‘Angry Black Woman’: Author Talks Community Advocacy and Making a Comeback

With determination---and creative marketing---Karen Quinones Miller pushes forward

Karen Quinones Miller enjoys engaging with her audience via book signings and events. (Image: Facebook.com)

In today’s digital world, how have you been able to navigate it to sell and market your books?

It’s all about progress. I like the feel of a book in my hand. Here’s the reality: Authors can make more money if they go ahead and accept the digital world. Royalties of digibooks are higher than regular paperback. I’ve embraced it.

The reason my last launch party [for Angry A** Black Woman] was so successful was because I tweeted (@KarenEQmiller) my butt off. I would post on Facebook what was going on with the book, from writing to searching for publisher. It was the first time I’ve had to search for a publisher after previous success. I did a thing online where the readers were given a choice on the book cover to vote on. It’s important for the reader to know they’re involved.

You’ve always been vocal about socioeconomic and racial issues since your days as a journalist. Many of the characters in your books have hard-knock lives and overcome challenges that come from growing up poor. How does that advocacy still resonate today?

When I was doing a Washington, D.C. internship— as a student and mother in my 30s—[legendary journalist] Joe Klein came in one week as a guest speaker. I loved him. I thought of him as the journalistic alter ego to Robert F. Kennedy. I was the only black person and the only mother—had my daughter with me—in the group. He began talking about our role as journalists and how we need to become the voice of the people. He said middle class America and lower middle-class America, they need someone to champion them. He then went on to say there is a class of people we cannot waste our time on, and he went on to describe my family: second-generation, on welfare, with at least two people addicted to hard drugs, who have never been out of their neighborhood. He said if you waste your time on them, you won’t be able to devote time you need to help the people who can be helped.

I tried so hard not to say anything that I started to tremble and sweat. Here’s my hero, telling these people not to help me. I exploded in the meeting. I said, ‘I can’t believe you’re saying this! … If everyone believed what he said, I wouldn’t be here today!” My mother was poor, but she read Time magazine every week. She cared about what’s going on. I read it. I care about what’s going on. And you’re just telling people to ignore me?

So, yes, I’m definitely part of that 47% that Romney refers to.

On Oct. 16, I’m hosting a book signing at Eso Won Books in Los Angeles, where we’ll view the presidential debate, with opportunities to discuss. I will also be giving out 47 free copies to represent the 47% of people that Romney referred to. We also plan to have voter registration incorporated. I’ve always been an activist because I get angry about things. I can’t just sit there and let things happen.

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