Monday, September 29, 2008

Why MySpace Is More Harmful to Authors Than Good

from the websitemakeoverworkshop blog has taken social networking by storm. Of those who are on the internet, statistics reports approximately 64% of the internet population visits MySpace.

Without a doubt is the granddaddy of social networking, also known as Web2.0. Even with rivals such as a close behind, it’s MySpace that everyone is quick to ask, “Are you on MySpace?”

MySpace has become the home for many authors and writers. Per Comscore, MySpace is attracting approximately 115 million visitors per month. In essence, it can become overwhelming to exude ones uniqueness at times.

Many authors and writers, as well as the entrepreneur refuse to see this social network for what it is; which leads many into failing to leverage this into greater results.

Let’s take it by play!

New fiction author creates a MySpace account within a community of millions. These are authors, writers, artists, students, producers, teachers, career professionals, speakers, entrepreneurs, network marketers or singles wanting to date.

Now what does this sound like? Happy hour, how about a night club?

Once stepping into a cornucopia the author sets out to make himself or herself known within a segment of the MySpace world. How? Creating a profile to express and share who they are. Whatever content, videos, or images selected for their profile it becomes more. It’s no longer just a profile it’s a quote unquote “website”.

The author builds a strong friend base and rapport on MySpace. Yet, there are others in the two million plus populated social network community fighting for attention through bulletin posts, blog posts, events or comments.

How can the author move their strong friend base to a more controlled environment?

Invite them to a place of business.

MySpace is an extraordinary community to meet, network, and communicate, however, the author must begin branding himself or herself. Right now, the MySpace brand is known worldwide. How about the author?

The question is how to begin?

As an author and a writer, the first step is to create a presence on the internet through taking ownership of internet real estate by:
- Owning a domain name / URL.
- Creating a website (Business Office)

Second is to take this new power and:

- Market your website through the strong friend base
- Take the networking from MySpace to your space
- Generate a following outside of MySpace

Third is to build a brand:

- Your website is the leading site to send prospective customers
- In all content, online, and offline include your domain name

Major segments of the business world use because of its ability to create a community online in one central location, which mirrors society. These corporations and businesses are bringing their brand onto MySpace for the soul purpose to craft awareness of their product or service.

Uniquely, companies have come to to mingle, network, and market, with the expectation they’ll generate new traffic to their website. And it’s this model the author and writer must create for himself or herself.

Many authors and writers feel fearful of the internet. With so much taking place on the worldwide web, they lack knowledge and resources.

As many authors continue to take control of their literary career it’s time for many to leverage what they’ve created on the granddaddy of social network,, to take their ultimate goals and dreams to another level.

Author and website makeover trainer, C.F. Jackson recognized the missing piece for many authors and writers and launched Website Makeover Workshop. This is a place where authors and writers can come to learn more, to better position themselves on the internet.

At there are workshops (group and individual), resources, and a tutorial program. All are geared to meet the time restraints life has on any author or writer. They’re assisting authors to leverage their presence on to create greater success on their own space.

Visit me at

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A dream come true, meeting my 1st poet hero: Nikki Giovanni

Me and Nikki! WoW!

Nikki's "AHA" MOMENT.....

She still thought of herself as a hip, young babe at the age of 58. But when the poet discovered she was old, she realized she was even cooler.

For most of my life, I've thought of myself as pretty cool. I have a tattoo. I wear my hair short. Even at 58, even after being diagnosed with lung cancer several years earlier, I thought, "I'm in good shape. I'm young, and I'm healthy. I'm a babe." That's how I felt when I left my home in Blacksburg, Virginia, late one night to drive seven hours to Princeton, New Jersey, where I was to attend one of Toni Morrison's birthday parties.

I drove my candy apple red sports car. A friend joined me on the ride. We had on our jeans. We looked good. But I am directionally challenged and can't read a map, so I got us lost. We were somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania at around midnight when I was pulled over by a state trooper. He told me I was driving over the line; apparently, I'd fallen asleep at the wheel. Then he pointed his flashlight in the car to get a look at us.

Almost immediately, he backed up a bit and the tone of his voice changed. When he asked where we were going, he addressed me as "ma'am" in that solicitous way that people do when they're talking to an elder. I offered to get my license, sure that he would give me a ticket since he pulled me over, but he told me he didn't need it. Instead he gave us directions to Princeton and told us to "have some coffee, drive carefully, and just get where you're going safely." Then he left.

I turned to my friend and said, "We're old! If we were young, he would have ticketed me no matter what." I realized that when the trooper looked into the car, he didn't see what we thought he saw—two hip, young women going someplace. He saw his grandmother. It was a depressing moment. I said, "You drive—I need to think about what just happened."

At Toni's party the next day, I shared the story with her and admitted, "Girl, I'm getting old." She responded, "Yes. You are." And she was right. It was time for me to embrace the moment I'd come to and see what "old" meant. I began exercising regularly, taking better care of myself. I joined AARP. I even started asking for my senior discount! And I left this message on my voice mail: "I am a little old lady, so please speak slowly."

Today, I am 64 years old. I still look good. I appreciate and enjoy my age. While I have always liked my career, I have way more fun with it now. I've got nothing to prove, and I don't care what the critics say. When I finish writing a book, I don't push myself to start the next one; I enjoy having just written one.

A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you're in and take advantage of it. You still bring to bear all your prior experience, but you're riding on another level. It's completely liberating. Now, everything I do, I do because I want to. And I believe the best is yet to come.

— As told to Naomi Barr in "O" magazine

Love you Nikki!You are inspiring! It was a pleasure to finally meet you - I read about you in junior high and dreamed that one day I'd like to meet you. Now...35 years later I do. And you are a sweet spirit - that's why I'm glad we met at the Chocolate Pages booth at BEA! You're sweet like chocolate! God bless you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Resources for Writers, Authors and Entrepreuneurs

Ministry Marketing Solutions, Inc.
Hello Dreamer!

Though Wall Street is WACK - YOU are unstoppable because with GOD all things are possible (Mark 10:27).


This MONTH's newsletter highlights the power of the internet and resources to help you maxmize your potential online.  As my friend Donna Baxter says, "there's a gold mine online." See her site:


I hope this issue will inspire greater creativity and keep you connected & aware of  the cutting edge events and resources to help you live your dreams!


Please submit your questions, suggestions and testimonies to me at the email address below.  I'd love to hear from you!


NEW! All my Literary PR Seminars on CD. Scroll down for details.



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Pam Perry, Editor



Speaking of buzz......   (Make sure you pick up Ebony magazine next month - the cast from the movie upcoming movie, The Secret Life of Bees, is on the November cover - but peek at the trailer now at


donnieDonnie McClurkin Records Live In Detroit
Featuring Special Guest: Tramaine Hawkins
Friday, September 26, 2008    7:00p.m.-- 10:00p.m.
10100 Grand River Avenue
Detroit, MI 48204

Tips on Promoting Your Website
Online Publicity - PR 2.0 is the way to go!
by Pam Perry

internet pr

  1. Write a web site plan. Know what you want it to do before you build a site. Create a favorable buying experience for your ministry products. Make the web site easy to use. Provide good customer service by shipping products within 5 to 7 days. Use auto responders when people make purchases. Make your site "shopper-friendly."  

  2. Attract people to your site by promoting it through frequent email campaigns linking back to the site. Have your site content-rich to keep visitors at your site, wanting to share it with others. This is called viral marketing.  

  3. Capture names of visitors by using a "squeeze page." Offer something for free like a CD or booklet if they provide their contact information. Get their email address at the very least so you can send the booklet in a PDF file or the CD as an MP3.  

  4. Publish a regular online magazine called an Ezine.  This is a motivational tool for people to look forward to receiving. It has the ministry updates in it.  

  5. Include recent news hits in your ezine. Stream TV interviews and audio news clips. Use a template from an Internet database management company like Constant Contact. Go to to sign up.  

  6. Join discussion groups and nings like  You can learn a wealth of information this way in any particular industry. There are groups for pastors, ministry communications professionals, Christian authors, or whatever your specialty.  Look up your area of interest in Yahoogroups, or Google.  

  7. Put banner ads on other sites that your target audience may visit.  If it is Gospel Today or, inquire about placing a banner ad on those sites. These ads are usually very inexpensive. You can promote your TV ministry schedule or other products.  

  8. Update your site frequently. Current information sends the message that you are current in your ministry. It keeps people coming back to your site. Try new things on your site like podcasting or webcasting. Keep it fresh.  

  9. Concentrate on great content so the search engine optimization will give you a high ranking when people are surfing online via search engines like Google or AOL. Adding links is another great way to increase your site rankings and get noticed among the search engines.  

  10. Add a "news room" to your site. The media will access your high-resolution photo (300 dpi), get a press release, ministry history and a good bio from this section. It makes their life easier and shows you're a pro at handling media interviews. This is also a good place to list other media hits that you have received  like magazine articles, radio interviews, and columns you've had published.  

  11. Create a blog. Do this only if you have time to keep it up.  A good blogger  posts about 2 to 3 times a week. A blog is like a personal journal online. A blog is an abbreviation of "weblog." It is the online version of you. It's more personal and informal than a web site and visitors can respond directly to you. Go to to set one up free.  

  12. Use a signature at the end of every email that includes your tag line, web site, and contact information.

Pam Perry PR Camp


For more free PR tips and advice, visit my site at

The PR BootCamp Handbook is available!


If you would like a copy, email me at


Industry Expert Interview / Tune in to Blog Talk Radio!
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 Tune in to The Chocolate Pages Show  & hear the founder of the Pen to Paper Literary Symposium, Valerie Coleman. She has been called to help writers get their books published. Walking in her purpose, she helped to establish a publishing company for Christian books and plays. She edited manuscripts, handled financial matters, ensured the accuracy of print specifications and managed book inventory. Coleman has since spread her wings and established her own company, Pen Of the WritER or POWER, InfiniPromoter's 2008 Best Publisher.              For more inforomation & details on the October 3-4 Symposium in Dayton, Ohio go to:

Jump Start Book Sales with these essential CDs! 

pam's CDs NEW:  PR Coaching CDs by Pam Perry! 

If you missed the seminars, you can access via Pam Perry's CDs!  Recently called by Publisher's Weekly the "public relations guru" 


Here's what CDs are available: 

  • What Every Author Should Know
  • PR Coaching: How to Put Together A Press Kit
  • Marketing Your Ministry: Digital Evangelism
  • How to Launch Your Book Campaign
  • PR 2.0 Tips for Authors

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Michelle McKinney Hammond invites all "Divas to the Drake" in Chicago!


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As a bestselling author, speaker, singer and television co-host, Michelle has authored over 30 books (selling over one million copies worldwide), including best-selling titles The Diva Principle, Sassy, Single and Satisfied, 101 Ways to Get and Keep His Attention, and Secrets of an Irresistible Woman. A gifted vocalist, Michelle has recorded two CD's, It's Amazing and Let's Go In and co-hosted the Emmy Award-winning television talk show Aspiring Women. Visit

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Jennifer Hudson Interviewed by AOL BlackVoices - Secret Life of Bees cast

Earlier this month, journalist Jawn Murray interviewed the newly engaged 27-year-old at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, Canada where she was doing promotional work for her forthcoming film, 'The Secret Life of Bees.' [Comes out Oct. 17]

In part-one of this exclusive interview, the still-humble star talks candidly about seeing her 'dreams' come true and her excitement about finally releasing her debut self-titled CD.

Does this all still feel like a dream?

It feels like a dream! It hasn't slowed down since the moment I got the call saying, 'Jennifer, you're Effie White.' Every day it's another surprise and something else. Is this really my life? When you're this blessed, you can't help but to think that everybody says, 'all good things come to an end,' but it's not gonna end yet is it? At the same time I like to try to enjoy every single thing and every single moment because I don't take it lightly and it could have easily been someone else. But it's me! It's like I have to appreciate these things. It's a blessing.

What aspect of it do you appreciate the most?

I love it all! Is that greedy? I don't know what I love the most.

So many veteran artists like Shirley Murdock, Patti LaBelle and Aretha Franklin really love and appreciate what you do. How does that make you feel?

It's been an unbelievable blessing because when I met Whitney Houston she was like, 'Oh my God, you're the one.' This is Whitney and I couldn't even move. She was sitting there cheering me on. Aretha and I sat down and had lunch together. I'm doing a tribute to Patti and Gladys Knight and all of them see me as their baby. If you get it from them, what else do you need? That's just an honor because I looked up and still look up to all of them.

You are conquering music and acting. What else would you like to do?

I really want to get back into writing music. That's my next goal. I'm also into photography now. I love taking photos and I love taking photos. I love being in front and behind the camera.

The big girls love that you represent them well. How does it feel to be a poster-child for full-figured women?

I always wanted to be that person. It's like, wait a minute...every time I would look at the TV and the big girl never 'makes it' I don't think it was that nobody wanted to receive them, but they weren't backed up the right way or maybe they didn't even believe in themselves the right way. I was like, somebody needs to come out and represent them the right way. I don't mind being that person at all! I love it!

Both Queen Latifah and Jill Scott have clothing lines geared towards the plus-sized woman. Is that something you've considered?

I am about to launch my own fashion line and we're in the early, early stages of it. It was just presented to me so we're definitely going to come out with that because I want the skinny girl trying to be the big girl.

You really haven't changed Jennifer! Are people surprised by how normal and how friendly you are when they meet you?

People are very surprised at how normal I am. Every time I get on the plane and the flight attendant is like, 'you're so nice. You're not like any of the other celebrities.' I wonder what do they do and how are you supposed to be. To me, this is my job just like anyone else's job is their job. I like being normal and I've been normal for so long that it's hard to be anything else and I don't want to be.

I know you have to have an Oprah Winfrey story. Everyone who has met her or been on her show does. Tell me yours.

I've been on her show about three times now and she was always like, 'you can come anytime that you want.' Nobody takes people up on those offers unless they want something. I saw her recently because her show is not too far from my house in Chicago . I wanted to see Oprah and say hello. It's not too many people in the industry who do that. She thought it was something wrong with me so she asked me if I was okay and if I needed any money. I told her I just wanted to come say hello and see how she was doing. I forgot when that was, but it wasn't that long ago. I just wanted to stop in and see how she was doing. She's definitely a huge supporter and somebody that I clearly admire.


Stay tuned for part two of Jawn's exclusive interview with Jennifer Hudson where she talks about working on 'The Secret Life of Bees,' the major award that she can't find and the day she got called the n-word! Check out AOL Black Voices.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Chocolate Pages Show - Dr. Kunjufu & Sai Browne

Black Issue Book Review

The African-American
Book Publishing Authority

Now in its ninth year of publication, Black Issues Book Review is the only nationally distributed magazine devoted exclusively to covering the latest news and reviews on black books. BIBR also provides up-to-date news on forthcoming author signings, book fairs and book clubs.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees - book to film!

Oscar Winner Jennifer Hudson talks about “being blessed to work with amazing people…” click to see video

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Let PR Coach Pam Perry promote your book

Let PR Coach Pam Perry promote your book

Marketing a book can be a daunting task, that's why we've taken all of the guesswork out of it. With simple packages and effective strategies, we combine our years of experience to offer you the most cost-effective ways to market.

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1. Define and target your audience
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

African-American Market Comes of Age - 9/1/2008 - Publishers Weekly

African-American Market Comes of Age - 9/1/2008 - Publishers Weekly

African-American Market Comes of Age
A rising crop of new authors

By Angie Kiesling -- Publishers Weekly, 9/1/2008

Within religion publishing, it's hard to miss the surge in growth over the last several years of the African-American market. Industry professionals of all stripes—agents, authors, editors, PR gurus—will tell you the market demand is there, the desire to reach the market is there, and strong sales records of heavy-hitting backlist authors and new literary voices promise to keep demand high. But if ever a market required targeting the right way or finding the heart and soul of its people and communities, it's this one.

“I went to school with Dick and Jane and Beatrix Potter, whom I loved, but when did I ever see my picture? Never,” says Joyce Dinkins, managing editor of New Hope Publishers, who is African-American herself and passionate about bringing relevant titles to the African-American Christian market (AACM), such as the New Hope September title Spiritual Leadership in the Global City by Mac Pier. “Say you had a taste for blueberry lemonade, and you waited years and years for someone to make it, and then finally somebody did and you tasted it. You wouldn't be able to get enough of it, and you'd tell all your friends. It's pentup demand.”

For her and other book industry professionals (not to mention readers), what is happening in the AACM is the “blueberry lemonade” effect. After years of seeing a handful of titles by only the most prominent African-American authors, such as T.D. Jakes, those passionate industry gatekeepers can barely contain their enthusiasm at the rising crop of new authors. Books-a-Million now has an African-American book club, and Borders has begun its own initiative tying in book titles and music selections, themed around the anthem “Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing.” In 2004, BEA held its first African-American Pavilion, which has grown from 20 exhibitors that first year to 87 exhibitors in 2008, boosting show attendance of African-Americans from a reported 2% to more than 20%.

Intentional Targeting

The market didn't appear overnight, however. Like a slow-boiling stew on a back burner, it just took some houses a while to recognize just how viable a market it was—and tap into it correctly. One such publisher who has made a strong and authentic reach into the AACM is Baker Publishing Group. “Back around 2005, we were visiting a couple of independent [African-American] bookstore accounts in Chicago, and we saw that a lot of our books were selling very well there,” says Nathan Henrion, Baker national accounts manager. “That started us thinking we should be more focused and come up with resources targeting this market.”

From there, it was a natural step for Baker to exhibit at the BEA African-American Pavilion, where Henrion's sales team saw the market demand firsthand. “They were buying a lot of books,” says Henrion. “One of the biggest life lessons I learned from this investigation is that people are people and have the same needs.” In this case, it turned out to be a need for good reading material—and Baker responded.

With its focused attention, Baker has become a major player in quality religion titles for the African-American religion market, including the market's fastest-growing category: women's fiction (see sidebar, page S4). Its bestselling fiction authors include Marilynn Griffith, Sharon Ewell Foster and Stacy Hawkins Adams. The house also now produces an Urban Inspiration catalogue once a year with a distribution of 10,000, split between the library market, church bookstores and retail stores.

Recent and upcoming African-American titles are a DVD version of the book Life Overflowing: 6 Pillars for Abundant Living by T.D. Jakes in October; Heroes in Black History by Dave Jackson and Neta Jackson (Bethany House, Feb. 2008); and Rhythms of Grace (Revell, Sept. 2008), a novel by Marilynn Griffith, who just finished the Black Expressions book tour of Wal-Mart stores in the Midwest. “The cover for Rhythms of Grace is a great example of the new direction we've taken with our books for this market,” says Baker publicity manager Deonne Beron. “So far, early responses from retailers and readers have indicated it's a great step in the right direction.”

A Missional Outreach

Another house that has found the heart and soul of the African-American market is Judson Press, which “got into the market for the right reasons,” says editor Rebecca Irwin-Diehl and will debut Profiles in Black by Marvin McMickle in November in time for Black History Month in February. The publishing arm of the American Baptist Churches, Judson Press published its first African-American title in 1973, a compilation of sermons by African-American preachers titled Best Black Volumes. “One-third of our constituents in churches are African-American pastors, and that was a need we wanted to address,” says Irwin-Diehl. “Since that first title, we've never had a list that didn't include at least one African-American book.”

The house next broke into African-American women's issues, leading the way with Those Preachin' Women in 1985. That series, now in its fifth volume (May 2008), has had a significant impact on women in ministry—and not just women of color. “The African-American market has become so established we no longer refer to it as developing,” says Irwin-Diehl, who notes that one-third to one-half of the press's titles are African-American. “Whenever I'm out and about at publishing events, I'm often cornered by my colleagues who are wanting to break into the African-American market. In large part I think our success has been because we were doing it for ecumenical purposes rather than economical reasons. It was one of those things where you step out in faith for the right reasons and you see it pay off. Now we're expanding into the ABA market leading with our African-American titles.”

The Pilgrim Press also takes a missional approach to publishing for the African-American market and boasts the claim of being the first publisher of The Measure of a Man by Martin Luther King Jr. (in 1959). In the early 1990s, the house hired Kim Martin Sadler as the acquisitions editor for United Church Press, Pilgrim's sister imprint. Sadler later became editorial director for Pilgrim and brought her calling with her. “As the first black acquisitions editor in a mainline denomination, I intensified publishing titles in this area because I knew that African-Americans were eager to write Christian nonfiction books,” says Sadler. “The critically acclaimed Atonement: The Million Man March showed my colleagues that we needed to reach back to our past and renew publishing in this area.

Women are the leading authors among African-American books for Pilgrim, including the recent titles Beloved, You Can Win! by Linda H. Hollies and Can a Sistah Get a Little Help? by Teresa L. Fry Brown. Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Sheron C. Patterson and Rev. Barbara Essex round out the list of bestselling women authors.

While the Pilgrim Press does not publish fiction—the hottest commodity in African-American religion publishing right now—it has found its own niche publishing titles on critical issues and social justice topics. Two such titles Sadler pointed out are Their Own Receive Them Not: African-American Lesbians and Gays in Black Churches by Horace Griffin (from its backlist) and A Time to Speak: How Black Pastors Can Respond to the HIV/AIDS Pandemic by Marvin McMickle (Sept.). Sadler says she would like to see the bookselling industry consider more nonfiction titles by African-American clergy and religious scholars. “Booksellers must remember that black pastors can reach hundreds of people each Sunday,” says Sadler. “Forging relationships with these pastors—some who are authors—can be very beneficial.”

Several other recent African-American nonfiction titles covering social and religious issues include The Talking Book: African Americans and the Bible by Allen Dwight Callahan (Yale Univ.) and Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers by Richard Newman (NYU, Mar.). Yet another university press, Fordham, is coming out with Let It Shine! The Emergence of African-American Catholic Worship by Mary E. McGann et al, in September.

Wiley published the YA nonfiction title Black Stars: African American Religious Leaders by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson last February, and Destiny Image followed with What Is Wrong with Being Black? Celebrating Our Heritage, Confronting Our Challenges by Matthew Ashimolowo in April. Rounding out the list of recent titles are Certain Women Called by Christ by Dr. Paige Lanier Chargois (New Hope, Feb.), The Fatherhood Principle by Dr. Myles Munroe (Whitaker, Apr.), Secret Sex Wars: A Battle Cry for Purity, edited by Robert S. Scott (Moody, May) and Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside Look at White Christianity by Edward Gilbreath (IVP, May).

Roots—of a Market

To find the true beginnings of the AACM, you have to dig back in history, according to Tony Rose, publisher of Amber Communications Group and executive director/cofounder of the BEA African-American Pavilion. “What most people don't know is that we're dealing with a 200-year-old tradition, with the writing and publishing of religious materials within the African-American church,” says Rose. “Frederick Douglass and other writers used the church as a vehicle to sell their books and pamphlets, and they self-published through their churches. African-Americans always wrote, always read—we had to write about our plight, whether it was slavery or Jim Crow or some demeaning situation. What we're seeing now is an extraordinary re-emergence of this self-publishing movement, whether it's urban literature, Christian literature, fiction—and religion is leading the pack.”

Although African-Americans always published, the wave turned into a groundswell in the late 1990s, around the same time that former literary agent Denise Stinson started Walk Worthy Press (see fiction sidebar, p xx), and Rose started his publishing company. In 1998 Rose and his wife, a former model, published their first title—Is Modeling for You?—that went on to sell 80,000 copies. On the strength of that one title, Rose landed a copublishing deal with Wiley for eight more targeted African-American titles. “We got tons of press, and the press is probably what did it,” says Rose. “All of a sudden we were at BEA one year [2001], and all these African-American authors came up to us and said they were publishing on their own, too.” Through its self-publishing imprint, Quality Press, Amber publishes 250–300 books a year for the African-American market, in addition to its acquired titles.

Rose and others in the industry, such as public relations guru Pam Perry of Ministry Marketing Solutions, believe the surge in growth for the African-American market happened because publishers finally saw that the market was “white unto harvest,” and largely untapped. “There's nothing more lucrative than the African-American church if it has a strong base,” says Rose. “You've got a built-in audience of millions of people who are religious, who love the Lord and want to live a moral life.”

A New Underground Railroad

Indeed, the “connectedness” of the African-American market is staggering when compared to other markets, which often are splintered into various subgenres. That tight solidarity provides an opportunity for grassroots marketing at its best—it simply happens because of the “blueberry lemonade” effect.

“I call it our new underground railroad,” says Pam Perry, whose PR firm, Ministry Marketing Solutions, promotes exclusively AACM titles to the industry, utilizing grassroots venues such as African-American churches and conferences, along with targeted media: Gospel Today and Precious Times magazines, African-American talk radio stations, music radio stations, e-blasts and blogs. “I can target well over 500,000 people with an e-blast,” says Perry. “One in particular,, reached about 100,000 people. The majority of their topics are conferences and music, but it's been successful for us with books as well.” Perry's own mailing list at Ministry Marketing Solutions includes 25,000 subscribers, she notes.

Like Rose, she points to the explosion of growth in the “quieter” niche of self-publishing among African-American authors, many of whom sell their own titles vigorously before landing a traditional publishing deal. One example she gives is Ty Adams, whose self-published novel Single, Saved and Having Sex sold about 40,000 via the underground railroad before getting picked up by Walk Worthy Press.
One of the most effective means of reaching African-American readers is through church bookstores—something that makes sense once you grasp just how central the church is to the African-American community. “Some [religion] houses are promoting authors who are trying to reach the urban lit genre of readers, with gritty story lines and 'real' characters, but without all the trash, and they have a dilemma,” says Perry, who places Revell's Rhythms of Grace by Marilyn Griffith in this category. “It looks like a very urban street-lit novel, [intentionally], but they're between a rock and a hard place. It's too Christian for some of the basic bookstores and too gritty for the CBA bookstores. Where they're finding the biggest jolt in book sales is through African-American Christian conferences and in our church bookstores.” The bookstores probably represent the biggest chunk of those sales, Perry asserts, and they are nothing to sneeze at—an after-service “author's fair” typically draws church members by the thousands.

Hot-selling Topics

So with all this momentum building in the African-American religion market, what are the “hottest” categories right now? Undoubtedly, fiction takes the top position, and most publishers who haven't dabbled in this direction are ready to wade into the water. After fiction, Perry lists books for singles, or what she calls sex/singles/dating books, as one of the biggest growth categories. Author Michelle McKinney Hammond, published by both Harvest House and WaterBrook Press, has made a name for herself as a specialist for single women, dealing with everything from men and how to heal a broken heart to getting your career game on point. Although primarily a nonfiction writer, her second novel, Playing God, debuted from Harvest House in June. Meanwhile, Charisma House released Inside Out by Kimberly Daniels, a popular women's conference speaker, in June.

Other bestselling categories include dramatic testimony books, single parenting books and the ubiquitous financial prosperity genre, sometimes with a twist (wealth management rather than name-it, claim-it prosperity). African-American charismatic authors in general—most of whom are either megachurch pastors or lead powerful ministries—have become virtual cottage industries. The list includes such names as T.D. Jakes, Myles Munroe, Creflo Dollar, Juanita Bynum, Bishop Eddie Long, Bill Winston. FaithWords is positioning Munroe to move into the megaselling business/leadership category with the release of In Charge: Finding the Leader Within You in November, and associate publisher Harry Helm confirmed that the house plans to publish fiction, including African-American titles, by 2010. But beyond doubt, it's Jakes who has become the Harry Potter of the African-American religion market. “When Simon & Schuster brought out Reposition Yourself: Living Life without Limits [May 2007], it was just explosive,” says one industry professional. “It doesn't get any bigger than T.D. Jakes.”

As the African-American market expands beyond its adolescence into full-fledged maturity, publishers and booksellers alike will find new and inventive ways to better target the audience, and therein lies the “heart and soul” challenge Joyce Dinkins of New Hope is so passionate about. “Publishers may court the African-American book buyers, but that does not mean they are in the communities and reaching the real needs,” she says. “There's a need to empower the authors and leaders who really know this community and how to meet the needs of readers. Otherwise, you end up with packaging and marketing, but not the heart and soul of the market.”

There's Nothing Like a Story
African-American Christian fiction exploded onto the publishing scene in 1997 when former literary agent Denise Stinson launched Walk Worthy Press based on her own desire to read stories she couldn't find anywhere else—namely, fiction featuring African-American characters who encountered real-world struggles and triumphs, with a righteous twist. Several years earlier, Terry McMillan, author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back (both of which later became movies), had proved to the publishing world that there was a market for African-American fiction. But with the concurrent rise in erotica and gritty “street lit,” Stinson realized that women wanting a cleaner read were faced with empty shelves.

“When I began, there was no such thing as African-American Christian fiction,” says Stinson, whose house will publish only four titles this year as she delves deeper into mission work—her true calling. “My vision hasn't changed. There's still a need for scripturally correct, relevant and entertaining stories.” She partnered with Warner Books to release her first title, Temptation, at the same time launching author Victoria Christopher Murray into a lucrative writing career.

And from those modest beginnings, a publishing phenomenon was born. Today, the biggest-selling names in African-American Christian fiction are Murray, Vanessa Davis Griggs, Mable John (Albertina Merci series), Pat G'Orge-Walker, Marilynn Griffith, Stacy Hawkins Adams, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Jacquelin Thomas, Kim Brooks, and relative newcomer Claudia Mair Burney. Houses and imprints such as Walk Worthy Press, Kensington (Dafina, Urban Christian!), Simon & Schuster (Pocket, Howard Publishing), and Baker (Revell) are the undisputed torchbearers in the field of African-American faith-based fiction, but others are following. FaithWords plans to have a fiction list by 2010, including titles geared toward the African-American market.

Carol Mackey, who heads the Black Expressions book club, said the club now has more than 350,000 members, 95% of whom are African-American women—“and they really do love fiction,” says Mackey. “I started small with African-American Christian fiction, featuring maybe one book a month, but when something was hot and new, members responded so well that it opened the door for many other authors and titles. For a long time we featured two to three books [in this category] every few months. Now we do two to three every month. Readers have really responded to this genre.”

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Kingdom Watch! -

Kingdom Watch! -
Kingdom Watch! (TM) is a section which we highlight and celebrate a very special woman whom we think you should "watch out" for! So, please take a moment and read about this month’s "Kingdom Watch! (TM)" Woman.

Called To Be a Kingdom Connector

By Genikwa Williams

Detroit inspired a lot of dreamers besides Berry Gordy, founder of Motown. Also born and raised in the Motor City during the 1960s, Pam Perry—one of the nation’s foremost public relations and marketing professionals—learned at a very young age about the necessity and power of networking in fulfilling a dream.

An only child, Pam quickly sought out other neighborhood children as playmates. Her relationship with the kids next door connected Pam with their father, the Rev. Dr. Joseph R. Jordan. Pastor of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church in the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, Rev. Jordan’s godly and fatherly influence would help shape the course of Pam’s life. He and his family took Pam to church with them every Sunday.

“You can say I kinda grew up a vicarious ‘P.K.’ (pastor’s kid),” Pam joked. “I had first-hand knowledge of how ministries worked because I was there so often.”

At the church, Pam clearly demonstrated a knack for spreading good news.

“My gift was not in ushering, singing, or teaching. I had a real heart to just promote and tell everyone about special events at the church,” she said. Rev. Jordan, she recalls, even told her that she was “doing PR for Jesus.”

That distinction stuck and today, the name “Pam Perry” is practically synonymous with publicity in the Christian community.

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