Here’s the situation… Don’t you hate it when you pick up an Urban Fiction Novel from the newest self-proclaimed “highly-anticipated Author/Authoress” and before you can make it out of the first chapter you’re hit with typos, grammatical errors, and a mish-mash of editorial no-nos? Let’s face it, just because a person knows how to tell stories, doesn’t necessarily make them a great Storyteller. Perhaps the integrity of self-published Urban Fiction is being compromised since anyone with a thought and a computer can publish 20 E-books or 200 POD books a day and call themselves a published author. With that being said, what’s the fate of self-published Urban Fiction as a whole?
AAMBC’s The Situation Room (TSR) catches up with the bestselling author, Noire, to talk about urban fiction, the self-publishing industry and what’s next for the Queen of Urban Erotica.
TSR: So, you just released the unprecedented Urban Serial Novel G-Spot 2 BETRAYAL: The 2nd Deadly Sin, which follows PRIDE: the 1st Deadly sin, and precedes Sins 3 thru 7: Greed, Envy, Lust, Trickery and Revenge respectively. What else can we expect from Noire?
NOIRE: Hi Michelle! Right now I’m giving my full attention to publishing, distributing, and marketing my serial novel, G-Spot 2: The Seven Deadly Sins. Next out the box for me is a hot novella in a collaborative novel with the bangin’ writer, Kiki Swinson, called, Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless. My story is called, “Puttin’ Shame in the Game” and it’s a sexy Urban Erotic Appetizer. After that, I have a series coming out with a major publisher and it’s gonna be a sweet and sexy urban erotic banger!
TSR: I know you originally weren’t even looking to publish, but since you’ve become so successful with your Urban Erotic Tales, did you ever contemplate self-publishing, or are you happy with a publishing house? Why?
NOIRE: That’s right I wasn’t looking to get published. I was happy writing stories just for myself, but fate had other plans for me. Over the past six years I’ve worn a lot of hats. From best-selling author, to editor-in-chief of a pioneering online magazine, to CEO of Noire Music Group, to a screenwriter with a film in the can, and now I proudly wear the hat of an independent publisher. Yes, I’m still happy to be with a major publisher, but I’m also grateful to have the freedom to publish some of my own work and to be more involved in learning this business from the bottom up. Not everybody can earn the confidence of a major house and run a successful publishing business at the same time, and I’m blessed to have the best of both worlds.
TSR: What’s different about the publishing game now opposed to how it was when you published your first novel, G-Spot?
NOIRE: Just about everything is different! The game has definitely changed and I’m the type who believes change is good. There’s nothing wrong with shaking things up. I get bored easily so I think old methods and strategies need to be replaced with new ideas and a fresh focus every now and then. I’ve had critics tell me that I need to keep publishing and writing the same way I was doing it six years ago, which is complete craziness. Nothing today is the same as when I first got published, and that’s a good thing. I’m creative and I always think way outside the box. The market drives a lot of changes in every business, and lately, ordinary readers have had a big impact on the way the publishing world operates.
When I was first published it was still a closed circle when it came to getting a book on the shelves. Vanity houses and self-publishers were still seen as substandard for a lot of reasons, and unless a major house gave you the nod and the green light, a writer had to either keep sitting on their eggs or find other ways of making them hatch. Authors of today are cutting out the middlemen and making things happen for themselves, and why shouldn’t they? It’s their creativity, their grind, and their hustle. I applaud it.
TSR: How do you feel about the concept of self-publishing in general?
NOIRE: I think the concept of self-publishing is a cool option. It gives new writers an opportunity to bring their ideas to the market and it gives readers choices they didn’t have in the past. I’m thrilled when I check out a good book written by an author who stepped up and did her own thing and manifested her own destiny. If aspiring writers today sat around and waited for a major house to come calling they’d be waiting a real long time.
That answers the theory behind your question, but as for self-publishing in practice? Yeah, I’ve heard all the talk about how everybody in the world wants to be a writer today, and how self-published authors, especially in street lit and urban fiction, are throwing the game out of order. But that’s life for you. I’m not the type to throw shit on anybody’s shine. I’ve had too much shit thrown on mine. Ultimately, it will be the reader who decides which books make it and which books fail to launch. And no, not everybody is going to have a decent or quality product, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to bring their shitty product to the market. If it sells, cool. If it doesn’t they can take it as a lesson learned.
TSR: Do you think that every self-published “author” is legitimate? Or do you think the title should be limited to a certain list of requirements that those professing to be “authors” should possess?
NOIRE: Sure there are some “authors” out there who put out books that are considered trash, and hell yeah, it’s obvious that a lot of people can’t write and are just throwing random words down and then hawking e-book sales, but should publishing be regulated?
Who in the world can we even trust to regulate all this? The corrupt booksellers who trash authors for self-publishing e-books and cutting them out of the profit margin? The “professional” reviewers who don’t even read the books they review, then get on facebook and tell their friends not to review certain books because they don’t like the author? The other reviewers who destroy their credibility by going along with such bullshit? The bloggers and publicists and media hounds that clique up and do the same thing? Sorry, but I don’t trust some of these types to regulate a damn thing. They’re not ethical enough to live up to the standards of their own professions, let alone to decide which authors should be considered legitimate. I’ve never been down with their cliques, so if it was up to some of them they would have “regulated” me out of this business right after G-Spot came out, but my loyal readers kept me in the game.
So, while I’d like to see higher quality books in the market, I just don’t have enough faith in the industry’s integrity to give ALL authors the fair shake that they deserve. So I’m happy that today it’s the book-buying readers who get to decide who is legitimate, and that’s the way it should be. Not the publicists, not the so-called professional book reviewers, not the literary bloggers, or the magazine editors. The self-publishing craze has practically eliminated all of that crazy interference between the reader and the author. Let writers write and readers read. Everybody in the middle needs to concentrate on regulating themselves.
You asked about requirements for authors? Of course any profession should have a set of minimum requirements that its members should meet, but publishing in a free market nixes all that. The only requirement an author needs today is a fan base that likes the type of books he’s putting out. One reader’s trash is another reader’s treasure. I know this is really painful for some people in this game to accept, especially authors who have worked hard to study and honor this craft and put out quality books, and who love this literary game from the heart. It can be a harsh blow when you see a book that is unedited, has no plot, and is clearly substandard receiving glowing reviews and selling off the charts, but you just gotta respect that the world is changing, and in a free market readers with dollars are the only real regulators.
TSR: How do you feel about Urban Fiction that has been published, but not edited?
NOIRE: I think any fiction that hasn’t been edited is a big problem whether it’s urban fiction or any other genre. Authors who put out unedited work usually have a substandard mindset, but if a reader is willing to pay good money in a bad recession for that kind of book, what does that tell you? Some of these books have so many grammatical and other errors that they’re almost unreadable. This is a sure sign of an amateur writer. A professional writer is going to value his readers enough to give them their money’s worth, and that means, in part, investing in a good editor. That’s just common business sense.
TSR: Do you think that authors should be able to release their material “as is,” or should there be restrictions as to what is being published?
NOIRE: Like I’ve said, even when I don’t like a book I’m not one for putting restrictions on other authors. I’ve had so many people in this literary game try to suppress my writing that I refuse to do that to someone else. I think those who see the world of literature as a make-a-quick-dollar scheme will eventually wash out. The vets, and those authors who have put it down hard and proven themselves in this game like Nikki Turner, Kiki Swinson, T. Styles, Tracy Brown, Ashley & JaQuavis, Treasure Blue, Mary B. Morrison, Vicki Stringer, Jamise L. Dames, Terri Woods, Erick Gray, Anna J., Thomas Long, K’wan, Carl Weber, and many, many others who consistently kick out high quality books year after year will remain favorites with their readers, and the new authors who are striving to get a leg up in the game will either prove themselves worthy and take their proper places on the throne, or fall off naturally.
TSR: Finally, what is your advice for aspiring authors?
NOIRE: I have 10 points of advice to aspiring authors:
1. Study the craft. You can’t call yourself a professional writer if you give an amateur effort. Respect the written word enough to learn what it takes to construct a novel. It’s not all about the quick dollar. It’s about showing your talent and your passion and putting your name on a quality product.
2. Decide why you want to be in this business. What you want to get out of it, but what you want to give back to it too. Learn the meaning of reciprocity. Sometimes the more you give, the more you get back in return.
3. Identify your writing weaknesses and correct them before throwing a ‘for sale’ sign on your book. Make sure everything about your writing is above par. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and once you put your book out there, it’s out there!
4. Get with people who are willing to help you grow as a writer, but understand that this is a cutthroat business. If your stuff is good you are bound to attract haters and swine who will fear your competition. Expect it. Enough said.
5. Develop a thick skin because you’ll need it. Not everybody will like what you do or what you write, but that comes with the territory. Just like you take the good on the heart, take the not-so-good on the chin. That’s part of life. But at the same time don’t let detractors dictate your moves. Just because somebody doesn’t understand your genius doesn’t mean you’re not one. Sometimes critiques are used as tools to suffocate greatness. No matter what they say, keep doing you.
6. Stay out of the cliques. There are a lot of them out there and they’re very easy to spot. It’s great to have friends and alliances in this bizz, but cliques are designed to keep other writers down and out and it’s hard to respect that. Most people in the clicks don’t have love for you anyway, and good writers don’t need cliques. Dogs and sheep travel in herds and packs. Eagles soar on their own.
7. Stand up for yourself when necessary. Don’t bite at every little thing that irks you, but don’t believe that old punching bag hype either. Gone are the days when authors had to bend over and take a stiff one when someone in the industry went after them or attempted to squash their book sales. It’s a new day. Freedom of speech isn’t just for those who want to attack you anymore. If your name is being defamed you have the right to free speech too. Use it.
8. Demand excellence. Not just in yourself, but in everybody else in this industry as well. Whether it’s a publisher, an editor, a reviewer, or a publicist. If you’re expected to know this game inside out before putting out a book, then all the other power players should be expected to know it too.
9. Don’t expect other people to do your work for you. Contacting a successful author for advice is fine, but don’t throw down the “you made it big, now put me on,” line. Do your own research and put in your own work. Nobody should have to do for you what you are capable of doing for yourself. Ultimately, your writing is gonna have to stand on its own two feet.
10. Hustle hard, but don’t go grimy. There’s a protocol for everything we do. All hustle is not good hustle. Violating boundaries and stepping in yards uninvited is a sure way to turn people off. If you want to be successful then learn how to build relationships before you start sucking on somebody. There’s a right way to go about publicizing your book, but you have to bring your own heat. Work hard! Don’t be afraid to put some ass in it and grind baby, grind!
About the Author:
Noire is the Queen of Urban Erotica and the #1 National bestselling author of G-Spot, Candy Licker, Thug-A-Licious, Thong on Fire, Baby Brother (w/50 Cent), Hood, Hittin’ the Bricks, Unzipped, Maneater (w/Mary B. Morrison), Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless (w/Kiki Swinson), editor of From the Streets to the Sheets, and publisher of the first urban erotic serial novel G-Spot 2: The Seven Deadly Sins. Noire’s “Little Black Books” consist of Pride, Betrayal, Greed, Envy, Lust, Trickery, and Revenge, and can be ordered at www.noirestore.com. She can be reached at www.facebook.com/noireblack.