don’t trust the editor, you will not trust the changes the editor makes.

Good Luck!

Michelle S. Chester is the owner of EBM Professional Service, a full-service firm specializing in copy editing, content editing, and proofreading. She has more than 15 years experience as a Technical Writer/Editor in the corporate world. Michelle has done freelance editing for a number of publishers and numerous published authors. Alongside working on freelance projects, Michelle serves as Editorial Assistant for Written magazine in Atlanta , GA ; Contributing Editor for Sophisticated Groom magazine in Atlanta , GA ; and worked as a proofreader for Caye Publishing Group in Keller, Texas, working on the Society Life, Society Kids, and Parker County Maverick magazines.

Monique Mensah: The author/editor relationship is probably the most important one for the completion and success of an author’s work. Acknowledging this fact means that an author should take the process of finding the right editor very seriously and understand that cutting corners during this process is not a viable option. Working as an author and an editor, I’ve grown to understand this process from both sides of the coin. Following a few key steps could mean the difference between a well-crafted book and literary failure.

Set proper expectations. Do research to find out what a copy editor does. Google it, ask fellow authors, read reference books, and most importantly, ask the editor that you’re considering, “What services do you offer?” You must know what these services are, and determine your needs accordingly. Do you need developmental editing, line editing, proofreading, fact checking, a critique, coaching? Learn the ins and outs of the different services copy editors provide and determine your needs. Also, you must know the average going rate for these services. Again, do your research. Ask around. This is a sizable investment for your project, and you don’t want to go into this relationship blind and unprepared.

Set a budget. Editing is the second most important step in the publishing process behind writing the book, and it’s going to cost you. Set enough money aside to invest in an editor for your manuscript. If you do not have enough money to hire an editor for your work, then you should wait until you can save enough to do so; otherwise, you are NOT ready to publish. This budget should be based on reasonable expectations. You’ve already done your research, so you know how much an editor should charge for the services you are seeking for your project. Setting a budget based on reasonable expectations will also prevent a so-called editor from taking advantage of you naiveté.

How to find an editor. Ask around. As an author, chances are, you have a network of other authors who are able to give you some valuable resources and information. Have you read any of their books? Did you think the editing was done well? Ask them who edited their books. If you’re unable to ask the authors directly, look at the acknowledgements in the front matter of their books. More than likely, you will find a nice one-liner, thanking the editor for her excellent services. Once you have a couple of names. Google them, visit their websites, or look them up on Facebook or other social networking sites to find out more information about them: what other books they have edited, how much do they charge, what kind of reputation do they have, and what do they specialize in?

Contact potential editors. Be prepared to query more than one editor to find the one that fits you. For my second project, I sent emails to 13 different editors, soliciting their services. As a client, communication and customer service are imperative, and I feel the same way as an editor. When emailing potential editors, they should get back to you in a timely manner (my standard is 24 hours). This is the first indication of what kind you could be getting into when working with this person. Ask them to do a sample edit of your work. Evaluate that sample edit and compare it to others you’ve received. Ask for references (other authors they’ve worked with). Ask if you can contact their references for testimonials. Ask for a resume/bio of other books they’ve edited, tell them exactly what you’re looking for, and ask for more detailed information about their services. Find out how long they usually take to provide the services that you seek. The theme here: ASK QUESTIONS—a lot of questions.

Does your editor fit? If your editor does not believe in the potential of your work, then she is not the editor for you. The sample edit is for both the client and the editor. The client gets to see what the editor may be able to do for him/her, and the editor gets to see what level of work needs to be done for the project. You both must feel that the project is a good fit, or this relationship will not work. Talk to your editor in depth about your project, and get a feel for how you two will connect and work together to improve your work. Do not expect the editor to be your friend. That is not what you are paying her to do. Expect her to be tactful and professional, but honest and thorough. Your editor should understand that although she is offering her expertise as a trained professional, this is the author’s baby, and the author gets the last say. And although the author gets the final word, he should be open to honest criticism and change.

Sign a contract! Expect to sign a contract, outlining services provided, the fee for services, the time line, cancellation requirements, additional charges, payment and payment schedule, etc. The contract protects both the editor and the author, and you should not work with any editor who is unwilling to provide a contract. Hold the editor accountable to this contract. That’s what it’s there for.

Communicate. Communication is the key to any successful relationship, and the author/editor partnership is no different. Decide on a call schedule or settle on appropriate times to call and speak to each other. If email is your preferred method of contact, settle on a reasonable response time. If you can’t get in touch with your editor, then you need a new editor. If your editor can’t get in touch with you, don’t be surprised if she questions your level of commitment to your own project. If you expect her to take your project seriously, you must do so as well. Both the author and the editor should be professional.

Monique D. Mensah is the principal and founder of Make Your Mark Editing Services, a boutique copyediting service founded in 2007 that assists authors in turning their manuscripts into masterpieces. Make Your Mark specializes in developmental editing and critiques for fiction manuscripts.

*bell rings*

Class is over. See you in two weeks with the next Open Mic!

Disclaimer: OOSA Online Book Club does not endorse the work/services offered by the editors that provided tips/advice. We, however, recommend that authors and publishers use their advice and find qualified professionals for their editing needs.

Terri Whitmire

It is FOR and ABOUT authors. Here we shine the light on authors who we’ve read, reviewed and recommend to others. In this edition we are shining our light on another gifted author...

Terri Whitmire is an inspirational author who currently resides in Marietta, Georgia. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science at the historic North Carolina A&T State University.

In 1997, she enrolled in the Institute for Children’s Literature where she wrote her first compilation of children’s stories. She went on to earn her certification in children’s literature. With qualifications in hand, she sought ways to strengthen her literary giftings by writing and editing for various organizations. In October of 2011 her first novel, Breathe for Me, was released.

When she is not writing, Terri teaches free creative writing classes to school-aged children sponsored by her foundation, Writers’ Tablet. This foundation also offers free tutorials to authors who wish to create and publish their work digitally as an e-book.

Terri is a member of Atlanta Writers' Club and M-Pact Writers' group. She is a children's ministry teacher and a substitute teacher for a charter school in Smyrna, Georgia.


What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon growing up? I loved Casper the Friendly Ghost. I gravitated toward this mystical being who depicted an angelic quality and was always willing to help others. Now that I think back this may have been a coping mechanism to combat my normal fraidy-cat, scared-of-the-dark self.

A way to my heart is…A child's smile melts my heart. A fabulous song stirs my heart. A silly joke tickles my heart and an encouraging word warms my heart. If all else fails give me a big slice of carrot cake.

If I could pick four people to have dinner with, living or dead, I'd choose: President Obama, Maya Angelou, Maggie Gunn (my great grandmother), Sade (she would be our entertainment).

The comfort food I crave most is: I love pizza. Whether it be hand tossed, Chicago deep dish, thin crust, New York style, veggie or meat lovers. It matters little. I love them all.

What is your least favorite thing about yourself? Growing up I was often chastised for my scowling expression. I try hard to counter that image but sometimes I catch myself holding a grumpy look even when I don't feel that way.

What is your favorite reality TV show and why? Amazing Race. I love to travel and see the world and this show allows me to do that from the comfort of my own couch. It is such an awakening experience to see how others outside of the U.S. live. It is also remarkable how some poorer countries have more joy and less stress in their lives than the U.S., the richest country in the world.

Special relaxation ritual...A comfy couch and a hot cup of peppermint tea with lemon and honey.

Words to live by: If you want a blessing, be a blessing.

I'm totally addicted to: Facebook

From my husband, I have learned... No matter what life throws at you, you can always rise above it and be the person God intended for you to be.

What’s next for Terri?
Her story, ‘Crooked Path,’ will be featured in the short story anthology entitled Love Said Not So, to be released May of 2012. Her featured story is inspired by true events that her husband experienced as a foster child.

Terri’s much anticipated sophomore novel is due out fall of 2012. Follow Alaina Parker as she battles with sexual identify, body image and the shattering secret that just may send her over the edge.


“I really enjoyed reading this book. I could not put it down after I started reading it! I actually read it within 24 hours. It's the type of book that captures your attention early and never lets it go.”- SS

“This is definitely a must read…I really enjoyed how the author includes scriptures and prayers throughout the novel.” - Vette

“It is so refreshing to read a book that incorporates faith and hope. This is one inspirational journey I recommend to ALL readers. Terri Whitmire's ‘Breathe for Me’ does an excellent job of using a bad circumstance to motivate one to do better.” - OOSA

“This book was a wonderful read; the story was gripping with emotional highs and lows. It was very therapeutic to see a story describe from the point of view of a survivor…Simply a wonderful book!!!!” – Will

For more information about Terri Whitmire, please visit:


Averages 6 books a month

Some authors don't read. As a reviewer do you read the reviews of others? I do read the reviews of a few trusted reviewers.

If you could change anything about the reviewing process, what would it be? I wish that some authors would really pay attention to ALL reviews instead of just the 5-star ones. Constructive criticism is the key to becoming a better author.

Do you feel black women are accurately portrayed in literature? If you feel the portrayal is inaccurate, what would you like to see instead? I feel this area could use some work. I would like to see more strong and educated women portrayed in literature. I would also like to see more confident plus size women in books without the story centered around their size.

What would you like to see more of coming from male/female authors in regards to women? I would like authors to show women who have good careers and in either healthy marriages or healthy relationships.

If you could drive one point across to all authors, what would it be and why? Invest in a good PROFESSIONAL editor. Your cousin who just proofreads your book, runs it through spell check, and tells you it's the best thing since sliced bread is not an editor. Your poorly edited book is a direct reflection of you. If you don't have the money to do this, then you aren't ready to be in this business.

If an author/publisher is interested in having you review their material, what should they know about you as a reviewer? That I review all types of African American fiction. That I'm a fair and honest reviewer.

About Radiah

Radiah is an underwriter. Along with her husband Charles, she is the co-founder of the book review website Urban Reviews ( Urban Reviews hosts annually the Great Midwest Book Fest and the Fall Fiction Fest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Some of Radiah’s favorite authors are Eric Jerome Dickey, Carl Weber, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Mary Monroe, Valerie Wilson Wesley, and Claudia Mair Burney.

This Week's Reviews Include...

Monique aka Deltareviewer

Averages 11 books a month

Why do you like to read? I LOVE to read because it opens another world for me. Many times I can escape into someone else's life and try to predict how the story will unfold. I often laugh, cry and fuss at the characters and the crazy decisions that they make. Reading is better than watching reality TV...most times.

What must any good review possess?  A good review must talk about the character development, the flow of the storyline and address any editing issues or problems with the story. The focus has to stay on the book and not the author.

Is reviewing a service that reviewers should be compensated for? I don't feel that reviewers should be compensated for a review (other than supplying a copy of the book). To me, when you pay someone for a review you have the expectation that it will be favorable.

Do you feel black women are accurately portrayed in literature? If you feel the portrayal is inaccurate, what would you like to see instead?  Black women are so diverse that I feel it's hard to answer this question. You have to read across all genres to see black women from various aspects and not many readers do that. I would like to see more stories about every day middle class black women which deal with every day issues...but that isn't what is popular with readers today.

If you could drive one point across to all authors, what would it be and why?  Avid readers want quality not perfect your craft. Treat writing like you would a big time corporate job - research, spend the time and money on a good editor, listen to your readers and learn from the reviews (good and bad).

If you could give an overall rating for AA fiction today, what would be your rating?  4 out of 5...there are hundreds of unknown African American authors that have written in genres other than urban lit that mainstream readers don't know about. Readers need to try other genres - historical, Christian, romance, see that there are well written books to be read.

About Monique

Monique is a Professor of Political Science and Coordinator of the Reach Higher Adult Degree Completion Program at a college in Oklahoma. She has dedicated an endless amount of time and hard work to support the community working with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and OKC Urban League Young Professionals. Monique loves to read and has been reviewing for over ten years. She has reviewed for, RAWSISTAZ, Real Page Turners, and numerous other online sites, magazines and newsletters, but most recently she has posted reviews on and

OOSA Online Book Club

April 2012
For Immediate Release
OOSA Online Book Club

Creating an awards you can be proud of...

ST. LOUIS, MO - October 2012 - It is with great pleasure that we present the ALL THINGS LITERARY AWARDS. It is our desire and plan to celebrate great writing and great writers. The ALL THINGS LITERARY AWARDS will be held at OOSA's Pajama Book Jam later this year.

It does not matter who an author is, who the publisher is, where an author lives, who an author is friends with, how many/few books an author has, or how many Twitter followers and Facebook likes an author has. All that matters is the writing. Building an awards event you can be proud of...

We want your help! Our nomination process is now open. Submit nominations online, in each of the three categories, now through April 30, 2012. Nominate your favorites by clicking HERE.

The winners will be announced in St Louis at OOSA's Pajama Book Jam in October.

The All Things Literary Awards is presented by OOSA Online Book Club, an award-winning book club and reviewing team founded in 2005.

# # #

~We READ. We REVIEW. We RECOMMEND. It's what we do!~

Tuesday Recommendations (4/10/12)

So You Want to Write a Book, Now What?

“To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.” – Chinese Proverb

As a book club we are often contacted by authors, aspiring and otherwise, for advice about writing a book and the industry in general. In the hopes of providing useful, helpful, practical and accurate information as a reference guide, we’ve decided to offer a series of Open Mic pieces where we go straight to the “horse’s mouth,” so to speak. For this first guide, we’ve reached out to a few authors for their tips and advice to those interested in starting a literary journey or looking to maintain one. Collectively, this group has over 60 years of experience, 100+ books and a wealth of knowledge. Their titles have graced numerous bestsellers’ lists including New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly and Essence. Their honors are too many to name, including the first ever made-for-TV movie for BET.

Each author was simply asked one question - What advice or writing tips would you give to someone wanting to write a book?

School is in session…

Kimberla Lawson Roby: “My advice to aspiring writers is to: Study the craft of writing, discover and stick with your own voice and writing style, write straight from the heart, and write every single day. When you've finished writing your book, study and learn absolutely everything you can about the business of publishing and how to promote your work.”

Kimberla resides in Illinois with her husband, Will. Her 17th novel, THE REVEREND’S WIFE will be released Tuesday, May 1, 2012.

Caleb Alexander: “Purely speaking on the aspect of writing a book, I would say that the truest, deepest, most meaningful, and ever constant advice that I could give to ones wanting to write a book is to stay true to themselves. I know that's not some great piece of sacred Confucius like wisdom, but at the end of the day, being true to yourself is the absolute best piece of advice that I could give.

In writing, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery; it simply means that the writer did not dig deep enough. You can't write like someone else. You can't write someone else's story. You can't write what's in someone else's heart. You can only write passionately about the story that's inside of you, bursting to get out. Readers will recognize fake. Don't just tell a hood story because you read a couple of dozen hood stories and you want to put your take on it. If you do that, then you'll completely miss out on the opportunity to tell a really beautiful, really deep story.

And believe me when I say this, your first one is going to be your baby. That's the story that you're going to pour your everything into. That's the story that's going to contain more of who you are than any other story that you write. Every story that you write will contain a piece of you, but none more so than that first one. Writing your first novel is like the other first times in your life. It's something that can never be re-created. So put everything that you have into it. It's your introduction to the world, so make it the best introduction it can be. Let it speak volumes about who you are as an individual and what your convictions are. When someone closes your book, you want them to be emotionally exhausted, because you've just taken them on a tremendously emotional human journey. They've just re-lived a piece of your life. They've just walked a mile in your shoes. And they've just seen a piece of life through your eyes.

I've written dozens of novels, and ALL of them have been published, ninety-nine percent of them by the majors. Most of them went on to be on somebody's bestsellers’ list. But there will NEVER be another Eastside. It was my first, my baby, my introduction to the world. I want you to think about that, and then think about all of your favorite authors’ FIRST books. Their first books were the same. What I'm saying is that when you are writing a book, allow the same passion to flow out onto that page. However, the ONLY way that you are going to accomplish that, and the readers will let you know if you did, is by being true to yourself, and telling your own story.

I'm sure others will cover all of the technical stuff: editing, re-editing, writing from an outline, drafting a synopsis, or constructing a character list. That's all great advice. Listen to them. These tips may be very helpful to you, and they may help you to focus and complete that novel. My advice is more in the abstract. Sure, anyone can sit down and write out a synopsis, an outline, a character list, and then write a novel by the numbers. You will check off all of the right boxes. It'll have great characters with deep backgrounds. It'll have great structure and flow. It'll have a good theme. People will close the book and not be disappointed. That's fine. And if that's what you want to do, that's okay as well. But what I want to talk about is more on the emotional level, more about the passion of writing. Readers can FEEL it.

DO NOT write another hoochie mama, baby mama, dope dealer, hood book, just moving it to the city where you live, or relocating the character to a project near you. Readers will say, “I've been there and done that." It's okay if your character is struggling and if your character is from the hood. I'm not telling you to not keep it real or to not write about that experience. If that's something that you want to get out of you, then tell it. But just make sure that it's the story that's inside of you! What did your character do inside of his hood or housing project to get out? What changed his/her life? How did they end up the projects? What happened to momma? What happened to daddy? What about momma's failures or struggles, and how did they affect him or her? What's up with the siblings? How were they affected? What happened to the hood? How did it turn into 'The Hood' and when? These are some of the elements that the readers will notice. It's what makes your story YOUR story.

At the end of the day, the biggest, best, most consistent advice is to reach deep down inside of you, and tell the story that is dying to get out. Be true to yourself and to YOUR story. Don't write a rehash, write a classic!

Caleb Alexander is an author, ghostwriter, screen writer, speech writer and publisher. He currently lives in Converse, Texas.

EN Joy/Joylynn Jossel: “As an author who has written under many names and many genres, I am often asked advice from both aspiring authors and seasoned authors as well. Even as a seasoned author, there is still always so much more to learn and it's always a blessing to be able to engage in the quality of sharing among other authors. With that being said, I'd like to share what I think is the most valuable advice an author could ever receive: "KNOW AND GET YOUR AUDIENCE BEFORE YOU EVEN FINISH THE BOOK!"

I know; sounds like hustling backwards, right? Sounds like creating a hype for something that doesn't even exist, right? Sounds like fraud-a scam, right? WRONG!

The most valuable thing an author can ever do is to generate a fan base - have tons of people sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for a book to come out. Think about it; doesn't Hollywood do it all the time when it comes to movies? Doesn't the Lifetime Movie Network have the ladies setting their DVR months in advance for a movie with all those teasing previews they show? Or the huge wrestling events have men doing pay per view months in advance? Shouldn't the same go for the literary world?

I say yes, and that authors should stop selling themselves short by not considering their product to be something so worthy that folks need to mark their calendars for its release...pre order, etc... Hustling backwards is creating a product, filling your warehouse, garage, dining room, etc... with it, and then trying to figure out who would want to buy it and how to get them to buy it.

The minute a person knows they are going to write that book and they have that title engraved in stone, they should create a cover. Even if it's just a mock cover with a black background and the title is in a large white letters, create a visual to give people. Begin promoting it. Begin teasing people with a synopsis and one liners from the book. Create a website giving the release date. Have no idea when the book will be done? Then just say "Coming Soon." Once there is a concrete release date, begin taking pre-orders. Please be realistic with that release date. There is nothing worse than having a reader sitting on the edge of their seat waiting for a book to come out, and then the release date comes and goes, especially if they have pre-ordered it. By that time they have moved on to the next author and no longer trust that the book will ever come out.

Every chance the author gets, they should tell people about their forthcoming title. Get all their friends and family to tell people as well. Create a social networking page. Take out ads with literary promotional companies. Get book marks, postcards, etc... Even send book stores information about the forthcoming title. Of course the author needs to do all of this while writing the book, but as I always say (and any author will tell you), writing the book is the easy part. Selling it is the killer. But I strongly believe if an author generates their audience first (and knows who their audience is...who the book will appeal to), do some marketing and promoting before the book is ever even written, it will make the task of selling the book once it is released that much easier.”

E.N. Joy, formerly writing secular works under the names Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY, is the acquisition editor for Urban Christian, an imprint of Urban Books. She also provides one-on-one consulting and literary services such as ghost writing, editing, professional read-throughs, and write behinds.

Keith Lee Johnson: “1) Ask yourself why you're considering writing a book.

2) Ask yourself what you know about the publishing business.

3) Ask yourself how much money you're willing to devote to the pursuit of publication.

4) Ask yourself if you're willing to travel to literary events at your own expense to learn about the business/meet agents and other well positioned people to help you achieve your dream.

5) Ask yourself if you would continue to pursue publication if it took more than 5 years to get an agent or a publisher to take you seriously.

Keith Lee Johnson has written in several genres including, suspense/thrillers, drama, and contemporary fiction. He lives in Toledo, Ohio.

Francis Ray: “The road to publication can be long and demanding or unexpectedly quick. Whatever your path, always remember to be gracious and thankful to those who have helped you along the way and to your readers.

First, I'd say never forget that writing is extremely personal so never compare yourself to others if their success comes quicker than yours; just keep writing and rewriting, always trying to improve your craft.

Second, join a national writing organization that will have conferences with editors and agents to pitch your work.

Third, I highly recommend that besides reading in your genre that you study closely Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain for tips on plotting and characterization.

Fourth, and I realize I'm quoting someone else but it needs repeating, a writer writes - not just talks and thinks about writing.

Good luck and if being published is your dream, let nothing stand in your way, least of all excuses or giving up. I was once very good at both. I wasted time that I can never get back. Publication is possible. Dream it, believe it, do it!!”

Francis Ray is the author of forty-three titles to date. She has released two titles so far this year with two more slated for a 2012 release.

*bell rings*

Class is over. See you in two weeks with the next Open Mic!

Mo Shines

It is FOR and ABOUT authors. Here we shine the light on authors who we’ve read, reviewed and recommend to others. In this edition we are shining our light on another gifted author...

Author Mo Shines was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx. His was almost another childhood lost until he made a conscious decision not to continue repeating the losing cycles of many young men in his neighborhood including his father who had been incarcerated and murdered shortly after his release from prison.

Mo Shines’ writing derives from the harsh and grim realities he was exposed to growing up. He's a former NYC Correction Officer who has been on both sides of the law but chose to walk a righteous path. His novels include “Brazen” and “Officer Down.” ‘Me & Grandma,’ a short story, was published in Nikki Turner’s “Street Chronicles: Christmas in the Hood.” He is currently working on his third novel, which will drop this summer.

A graduate of the New York Film Academy, Mo Shines has directed and edited 4 short films: “Wrong Place, Wrong Time” (2001), “Anger Management” (2002), “Amerika” (2003), “Crazy Man Sam” (2009) and over 11 music videos, including D-Block artist Bully. Mo has written/co-written over 9 video treatments for Music Video Director Dr. Teeth.

An enterprising young man with diverse talents, Mo is on his way towards making his mark in the entertainment industry.


Dead or alive, what one author would you like to collaborate with? Donald Goines Why? I read all of his books growing up and he inspired me to want to write books.

Who has had the most impact on your life? My mother...

If you had to share your life story with young males, what would you want them to know? That I've made mistakes just like anyone else. But don't let that stop you from chasing your dreams and trying to better your life.

Do you have any pet peeves? Doubters are my pet peeve. I can't stand people who doubt ideas or dreams.

If you were trying to entice someone to your city, what would you recommend as must see/do/eat? I'd tell them to head to City Island for some great seafood.

What’s your favorite non-alcohol drink? Water.

Do you balance your checkbook? Yes. Only because I have to.

There’s nothing sexier about a woman than… her eyes and lips

Pen or pencil? Pen.

What’s one question that you hate to be asked? Can you shoot my music video for free?


“This tightly written novel written by newcomer Mo Shines was thoroughly enjoyable. His spin on dirty cops in the 'hood is a breath of fresh air in a genre consumed by baby momma drama situations and the like.” - Englishruler

“In this fast paced novel Mo Shines details two dirty NYPD cops and one officer's attempt to bring them down.”- Hotchklate

“Mo Shines has written a gritty expose that reads like a movie. It is one of those books you can see while reading. Those who like action-packed, suspenseful movies with explosions, street life, or even readers of crime thrillers will enjoy this title.” – The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers


“Officer Down speaks for all the minorities gunned down in the streets. Mo Shines' pen game is undeniable!” - Swizz Beatz, multi-platinum producer & Full Surface CEO

“Mo Shines pens another first round draft pick with ‘Officer Down.’ His writing handcuffs you to the steering wheel of this novel and won't let you go until the ride is over.” - Y. Blak Moore, author of Triple Take, The Apostles, and Slipping

“A page turner, it is a captivating read. Mo Shines’ comfortable way with words and gift of telling a story resonates.” – OOSA

Mo Shines will be donating 10% of his proceeds from his novel “Officer Down” over the next 6 months to help the family of Trayvon Martin in their trying times. The money can go towards anything to help the family in obtaining justice not just for Trayvon but for all our teens. Mo knows it might not be much, but he wants to help.

For more information about Mo Shines, please visit:
Twitter: @MoShines

This Week's Reviews Include...