Urban Lit Career Builders, Pt. 1: Vickie Stringer Talks Passion & Publishing
Plan for success.
Along her path from fledgling author to hip-hop lit publishing star Stringer’s made some mistakes. She advises those following in her footsteps to study the business of publishing as much as possible and to plan according to the scale of the business they plan to reach.
“As for business I would’ve planned to be a success; I didn’t dream big. I would’ve dreamed bigger and planned better. Triple Crown has always been catching up to the success. Had I been prepared for that had I had a system in place for royalties and all the things I’m catching up to, it would be better. Perfect example: My first author was K’wan and his book sold 10,000 copies the first year! I wasn’t prepared for that, I wasn’t prepared for that accounting. So when you get authors that come to you [and] they’re like, ‘I wanna know how many books you sold. How come you don’t have better records?’ You’re like, Yeah, I didn’t account for the five books I took to the laundromat with me, I didn’t account for the 10 books I gave my friend to take on the street so, no, your royalties aren’t perfect. But you get accused of those things because of not catching up to the success. I think my professionalism could have been better if I had believed that what has come would come.”
Publishers should be dedicated to finding and developing new talent.
What started out as a genre with only a handful of authors has now become a crowded playing field with dozens of authors and hundreds of books. Stringer’s formula for success is taking a hands-on approach to working with authors.
“Triple Crown celebrates its tenth anniversary in November, I compete with majors and I try to get people to understand how powerful we are! 50 Cent got into publishing! Do you know how petrified I was when 50 Cent got into publishing, came with G-Unit Books and then took two of my authors? I’m like, ‘You’re leaving me for G-Unit?’ And they’re like, ‘But, he’s 50 Cent.’ But G-Unit Books failed and Triple Crown is still here. And now you’ve got Cash Money Content and they’re like, ‘We want to get a piece of Vickie Stringer’s pie and I’m like y’all got hip-hop [music] you don’t need books; greedy!’ [laughs] But at the end of the day it’s okay because when I see that they don’t find talent and that they’re not working with a novice author I already know that their business is operating off the dollar but I’m at my kitchen table reading your manuscript eating potato chips because I’m connected to your talent and I’m connected to your dream.”
Publishing is a business, not a hobby—even in the world of urban lit.
They say the best writers are the best readers and that goes for publishers, too. If you’re going to embark on a career as a literary artist or business person expect to work long hours and do things that aren’t necessarily glamorous.
“Publishing is about the work and the work is tedious and you have to read,” Stringer says. “Some people want to work for Triple Crown and don’t realize that it’s about the work; you’re not gonna be on Facebook all day it’s, ‘Can you read this manuscript today? Can you do some cataloging and copywriting?’ And they’re like, ‘But you do hip-hop books!’ Honey, that’s the genre but the work is the work.”
For more publishing advice from Vickie Stringer check out her book “How To Succeed In The Publishing Game” on Triple Crown Publications. Check back with BE Next for the second installment of our series in which we sit down with Folade Bell and Dawn Michelle Hardy of Serendipity Literary Agency to talk about getting a book deal and marketing yourself and your work.
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