Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Please Respect This Hustle - Volume 1




We have just finished celebrating the 3 year anniversary of the Urban Reviews website. I can't believe how much we have grown in just 3 years with many more years to come. There are a lot of things that I've learned about the literary industry since July 2005. One thing that I've noticed is that there are a lot more authors and books out here that are fighting for attention. But with more books, there seems to be more problems. In the past few years, the practice of publishing a book evolved so much that just about anybody can do it. Sure, there are a lot of good books and authors out here but there are also a lot of people that aren't respecting the hustle. I'm talking about the book hustle. I'm not an expert, but I feel as a reviewer and avid reader there are a few things that authors need to do in order to make it in this business. See the short list below. I'm sure there's more but this is all I can think of right now.


1. Get your novel PROFESSIONALLY edited. This does not mean having a bunch of your friends and relatives proofreading your work and saying how great it is and putting up 5 star reviews on Amazon. Editing is more than somebody running your work through spell check and grammar check. If you think your work is so good that you don't need an editor, then that means you need one. (unless you are a professional editor yourself) Some say that if the story is good enough then the editing doesn't matter. This is not true. Bad editing can be the difference between a 4 star and a 5 star novel. You want to put your best work out there. There are plenty of freelance editors floating around on Myspace and Facebook. Do your research and seek them out.


2. Take Your Writing Seriously. Please remember that you are asking people to shell out their hard earned money to take a chance on your book. If you don't take a creative writing class, then at least get some books on writing. There are a lot of books out there that can help you with POV's (point-of-views), character development, plot, etc. There is nothing worse than reading a book that has no character, plot, or storyline development.


3. If you're writing a book just because you think it's a way to "come up" and make a lot of money, then don't do it. You must have a true love of the craft because authors getting six-figure deals is the exception and not the rule. Readers know when authors are serious about their work or not. And I don't have any hard numbers, but I'm almost certain that there are well over 90% of authors who have full-time jobs outside of writing.


4. Join a writers' group. If you don't have one in your area, then start one. I've heard from authors that this is a good outlet to have when you are writing your book. There are even a few online writers' groups. Ask around and I'm sure you'll find something.


5. Become an avid reader. How can you write a book if you're not an avid reader yourself? But at the same time, don't read somebody else's work and become a copycat writer either. Be your own writer.


6. Learn how to take constructive criticism. If you're a person who is very thin-skinned then the book industry is not for you.



I know there are many more things that I could list but those were some key ones that I feel are important. What fueled this list in the first place? This list came from the outcry that I've been hearing from some readers and some reviewers. People are just tired, tired, tired of bad books! We, as reviewers and readers, are tired of the same stale storylines. Either do the right thing and produce a good product...or don't do it at all.

All in all, just remember to PLEASE RESPECT THIS HUSTLE!



- Radiah of Urban Reviews

26 comments:

nardsbaby2 said...

In my opinion, while I do agree with some of what you said, I disagree with writing being a hustle. I think that is what the problem is now and why people are treating this industry like crack in the 80's. This is a business. It should be treated and respected like such. If more people invested the time in perfecting their art form instead of acting like it's a come up, we'd be in a better predicament. I'm tired of all of the wanna be's, dropping trash and then being pissed when I call them out cause it's not a book!!!

Yasmin said...

Excellent, excellent, excellent thanks for standing on the soapbox!
Another one to add to the list...author's please stop telling me I'm going to LOVE YOUR BOOK...do you even know me well enough to know what type of books I enjoy reading? Before you tell me what I'm going to love and that I should read your book...how about finding out what type of books I like...it's no secret...I've shared it in 50/11 places but just in case you're still not sure...ask me before telling me I should read your book. Oh and if it hasn't been professionally edited, keep it moving...to the left to the left.

Urban Reviews said...

Nardsbaby,

I agree with you 100% about this being a business. The reason why I called it a hustle is because in order to be successful in this business, you have to "hustle" as far as getting your good book and name out there.

Missy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Missy said...

Holly smoke I am soooo excited about this blog!! I stay on a soapbox about editing of a book. As a reader I mentioned how I would NOT finish a book that has been poorly edited. An author was on this egroup w/me and assumed I was talking about his book and bit my head OFF yall!!

So I stopped ranting about poorly edited books and my spending upwards of $20.00 per title. I thought I was wrong but to hear it bothers more than just lil ole me -huh I'm going back to my practice of not reading them.
I was shocked at his response and have not brought any of his books nor has my book club.

Yas,

to da left to da left...I like dat!!!!(smile) ..aw'itey now.....

I love what you said about the authors saying "u r going to love my book". Every audience is not for all authors. I have an author whose books I won't read but I love his personality so as a collector I just buy & shelf his books.

Lastly don't get mad because my critker didn't give your book a 5 or 5 stars...YIKES!!! Maybe just maybe it wasn't the story for me at the time I read it - Holy Shih Tzu!! Take it easy!!!

Yasmin said...

Missy, we won't even talk about 5 stars...or the authors who get pissed and rip us a new a-hole because we gave their book 3 stars. Sorry...most books are not 5 stars...and a few too many graciously receive 4...I hate rating systems because too often authors have loved reviews...wanted to use it in their press kit and then they saw the rating...which for them was the kiss of death...all the positive things went straight out the window...sigh.

Urban Reviews said...

I think people should use all reviews in a constructive way and not get so caught up on ratings. Some authors get so caught up on ratings that they miss the whole point of the review

nardsbaby2 said...

Radiah,

Please forgive me. I love the soap box idea. Yasmin, I'm a reviewer and girl I have authors who actually who challenge if I've read the book, why can't it be that the book was bad. Why can't it be that they shouldn't be writing? NOPE it's always on me. I can take some small editing issues, but damn when I see that you didn't even try, I'm not going to sugar coat that. Have you read a book and they, the author, forgot the characters name or the spelling of it, and then they want to challenge you about if you read it. GIRL... I could go on and on and on about this!!!

Urban Reviews said...

Nardsbaby,

Girl, you know there's no need to be sorry. :) All of ya'll made some good points. Everybody should NOT be a writer! I have so many post ideas that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Trust me. There is a lot more to come.

Yasmin said...

Nardsbaby2...I thought your name looked familiar...hehe...and sis it's okay when authors need clarification but when they get on the defense and say 'you didn't get what I was trying to do'...hmmm my response is...'well you should have said that or written it in a manner so that it was clearer.' It ain't my fault that you THINK you can write...and can't...heck if your story is that important get a ghostwriter to do it. That's how so-and-so made her money...she used a ghostwriter cause lawd knows her first book was poorly written and I thought it sucked but what do I know. I'm just an avid reader who knows good writing...no matter what the genre is. ;)

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful forum Radiah.

I totally agree with your list.

Thanks, looking forward to other posts.

Desiree Day

Vonda said...

I totally agree with your post! I am an author myself.(I was even reviewed ny Urban-Reviews.) I too get offended when "fake authors" get into this without a true love for writing. I have loved reading and writing since I was little, so it is VERY special to me.

Also, I tell anyone that asks (even ones that don't) that if you are serious about being a professional writer, you can't be sensitive. Personally, I welcome all critiques. I feel it helps me grow as a writer. I don't have to take evryone's ideas, but I don't turn any away. I have made a lot of good connections that way.

OH AND YES!! Pay for an professional editor people! I know when I get in the zone, my spelling and grammar has a tendaecy to fall off. LOL! Si I HAVE to have one. I know it can be kind of expensive, but you can look around on MySpace for one or try www.guru.com to find a experienced editor a awesome prices. (Hint...hint...that is where I found mine and he is my new best friend.)

Vonda said...

Sheesh!! See what I mean about the spelling? LMAO!! Terrible!

Gwyneth Bolton said...

I'm loving this idea! We need a place where we can be up front and real about African American writing and the publishing business. This post is right on the money, because anything you want that is worth having takes work, takes hustling to make it happen... Why on earth wouldn't that apply to a writing career. Words of wisdom!

much love and peace,

Gwyneth

Missy said...

Reader's Paradise use a critiker/rating system for reviews b/c of Amazon. We have toyed with the idea of getting rid of the rating system all together......lol

Terra Little said...

Great post, Radiah.

LaConnie said...

Amen!!!

I beleive Nardsbaby2 hit the nail on the head. Writing is not, I repeat, IS NOT a hustle. It's a business where the author serves as the CEO.

Look at it this way, if a company puts out a bad product/service to their clients, would they be in business very long? NOPE!!!

I rest my case. . .

upwords said...

Great list. Looking forward to more discussion.

marilynn

Chick Lit Gurrl said...

Agree with a lot of what you said, but I'm with nardsbaby2 in regards to the "hustle" comment - there are some writers who aren't really writers in the sense of wanting to study the craft but just wanting to make a BUCK, and a lot of the issues that writer may face - like bad editing - come into place because they take SELLING the book seriously but not WRITING the book seriously.

Chick Lit Gurrl said...

Today, the word "hustle" doesn't have the good connotation it might have had in the past. The list is more of how a writer should PREPARE him or herself for the HUSTLE of submitting or trying to sell a book. They have the hustle down, but some don't have the preparation down at all.

Urban Reviews said...

I agree with that analysis. This list is indeed more for how to prepare yourself as an author. The word "Hustle" does have a ngeative connotation nowadays, and it is indeed more for what an author needs to do once the book is about to be released or has been released. Thanks to all who have shared their comments so far. I'm really loving this dialogue. Please keep those comments coming. :)

TheGRITS.com said...

Radiah sis,

I LOVE IT! I agree with all your points and I believe good writers who surf in will agree with you as well. It is also good to see so many of my online buddies weighing in on this discussion too . . .
:::waving at Missy, Yasmin, LaConnie, and Shonie!:::

Well what I would like to add to your list deals more with publicity and promoting books, than with the editing and reviewing of them. I want all authors who know that they didn't take the time to set up a marketing budget for their books to STOP THE MADNESS and quit trying to hire a publicist/book marketer to help them strum up publicity and promotion for their books! If there is NO BUDGET, then there is no money to adequately pay someone to do all of the grunt work needed to even strum up FREE publicity for a book. I know it sounds good and may be even popular to say "I have a publicist." Still, saying you have one and being able to afford one are two different things!

Missy said...

lol well aw'ritey {{Ms Grits}}....

Excellent wash board for our ponderings, thoughts and comments!
Thanks Radiah

TheGRITS.com said...

Hey Missy,

I'm just saying . . . LOL!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with all of the points! As an author and publisher we all must take our craft seriously from writing to marketing.

Monica Marie Jones said...

I want to speak on one point that you brought up in particular...

If I hear one more human, especially a writer say, "I don't read." I may not be able to refrain from kickboxing them. (Just kidding...kind of)

How in the world can you call yourself a writer and you don't read. And trust me, as an avid reader....when a writer doesn't read...it shows.

In my opinion, being an avid reader should be a mandatory prerequisite to being an author.

Monica Marie Jones
Author (That Reads!)
www.monicamariejones.com