Stacy-Deanne writes crime fiction, mysteries, and suspense. Her work includes Everlasting, Melody, and Giving Up the Ghost. She is profiled in the NAACP-nominated 2006 book, Literary Divas: The Top 100+ African-American Women in Writing. Giving Up the Ghost is a 2011 African-American Literary Award nominated novel and a 2012 Top 20 Black Expressions Bestseller.  The Season of Sin is a 2012 African-American Literary Award nominated novel.

WL: You started in the literary industry as a 19-year-old in 1997. How has publishing changed since then and what has that change meant for your career?

Stacy-Deanne: Wow. It’s amazing to look back because everything is so different. Back in 1997 we didn’t have half as many options to get our work out there. You had the Big 6 and a few small presses and if you couldn’t get accepted by either you had to self-publish. We didn’t have e-publishers or self-publishing on Kindle. You also had to have book distribution. Everyone fought to get with the Big 6 because that was the only way you had a chance to be in stores. Now smaller presses can get their books in stores as well as bookstores aren’t the force they used to be. I could write a book on how much things have changed.

In terms of what the change has meant to my career, it taught me that writers have to evolve and be open to change. Nothing stays the same and if a writer expects to survive they have to move with the times.

WL: Many authors have one book and that’s it. Or they struggle to find an audience. How have you had longevity in this industry?

Stacy-Deanne: One thing about me is I love writing. If you love it you will continue to do it. Being published was a dream of mine but that’s not the only reason I write. I think a lot of writers write for the wrong reasons. They think it’s easy or they think it’s a way to fame and fortune. Writing is an art for a reason. It takes years to hone your craft and to write to a level that’s worth being published. I wrote at least twelve books before I was published. Two of those got published and the rest never saw the light of day. I consider them years of practice.  I also am not a quitter. I don’t mind hard work, and I am determined so I never let anything stop me. I worked hard and I take writing seriously and I think that some writers do not. I also run into people who claim they wanna write a book but never do. A real writer writes no matter what and they write because they love it. Publishing and any other accolades are just a bonus.

A lot of writers want what they want when they want it and the publishing industry just doesn’t work that way. This is not a fast industry. I don’t care how you choose to publish. Even if you self-publish it still takes years of practice to learn the fundamentals of writing. Serious writers realize that.

WL: How did you get your book deals and what advice do you have for authors who aspire to do the same?

Stacy-Deanne: I’ve gotten all my book deals the same way. I wrote the book first then I subbed them to publishers. In 2005 I wrote a biography book about female musicians that was published by Amber Communications Group Inc., formerly known as Amber Books.  In 2007 I got a book deal from Simon and Schuster. In 2008 I got another deal from them. In 2011 I got yet another contract with my current publisher, Peace in the Storm Publishing. I love the experience and love working with them. I have two books released with them, Giving up the Ghost and The Season of Sin.

My advice is for authors to work hard and if they wanna be published by a publisher they have to have thick skin and be able to take rejection. I don’t care what level a writer you are, rejection is always a part of the package.

WL: How has your marketing changed over the years?

Stacy-Deanne: I did more traditional forms of promotion when I first started but now I rely on online promotion. I think it’s more effective especially in the ebook age for selling books. A lot of the old-fashioned methods never worked for many authors and in my opinion they aren’t the best methods for novelists. Also authors should do what they like and are comfortable with or they won’t stick with it. As long as you get the word out, you’re doing something right.

WL: What is the best way you’ve found to market your work?

Stacy-Deanne: I have done numerous guest posts, and I also do articles on writing. I’ve become a mentor for writers and providing resources to help them through different channels has given me great exposure. I believe that if you help people, you get rewards. When I do articles for writers, they find them helpful and spread the word. This in turn gets new eyes on my novels. It’s amazing the support people give when they like you as a person and not just as a writer.

Also I do all I can to get my books reviewed in places my audience is most likely to look.

WL: How does social media play into your marketing?

Stacy-Deanne: It’s a big part of my promotion. I have been on tons of social networks and left tons of them too. LOL! At one time I went through social network burnout but it was my fault. I was on all these sites and that was the wrong thing to do. I focus primarily on Facebook. That’s my favorite network because not only do I promote there but I am in a lot of writer/book groups on there and we all help each other either with knowledge or promotion.

One thing authors don’t realize is that it’s okay to promote but don’t just hock your books. I spend time in different groups on FB, I socialize, and I make my presence known as someone who helps writers. I don’t promote constantly. I think that’s a huge mistake to do. Readers wanna see the person behind the writer and that attracts them to your work.

FB is also a great place to network with book clubs and reviewers. Twitter is also a great resource for networking opportunities and cross promotion.

WL: Is building relationships with readers important to you? If so, how do you do it?

Stacy-Deanne: Oh it’s very, very important to me. I do all I can to be a “touchable” author, letting readers know that I do care about them and appreciate them. Readers reach out to me all the time and I always respond and on social networks a lot of my friends are readers who sometimes contact me.

Also I make sure to answer all my fan mail because I want readers to know I do care. I am not someone who just says I appreciate their support, I really do.

WL: What is your biggest literary accomplishment?

Stacy-Deanne: Wow. I guess I’d have to say the first time I was nominated for an African-American Literary Award. My mystery, Giving Up the Ghost was nominated in 2011 and I recently found out that my recent book, The Season of Sin has been nominated for the award this year. It’s really a huge deal in the black writing community and I am honored to be nominated twice in a row.

WL: What’s next for you?

Stacy-Deanne: I definitely hope to have the third book in my current interracial romantic suspense series out next year. It’s possible I could have a standalone out before then. It all depends on the publisher’s schedule but I should definitely have a new release out next year.

WL: Where can readers learn more about you or purchase your work?

Stacy-Deanne: I invite everyone to check out my website: http://www.stacy-deanne.net

They can also check me out on these networks:

Facebook: http://tiny.cc/aqx43

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/stacydeanne

All of my books are available in print and ebook wherever books are sold.

Giving Up the Ghost and The Season of Sin are in print and currently available on Kindle and Nook for $4.99

You can also get a copy of both from the publisher: http://www.peaceinthepublishing.com