Allow me to introduce you to Kim Green, an author from Atlanta who will be in town for a reading at BookWoman on April 3rd at 7 pm. I haven’t met Kim in person (yet) but, among other things, Kim represents the power of friendship. I could say networking but that’s a cold term that hardly captures how we found one another. As it happens, I was recently part of a fundraiser event for Fusebox Festival when I ran into my old friend Bruce Hughes, bass player extraordinaire and damn fine songwriter and guitarist, too. Bruce told me he had a friend, Kim, who has a book coming out, and that we should meet. I asked him to connect us. And then, lo, I got an email from Kim.
Kim’s new book, hallucination, just came out. I’ll let her tell you about it below in the Q&A. Kim is part of the brave new world of self-publishers, taking matters into her own hands so she can control the message and the audience. Believe me, I have worked with some really crappy book publisher marketing departments in my day, so I applaud Kim. I also ask you to give her a hand— contact her if you know an independent bookstore where she might give a reading, tell your friends and, of course, ORDER THE BOOK!
Thanks. And now, without further ado, my interview with Kim Green.
You’ve got a new book out— tell me about it, please:
My novel is called “hallucination.” The small “h” is deliberate. The novel is about an African American woman who is diagnosed with Lupus at the “prime of her life.” The incurable debilitating chronic disease is the catalyst for a major life overhaul when the character, Morgan’s, husband abandons her, her body fails, her career is lost and she is suddenly a single mother with no one to turn to except herself. She finally sees that the ultimate cure for her body is to heal her heart by loving herself.
Tell me about you and writing— how long have you been at it, what stuff have you written?
I have been a writer for as long as I could hold a pen. As a young child growing up in New York City, I used to play “school” even instead of playing “house.” I would create an imaginary classroom and I was the English teacher. I would assign essay questions and then proceed to write several different essays and then grade them all. I was a nerd! I have always been drawn to writing and words. I was an entertainment journalist for over two decades and a record executive for several years as well. At Sony Music I wrote all of the marketing materials for acts like Sade, Public Enemy and even Andreas Vollenweider. As a music journalist I have interviewed David Lee Roth, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Patti Labelle and Tupac Shakur and that is a very short list. I am a music fanatic. I also was the ghostwriter for Fantasia Barrino’s (American Idol winner) best selling memoir, Life is Not a Fairytale. My essays and short stories have also been included in several anthologies.
Is hallucination self-published and is it only e-book or also print?
It is on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com and it is an ibook. hallucination is also in print as well as in all of the electronic formats. It is also carried in several indie bookstores if they’ll have them! That is what the readings are for…to convince the indie bookstores that it is worth carrying.
Please tell me about your decision to self-publish.
I am self-published by choice. I have had agents and book deals in the past for other projects. As an African American woman who is a writer, I have experienced the terrible job that mainstream publishing houses do with books written by African Americans. They usually dictate the cover design, the content and the marketing efforts – gearing those books only toward African American audiences. Because I feel my story is a woman’s story, and auto-immune diseases strike mostly women, I knew my story was universal. Because of my experience in music and entertainment, I hoped I could pull together my past experience and some of the great experts I know in Marketing, PR, technology and launch the book myself…I am aware that it will be a very slow-building buzz, but at least I will be in control and I can direct the book and the message to a broader audience without a detached corporate executive deciding “who would be interested and who wouldn’t.” The other thing that I love about self-publishing is that the sky is the limit with how you market and who you align yourself with. You just have to be creative. I don’t think a novel has ever had a theme song!
Needless to say, the hardest thing about being self-published is the financial obligations in order to do it correctly. That has been a bit of a strain, but the gratifying feeling of sharing hallucination with whom I want to and making sure that it is in alignment with my own vision for the book, makes it all worth it.
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and not a very corporate one, so this was a natural fit for me. I think going the traditional route is quite difficult and even after getting a “deal.” Many of the books with deals have been “put on hold,” placed on the 2016 calendar or even “killed” altogether. I saw it daily when I was in the music business. There is so much disappointment in the traditional publishing fields whether it is music or books. No wonder artists drink!
Marketing these days is a real bitch. But, for example, you contacted me because we have a common friend, Bruce. What other things are you doing to market the book? Because I am a music fanatic, I am thinking outside the box and much as I can. I was able to pull a song from an upcoming album from an established vocalist, Kelli Sae, and asked her if I could use her song for the title character’s theme song. The song is perfect for Morgan’s plight and Kelli Sae loved the idea. The CDs are given away at readings to go along with the experience of reading the book. The cover art is a painting by an artist D. Lammie Hanson of whom I already collect her work. The painting struck me and I had to have it. Because I have always been a fan of her work, she was willing to work with me on hallucination.
The book is also about learning to love yourself. And so in response to the question, is hallucination a love story? I always say yes it is. “It’s about falling in love with yourself.” I created bumper stickers with the Atlanta audience in mind that simply gives my website address: www.hallucinationthenovel.com and the line is simply “Fall in love with yourself.” It has been quite effective.
These type of marketing efforts show that the book is about something deeper and meaningful. Besides those things, I have done all of the electronic things that I needed to do; a website, a book trailer, A Facebook page, and a twitter account. I admit I am still slowly learning how to synchronize them all, but the pieces are in place. I think the most important thing that I can do is to continue to spread the word in as many markets as I can afford to visit. I do as many readings as I can, give things away that “brand” the book. I am also working with book clubs which is a very organic way you can build a fan base. Once readers connect with the author they are no longer just telling other people about “a book.” They are telling people about a real person with a real story or cause. It makes a big difference. Also, I am trying to form an alliance with the Lupus Foundation of America but having the book vetted by them is a grueling process and I can’t afford to wait for them. It is my hope that they will get on board since I plan to donate a portion of proceeds to them. Although LFA is a non-profit, it is still a corporation, which makes it a bit slow and perilously unresponsive. I am also starting to get publicity online, on radio and hopefully in a few print vehicles as well. My publisher, booklogix.com is also putting a billboard of hallucination on the most major freeway in Atlanta for a week in a couple of weeks. He came to my book launch party and saw that hallucination makes Booklogix look good too. They have been phenomenal to work with!
You’re coming to Austin in a couple of weeks- been here before?
I have never been to Austin and I am so excited. I have heard so many amazing things about it. I love that hallucination has a musical component and I hope that the audience enjoys the book and the theme song. I am looking forward to the signing at BookWoman on April 3rd at 7:00pm. I hope that my reading entices people to want to buy the book. It would be ideal if there were a few “plants” in the audience who knew about the book or had read it…Good questions from readers always make the Readings even better.
What are you working on now?
I am working on another ghost writing project and I am also starting to pull together the memoir that I am writing about caring for my father the last six months of his life.
And what’s life like when you aren’t writing— what else do you do?
I take care of my 9 year old son who is quite an experience! And when I am not caring for him, I lead a couple of writers’ groups in Atlanta and I conceived and produced a woman’s writing conference called Getting in Touch with the Source which will be done again in 2013 in Atlanta. And when all of that is done and I am still not writing, I think about what else I can write!
What else would you like to tell me?
I am so grateful to Spike Gillespie for including me in this blog and I am so grateful in advance for any one who will be at my reading at BookWoman on Tuesday, April 3rd at 7:00pm. I assure you that they will get something good from it. If nothing else, they will get a free CD and bumper sticker! This a music town isn’t it?