Seven things I learned while on the Soul Expressions Tour

1. Harlequin is a good place to be.  They had four authors on the tour, three of whom started with Arabesque books in the mid-nineties around the time I did–Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers and Brenda Jackson.  These authors could write for any publishing house they want and they’ve chosen Harlequin.  That speaks volumes for Harlequin. 

2. HarperCollins is a good place to be.  Harper had three authors on the tour, including me.  I was the newbie beside New Yorks Times Bestseller Kimberla Lawson Roby and the perennial favorite Beverly Jenkins.  HarperCollins stepped up to the plate for us.  They hosted an online interview with us while we were on the road and they equipped Beverly with a video camera so she could record our stops.

3. New York Times Bestsellers come in all shapes and sizes.  Street lit author Wahida Clarke made the list and she’s only published three books, two of which were written while she was in prison.  Romance writer Brenda Jackson made the list and she’s published 56 books over about a 13-year period.  Women’s fiction author Kim Roby made the list and she self-published her first book.  Street lit author Vickie Stringer made the list and owns a publishing house.  Vickie also started writing while in prison.

4. Readers read across genres.  I sorta knew this but the tour drove the point home.  Readers who bought me, Victoria Christopher Murray and Marilynn Griffith also bought Vickie and Wahida as well as erotica author Allison Hobbs.  Of course, there were some readers who only wanted Wahida or Vickie, while others only wanted me, Marilynn or Victoria. Most of them though read widely though.

5. Authors are generous.  There were a lot of personal stories and business insights shared on this trip.  We talked about the pros-and-cons of being a Black Expressions main selection.  We shared tips on effective marketing and promotion.  We bought each others’ books.

6. Romance readers turn out for booksignings.  I’d guess that Brenda Jackson, Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers and Beverly Jenkins probably had the most readers visit them.  These readers had their full backlist so they’d been fans for a while. 

7. Publishing regularly and often has it benefits.  Brenda, Donna, Rochelle and Beverly are all wonderful writers but I think the fact that romance demands publishing multiple books a year comes into play in the characteristics of their readers.  These readers have gotten to know Brenda, Donna, Rochelle and Beverly through 15 years of books coming out multiple times a year (Rochelle will have 12 out next year!) so there’s a special relationship with them.  As an example, Brenda sponsors a cruise with her readers every two years.  A cruise!  Beverly Jenkins does weekend pajama parties with hers.

That’s all I can think of now. If I think of something else. I’ll start another list.

So how much of this did you already know and what was new to you?

UPDATE:  Marilynn Griffith has her list up HERE.  It’s well worth a read. 

6 thoughts on “Seven things I learned while on the Soul Expressions Tour

  1. Thanks for posting! I’ve learned a lot from your post. From this past weekend at Faith and Fiction I saw how transparent and willing to share many authors can be. It’s very encouraging for aspiring writers to see the other side. 🙂

    By the way I finished “Up Pops the Devil.” Oh my goodness you did an awesome job with “Preacher” – really loved the character development and subplots in this book. I will post a full review soon.

    So, I got to ask – anymore books coming with these characters? There are a few I could see a book built around. 🙂



  2. I knew about the multiple books a year for the romance writers. I would look up those authors who write romance on Amazon to see they almost have a new book every month. That is wonderful and worrisome at the same time. Can they continually deliver great new material or are they changing the names of he characters, their locations and calling it a new release?

    I also knew that AA readers are well rounded. Many people believe we only read one type of book, not correct at all. Who would know I can eat up some Christian Fiction then turn around and drink a bathful of erotica? I love versatility. And I will give any genre a chance at least once.

    Everything is news to me. Thanks for sharing and now I know to stem away from romance, because there is no way I can churn them out that fast.

  3. Girl, you nailed it on the head and then some! Now folks are asking me for the same thing and I feel like that girl shrugging in the back row, saying, “What she said!” For what it’s worth though, I think it was a pivotal experience and not just for my writing.

  4. Ty, you’re the second or third person to ask me about seeing those characters again. I’m going to do a post on it and I want you to respond.

    Jennifer, I should have been clearer. Rochcelle has 12 books out next year but some of those are re-issues. When I wrote romance, I had an many as four books out in a single year. It can be done and those books sell well so the authors are giving the readers what they want. That said, writing that frequently is not for everybody. Brenda Jackson used to get up at 3a in the morning to write before going to work. Donna Hill wrote in long-hand on the train as she went to work. And both had children at home. These authors worked to make it happen.

    Rhonda, I like the notion of diversity as “the seasoning salt”. Don’t be surprised if you see it again.

    Marilynn, I just checked out your list. You done said something, lady!

  5. “We talked about the pros-and-cons of being a Black Expressions main selection. ”

    Ooh, as someone who had two books selected for this distinction, I’d love to hear more!

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