Elissa Gabrielle is an award-winning author whose publishing company has grown to an entity that publishes authors in several genres.
Gabrielle: Great question. I simply offer my work to the public. My readers know how spiritual I am. They also understand that poetry was my first love. They get that I have a great style when it comes to writing romance and erotica. They trust me enough to deliver my best, whatever the subject matter is. My readers take me as I am. I give them me authentically, and they receive me authentically. In regard to marketing, that’s what I do. I offer all of me, authentically.
WL: What has been the best tool, strategy, or approach you’ve used to build an audience?
Gabrielle: Social media has played a key role in reaching current and potential readers across the country. I also travel the country to engage in book signings and events, whenever possible. I’m proud of the fact that I am a mother, wife, daughter, first and foremost and as such, my familial obligations take priority. I would love to be somewhere every week doing my thing for the author side of my life, and I would probably be a lot further if this was the case, however, I only get a chance to be my babies’ mother once and my husband’s wife once, and my father’s daughter once, so it may take twice as long for me to reach my own level of personal success, and that’s okay, because certain things in my life are non-negotiable and uncompromisable. But when I can, and as often as I can, I try to make my appearances at least every quarter to meet my readers face-to-face and thank them for believing in me and my writing.
WL: How important is social networking to your work?
Gabrielle: Social media has proven to be extremely effective in the areas of marketing and promotions for not only me but for also building the brand of Peace In The Storm Publishing. Social networking allows me and the authors of Peace In The Storm Publishing to engage our readers at any given moment. That’s powerful.
WL: How are you so prolific?
Gabrielle: Monica, this is hard to answer. My goodness. I try to remain modest and humble. It’s just who I am. But I will try. I’m unafraid to tackle subjects that are sometimes considered taboo, and I tackle them the way I want to. Domestic violence, racism, the beauty in plus-sized women, the beauty of all types of African American women, to challenging the typical American standards of beauty, I speak of God and the way I feel spiritually, with no apology. I love hard and strong. I am a loyalist to a fault. I care. I give a damn about the people close to me. I hear that others are inspired by my words. I love that.
I wear my heart on my sleeve, but don’t cross me. I write erotica. I’m good at it. I write the hell out of it. And, it’s okay. I want people to know they’re worthy. I want them to fight for that worth. I don’t want them to be browbeat into submission. I love the skin I’m in. I’m flawed. I’m strong. I’m bold. I’m scared. I’m ambitious. I’m withdrawn. I’m brave. I’m whole. I’m learning. I’m growing. I teach. I learn. I march to the beat of my own drum. I wish, love, pray with no fear.
I consider myself on a crusade to reject the modern day stereotypes society holds and oftentimes lives by regarding African American men. They are our heroes, our protectors, and carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and they persevere, despite being labeled “The Boogeyman.”
WL: What has helped you be as productive as you have been?
Gabrielle: I am not only responsible for me but I have a team of talented authors I carry on my shoulders. I feel like whatever author is blessed enough to be in my stable, that I have to do the best I can for them. Cheryl Lacey Donovan, who has been with Peace In The Storm Publishing since its inception, works hard, all the time, all year long. I have to do the same, give her that same commitment. Lorraine Elzia, Jessica A. Robinson, Pamela D. Rice, and Ebonee Monique hold me down wherever they go, I go with them. How can I not be productive for their sake? I love a challenge, in addition to all things, so being productive is part of the challenge of continuing to grow and become better.
WL: What is one thing you would do differently in your literary career, if you were starting out today?
Gabrielle: When I started writing, I was 13. That was just over twenty years ago. I’ve been published since 1999. Back then, social media was nowhere near the level it’s on today. Neither was technology in regard to books and publishing. I’d definitely take advantage of all of the technological advances that are present and here to stay like, ebooks and electronic publishing and everything social media has to offer if I were just starting today. I would also reach out to everyone I could who is doing it now and walk in their victory to learn from the best. I’ve always been a great student.
WL: What one piece of advice would you give a new writer?
Gabrielle: Never stop writing. Never stop reading. Keep going, no matter what. Walk your path regardless of who approves.
WL: What is the biggest mistake you see new writers make?
Gabrielle: The biggest mistakes new writers make is allowing their ego to outweigh their talent.
WL: What is the biggest misconception people have about making a living writing?
Gabrielle: It’s extremely hard to do. God bless the authors this happens for, but oftentimes, the misconception is that you’ll land a six-figure deal on your very first novel and move your family to Blueberry Hill where you’ll drink chamomile tea all day, write books, and stay on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
WL: Why did you decide to pursue your doctorate?
Gabrielle: I talked to my mother about it. How I’ve always wanted to challenge myself to get a doctorate. As I walked with her hand in hand throughout her illness, which took her life earlier in 2012, I promised her I would achieve that goal. Don’t know how, but God. I’m tired already, but God. A forever journey lies ahead of me, but God. It’s going to take the life out of me, but God. And, I will do it, but God.
WL: How does this degree play into your writing and publishing career?
Gabrielle: I’m not sure that it will, but it will play a significant role in my life of having achieved something I’ve been wanting for a long time. If it does, beautiful. If not, it’s okay because Elissa Gabrielle, PhD is for me and most of all, for my mother.