Award-Winning Author Stacy-Deanne Gives Advice for Landing Book Deals, Building Fan Base

Stacy-Deanne writes crime fiction, mysteries, and suspense. Her work includes Everlasting, Melody, and Giving Up the Ghost. She is profiled in the NAACP-nominated 2006 book, Literary Divas: The Top 100+ African-American Women in Writing. Giving Up the Ghost is a 2011 African-American Literary Award nominated novel and a 2012 Top 20 Black Expressions Bestseller.  The Season of Sin is a 2012 African-American Literary Award nominated novel.

WL: You started in the literary industry as a 19-year-old in 1997. How has publishing changed since then and what has that change meant for your career?

Stacy-Deanne: Wow. It’s amazing to look back because everything is so different. Back in 1997 we didn’t have half as many options to get our work out there. You had the Big 6 and a few small presses and if you couldn’t get accepted by either you had to self-publish. We didn’t have e-publishers or self-publishing on Kindle. You also had to have book distribution. Everyone fought to get with the Big 6 because that was the only way you had a chance to be in stores. Now smaller presses can get their books in stores as well as bookstores aren’t the force they used to be. I could write a book on how much things have changed.

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The One Thing You Can Do to Become a Successful Author — Now

News of the potential merger of Random House and Penguin — likely reducing the number of publishers vying for authors’ works — is enough to send authors into hand-wringing depression as they bemoan the tightening industry that has already seen smaller book deals. But this merger doesn’t have to mean bad news for authors.

If anything, it’s a kick in the pants.

That’s because you can take this news as the inspiration you need to actually take charge of your own writing career. You don’t need a Big Six publisher to be successful. You don’t even need a small or mid-sized publisher. What you need, are the smarts, hard work, and good products to make it happen. In other words, you need you. Publishing success comes down to you, not whether some far-away publisher has deigned to grace you with a book deal.

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How Being Too Pushy Can Annoy and Antagonize Your Best Clients

My husband and I checked out of the hotel and headed back home after a brief anniversary getaway. Not quite ready to bid adieu to the anniversary weekend, we stopped and had a late lunch at a local restaurant.

As we enjoyed our meal, the conversation of the couple next to us spilled over to our table. We could hear pretty much everything they said. They were discussing the fact that some financial publication said people in their industry made too much money. From there, they started talking about bonuses and other such parts of their income, and even how clients didn’t appreciate their hard work.

As they got ready to leave, the woman told the man what happened to her right before she left the office to go to lunch. Her presidential candidate’s campaign called her for another donation. “‘We’re trying to get some people to give us just $200 more,'” the woman recounted the words of the campaign worker.

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Lesson for Writers: Forget Writing, Focus on Perception of Value

Newsweek is shutting down its print edition at the end of this year and moving to a completely digital format in the early part of 2013, editor Tina Brown announced today. Newsweek had earlier — in 2010 — merged with The Daily Beast, losing even its domain name in the process. Newsweek’s new digital format will be called Newsweek Global.

It’s a wonder the printed edition lasted as long as it did, considering losses have been about $40 million a year and subscriptions dropped from about 3.2 million 11 years ago to about $1.5 million this year.

These days, a weekly publication print schedule just can’t compete with the always on and constant Internet. Readers are increasingly less and less concerned with where they get their breaking news (and it’s hard to cover breaking news in a weekly format) and more concerned with the ease with which they can get it. In that scenario, the Internet wins out. Readers can get alerts to their smartphones (that’s how I learn of many of the news events of the day), turn on their tablets, or skip over to some news site while at work.

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7 Secrets to Breaking Into Ghostwriting

I got a question in my inbox this week from a guy who described himself as a laid-off journalist. He wanted to know how to get into political ghostwriting. Great question, and it’s one I’ve heard before, so I knew it was time I addressed it in this space.

Ghostwriting is a great way to make a living writing, but it’s not for everyone. Some egos are too big for it: You’ve got to be willing to put aside the need for credit in your work, in exchange for a very nice fee. Some writers aren’t organized enough for it: You have to be super organized, especially if you are ghosting books. You’re collecting a large bit of information, sometimes over a long period of time. You’ve got to figure out the best way to collect the information, organize it, and make it interesting. Some writers get bored easily: You’re committing to a whole book. If you prefer shorter fare, this ain’t your gig.

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Six-Figure Writer Carol Tice Uses Social Media, Skype to Connect With Clients

Carol Tice is a freelance writer and blogger whose work has appeared in Entrepreneur magazine, the Seattle Times,, and more. She is featured on the cover of the 2013 Writer’s Market. Tice shares her writing experiences on her blog, via social media, and in her writing community.

WL:  What was the hardest part of building a successful blog?

Tice: Definitely the tech mountain. I am NOT a technical person! Every night, after my kids went to bed, from 8-midnight or later, I’d be upstairs going, “OK, I’ve GOT to learn Camtasia tonight so I can make a video.” Or how to code a widget. Or learn to use a new plug-in. Or whatever. There was a lot to learn.

WL: Why did you add a writing community and how has that helped you to better serve writers?

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7 Questions to Consider When Naming Your Writing or Publishing Company

Launching a business is scary enough without wondering if you’ll goof on the name. Name your business the wrong thing, and you could find yourself struggling way too hard to connect with your potential customers, gain credibility, and find an audience. And then, out of business.

A long, clunky name can be hard to remember. A too-strange name can be off-putting. A too generic name can convey a feeling of blah. Have we seen great examples of companies that have succeeded, even with a name that fits in one of those categories? Of course. After all, Haagen-Dazs wasn’t even a word, yet today it stands for a brand of ice cream many of us love. So yeah, companies can succeed even if their names don’t fall neatly into someone’s rulebook of names. But most business owners would do well to remember a few things when naming their companies.

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How Bad Writing Helps You Get Better

The woman was there to bury her sister and her niece, who had been murdered by the husband.

Lives cut short, so short.

And then she had to deal with me, a young reporter who had telephoned to do an interview about this news event for a story to run in the paper the next day. My question? “How do you feel?”

Her answer? A quick, biting, “How do you think I feel?”

Amazingly, she didn’t hang up on me.

Stupid reporter.

I somehow managed to stumble all over myself, my words pouring out of my mouth like wild children racing from the schoolhouse at the end of the day. They had no direction, no focus, probably very little understanding of the moment.

That was at the start of my career and was one of the worst interviews I’ve ever done. I can’t remember if I was an intern or if I had just started working full-time at my first professional newspaper job. But what I do remember is how awful I felt after that interview and how terribly I messed it up. Who asks a woman on the day she is burying her sister and niece, “How do you feel?!”

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