Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Media and the Hurricane...

Hurricane Katrina is already a devastating event, and I fear that the old media trick of focusing in on black and brown poor people as they loot is rearing its ugly head again. To see how the media can guide perception, read these two descriptions, one with a white subject and the other with a black subject. Notice the difference in description.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Almost Moved...

We're getting to the end game of the move, but my broker tells me that the buyer's agent has lagged on getting their lenders info in, so escrow may be delayed a day or two. That really gets me. I like having things done when they're supposed to, and I have little tolerance for others not getting their stuff done on time. My agent has been GREAT, hand delivering papers, explaining the process etc. but you can't really control what the buyer is going to do. So I'm pissed, but shit happens. It just means I have things spread out before I go on tour. But in any case, we're out of here on Wednesday.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

This Weekend...

Got the house fumigated to kill all the termites and we lamped at the LAX Holiday Inn for two days. The six year old loved it. Cartoon Network, a bed to bounce on, and watching the planes go by while eating fast food, priceless to him. In the meantime, I fought hellafied traffic to commute back and forth to Universal City to lecture and sign books at the Delta convention. Not a bad sale. My identity is as a non-fiction author, so I have to get folks into the mindset that it's not impossible to do both non-fiction and fiction. The response was pretty darn good and we sold a lot of books.

So things are going to be mad hectic over the next five days. We close escrow and move by September 1st, so hopefully I can get prepared for the tour. During the tour, I post how things went. Sometimes I'll have a bunch of folks at the event, and during others, only a few. You can't let your ego get either inflated or deflated either way.

Friday, August 26, 2005

My G4 Broke...

After four years of steady service, my G4 finally broke. Literally. The hinges cracked and snapped, which continued to put stress on the case, which created an inch crack. But I love the reliability of Apple, so it was off to The Grove for another one. This one looks better constructed and I hope I can get a good five years out of it. Even with the destruction of my old one, it still lasted much more than any Window machine. Apple rules (even if it costs a bit more!)

Monday, August 22, 2005

This Week...

This week is going to be havoc on my writing schedule. My non-fiction book proposal is going to be hit and miss as we go through the final death throes of moving. Today, we spent all day window shopping, and we have another stack of papers to sign, notarize and send off. Savoy magazine still owes me money from an article I wrote (Thanks Savoy!) and the house is being fumigated on Thursday. Slowly but surely, we are boxing up everything in the house and Goodwilling anything we don't need anymore.

Manchester United is off to a 2-0 start, football is almost here. Life is good.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Wife and Son...

I thought I'd throw up a picture of my beautiful wife and son.

Received my author's copies...

I received my author's allottment of Friends With Benefits today. They're boxed up right next to the other boxes we packed. Hopefully, this the last shipment of books they'll send me. Because if your publisher is constantly sending you copies of your book, that's a clear indication that they have a LOT of extra copies hanging around. You don't want that. You want your books going out for sale.

Just a thought...

As I go on this Friends With Benefits tour, I'm also going to sign copies of The Divine Nine. I'm wondering if I can get on the Essence bestsellers list for both books (non-fiction and fiction) at the same time? And I wonder if anyone has ever done that?

New Column...

On the right, as I get ready to go on tour, I'm going to create a new column which documents any media that I have scheduled. I'm starting to get some media requests from my own work, and I'm looking forward to the work of Kensington's publicity department. If you see that I'm going to be in your town and I'm on the radio, call in. I'd love to answer your questions about the book.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Drop Ins...

My dynamo sales bulldog at Kensington Books, Jessica Mclean, called me today and said that she wants me to do "drop ins" at a number of bookstores during my tour. Drop ins are when you go to the local Borders, Waldens, etc., meet the manager so there's a face to your book and perhaps sign stock, or even do a short booksigning for people who are in the store. I try to do drop in wherever I am. If I know I'll be in the airport, I try to find out which bookstores are in the sector I'll be in. Then, they can have my book available, and I can at least sign books while waiting for me flight. Drop ins are essential to building the momentum for your book and keeping it on the tongue of the booksellers. Because a lot of readers walk into their local bookstore without a clue about what they want to read. The easiest thing for them to do is ask the staff. And if you're not an egotistical ass, most staff will remember you and suggest your book. This is crucial once your book finishes selling to everyone in your circle. So look for a ton of new places on the tour list. When they are drop ins, I will not them. Perhaps you can stop by and say hello?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Congressional Black Caucus...

Karibu just informed me that they've found a two hour slot where I can sign books at the Congressional Black Caucus gathering on September 24th. That's good news because that means I will be doing two different events that day.

I need to change the word count meter because I'm working on a non-fiction book proposal right now, and Money Shot is long gone to my editor. No FWB marketing today but folks are very enthusiastic about the book, which is great. A friend is reading a galley and called to say she loved it. I don't know why, but I'm always nervous about people I know reading my books rather than strangers.

I got orientation material from UCLA today. It's pretty exciting and it had some words from students about how much writing you'll do. I kind of smile because I've been writing full bore since 1995 without stop, so it's going to take a lot to overwhelm me. Getting my assignments right, and learning how to write script correctly, now that may be another deal all together. But I can write 48 hours straight, on deadline, and not even trip. Done it before and can do it again. Of course I may be delirious afterward, but that's not the point...

Monday, August 15, 2005


Today, I was running around doing things for the house and UCLA. I had a $35 bill that put a hold on my registration, so I had to spend $25 worth of gas to pay it. But I've got to say that grad school class schedules rock! Right now, I only have class on Monday and Tuesday. That means I have all week to not only get my work in, but I can also work on my next non-fiction book project. I don't know how bad the work load is for film school but I'll soon see.

As for FWB, I left a message with Howard University bookstore about vending at the AKA stepshow in DC. The Congressional Black Caucus is happening on the same day, so Karibu won't be able to do it. But Howard should.

That's about all today. Tomorrow, I start getting in touch with groups who've offered to host my signings. Oh, and I had a nice convo with Tayari Jones. Check out her blog on the right and purchase her book, The Untelling. It's on my book tour reading list. See y'all tomorrow.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Feeling Terrible...

I woke up today feeling terrible. I rarely get sick, but I don't have time to worry about it. I've got a lot of work to do. I'm emailing and inviting black greeks to my booksignings.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


UCLA has begun sending a few welcoming emails, so that's cool. Still trying to get Karibu to commit to the AKA event on the 24th. Next phase consists of getting sponsorships for each booksigning. Still working on that.

Hue-Man... added

Hue-Man in Harlem has confirmed and been added.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Almost Done...

I'm almost done with my booksigning dates. I'm waiting on the Hue-Man Bookstore in Harlem for a date, but they have to see what date my frat brother, Andrew Young wants. So I wait until next week. I've been playing phone tag with Karibu, but I'll probably get that done tomorrow. In the meantime, I've started contacting members of the media about Friends With Benefits. One of the best things about having been a reporter is that is allows you to be a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. I have a lot of contacts in that organization, and they picked my second book, The Ways of Black Folks, as a Fall Must Read in 2004. Kensington is looking into whether they can provide a few more posters than they intended to print, and they're getting me postcards.

I finished my documentary proposal and shot that to MK. I'm still working on my non-fiction proposal. It took a while for me to come up with a title, but my agent gave me a dynamite suggestion and I'm taking it. Thanks Manie!

In the midst of all this, we're still moving. Boxes are all around, and we're starting to feel a bit lazy. But I need to get back going. I've got to change the services, and take some things to the Goodwill for donations. August is rolling by.

Okay, that's it for now.

Monday, August 08, 2005

On a panel yesterday...

The California African American Museum here in Los Angeles invited me to be a panel on black fraternities and sororities. I did it as a favor to a high school friend who worked at the museum and I had a good time. On the panel was a young sister named Monique Jones, a VP of finance at a Hollywood production company (I'm always proud when I see black folks get positions in the REAL centers of power within Hollywood. Being an artist is fine. I need someone with my back who is crunching numbers and making decisions), George Alexander, a cool writer and author from NYC, and Art Evans, an actor who appeared in both School Daze and more importantly (for me and my boys) as Private Wilkie in Soldiers Story.

Now, this may sound peculiar, but there are two famous dramas that have turned into comedies for me and my frat brothers. They are damn near drinking games. The Color Purple is one, and Soldiers Story is the other. And Private Wilkie is a key character in terms of his lines. So I sat there, looking at him, wanting to reenact the scene between Private Wilkie and Captain Davenport, where Wilkie protests that Adolph Caesar's character had "taken my stripes and yes I wanted him dead!" You've got to watch it again. It's laughs.

But the panel went fine, got home in time to do some work on the documentary proposal MK and I are working on, and get some rest. This is going to be a long week. I have three more booksigings to set up and then I'm done. Kensington is going to email me today with a list of radio stations I'll be interviewed by. They're also going to let me know if they'll have postcards for the book and a bit more posters of the book cover. I feel like we're on the same page, which is good.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Kensington's Plans...

On Friday, I had a conversation with Kensington's publicity department, and it was a really good convo. One of those convos where you feel that you and the person repping your book are not only on the same page, but the same sentence. Mary P. and I talked about what we think works and what doesn't. Three books into this gig and I'm quite sure of how to do this and what not to do. One of the things I wanted to emphasize was the need to be very specific when booking radio interviews. I don't care to be on one thousand stations if they have nothing to do with the African American audience. I'd rather do one hundred interviews in African American specific markets and get more bang for the buck.

More later...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Another Book Proposal...

For the past few months, I've been working slowly but steadily, on a book proposal on a hip hop topic. Non-fiction is still my first love, although fiction is damn fun to write. It looks like the proposal will be done by the end of this month, and my agent has called saying that it's going to be well received. So that's some good news.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Almost Done with Phase One...

I'm almost fully booked with my book signings. I still have my Chicago, Delaware, Baltimore and one or two other New York signings. Once this is done, I will move on completely to phase two: Getting sponsors for each and every signing.

It is important to have sponsors for a signing, particularly since there are a thousand other things people can do than come to your booksigning on your particular night. So what I like to do is have a group sponsor my signing. It's sort of a win-win. I provide a free entertainment source for their social calendar, and they are able to provide readers for the signing. Combining that with media, book clubs, etc., you tend to get a nice turnout. Plus, I have fun at these types of signings because I usually know a lot of the sponsors. No author can sell books without having a base of very gracious and wonderful friends and acquaintances who will come out and support your book. From there, you can expand your readership and create a general buzz.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Stage One of Marketing...FWB...

Have a cohesive national book tour. This initial three week book tour is about starting the momentum. And in order to do that, you must have a book tour. They are both inefficient and highly productive. Word of mouth is the key reason why people buy books, so you need to get folks there.

So right now, I'm setting up my tour. As you can see, there have been a few more dates added to my tour list. Since Friends With Benefits is my fiction debut, I'm going to combine my signings with signings of The Divine Nine. That allows three types of readers to come to a signing: those who know me, those who don't know me, and those who bought the Divine Nine and would like to read Friends With Benefits.

I have a few rules when signing. I don't do joint signings with other authors; I don't pay to sign at book club conferences; and I try to do a noon signing and an evening signings whenever possible.

My tour will be set by the end of the week. I still have to add my NY/NJ signings, and a few more local ones.