I am honored to have Sharon Lucas stop by the blog with a guest post titled, Keeping it All in Perspective!
Life is a series of perspectives driven by your circumstances and as your circumstances change, so should your perspective. I have been a reader for more than 60 years, an event planner for 25, a book club president for almost 20 and a published author for one.
As I look back at my pre-author life, my perspectives as a reader, planner and leader meshed seamlessly. So seamlessly in fact, I could move from one role to another without even a blink of an eye and I, something I considered key to my success as an influencer and advocate for African American authors. After all, I primarily read works written by, planned events for and led two book clubs devoted primarily to exploring the works of the often overworked, overlooked and underrated AA author.
Then I became a published author and my life changed immediately BUT it took a while for my perspective to catch up.
I launched my first book “Plan It! The Complete Resource Guide for Authors, Book Clubs & Literary Event Planners” in October during the annual literary conference I host, The Black Authors & Readers Rock Weekend. It was probably the worse launch ever held because I was so busy managing the event, I didn’t have or take time to manage the launch. The room was filled with book club members, avid readers and authors who could have benefitted from the information in the book but, I was so preoccupied with being the event planner, I didn’t take time to be an author. I didn’t know how to weave in time for me and was embarrassed to ask for help or support.
I thought the book would simply sell itself. It’s okay, you can laugh – but it was not until after I planned and attended several subsequent events, that I realized if I wanted to be recognized as an author, I would have to change my perspective. I was so invested in advocating for others, I didn’t know how to advocate for me.
Then I responded to a call from Brown Girls Books who were soliciting short story submissions for an upcoming anthology. I decided submitting a short story would be the ideal approach for me to test my ability to write fiction. Needless to say, I did the happy dance when my story was one of 20 chosen from a pool or more than 300 submissions.
I am happy to say the launch of “The Ex Chronicles” was very different from my first launch because I was different. I was no longer shy about selling myself which was bolstered by the camaraderie of working with 19 other talented contributing authors. We set up a Facebook page, created events on Twitter and Facebook, and cross-supported our individual promotions. All of this hard work led to Troy Johnson at AALBC naming “The Ex Chronicles” #3 on his January/February Best Selling List and #1on the March/April list.
As for my current perspective, I will continue to read a variety of genres written by many diverse authors because reading is not only inspiring, it’s a great source of new ideas and methods and an excellent way to expand your perspective and improve your vocabulary.
I will continue to plan literary events since I love spreading and celebrating the written word and because events have allowed me to grow my literary network while supporting both the community where I live and the literary community at large.
I will continue to belong to a book club because it is an awesome sisterhood that has allowed me to have fun while reading and discussing books I might not have chosen for myself.
But I have also developed a marketing plan and budget for my business – yes, writing is a business. I plan my calendar and carefully choose the events I will host and attend. I look for affordable events that are held close to home and have a reputation for attracting an audience that will be interested in my work. When I both host and exhibit at an event, I delegate at least some of the “hosting” to others and spend time advocating for me and I use the advice I recently gave group of exhibitors:
To be prepared by arriving on or before the required time with everything I will need to set up my space and run my business including table covering, tape, pens or sharpies, scissors, bookstands, phone, tablet, charger, Square, and cash to make change. I will bring promotional items to share with the crowd and have cards or a tablet ready to capture the name and email addresses of attendees in order to grow my contact list.
To engage the crowd by smiling and standing when people approach and I will introduce myself by making eye contact and sharing information about my book. If I must make or take a phone call – I will step away from the table and keep it brief. When the crowd is thin, I will network with and learn from my fellow authors.
And last, but not least, to not measure any event solely by the number of books I sold, but will also consider how many contacts I made that will help grow my audience and brand and the experience I gained.
Sharon Lucas is the President and founder of The Reading Divas Book Club, which she started in 1998, the creator of The Black Authors & Readers Rock Weekend, an annual networking conference for authors and readers in it’s fifth year, the co-founder and organizer of the Prince George’s Spring Book Festival, and a best-selling author.
Sharon’s love of reading began in elementary school with “Nancy Drew Books”. As a teenager she would devour Readers Digest Condensed Books by day and sneak to read “True Confessions” at night. Her favorite genre is mystery and suspense and as an adult she became hooked on James Patterson and his character Alex Cross. Reading, however, took on a new meaning when Sharon read “What Seems Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day” by author Pearl Cleage, a book written by an African American author who told familiar stories about African American people. Though Sharon’s reading choices remain quite diverse, she is passionate in her support of AA authors because they are often overworked, overlooked and underrated.
In her “previous life”, Sharon worked in human resources and sales; she retired in 2010 after 20 years as a District Sales Manager with a major cosmetic company. She and her husband of 38 years are the parents of three and grandparents of five. They reside in Bowie, MD with their two cocker spaniels.
“Plan It! The Complete Resource Guide for Authors, Book Clubs & Literary Event Planners”, written by author Sharon Lucas, is a required companion that includes forms, checklists, and tips to start and manage book club meetings, author visits, and planning full-scale literary events. Not just for book clubs, this handy guide also provides authors and event planners with the information they need to make any event a resounding success.
Release Date: October 2015
“The Ex Chronicles” is an anthology of twenty short stories centering on relationships that falter…. among spouses, lovers, family and friends. Sharon Lucas is one of the twenty talented authors who contributed to the anthology. Sharon’s story, “The Circle of Life” introduces us to lovers Jill and Jason for whom lasting love was never meant to be.
Release Date: March 2016
Both books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and www.browngirlsbooks.com ; both are available in print and on eReader.