Here’s the situation… You just wrote the next best-selling Urban Fiction novel, or so you’ve been told by your grandmother and her reading circle. You take what you think is the next step and search the internet for companies that will help you self-publish your book. You select the one you think is best and you send them X amount of dollars to make you an overnight sensation. They set you up with your ISBN number and start to market your book. What they didn’t tell you is that THEY now own that ISBN, they set the sell price of your book, and if you sent in an unedited copy, an unedited copy is what will be released to the public.
AAMBC’s The Situation Room sits down with Author Geoffrey McClanahan to discuss his projects, his original self-publishing woes and how he reclaimed his rights and reinvented his brand.
TSR: Geoffrey, you released your second novel Chronicles Of Crush Onyx (Volume 1) on July 15, 2011, which is the first of a trilogy that’s touted as a “psychological thriller.” What does that mean exactly?
Geoffrey: Well, a Psychological thriller is mostly a Brain twister. Basically, the way the mind works. Thriller of course means suspense. Although I am From the Urban community, and I do love myUrban Streetliterature, I don’t want to limit my imagination to just one genre style to how I write. I guess you can say, I most definitely will change the lane of how we read Urban fiction.
TSR: Where did you get the idea for this type of book series?
Geoffrey: Chronicles of Crush Onyx was created with just one thought. How come we don’t have any Black serial killers? Lol. I watch SHO Dexter, and I am a fan of that show. But I asked myself, what if he was Black? And what would a serial killers life style be like inNew York City. Well, I have been told from my readers on that quote. “This is the sickest Sh#T I ever read, didn’t see this one coming.
TSR: Your debut novel, Wait’n For The Sun To Rise, focuses on domestic violence. Why did you select that topic to write about?
Geoffrey: First, my mother is a domestic violent abused survivor. My father was a drug user (so cliché) and beat on her through most of my childhood. She did leave him before I could really remember, I must have been 5 or 6. But it didn’t hit home, until I was incarcerated serving a 5 year bid in 2004, when my mother delivered the news that my female cousin was murdered by her spouse and found under her house naked. That’s what sparked me to write this first book. I wanted to write about that issue that does not discriminate against race, color, or creed. That’s why I made my characters biracial. But at the same time I want it to help our younger female readers get the message.
TSR: You have a very checkered past, what made you change direction and start a writing career? In other words, who or what was your inspiration?
Geoffrey: Checkered past. I like that, but I have surely “evolved” into the man that I am today. I am never ashamed of my past ya dig. I grew up hard, and fast. (By choice) at the age of 10, I hopped on the 6 train and made my way down to42nd StreetTimes Square. if you remember the old 40-duce, Pimps, prostitutes, Gangsta’s, Drugs, Crime and the Grit of it all, then you know where I’m coming from. I been on that train for 25 years in short. I was raised by the streets. To much to go into, but like Biggie Smalls said in 10 Crack commandments. “You cant tell me nothing about this crack, this coke, this weed…” to my real hustles. Other than that, my story would be called SNITCHING! I decide to change on my last bid in the box. I was washed up! Done! Game over. Tired!
TSR: What is the organizational makeup of your publishing company EliteRoyalties LLC? Will the company only focus on book publishing, or does it have other areas of interest?
Geoffrey: I am the CEO and owner of EliteRoyalties LLC. EliteRoyalties LLC is comprised of a small team that I trust and have know for more than 30 years, and will help with the daily operations of the company. My book publications department is one branch connected to the growing tree. The Publishing department will also open up on taking on new writers as it grows
It also has Film Productions that covers concerts, artist interviewing, and working on screenplay writing for movie productions for the books. In addition, the EliteRoyalties brand name, in the future, will take on fashion by introducing its Apparel and Accessories Clothing line.
TSR: Your books stray from the usual street-wise tales of most urban fiction novels. Do you consider yourself an urban lit or street lit author, or would you place yourself in a different category altogether?
Geoffrey: I love my urban street lit with all my heart on the real. It was the K’wan’s, Teri Woods, Donald Goins, Omar Tyree’s, Eric Jerome Dicky’s that sparked my desire to write about what I can relate to. Then there’s Zane, who I call the Queen of Erotica. But I also like Stephen King and Dean Koontz who opened up my imagination to suspense, thrillers and Horror. I also read about the Black panthers. My stories are a combination of all of these styles of writing, so it’s hard to place myself in one specific category. I am an African American writer from an Urban community. I told K’wan when I met him, that I do not want to write about the “hood” stuff yet, because it’s deeper than just wanting to make a profit. I am a member of an organization for 16 years since 1996 and my stories would be so real, even if I changed the names in my fiction, some will for sure know I’m talking about them and what we have done. And that I will never do.
TSR: What do you wish to accomplish through your writing?
Geoffrey: I really want to be recognized as a Black writer from an Urban Hood that didn’t stereotype cast himself or his work because they said I won’t make it writing Psychological thrillers, fantasy PG books, or what ever the hell I wanted to write. Of course I would love to see the money, who wouldn’t. But I truly enjoy this craft. And if I don’t make it in the literary world, than I will always push forward to the next. And most important, I don’t really like working
for anyone period. I eat lunch when I want. Lol.
TSR: What’s your opinion on the number of self-publishers in the game today? Do you think it’s overkill or do you feel that it’s a necessity?
Geoffrey: Its great if someone can self publish themselves. if that is what you are asking. It is necessary for many reasons. I wish I can give a more defined answers, but I had to learn the hard way.
TSR: You had a bad experience with a well-known publishing company, which will remain unnamed, that many new authors choose to work with. Can you tell us what happened?
Geoffrey: Yes, I had a very bad situation with my first book going to one of these self publishing providers (Cause that’s all they are) who promises you a successful book deal. I won’t say no names, but how the hell do I sell 1000 units, and they sent me a check for $27.00? WTF! Yes they will promise to connect you to various outlets to sell your book. But then you pay $2,500 – $4,000 and don’t even own the ISBN number. Then on top of that, they hit you with more cost to market your product. So now you want to get out? Goodbye, but leave your book here. I’m not saying they are all bad, but do your research first. It’s costly to own your own, but at least you can move it how and where you want. I own all my publications from the ISBNs and barcodes, and I have the freedom to choose my printing provider and control the royalties from the minute I start writing on that first blank page, to the last book sold.
TSR: Were you able to control the sell price of your book and the finished product as far as layout and book cover design with this publishing company?
Geoffrey: NO! Not with those people. They didn’t even design the cover the way I wanted it. The typesetting was formatted poorly, and the editing inadequate leaving the book full of missed spelled words. Now I can make my own sale prices. That’s why I feel so good about my product. I designed my covers from scratch. Also with the help from a good graphic designing company based out inAtlanta(Brand Concepts). Every picture you see on my book covers, I purchased and hand picked them myself to define the characters in my stories. I use to look at some covers and read their synopsis and be like, Huh? I also hooked up with people in the book world who truly care and have been supportive on helping me get it organized. like NCM publishing Author Ni’cola Mitchelle (Twisted and Over & Over again). She did the interior typesetting for both my books. I would also like to connect with Tamika Newhouse (AAMBC). Good people.
TSR: What, if anything, did you learn from that experience?
Geoffrey: Own your own sh#t.
TSR: How did you sever those ties and what affect did that have on Wait’n For The Sun To Rise?
Geoffrey: I had to get a lawyer to draw up a letter of intent between me and that publishing company to disconnect my services. That’s when I found out that I didn’t own that ISBN number attached to that book. Now I had to start from scratch making this book the third version. I’m still tying to get that cover off my amazon account as we speak. Crazy.
TSR: How hard was it for you to set up EliteRoyalties LLC?
Geoffrey: It wasn’t hard at all to own my own business. But costly to buy your license and domain. Once I had my brand name that I liked, now what do I do with my company? Going through all the bullshit with other people wanting to control my ideas, I couldn’t take it anymore. Now I have to work for my company, not someone else. My company needs to be fed one thing, MONEY!
TSR: What would you like to say to those publishers who take advantage of new authors, who are inexperienced and uninformed?
Geoffrey: I really can’t say anything to them. its not there fault. I was one of those inexperienced and uninformed writers. But that won’t happen again.
TSR: What advice would you give to an up and coming author who is looking to self-publish with companies such as the one you initially worked with, or who are looking to self-publish on their own?
Geoffrey: First; any writer wanting to come into this game better know the difference between a self publisher, and being an Independent Author! Please do your research first. Take the time to see what they offer. What’s their back ground history. Who have they worked with before? I have heard some crazy things so far in this book game. Every body is not out for your best interest. I know for a fact when I do open up my doors to new authors coming under the EliteRoyalties Publications family, they will make more than me. I shouldn’t be making all their money. They worked hard, so I will work hard for them. Don’t forget to check for my books in the meantime. http://www.EliteRoyalties.com. Peace.
About The Author: Geoffrey McClanahan is CEO of EliteRoyalties LLC, and EliteRoyalties Publications. He was born inBronx,New York in 1969. He has been a part of the Hip-Hop culture since the 80s, and witnessing the rise of many pioneers to Dance, Rap, and DJ-ing that changed the worlds perception of music and fashion as we see it today. His love for this Culture
led him to pursue acting and modeling that landed him as an extra in the 80’s hip hop smash hit movie “Krush Groove” and a streamline of following extra rolls on TV shows such as- A&Es “100 Centre Street” and various Rap videos. The tragic death of his female relative in 2005, due to domestic violence, catapulted the writing of “Wait’n For The Sun To Rise” released in 2009 and current release of his second Novel, the first of a trilogy collection, “Chronicles of Crush Onyx” in summer of 2011. He continues to take his company to new heights adding his Filming/concert coverage and artist interviewing catalog to his roster of many great R&B legends, Rappers and Actors. Faith Evans, Kerry Washington, Jada Kiss, Jamie Hector, Ron Isley, Meli’sa Morgan, Dru Hill, Big Daddy Kane, Monifah, The Brat, Allure, Lil Cease, Intro, Maino, Grand Master Kaz, Bobby Valentino, Red Cafe, Rick Ross and many more. Also inspired by his favorite writers, such as, Stephen King, Zane, Terri Woods, and Iyanla Vanzant, Geoffrey discovered his untapped talent… writing Urban Tales of Science Fiction, Fantasy,
Erotica, and Drama for his readers.