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  1. “We need to talk!” As a new author, I was very unsure about the culture of the industry. But one day Tiffany L. Warren and I sat around after a book signing talking, chatting, and comparing notes. It showed me that authors need to learn to stick together and share what works.
  2. “You don’t need to write like anybody else.” Fellow Walk Worthy Press author Stanice Anderson told me this before I had even finished the first draft of my first novel. Her advice freed me to just write what the Lord had put on my heart and not compare myself to others.
  3. “Get up!” If you’re sitting at your book table/booth at an event, do not sit down and hide behind your books. Get up, pass out your bookmark and meet people! Advice given by the late Francis Ray. She was also the first author to tell me that, often, the advance is the only money a writer will ever see, so negotiate for as much up front as possible when you’re dealing with a major publisher.
  4. “The best way to promote books and build your audience is to write more good books.” I learned this from following J.A. Konrath’s blog. I have never met him in person, but his blog was an invaluable resource to me when I went indie back in 2012. While I think the landscape of promoting ebooks has changed, this was such a fire-starter.
  5. “Write the books and publish them!” Vanessa Miller was ahead of the curve when it came to independently publishing ebooks on Kindle. When she and I sat down and really talked strategy as well as money, it made all the difference in my career (see #2)!
  6. “Either you publish these short stories or I will publish them and you can sue me later.” A co-worker whose students loved my short stories pushed me to start WeGottaRead.com, where I’ve published over 50 short stories and been read by thousands of kids/teachers worldwide.
  7. “I’ll find some stock art for the cover.” Okay. This is kinda bad and kinda not bad. Here goes: I was considering hiring this guy to do a book cover for me. He said he was going to charge me $600 and that he would find “stock art” to make the cover. I thought $600 was quite expensive, so I didn’t hire him. But that term “stock art” stuck in my head because it sounded like something…well…”in stock.” So after our meeting, I Googled the term. A whole new world opened up to me, and I knew there was no way I was gonna pay somebody $600 to go find a $20 picture for me and slap some words on it. Granted, there’s more to making a book cover than this, but this experience taught me to do my homework before hiring folks in this industry. Experts do need to be paid for their time/effort, but in my book, $600 is exorbitant unless the designer is actually having a photo session with models and the picture will be exclusive.
  8. “Are you ready to write your next book?” When my first publisher, Denise Stinson, spoke these words to me, I was like, “Huh?” I honestly thought Boaz Brown would be my one-hit-wonder. I was gonna write one book, be able to call myself an “author” for the rest of my life, and be happy. While this book is still of my most beloved titles to date, I didn’t realize that it was only the beginning. Denise’s question made me think differently about myself as a professional writer.
  9. “Can you bring home some milk?” On the flip side to #8, this is the question my daughter asked me on the phone after I’d finished telling her that I had been nominated for an award. Kids don’t really care what you do, how “famous” we are, or if we’ve been called for Oprah’s book club. They really just want to know that Momma is there and will take care of them. Having a family in the midst of all this writing has kept me grounded.
  10. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” Psalm 23:6. Somehow, some way, this verse spoke to me when I was about 23 years old. I just took it straight out of the Bible and made it mine. So when I wrote my first book five years later and sent it off to the first publisher who came to mind, I wasn’t deterred by the rejection letter. I just sent it off to the next publisher, and they wanted it. In fact, they published it in hardcover (I didn’t know that was a big deal at the time). I also didn’t know how hard it was supposed to be to snag a deal with a major publisher, particularly as an African-American in 2001. In retrospect, I’m GLAD I didn’t know. Had I focused on all the difficulties instead of Psalm 23:6, I might have thrown in the towel before ever trying. Because of His love and His Word, I expect goodness and mercy, and that has made all the difference in my life as a writer and beyond. He is good!