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Cynique

Straight from the horse's mouth

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It finally occurred to me that when it comes to the subject of whether or not writers should get paid for their work, I can speak with some degree of relevancy because of what I voluntarily did for free on the Cynique’s Corner site.

After an ebook project I signed on with crashed and burned due to problems with implementation, I approached Troy about doing my own version of its concept. He graciously consented, and since he was doing me a favor by allowing me to serialize my book on a chapter-a-week basis, it never occurred to me to expect payment for this. I just thought it would be fun. And it was. I had no idea what the response would be to this updated version of a book I self-published 15 years ago, but I figured what did I have to lose? Well,- I don’t know how many people actually read the 22 chapters that I posted, but in regard to the number of hits, I’d estimate that I averaged about 60 a week.

The original run of this paperback was 150 units. Selling copies for 5 bucks a pop at a few local fairs and venues, I got rid of about 100 over a 2-year period. But did I care? Not really. Self-publishing a novel includes total control, and this allows you to play God and create your own little world and your own characters and your own plots. What more can a mere mortal ask for? Positive feed back? I got that, too.

Going waay back to the early 1970s, my prodigious letter-writing to editors, earned me a regular column in a Chicago newspaper. As a free lancer, I was given a 25-dollar savings bond for each article I submitted. I never expected to be paid when I requested my own by-line. I just wanted a forum for telling off white people during a racially-charged era when they needed to be put in check. My reward? How the newspaper was bombarded with letters from irate readers, complaining about “that nigger bitch troublemaker”. I loved it! So did the editors who regularly printed censored versions of some of the more outrageous responses. Several years later at a hometown achievers banquet, I was given a plaque for speaking out against racism. Money? No. Just appreciation from my peers.

I’ve never considered myself a serious writer and my lackluster book covers and absence of a marketing plan attested to this. I wrote because I was fulfilled by the creative process. This is not to say that I would turn down any money someone offered to pay me. But when it came to writing books, the joy was more in the journey, than the destination.

I don’t expect everybody to take this approach. To each his own. Fame and fortune is a powerful incentive. But I can say, that when it comes to my writing endeavors, I’ve never been disappointed.

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Cynique I was hoping someone would eventually articulate what I truly believe is the truth.

As usual, you did it better than I could have. Though I doubt the majority of people will actually "get" what you wrote -- for free :-)

See we were raised in a system where everything is for sale. The problem is our focus on making more and more money which perverts the product we were originally selling. Whether is sports, music, clothing or food.

Now nothing is free, really, there is a cost for everything. I just don't think the price we pay for most things reflect cost in the least bit... And we all worse off as a result.

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Nah'Sun, exactly.

And this is natural because that is the way our system is designed to work; people will do anything that someone else will pay them to do.

This leads to conditions and behaviors that do not produce the best products. For example, there are people who are not very good at writing and may not actually care very much for the art, but who can generate more revenue from their writing than a much better writer could -- because of skills that have nothing to do with writing.

Now that is not to say the only those who love and appreciate the art of writing are the only ones who are good at it.

It is just that when given the choice between people who write solely for money and the trappings of fame and those who write for love of the craft -- I'll choose those who write for love of it, every day of the week.

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What's funny is that before 1999, writing books wasn't even thought of

Teri Woods had pretty much broken the mold when she independently released True 2 The Game

Authors drop out the rat race when they experience the harsh reality that making money writing books isn't an overnight thing

They leave as quickly as they arrived

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Actually, Terri was following on the heals of authors a decade earlier like E. Lynn Harris self-publishing Invisible Life and and Terry McMillian's with her novel Mama.

Even these authors were proceeded by independent Black presses like Glenn Thompson's Writers and Readers, Haki Madhubuti's Third World Press, Kassahun Checole's Africa World Press, and others.

People always thought bout making books, but the financial investment was just too high prior to all this technology which made it possible for almost anyone.

It was not until Terry McMillan started selling book out the proverbial trunk of her car that big publishers began really publishing Black books in earnest.

Today instead of technology continuing to democratize publishing it is raising the barriers to entry as independents can not afford the sophisticated technology to market, promote and compete on price.

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@ Troy

The explosion of self-published authors didn’t start until Teri Woods hit the scene

I’m not talking about who pioneered that movement. I’m talking about the person who trail-blazed after the initial spark

Writing books wasn’t thought of as profitable until Teri made millions publishing True 2 The Game and B-More Careful with Shannon

Teri reflected those who looked liked her...they wanted to emulate her success whereas Terry and Lynn carried more of a middle-class appeal to them

It was inspiring to see a woman selling her books on 125th street in Harlem making a grip of money

A lot of people don’t know about Lynn E Harris’s and Terry McMillian’s self-pubbing grind like they do Teri’s...they're more known for their work with major houses

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There are still lots of authors who write for the love of it and not for the money. There is I believe a priority that should be placed on things versus an all or nothing choice forced. Writing can be profitable but writing for profit only is not something I'm comfortable doing because that would mean writing stories I'd never read. This is the problem for me. I don't write in the genre's that most African American's read because it isn't my cup of tea but I'm sure I could make more money if I did.

Writing clean fiction, suburban Christian fiction (my category), urban Christian fiction, serialized fiction (coming in 2013) and devotionals hasn't put me in the "baller" category and I accepted a long time ago it might not ever put me on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Writing" but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop. Publishers told me my writing was solid but were concerned about stories my subject matter and didn't want to take the risk so I brought the books to ebook and POD markets on my own. I love the creative expression self publishing affords me and I take improving my craft serious, my stories aren't perfect but they're from my heart.

I believe passion for the story and reason for writing if not founded in something more than monetary gain will be the best vetting system for the people writing for profit and if that doesn't work readers are smarter than some publishers give them credit. Readers want to read a story that the author believes in not just something written for profit.

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I love this!

I love the creative expression self publishing affords me and I take improving my craft serious, my stories aren't perfect but they're from my heart.

and this...

Self-publishing a novel includes total control, and this allows you to play God and create your own little world and your own characters and your own plots. What more can a mere mortal ask for?

Absolutely! Good, bad, or indifferent, it's still your story, your baby. Even if it doesn't make much money at all, it's an accomplishment, a creation. Writing is just...awesome! :wub:

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Na'Shun Teri Woods was indeed a pioneering author in her genre, but we'll have to disagree on who sparked the self-publishing wave. ;)

Harris and McMillian, like Woods addressed audiences that were under served and told stories not widely published. McMillan gave a voice to regular Black women, and did E. Lynn gave one to gay men. Both were funny and told engaging stories.

It is interesting that you said Harris and McMillian's books "carried a middle class appeal". I'm sure they would both agree that their books were not targeted nor appealed only to a specific class.

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@ Admin

Re-read my post

I said Teri trail-blazed after the initial spark

The mass flooding of Black self published authors and independent publishing houses didn’t kick off until Teri SHOWED them that you can make tons of money on the street level

Lynn and Terry aren’t known for their guerrilla marketing whereas Teri had showed others what you can do on your own

You STILL had to go through the majors even when Terry and Lynn did their numbers

Teri changed that reality

This shouldn’t be a debate

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Na'Shun Admin=Troy I happened to be deleting spam account and forgot to switch back to my regular user accounts.

I think I read your post and understood what you wrote -- I just disagree. To say the E. Lynn and Terry were not know for their guerrilla markets belies a lack of knowledge of these authors. But lets forget them for a second.

Have you ever heard of Omar Tyree? He was out there grinding, slinging self published works before anyone ever heard of Teri Woods. There is nothing that Teri has done that Omar did not due first. Teri did not start anything, she successfully rode the wave, initiated by others.

You are right, this really shouldn't be a debate...

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@ Troy

Once again...

I'm not arguing who done what first

I'm saying that Teri influenced authors to make it on their own moreso than Terry McMillian and E Lynn Harris

You cannot sit up here and tell me that authors were thinking about putting books out on their own on a mass scale until Teri Woods sold millions independently with True 2 The Game and B-More Careful

She showed the industry that you can sell Urban Fiction/Street Lit without the help of the major

And also changed the game by dictating a market that was dead for almost 30 years

This is evident considering you have authors who used to write "chick-lit" and "sista-girl" novels crossing over to write edgier books with pen names

If that's not influence, then I don't know what is

And yes, I've heard of Omar Tyree

In fact, my publishing consultant had worked with him for his first novel which was a street lit joint

Tyree, McMillian, and Harris didn't make millions independently like Teri

Point blank

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Shawneda, there is some information about Teri Woods and other Black authors on this site :unsure:

Nah'Sun I can't speak to how much money E. Lynn, Terry, Omar or Woods generated as self-published authors as I don't have that information, I suspect you don't have their financials either.

This is evident considering you have authors who used to write "chick-lit" and "sista-girl" novels crossing over to write edgier books with pen names

I was not aware that Harris and Tyree wrote chick lit or sista-girl books. Besides I'm talking about an industry not any one genre.

Again we will continue to disagree on who had a greater influence on other authors in terms of self-publishing.

I'd be willing to bet that Author Shawneda is not alone, and that more self-published authors, and authors in general, are more familiar with Omar Tyree than Teri Woods. One can not be influenced by an author they are not familiar with.

A Sidebar:

Nah'Sun (anyone) do you think popularity of Urban/Street is waning?

I see that Teri Woods had a new book come our last week. I did not heard a peep about it anywhere on-line, but it could be a function of what is happening with Black books on-line rather than the waning popularity of the street fiction. I'll see if I see the book on 125th street later...

alibi-2.jpg

Hickson will be happy to know the eBook is price at $9.99 -- Hachette Book Group USA, takin' no shorts!

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@ Troy

You said it yourself how Omar Tyree's hustle back then fails in comparison to today's authors

Don't make me go archive diggin'...LOL

Tyree, McMillian, and Harris aren't notorious for their guerilla hustling...they got popular AFTER the major deal

If those said authors made millions independently, they wouldn't have to sign to a major

That's my logic as far as that situation

There are people who don't know about Toni Morrison but knows Terry McMillian, and Morrison is more revered in the industry

So that point about people not knowing Teri in comparison to Omar is moot

I think the urban/street lit popularity is waning as far as new authors looking for a quick buck

The veterans are good as long as they satisfy their readers

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I guess I'm out of the mainstream. As a person whose writing aspirations had been bogged down and inhibited by a manual typewriter, carbon paper and white out, I was inspired to self-published not by any of the pioneers mentioned. Hustling writers had nothing to do with my motivation. It was being introduced to a word processsor! This magical, marvelous machine made everything sooo easy. It was like having your own personal secretary. As soon as I got the hang of one, I was good to go! ^_^

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Nah'Sun, you are right about what I said about Omar. In Omar's day he was what I considered the hardest working man in publishing - a relative machine. But by today's standards he would be par for the course, based upon standards set by many of today's urban authors.

While I would agree that an independent making millions on their own has no incentive to sign a deal with a publishing company, all of the authors we are talking about have signed deals -- including Teri.

While you may be right about the relative popularity of McMillan versus Morrison we really don't know -- that is what makes the point moot. Which is why I suggested the survey.

Cynique, you are motivated by the desire to write -- and yes technology made it possible. Technology absolutely launched the self-publishing revolution you took part in.

Many writers are motivated by solely by money and fame. Often writers motivated by money will sell better than writers motivated by writing. They simply work harder and are more aggressive at self-promotion -- technology helped in this regard too.

Many writers especially the literary types brittle at the idea is aggressive self-promotion. They need a publicist to do the work for them.

The problem is we have reached a point where writing solely to make money is crowding out writers motivated by the art. This is not just self-published author trying to get rich. Big publishing houses are asking writers to add more sex or make the novel "grittier" is not unusual.

My guess is that Black writers are asked to do this most often. Authors interested in money comply and write for the market, those who don't, don't get deals or are forced to go to a small independent press, or self-publish. By mainly they just op-out of publishing altogether.

I don't think anyone believes, for a second, that the best writers are the ones being published, and selling the most books today. This system is simply not setup for that. It is setup to make money.

...and the downward spiral continues.

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NO DOUBT ABOUT IT: OMAR TYREE IS A HUSTLING MACHINE! I ALWAYS CREDIT BOTH OMAR TYREE & MICHAEL BAISDEN FOR MY MOTIVATION TO HUSTLE HARD IN 2003, YET, TERI WOODS & SISTAH SOULJAH INSPIRED ME TO WRITE, BUT OUT OF ALL MENTIONED, I CREDIT TERI WOODS FOR MY ENTIRE APPROACH TO "THE GAME", PERIOD! ALL ARE GREAT IN THEIR OWN WAY, YET TERI WOODS, IN MY OPINION GOT MORE RECOGNITION FOR BEING A STREET LIT/URBAN LIT/HIP HOP LIT WRITER & PUBLISHER IN THE MID 90'S, SIMPLY BECAUSE OF WHERE SHE'S FROM: THE STREETS OF PHILLY. SHE CAME OUT IN A PERFECT TIME BACK THEN. TERI WOODS & VICKI STRINGER WHERE THE ONLY ONES REALLY MAKING IT HAPPEN IN A MAJOR WAY. YES OTHERS WERE OUT THERE, BUT HENCE THE WORD "MAJOR". THE IMPACT THE TWO WOMEN MADE WAS PHENOMENAL--NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM THEM. BUT TERI RODE THE WAVE SO HARD, THAT SHE ACTUALLY BECAME SYNONYMOUS TO STREET LIT/URBAN LIT/HIPHOP LIT!

YES, ALL EVENTUALLY WENT TO THE MAJORS FOR MAINSTREAM DEALS--EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN REASONS, AGENDAS, INTENTIONS & GOALS--THAT'S NOT TO BE KNOCKED, BUT WHAT THEY'VE DONE PRIOR TO SHOULD ALWAYS BE RECOGNIZED.

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@ Troy

Yep, Teri Woods eventually signed with the Warners...not mad at her either

I just don't think that a lot of Black folks were trippin' about writing books until they became profitable around 2003

It went from slangin' crack and Avon to writing books

Hahahahahahaha

Speaking of Teri Woods...

Check out this controversial Teri Woods interview with Mack Mama

It's off the hook!!!...LOL

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mackmama/2012/05/15/interview-legendary-author-teri-woods-nys-finest

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Nah'Sun I listened to the more than two hours of the interview (while driving and working out today). I was actually going to mention Teri's controversy with Kwame and Caleb, here but decided against it.

I've seen Teri enough times to know she is "eccentric". Nothing she said surprised me, but it was still an interesting interview.

It is interesting that Teri recognizes that publishing has changed but fails to recognize that it is those changes that makes it almost impossible for someone to replicate her success. That is not to say other writers can not be successful. However if Teri Woods came out in 2012 I seriously doubt her success would have followed the same trajectory.

Listening to her it seems the bootlegging of books has gotten worse. If she thinks the ebook world is any better she'll be in for a rude awakening.

Treasure Blue, the first caller, is my man. A good writer, humble and appreciative of any support he gets. He told me the story about Shannon Holmes years ago.

I'm glad people like Mack Mama are doing programs like this. I even added her show to Teri Woods Page.

I wish there were journalists covering the industry a lot of the nonsense could be eliminated by simply finding out what is actually happening.

I can also see, after listening to the interview why you feel Teri had so much influence on the self publishing. I would concede that she may have help influenced urban/street lit authors, but there were just too many other self published authors that came before her. Plus the fact that technology improvements which coincided with Teri rise probably had a bigger impact on the self-publishing revolution

Nah'Sun check out my bestsellers list from 1998 several of the books were self-published -- most notably Jesscia care Moore self published not only her work but that of Saul Williams as well. Some of these book were self-published in 1997, well before Teri "hand made" books.

The revolution was sparked before Teri came along. By the time urban fiction became wildly popular the self-publishing revolution was sparked and in the history books.

I witnessed this too. ;)

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It is interesting that Teri recognizes that publishing has changed but fails to recognize that it is those changes that makes it almost impossible for someone to replicate her success. That is not to say other writers can not be successful. However if Teri Woods came out in 2012 I seriously doubt her success would have followed the same trajectory.

@ Troy

Side A

I'm gonna say this one mo' gen...LOL

I'm not saying that Teri started the self-pubbing revolution

I'm just saying that people really didn't take notice about self-pubbing on the "Black hand side" on a large scale until Teri became largely successful with True To the Game and B-More Careful

I'm familiar with Jessica and Saul...on the flip side, they're poets

Side B

I told Treasure Blue the same thing that I quoted from your post

I told him that it was a lot easier to shoot a load when he first came into the game in contrast to now

Everybody and their mamas wanna write books without really perfecting their craft

Not only that...but deals back then were a lot sweeter than they are now

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Nah'Sun, I'm more than willing to agree that Teri influenced "self-pubbing on the "Black hand side" on a large scale" with the caveat: in the urban/street fiction genre.

The reason I say this is that in the 90's Teri Woods was not relevant in the larger book world. She, shall we say, was an "underground sensation" (like a Loaded Lux perhaps).

There were too many other authors self-publishing who were more popular, Jessica was just one. Now Teri ultimately Terry surpassed everyone in terms of popularity and most likely revenue as well.

Before we started this conversation I would have said Vickie Stringer was probably more influential that anyone else. -- everybody knew Triple Crown -- even before they knew the authors! The branding was strong, because of Stringer.

Today it seems like all the top urban authors are writing for Cash Money Content, Wahida, Nikki, K'wan, Treasure, et al. What do you think about CMC, will they resuscitate a waning genre in a struggling industry?

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There's a whole segment of self-publishers who were not familiar with the methods of or ascent to prominence by street lit authors.

A lot of the ones I knew were interested in making break throughs into other genres and opted on self-publishing as the route to this. Authors like Tannarive Due and Walter Moseley and Stephen Carter and DeBerry & Grant were who inspired them, and the mind-set was that putting out a good self published book opened the door to be picked up by one of the large publshing houses. Getting an agent was another priority of serious writers. This is not to say that these methods produced spectacular results but it is to broaden the discussion about the different choices early self-publishers considered.

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@ Troy

Side A

C’mon now

You know the majority of Negroes think that writing Urban Fiction is the only thing they’re capable of doing

*points toward the African American book section*

Side B

If it wasn’t for Teri Woods, there probably wouldn’t be a Vicki Stringer considering that Shannon Holmes was originally the co-publisher of Triple Crown

Side C

Cash Money Content is cool

I’ll be more impressed if they successfully break in a new author

You can’t resuscitate a genre with the same old faces…you need fresh blood

CMC reminds me of G-Unit books…only more organized

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Side A: LOL!

Side B: Yeah I did not know about Shannon and triple crown until the Wahida interview -- deep.

Side C: Agreed! Successfully breaking in a new author is the value publishers are supposed to bring. All the big houses have done over the last few years is give deals to authors who have demonstrated an ability to move their own product.

Have the big houses ever introduced (discovered on their own, developed, marketed/promoted) a new urban/street author that generated big sales -- I can't think of one?

Man, I forgot all about G-Unit - Do they have any big books (books that have sold well or are popular)? Nikki, Relentless, K. Elliott...

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@ Troy

To answer your first question…I don’t think so

The book game is the same as the rap game where publishing houses want authors to already have a solid built-in fanbase

They don’t wanna take the financial risk and the time to groom new authors

And for the second question…

…not that I know of

Judging from interview of certain authors who were signed to G-Unit, it seemed like they gave the label throw away stories

And which Wahida Clark interview are you speaking of?

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Impressive List Hickson -- what is you most popular/best title, one you think will be liked by the most people and I'll spread the word about it. Or give me a few and I'll pick one. Thanks

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THANKS TROY, I WORK HARD! DO YOU REMEMBER THE MOVIE "SOPHIE'S CHOICE"? THAT'S WHAT THIS REQUEST IS LIKE: MY BOOKS ARE ALL MY SPECIAL BABIES: I CAN'T CHOOSE ONE OVER THE OTHER! :0) YET I, WILL SAY...

READ A GREAT POLITICAL THRILLER: TANTRUM! http://www.amazon.co...ords=GHETTOHEAT

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READ AN INTRIGUING LGBT MYSTERY: LONDON REIGN! http://www.amazon.co...ords=GHETTOHEAT

READ A FASCINATING CONTEMPORARY NOVEL: AND GOD CREATED WOMAN! (ESSENCE BESTSELLER) http://www.amazon.co...ords=GHETTOHEAT

READ A SUSPENSEFUL STREET THRILLER: HARDER http://www.amazon.co...ords=GHETTOHEAT

READ A MIND-BLOWING PRISON EXPOSE: CONVICT'S CANDY! (ESSENCE BESTSELLER) http://www.amazon.co...ords=GHETTOHEAT

READ A MAGNIFICENT POETRY BOOK: GHETTOHEAT®! http://www.amazon.co...ords=GHETTOHEAT

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& ANPU, AUTHOR OF THE UPCOMING STEAMY, SENSUAL & SEDUCTIVE EROTIC ROMANCE, THICKNESS! TWITTER: HTTPS://TWITTER.COM/@ANPUDISIAC

TROY, I'M THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD...& DID! :0) LOL! GOD IS GREAT!

PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®!

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Hey man here are some short links you can use:

61ZIl16yOTL._SL160_.jpg

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THANKS FOR THE LINKS, TROY! GRATITUDE.... ACTUALLY, AT GHETTOHEAT®, I DO ARTIST DEVELOPMENT/GROOMING, & HAVE "BOOK CAMP", CONSISTING OF FULLY PREPARING MY WRITERS FOR THE INDUSTRY: READING & WRITING, & BUSINESS EXERCISES, MEDIA COACHING, SHADOWING ME AT EVENTS, & EVEN ADVERSITY TESTS! YES, ADVERSITY TESTS, LIKE A REALITY SHOW.... SHOULDN'T I CATCH THE "GLITCH" BEFORE MY CLIENTS? EXACTLY.... SOME FAIL & I DON'T CONTINUE ON WITH THEM: THEY'RE CONSIDERED THE WEAKEST LINKS--MANY WHO WILL BE PUBLISHED ELSEWHERE (& I WISH THEM WELL...)! I ONLY KEEP THOSE WHO PASS ALL TESTS!

I'M NOT WILLING TO INVEST/CHANCE ON SOMEONE AS I ONCE HAD BEFORE WHEN I FIRST PUBLISHED WRITERS: I NEED THE TOTAL PACKAGE: GREAT TALENT OBTAINING A VAST KNOWLEDGE OF BUSINESS, & A WONDERFUL PERSONALITY THAT WILL MANIFEST INTO STAR QUALITY, WHICH IN TURN TRANSLATE INTO BIG BUSINESS. I'M PROBABLY THE HARDEST INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER TO DATE, & THE HARDEST TO PLEASE! I MAKE THE WRITERS EARN ACCESS INTO THE HOUSE OF GHETTOHEAT® NOW! I DO SO BECAUSE I HAVE LONGTERM GOALS WITH MY ARTISTS--REASON WHY I DON'T ACCEPT FREE AGENTS, GHOST WRITERS, SELF-PUBLISHED, THOSE PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED ELSEWHERE OR THOSE WANTING TO BE PUBLISHED AT MULTIPLE PUBLISHING HOUSES. IT DOESN'T WORK FOR ME OR MY BUSINESS MODEL AT GHETTOHEAT®.

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