The BackList

This is a retired blog. For the new and improved BackList blog, please visit!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tuesdays with Marie over at MJLA

Literary agent extraordinare, Mondella Jones, has started a new feature on her blog called Tuesdays with Marie Brown. If you don't know who Marie Brown is, shame on you! I won't tell you, you'll have to find out for yourself. Ms. Brown offers words of wisdom and advice, something she's been doing for many years. Check it out.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Amber Books

Here's a short article I wrote about Amber Books. Tony Rose and wife, Yvonne are definitely running an interesting publishing company.

From Publishers Weekly 8/28

Eight years after founding Amber Communications, Tony Rose and his wife, Yvonne, have used an opportunistic publishing philosophy to build an independent publishing house specializing in a mix of African-American self-help and celebrity bios. The couple launched the company in 1998 with a single title, their own how-to book Is Modeling for You? The Handbook and Guide for the Young Aspiring Black Model; it's sold more than 80,000 copies. Since then the Phoenix publisher has released more than 55 titles through its six imprints.

Tony Rose moved into publishing after a career in the music industry. He said Amber's mission is to publish useful books about everyday living in the African-American community. Amber doesn't follow a traditional publishing schedule—the house releases books to coincide with conventions and book festivals like BookExpo America and the Harlem Book Fair and focuses its promotions on the African-American news media. Amber produced a 30-second commercial that will run on black cable stations like TV One and the Black Family Channel. The average print run is 5,000. Amber employs nine full-time staffers, including four sales reps, and has eight commissioned sales reps.

"We sell our titles lots of ways," said Rose. "We do licensing; we work with wholesalers, distributors, street vendors and libraries; and we sell direct from our Web site." Amber has also published six titles on personal finance and beauty through a copublishing partnership with John Wiley.

Titles coming in 2007 include Black Out: The African American Guide to Successfully Stepping Outside of the Corporate Career Job Box by Michelle Johnson and It All Starts at Home: 100 Ways to Put Our African American Families First by Dr. Larry C. Harris. Amber's celebrity biography imprint Colossus Books will publish Dr. Dre in the Studio: From Compton, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, The Game and Mad Money by Jake Brown.

Rose's goal is to sustain Amber's growth while keeping it small enough to connect directly with its customers. "African-American publishing," Rose said, "is now a profitable business."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Publishing Gripe #2

Honesty goes a long way. It could go a heck of a long way in publishing. Imagine, if authors were told how their books actually sell! I dare to say the number requests for crazy advances would go down, if authors really understood the playing field (or if they were told their print run).

I think it's interesting how far publishers go to not tell an author how their book is selling. WHY? Yes the majority of authors will be shocked to know that their book may only sell 60 copies a week through major channels. But I personally think it will give authors a realistic picture of things. Yes there will be some disgruntled authors who will ultimately blame the publisher, but isn't honesty the best policy? And maybe a little publishing 101 is just what authors need. Teach them about a little thing called coop. Tell them a little bit about the wonderful policy of returns. I bet that would widen some eyes.

Want the truth? Bookselling is an incredibly hard business!

I was having a conversation with one of my friends who wants to write a book and I told her I think the average book sells 6,000 copies in total. I completely pulled this number from nowhere, but I recently learned that I'm not too far off.

Here's a new book blog that has all kinds of fun facts. One entry in particular has facts that I urge all authors to read.

A great statistic from the Authors Guild: A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies.

Note the word SUCCESSFUL.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Race-based Survivor

Survivor is going to divide teams by race for the new seasons. There will be a black, hispanic, asian, and white team. Uh, okay.

Broadcast journalist, Bryon Harmon has wrote a book that foreshadows what would happen if 10 black folks from different walks of life become stranded on an island. Check out his new novel, Crabs in a Barrel.

Also listen to him on AOL BlackVoices.

Brooklyn Book Festival

This festival has a crazy list of authors. Check out more info at

From PW Daily:
The First Annual Brooklyn Literary Festival is Coming
by Felicia Pride

The first annual Brooklyn Literary Festival will be held on September 16 from 10 am to 6 pm at Borough Hall in downtown Brooklyn. The festival’s theme is “smart, hip, and diverse” and it’s organized in conjunction with the Brooklyn Literary Council, an association of publishing professionals, writers, and literary agents; and Brooklyn Tourism, an initiative of Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz.

The festival will feature a diverse list of authors, many of whom have a personal connection to Brooklyn. The list includes Jonathan Ames, Ann Brashares, Colin Channer, Jennifer Egan, Nelson George, Yusef Komunyakaa, Nicole Krauss, Jhumpa Lahiri, Philip Lopate, Rick Moody, Nelly Rosario, Toure, and Colson Whitehead. Three outdoor stages will host panel discussions, performances and children’s programming. Indoor rooms will hold intimate author readings and areas will be reserved for signings. “We wanted to get as many great authors together as possible to highlight the diversity of literature connected to Brooklyn.” said Eric Demby, Director of Communications for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Several local independent bookstores, among them McNally Robinson, Freebird Books, Spoonbill & Sugartown, and St. Petersburg Books, will be on hand to sell books. There will also be more than 100 exhibitors, including publishers Seven Stories, Feminist Press, New York University Press, Graywolf, PowerHouse Books, and literary organizations like the Small Press Center.

A set of collectible “Brooklyn Bookmarks” that profile past and present Brooklyn literary figures like Jonathan Lethem, Jhumpa Lahiri and Mo Willems are available at Brooklyn Public library branches and participating bookstores to help promote the festival.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tricom Puts Authors in Your Pocket

From PW Daily:

TriCom Podcasts Put Authors In Your Pocket
by Felicia Pride

TriCom Publicity has launched two free subscription-based podcast shows, Authors in Your Pocket, a weekly one-on-one author interview, and Bookclubs in Your Pocket, a monthly digital roundtable discussion between a book club and an author. Produced and scripted by audio engineers, graphic designers, publicists, and internet marketers, the podcasts are designed to be stand-alone, entertaining marketing pieces for authors and publishers.

TriCom specializes in African American-oriented titles but also represents a variety of authors. The shows are hosted by thirty-year Chicago radio veteran, Wali Muhammad, and have featured interviews with an array of writers including Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Lisa Jackson, Meg Cabot, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Mary B. Morrison.

In addition to the standard MP3 podcasts, TriCom offers graphically enhanced versions of the same show, a unique feature that Hicks said allows audiences to follow the programs visually on their ipods. The enhanced podcasts include photographs, book illustrations and hyperlinks to purchase books, as well as links to author and publisher websites, mailing lists, blogs, reading guides, excerpts, and interactive contests.

To promote the podcasts (, TriCom sends weekly emails to its home grown list of 208,000 readers and 12,000 bookclub members. The shows are also listed in search engines, podcasting directories, library and educational directories and on L. Peggy Hicks, CEO of TriCom, said, "We’ve used everything we’ve learned in the eleven years of marketing books into creating and promoting these podcasts."

Book Soundtracks

This is interesting that the WSJ did an article on book soundtracks, because I was just about to blog about them (no really, I was).

From Publishers Lunch:

Over the weekend the WSJ looked at books that come with soundtracks--sometimes
formally packaged with the book, sometimes informally posted on the web. "The
idea is that as they read, people can listen to music that matches the mood of
the books. In some cases, the songs are mentioned in the books themselves; in
others, the lyrics mirror themes or plot points."

James Patterson spent
$100,000 commissioning a CD for one of his Maximum Ride titles, and 100,000 cds
were sent to radio stations and given away as promos.

One bellwether
site: "One byproduct of the book soundtrack trend has been the transformation of
a grassroots music blog into a coveted marketing slot for authors like Mr. Ellis
and Mr. Klosterman. The blog, called Largehearted Boy, features a running series
called 'Book Notes.' About once a week, an author of a recent book posts a list
of songs that inspired the work or that readers might want to listen to as they
turn the pages."

Erica Turnipseed has a soundtrack to accompany her novels, the upcoming HUNGER and A LOVE NOIRE. The Soundtrack features Gordon Chambers*, Jason Eskridge, Jazzhole, Leisa Johnson, LEANiN6*, Lisala, Vernon Reid, Marlon Saunders*, M'Balia Singley, Soulfège.

Of course there are others that have done this and I think it is a great idea. I love the fusion of books and music. I think I need to incorporate this into BackList somehow!

Selena James takes over

From Publishers Lunch:

Kensington has hired Selena James as executive editor, overseeing Dafina Books, taking over from Karen Thomas. James was at Pocket most recently, and was previously an associate agent at Victoria Sanders & Associates.

Coming to a theater near you (hopefully)

The film rights to Denise Nicholas's FRESHWATER ROAD (published in hardback by Agate in August 2005, and coming out in paperback from Pocket in September 2006), an Essence bestseller and winner of the BCALA First Novelist award for 2005, have been sold by the author to Canyon Road Pictures, Pat Palleschi, and Chas. Johnson Productions.

Will Nicholas star in it?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Publishing Gripe #1

I have a few gripes with the publishing industry. I think that is because I realize how important this business is. It's a fascinating and flawed industry but I've decided to make a career out of it nonetheless.

So periodically I will be airing my gripes. Here's the first one.

Publishers: I have never heard the average reader say, "I don't want to read that book, it came out six months ago." Most readers don't care if the book has been published in the last 3-6 months. Media, yes media cares, but the folks that buy the books don't.

I know. I know about limited resources available to push books. I know about frontlist vs. backlist. I know that the book pipeline is always filled and there is a short window before publicists, editors, marketing folks have to think about books on the next season.

But we all know that. And because we know that, what can we do to actively promote books beyond the average 3 month period? Some books take longer to find their audiences, how do we give those books the attention they need? After publicity campaigns, what can we do to market directly to readers?

That's one thing that I admire about many self-published authors. Many of them push their books until copies are gone (cause they have to recoup their investment.) They push all their books at the same time, not just the new one.

I know this problem is much more complicated than this blog can address, but it's something to think about.

New Articles on BackList

Check out the new articles on

Also launched the Visible Men Series of interviews with talented male writers. First installment is with Miles Marshall Lewis, author, journalist, and editor of Bronx Biannual.

P.S. What I'm reading now: Crystelle Mourning by Eisa Nefetari Ulen. Her writing is very lyrical, I'm really enjoying it thus far.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Kim McLarin Online Chat tonight with

You are invited to join the members of The G.R.I.T.S. Online Reading Club as they chat with Kim McLarin about her latest book, Jump at the Sun, on Thursday, August 10, 2006 at:


2 copies of Jump at the Sun will be given away to attendees during this chat event so log in on time!

No registration or password is required.

The Chatlink is:

Visit - an online reading and book promotion community!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Universality Trap has published an essay by Kim McLarin on the trap of trying to write for a universal audience. The infamous catch-22 for many writers of color.

Victor Lavalle's Buttonhole Book

I wasn't quite certain what a buttonhole book was, I had never run into that turn. But NPR has a feature where they talk to writers about those books that they passionately urge others to read.

For Victor Lavalle, it's Kenzaburo Oe's 1958 novella "Prize Stock," collected in Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness.

One of my buttonhole books is Orange Laughter by Leone Ross. That book is so wonderfully crazy.

What's yours?

Recap from National Book Club Conference

Man am I sorry I missed this conference this year. Anyway, Rhonda Swan blogged about it.

Congrats Kalisha on your award!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ft. Greene Park Summer Literary Festival

I went to this festival last year and it was very nice. You had six-year old poets reading their work alongside Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka. And after the readings, both Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka were just chatting it up. It's a nice outdoor event.

2006 Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival
Saturday, August 19th, 4:30 PM
Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn

Join us for a reading featuring Jhumpa Lahiri, Sapphire, Jacqueline Johnson and Lorenzo Pace reading alongside young people from our free workshops in Fort Greene Park! Marlies Yearby, MC. Bring a picnic!

Drawing upon the rich and diverse literary history of Fort Greene Park and its surrounding neighborhoods, The Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival provides a means for self-expression and creativity for area young people, and builds community through arts and literature. The Lit Fest consists of a six-week series of free Saturday creative writing workshops for young people and an end-of-summer reading featuring literary icons reading alongside our young writers. The Lit Fest honors the power of the written word to build inclusiveness and give voice to the thoughts and experiences of everyone, not just the privileged and powerful.

The Lit Fest is a project of NY Writers Coalition, the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Akashic Books and Griot Reading Programs, with additional support from The Walt Whitman Project and BOMB Magazine.

Akashic Books Starts Street Lit Imprint

From PW Daily:
Akashic Books Launches Street Fiction Imprint
by Felicia Pride

Brooklyn-based independent publisher, Akashic Books, is launching a street fiction imprint to be called The Arsenal. The imprint is positioned as a high-quality line that will be edited by novelist Kenji Jasper.

Akashic publisher Johnny Temple said the imprint will start slowly, eventually releasing two books a year. The first title, Got, will be released in February. The book is a gangster-inspired tale written by a pseudonymous author named D, whose bio says he’s written for urban publications including Vibe. Jasper, who has written three novels and published the memoir The House on Childress Street in January, will acquire titles and assist with packaging and marketing.

Temple said he’s been impressed by the motivation of self-published street writers to produce and market their own work. "When Kenji pitched the idea to me," said Temple, "I saw it as an opportunity to capture the energy of street literature and build a line with high production and editorial values that can reach a broad audience."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Is Myspace a good promotional tool for writers?

I wish I had more time in the day. If I did, I'd read more, learn to cook more meals, and perhaps make more friends on Myspace. But I don't have that much time, thus something gets cut. That thing is usually Myspace.

I find the site incredibly time-consuming and distracting. I like to hop on and hop off, but I guess you can't do that if you are using it for promotional purposes.

Some authors that I work with ask about Myspace and whether it is worth it. I really don't have an exact answer although I think most free, online platforms can be worth it if you have the time to devote. Especially an online platform that boasts as many members as Myspace.

This recent article from tries to gauge the effectiveness of Myspace. Shout out to Elisha, A.K.A E-Fierce, author of The Sista Hood, who was interviewed for the piece. (I met her on Myspace!)

I'd like to hear from those authors out there who are on Myspace. What has it done for you? Share!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Listen to me on AOL Blackvoices

Shout out to Ken Gibbs at AOL Blackvoices. He and I worked together to create a literary news roundup on his book blog/podcast show, "More that Words."

Check out my cheesy picture. But most importantly, check out my podcast that keeps you updated on what's happening in the literary world, info on hot new releases you should check out, as well info on upcoming literary events.

So we are testing this out, so if you get a chance to listen, I would love to hear what you think. Email me at felicia at

It was incredibly weird listening to myself talk. Is that how I really sound?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Art of Emcee-ing

For aspiring emcees out there, here's a review I wrote about the Art of Emcee-ing by (one half of dead prez).

If I was to try to get into the rap game, I think it would have to be as a ghostwriter. I got lyrics, but absolutely no flow. Trust me, I've tried.

The 48 Laws of Power of the Street

Ever since this article in the LA Times about how rappers have embraced The 48 Laws of Power, I knew a book with a street slant was going to emerge. And here it is:

From Publishers Lunch Book Deals section:
Ken Ivy with Karen Hunter's PIMPOLOGY, pitched as "The 48 Laws of Power of the street," to Jeremie Ruby-Strauss at Simon Spotlight Entertainment, by Ed Davis at Eduard's Elite Footwear and Apparel (World).

Publishing can be so predictable sometimes.

For those of you who don't know who Ken Ivy is (I had no clue), check out his website,