First tell us a bit about Deatri. What attracted you to become a writer?
I’m a reader first. I know that’s hard for many to believe, but I read 3-4 books a month where I only write a book every 3-4 months. Anywhooo, my sister and I were in the bookstore and I was complaining about the quality of books. I’d read several that were not only sucky story lines but also poorly edited. And I’m talking from traditional publishing houses. She said if I thought I could do better, I should write a book myself. A month later, I had my first book. The storyline was great, but the writing sucked. LOL. We are story tellers in my family. As children, we’d sit for hours making up stories. We preferred that to television.
Tell us about your latest book. How did you come up with the concept of this story?
Dr. Ashton Tolliver has known Linda Shell his entire life, so knows she doesn’t have children. When Linda is in a car accident and pleads with Ashton to go to her farm and watch after her daughter, he is sure he is about to make the trip to see a beloved pet. The beautiful, vivacious woman who answers the door is definitely not a pet. Ashton sets out to save Jodie, but soon finds he is fighting against love.
Jodie has never left her family farm, never heard of print media or many of the technologies of the modern society, and never knew love until Ashton Tolliver came her way.
Concept: Many years ago movies about people being raised by wolves or apes in Tarzan’s case were popular. I always loved them. I was surfing the television and happened upon Nell, the movie that stared Jodie Foster who lived in the back woods away from society. A light bulb flashed on. Next thing you know, I’d flicked off the television and was typing away at Jodie’s Choice, and yes, I named the heroine after Jodie Foster.
I absolutely love the control of self-publishing. I still release quality products, but I’m no longer constrained by having to be so “commercial.” Traditional publishers have to target their books for the masses so stick close to standards for each genre. I love romance, but I may want my hero to have Bipolar disorder and my heroine to be disfigured. It’s very rare that traditional publishers allow authors to write the way I like to write.
What’s harder, being an author or an editor?
Being an editor is much harder. As a developmental editor, I have to tell an author his/her baby is ugly. Granted, I try to do it in a nice way, but all the author hears is “Your baby is ugly.” No one wants to hear that, and it doesn’t matter that I give suggestions on how to make the baby the most beautiful it can be. Editing is also a tedious process. For developmental editing, the manuscript should go between the editor and author at least three times. Most of the authors I work with only go through one of the rounds, skip copy editing and many times skip proof reading. I’m always dismayed when authors rush to get their books out there.
What do you like and dislike the most about the writing industry?
I know a lot of people think it’s all cut throat, but that’s not so. Yes there are people in the industry who are cut throat and only think of themselves, but for the most part I’ve seen editors, agents and authors who are willing to go that extra mile for each other. What I don’t like is the industry can be cliquish. Even in the self-published world. I’ve always been anti-clique so that bothers me.
Have you enjoyed your journey in the business so far? Do you have any regrets about the choices you’ve made?
I’ve enjoyed it very much. There are choices I wish I hadn’t made, but I wouldn’t truly call them regrets. Through those poor choices, I learned life lessons that took me further than I would have gone had I not learned the lesson.
You’ve released a lot of titles and have built quite a following. Why do you think your books have had such an impact on readers?
In all honesty, I have no idea. I write what I’d like to read, but couldn’t find out there. I studied the craft because though I’m a good story teller doesn’t mean I’m a good author (yes there is a difference). And just because I’m an editor doesn’t make me an author. I’m a down to earth person and genuinely like people so am always available to readers and authors.
Many black romance authors say they face some sort of racism when it comes to writing black romance. Have you experienced this?
I’ve had a review removed from Amazon and Barnes and Noble that literally tore into my book for having black people in it. It was extremely racist. Silliness. I think the same person must have written the review because they were similar and on the same book. I give away my title Love’s Desire. I’ve gotten thousands of downloads on that title and because the cover doesn’t have a black couple on it, I have received a few emails from people I assume are non-black upset when they find out I’m a Black author. Not my problem. I don’t even worry about it.
What about writing romance do you love the most?
The same reason I love reading it. Falling in love all over again. Yes, romance is formula, but the path each couple takes is different.
What advice do you have for authors in terms of promotion? Do you use out-of-the box methods to get people interested in your work?
I think many authors think of promotion per book. They are in the now instead of thinking long term. I don’t just promote my current book. I promote my books. I promote my brand. I’m in this for the long haul and there are always readers out there who haven’t read my back list.
I also think some authors don’t use social media to their advantage. They waste a lot of time doing drive by promos when they should join a group or two or however many they can actually participate in and get to know the readers in those groups. Readers want that personal connection with authors. You get a lot more bang for your buck if you actually connect with readers.
How do you think self-publishing will impact the industry in the future?
I think self-publishing is quickly becoming the new agent of the industry. I think many more traditionally published authors will choose to self-publish once they have a large loyal reading base. I think many traditional houses are going to have to give authors sweeter contracts because finding good books will be more difficult.
What’s something that you would tell a new writer that you wish you’d known when you started in the business?
To learn the business side and tread your writing career like the business it is.
Name one of your books that you’d like to be made into a movie and name who you’d like to play the lead character and why.
Black Widow and the Sandman that I write as L. L. Reaper with another author. We want Rosario Dawson for Jeanette “Black Widow” Mason and Laz Alonso for Roman “Sandman” Tate. Since this book is a suspense, it would translate much better on screen than my romance titles, plus as we were writing this book, we had movies and/or a cable series in mind for it. Everyone who has contacted us about this title says it should be made into a movie. Which is truly flattering and humbling at the same time.
What’s the biggest mistake do you feel a lot of self-published authors make?
Cutting corners and rushing. I know releasing quality work is time consuming and expensive, but this is your brand. You want to build a brand readers believe in and look for, not a brand you have to chase readers down and beg to read.
Being an editor, do you edit your own books or do you go through a separate editing service?
No one can edit their own book. Granted, I write tighter than other as do most authors who have been around for a while, but I still have editors (developmental, copy, and proof reading).
Which one of your books is your favorite and why?
Black Widow and the Sandman, because I wasn’t constrained at all by genre, publishing company or anything. I could just write what I wanted. I was truly free to be me.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from the writing industry?
That just like any other industry, there’s good, bad and ugly. The key is to recognize which is which and how to work with each accordingly.
What words of wisdom do you have for newbies starting in the industry today?
Of course, read my book Become A Successful Author and follow the website of the same name. The contributors and I share a lot of great information. Learn the craft and the business and strive to release a quality product your readers will enjoy.
Thanks for stopping by, Deatri!
Thank you for having me Stacy-Deanne. I truly appreciate it.
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