Submitted by Donna M. Gray-Banks, Founder of F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival www.freshbookfestivals.net
Edited by L.D. Robinson, Owner, Ladero Press LLC www.laderopress.com
I Am an Author
After growing up in New Jersey, my writing skills further developed being an English-Sociology double-major at Wake Forest University. I continued to develop my writing skills as a writer for the online magazine Examiner (from March 2010 – July 2016), along with handling press/media and related work with the LEAD Foundation, Inc, along with my current role as the host of the show The Conversation Corner (on the Status Network). Combined with the press/media work covering a myriad of events (i.e. sports, community, arts and entertainment, etc.) through Creative Community Solutions, I added to my writing resume.
Based out of the Atlanta, Georgia area, my other background components include board positions (past and present) for entities, including Family Food Festival (Atlanta), Wake Forest University (Alumni Council, president of the Association of Wake Forest University Black Alumni [2011-15], Alumni-in-Admissions, Greek Alumni Advisory Board, and the School of Divinity), a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Alphas of Atlanta – the entity behind the #AlphaDerbyWeekend [Kentucky Derby themed event which supports 8 nonprofits throughout the metro area], as well as, a member of the Loganville-Conyers [GA] chapter [formerly a member of the Gwinnett County chapter and initially, the Xi Eta Chapter at Wake Forest University]).
It Is All About the Journey
The evolution of my writing journey took place in 2017 with my first book, Deeper than your deepest sleep: thoughts on love with Joseph Snorton. Based on conversation with a long-lost family member as we looked at the action of love through the lenses of family, friends, community, loved ones past and present, and self-reflection (among other themes), it’s different as each chapter opens with a segment of the conversation; that allows for the reader to draw better connections and embark on the journey with the author.
My second book, 9 stories of faith: volume 1, is an interview-based book that is more than a cross-faith conversation (Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam). Each person shares their life’s biggest daily challenges, cutting across physical and mental health, life after incarceration, and others, but through the application of best practices in health and wellness, their support network, and change in thinking, they also share how they live lives of positivity and purpose.
Both books are rated Top-1000 reads by the Author Academy Awards (2019).
The audiobook series, The Author’s Mixtape (Volumes 1 and 2), is part music and spoken word. Influenced by the mixtape concept in music (where the lyricist essentially improvises or “freestyles” over a musical track), both audiobooks are truly organic experiences for the listener and reader. In individual studio sessions (2-hours), all the writing, recording, and editing is done; nothing is pre-written, so essentially, it’s “writing” a book unscripted. With topics covering health, what gives you peace, family, community, and more, including the input of middle school students (for the first book), it’s an accessible experience for students as young as middle school to adults.
The genres I cover include poetry, interview-based, and with the audiobooks, spoken word and music. Future works will incorporate other genres, so stay tuned!
This is a great way to get started in writing. You do have to take ownership of a lot of the processes, including editing (if you don’t get an editor), proofing, formatting, design, marketing, bookstore placement, and other factors. The key is you learn how the process works, so as you grow and look at your traditional/larger publishers, you build up your knowledge and reference base. And while there are trade offs, the key is learning more so you expand your reach and accentuate your growth.
How Do You Market Your Books?
Pre-COVID19, book-signings, book-readings, and book festivals were key. In the now-normal, doing virtual events is important; it’s different, but you still have to reach people. Social media is helpful, and as mentioned earlier, platforms like my television show and a Zoom-based series #allabouttheauthors (that I co-host with fellow author, Entertainment Source, Tyressa Ty), interfacing with radio, television, newspapers (online), and other outlets are important (including this platform). The important thing is focusing on reaching people, especially those you don’t know, so they know who you are and the work you do.
What Was Your First Featured Author Experience?
Officially, my first featured experience was my launch to support “Deeper” on February 12, 2017, in Atlanta (at the Starbucks Coffee at Howell Mill Road). My first book festival was the Mississippi Book Festival as a participating author (August 19, 2017) in Jackson, MS. Any author who has done a festival can speak to how enriching an experience and opportunity it is to be a part of a festival. Definitely get involved!
How Do You Invest in Yourself?
I remind myself of who I am and whose I am. I focus on remaining dedicated to the craft and looking for ways to improve; I do celebrate my accomplishments (as well you should), but I realize there’s more in store. Writing in different genres and topics helps me keep my skill sets sharp along with being passionate and purposeful as an author.
What Was Hardest to Learn?
This is the proverbial “what they don’t tell you” (LOL). I would say the hardest thing to learn is reminding yourself this is a marathon, not a sprint. Things do take time; akin to marinating a steak before you put it on the grill, the longer it marinates, the better it tastes. You must stay aggressive and patient simultaneously.
Keep in mind the Harry Potter series; those books were out for up to 10 years before they received the visibility and eventually, getting on the big screen. I say that to say, “Be patient, persistent, passionate, and purposeful.” Remember things do take time, so when you see these success stories, even with additional means and tools of engagement, it still takes time.
How Have You Expanded Your Streams of Income?
Through writing, along with the press/media services and education services done under Creative Community Solutions, I continue to explore ways to expand my reach. Editing (I’ve edited books written by fellow authors, including Willie Cartwright) is another area I’m able to tap into to expand my streams and reach.
Worst Advice Ever?
I have not really received any bad advice. Other than some negative commentary from people who have not pursued their dreams, passions, and talents, including one person who at an event (May 13, 2018) emphasized how he’d written more books than me; when I asked how many he published, his answer was none. I did offer to help him as I gave him my business card, and perhaps one day, he’ll reach out so he can make his passions more permanent and publishable.
Best Advice Ever?
Get started. Everyone has a story to tell, so why not tell it, as people need to hear from you?
Pearl of Wisdom for Up and Coming Authors
Be authentic and accessible. Your work is yours; tell it with your audience instead of at them. And cast as wide a net as possible so people know who you are and the work you are doing, be it through contemporary, traditional, and creative (non-traditional) means.
- Facebook: Author Andrew Snorton (official page)
- Instagram/Twitter: @authorasnorton
- YouTube: Author ASnorton
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: asnortonccs.wixsite.com/authorpage/
- Website (business): asnortonccs.com
- Website (television show): statusnetwork.net/Shows/conversation-corner/