Jumping for Joy!

Sep. 12, 2015

This has been quite a busy day!

 Yesterday I received a book in the mail along with a letter that read in part “The author wants to learn more about options for promoting her review to industry influencers (such as foreign and domestic publishers, agents, film producers, librarians and booksellers) as well as consumers, email her at…” and she had written inside the book “Thanks Sharon for your review”.

 A quick look at the book left me speechless: It began with a table of contents, two page list of characters, and three pages of plot, log line, main plot, and three sub plots. The body of the book consisted of 18 pages of what I couldn’t believe would pass as a workable outline for a book. 

 I was at a loss as to how to proceed! Should I simply ignore the request? Should I read it and try to review? Neither choice seemed right. I kept digging until I found it on Amazon where it was being offered for sell at $5.38. The amazing discovery was that both Amazon and Kirkus each displayed one amazing review. Not only were these reviews grossly embellished, they were both more detailed, and almost as long as the book! Total fabrications! Who does this?????? This morning I decided I HAD to reach out to this author and following is our email exchange:

 Me - Because you took the time to mail (title of book) to me for review, I feel I should take a few minutes to explain why I cannot offer you a review or advice about how you can promote it to "industry influencers". As a general rule, I do not review what I cannot recommend and I cannot recommend this work.  These 18 pages might be considered by some to be an outline of a book to come, but it is not a work - in it's present form - that I would consider promote-able.

Her Response - Thank you so much for your honest opinion. I know that it’s not promote-able in its current form which is why I am looking for direction orindustry influencers who can lead me in the right direction to take it to the level that it needs. I am truly stuck and need some help makingthe book promote-able. If you can provide me with a website or company that can assist me in developing the book, I would greatly appreciate itand when it is finish I will send you another company.Thank you Thank you for taking the time to respond to this email and my book.

Me - I don't honestly believe that a website can accomplish what you need. Consider taking a writing development course either at your local community college or taping into one of the many interactive writing courses that are offered on line.  I also suggest that you remove the work you have posted on Amazon and the review that was posted on Kirkus until the real book is complete. What you don't want to do is have your name associated with this failed try in a way that people won't support you after the book is actually developed.  I also encourage you to look at the courses and books offered and by Writer's Digest - that is where my mentor directed me. 

Her - Thanks for the Response!

Updated Response - After consultation with other authors regarding my  book review done by Kirkus, I have decided to post pone any marketing until I have the book edited. And kirkus. Can you direct me to the depart that help me with developing and editing my book. Thanks for the help.

I was honest, I gave it my best shot now it’s up to her to pull up her big girl’s panties and put in the work necessary to become a successful author.

Just as that situation was coming to an end, I looked on my Facebook page and read a new entry that someone  - who only five minutes before had asked to be my friend – had posted on my page. I hate that!  In-box me first – let me decide what I want on my own page. His post, which included his picture, a picture of and link to his book, read in part:

“I am a newly published author and I would like to send you my book for consideration as a possible read for your club”.

Once I got over the fact that all of this was actually posted on my page, I responded that if he would like to share the book with my audience, he could send a copy to be given away at The Black Authors & Readers Rock Weekend.  THEN, I in-boxed him and as gently as possible, I told him that just isn’t the way my book club selects reads.

He responded “This is all new to me – this is my first book so pardon me for not knowing the protocols”.  I understood so I took a few minutes to refer him to a FB page that has been set up to share promotion ideas and suggested that in the future, he not post ads to anyone’s page without asking. 

And before you ask - yes, after an hour or so, I removed his info from my timeline!

Yes, Lord! This has been a full day!



Aug. 7, 2015

In 1998 when I founded The Reading Divas Book Club, my knowledge of starting and maintaining a book club was limited to that information I found as I scoured the internet. It was a proverbial baptism by fire! Sixteen years later, in August 2014, when I co-founded a new club, I was able to do so with confidence because of the experiences I had over those 16 years and I was eager to build on and share those experiences.

The Friday Evening Book Club meets monthly at a local community center. Though it is considered a drop-in club – no written bylaws or dues – it has become a close- knit group of faithful members, most of who, had never before belonged to a book club.  It has been a joy to introduce the members to new authors and genres they most likely would not have read on their own and to share, the importance of reviewing what you read and of supporting African American authors. During this year we have hosted several authors, members volunteered at the Prince George’s Book Festival and supported a Summer Tea with ReShonda Tate Billingsley.  

Today I am writing to share the joy I felt when one of the members sent the following message on behalf of her and her sister-in-law, who is also a club member:

“Unfortunately my sis-in-law and I will be out of town and won’t be at the next meeting on the 14th, but we just finished reading  “Stand Your Ground” and can’t stop talking about it. We sure did like it, found it easy to read, and the story is so relevant and important. We wish we could be present to participate, which we know will be a very lively discussion. However, would you please ask the group if they thought the author must have had a reason behind Meredith having twin boys rather than a single male child? I though the author must have had a reason to end it that way and was curious if anyone else thought so tool. Gertrude and I are at odds about the meaning.


I enjoy our book club so much that I’ve started my own review of each book, which I attached for your reading and maybe if you want, you can share my review of “Stand Your Ground” with the group in our absence (this month).  We have already started on “Forty Acres”. This one is something else too.”

She attached reviews of each book the club has read and discussed since she joined the club in January.  This is a person who had never before belonged to a book club or written a formal review. In fact, she even seemed a little leery when she first came out to check out the club and I wasn’t sure she would stick with it. To my delight not only does she rarely miss a meeting; she has quietly absorbed everything I have shared with the group about managing and maintaining a book club. This was abundantly clear last month when she moderated her first meeting complete with props and written synopsis to get the discussion started. Following is her written review of that book, “Vivid” by Beverly E. Jenkins:

Sherry’s review – Rated 10: This is a wonderful romance novel set during the post civil war about a Black female doctor who is met with opposition in a Black community in Michigan. This was a big favorite of he book club. It included fascinating info about actual, lesser-known, African American women heroines and pioneers. Of course, there’s a love story, and everything about it is well worth the read  - intrigue, caring, strength, generosity, prejudice, and a happy ending. Also, the author is real good at presenting sensuality but without the use of vulgarity. Be warned -- it’s often naughty, yet maybe nice”.

I, of course, wanted to know if she had she posted this on Goodreads and/or Amazon and she told me she had never done so, but would be willing to do that if I showed her how!!!!  I can hardly wait.