Living in a city with few bookstores that cater to individuals reading interest is a problem in many communities. The issue is an even bigger problem for publishers and authors. The problem existed in the Washington DC area where the DC Book Diva calls home. Only she didn’t complain, she sat out to solve the problem.
We sat down with the DC Bookdiva to talk about publishing books and placing the product directly in readers hands.
UM: Can you describe DC Bookdiva Publications?
DCB: DC Bookdiva Publications is the home of some of today’s hottest urban lit authors; we focus on publishing unique stories in the genre and pushing our authors to create stories that have never been told before.
UM: Let’s talk about your roots in the book industry in general and urban books specifically. When did you first get started and what influenced you?
DCB: I first started in the industry in 2005 as a book promoter. At the time I had a partner and we quickly grew the business from a grassroots initiative to a book lounge. I always had a love for arts, so I quickly wanted to learn more about the literary arts industry. I did so by providing a service to many authors in marketing and promotions in the DMV area, online, and through book signings and other events. At that time I learned all I could about the publishing industry and went on to produce one of the first online radio shows dedicated to African American authors- Urban Literary Review. Four years later, I published my first author under my company.
UM: At what point did you decide to start the mobile book store?
DCB: The mobile book store was born out of a need to service people in areas that lack book stores that feature works by African Americans. We expose readers to African American Authors up close and personal in their establishments or at book signings. I wanted to create something unique where authors could meet these readers in their communities; the mobile book store was created in 2008 after the failure of the partnership that was created in 2005.
UM: What are three or four successful traits of the most successful authors that visit your mobile bookstore?
DCB: The most successful traits of authors who visit my locations are those who engage the readers. Authors who stand and not sit at our mobile bookstore and greet each and every person with a smile and a friendly gesture. Authors who are well equipped with promotional giveaways and handouts at our events almost always leave a lasting impression with people who may not buy on the spot but return later to support the authors. Authors who visit more than once and schedule book signings at our multiple locations tend to have better success in spreading the word about themselves.
UM: Your advice for first time authors.
DCB: My advice for first time authors is to do your research before entering into the industry. Learn as much as you can so that you are well informed about industry standards. Read as much as you can and find someone to mentor you. If you can’t find someone to assist you, join groups and social networks where you can get some assistance. Don’t expect to find all of your answers this way but also do your research. It’s a good idea to attend seminars and workshops and find a way to assist someone who may do the same thing that you are interested in. Be patient. Don’t run into this business thinking that you will be successful overnight. Pace yourself and plan your work.
UM: You publish one of the most popular authors Kwame Teague, author of the Dutch series. How did you come to publish the Dynasty series?
DCB: Some years back, Kwame and I were introduced to one another by a publicist who was interested in having him appear on my online radio show. I agreed to interview him for an ongoing series that we were doing on incarcerated authors. At this time I expressed that I was getting ready to publish my first author and he asked me to send him a copy once it was released. I shared my visions for my company with him and we continued offline conversations about the literary industry and what we both where hoping to achieve. Several months after the release of my first publication he proposed to me that we work together on his next works. I was honored and accepted. We are now putting the finishing touches on Dynasty 3 and another book entitled Que.
UM: What upcoming or current title(s) are you most excited about and why? What is the biggest challenge with selling books?
DCB: I am too excited about my entire team and the projects that we all have. Most of the authors have been with me on this long journey, some as early as 2009. At the moment, I am most excited about Lorton Legends, Eyone Williams and A Beautiful Satan by RJ Champ. Both of these authors have worked very hard developing stories that are so unique. I am eager to see how readers respond to them. In my opinion, there are challenges, every day I wake; I push the company and the authors to think out the box and find new ways to reach the readers.
UM: In addition to publishing books, you are known for events. Can you talk about the importance of events and a successful author’s book?
DCB: In my opinion, book events are the new norm. They should go hand and hand with your marketing and promotional plan. An event is every day that you represent your company and books. Book events can be formal and informal but either way they have to leave a lasting impression and spark an interest for readers to buy. Finding unique ways to do this has always been of interest to me.
UM: When are your next book events? How can readers learn more about you?
DCB; The next company event that we have planned is the release event for Lorton Legends by Eyone Williams in September. We hold author book signings events weekly at our mobile bookstore locations. For more information about our events, you can sign up for our newsletter at www.dcbookdiva.com