Whether one is traditionally published or an independent author like me, the production phase is one of deadlines and “crunch time.” Those of you published authors and poets out there, you know the drill: you’ve written with your hearts. Your characters have taken on lives of their own. You’ve gone through first, second, third drafts. You’ve edited your work, and sent it out for a professional edit to polish and tweak it the right ways (and if you’re a writer of color, you’ve vetted your editor for cultural sensitivity). Now, comes the production: putting the physical book together.
Being an African-American independent author has given me benefits I wouldn’t have had otherwise. One of them is creative control, not only in the prose but in the area of cover design. The ability to design my own covers is a new skill this Old School brotha highly values. Hey, at the end of the day, it’s my work. To my brothas and sistahs who are publishing their first novel/collection: when you hear white editors and publishers say that Black images on a cover won’t sell, don’t buy into it. It’s a form of racism. Under the Law of Attraction, your audience is already out there waiting to see such covers and read/purchase your work.
The most time-consuming portion of production, of course, is reviewing the galley proofs, line by line by line, doing my best to spot the areas for revision and then forcing myself to tear my eyes away from my laptop to take breaks. I just finished the first round of review, and I’m grateful that the turnaround time is quick. From there comes the process of securing Library of Congress copyrights and ISBN numbers. Still, after going through this stage in the process, I have to step away for a minute, taking time to relax and do some self-care. In the meantime, I have those moments when I visualize holding the first copy of my new novel, my labor of love, in my hands. For those of you writers out there who have yet to experience this, there’s nothing like it; hence, the previous process has to happen if we want our work to represent well.
Soon, Judge Earl James Berry’s life, and a mystery, will be available for inquiring minds who want to know: who wants him dead, and why?
While I have a break, I’d like to take this time to give a shout-out to an amazing poet and vocalist, Nhojj. I recently read his collection Cherish Yourself: Journal of a Caribbean Man Who Loves Men. I appreciate the artistry and honesty in his journey, which ultimately leads to loving and cherishing himself. I loved his invocation of James Baldwin, as well as the letters Nhojj writes to himself at different stages of his life from the perspective of wisdom and experience. Given that the cultural background of the Caribbean has often not been supportive–and at the worst, repressive–when it comes to its LGBT members, it is imperative that stories such as his be told.
Thank you, Nhojj, for bringing the gifts of your voice and your words to the table. Readers, his work is waiting for you at your local Amazon/Barnes & Noble library.
Believe in dreams and never give up. Stay safe and well.