LaConnie Taylor-Jones, a native Memphian, is a health educator consultant and holds advanced degrees in community public health and business administration. Married, she is the mother of four and resides with her family in Antioch, California located in Northern California. She is also an active member of the Contra Costa Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the African American Community Health Advisory Committee, Black Women Organized for Political Action, and the San Francisco Area and Black Diamond chapters of Romance Writers of America. You can visit her website at http://www.laconnietaylorjones.com/.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, LaConnie! Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
Hello everyone and thanks so much for having me!! Yes, I am a new author in the literary world with two full-length novels to my credit.
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
November 6, 2007 marked the release of my debut novel, When I’m With You. My second release, When A Man Loves A Woman will hit store shelves April 1, 2008. I’m in contract negotiations for my third novel, which hopefully will release either late 2008 or early 2009.
For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
Sixty-eight rejects found their way inside my mailbox between September and December 2005.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
Of all the rejections I received, the first two were the toughest. After that, whenever I saw that familiar manila envelope inside my mailbox, which was the SASE I’d originally sent in, I’d simply shrug and became even more determined than ever to one day sale my manuscript.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Genesis Press published my first two books. I chose Genesis for a couple of reasons. First, they are the largest privately-owned African American book publisher and about a year ago and a half ago formed a distribution partnership with Kensington. Secondly, some of the most well-known African American romance authors got their start with Genesis. As a new author, I was willing to learn from the ground up and I’ve never regretted the decision.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I had an overwhelming sense of accomplishment after almost three years of trying to get my manuscripts in front of editors.
What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?
The very first thing I did was research those venues that promoted to my target audience to determine the types of marketing plans they had and contacted them. Also, I did a lot of old-fashion word of mouth promotion.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
Absolutely not!! In the last thirteen months, I’ve gone through experiences that have helped me grow as an author. I’ve also gained a better understanding of how the publishing industry really works. I wouldn’t take anything for my journey.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
Yes, my second book, When A Man Loves A Woman releases on April 1, 2008. Without a doubt, I’ve grown! Writing is like anything else, the more you do it, the better you become at it. Make no mistake, though. I’m still a fledgling writer, but with each completed novel, I see myself improving.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I learned quickly that there’s nothing you can do to speed things along in the literary world!! Patience became my best friend and fortunately helped me avoid many of the pitfalls new authors tend to make.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
Ranking #3 on the 2007 Best Sellers List for Mosiac.com only seven weeks after my debut release.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
By trade, I’ve been a public health educator for the past fifteen years.
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I’ve actually been fortunate enough to combine the best of both worlds. The inspiration and premise for my stories comes from experience as a health educator.
How do you see yourself in ten years?
I plan to become a New York Times Bestselling author with at least twenty novels to my credit.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
The first tip I’d give is to prepare. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways: reading books from authors published in the genre you’re writing in, taking courses or workshops, entering contests, and if possible, speaking with published authors in your targeted genre. Once you have a workable draft of your manuscript, join a critique group and above all, accept constructive feedback. All of these things will help in the end so that you’re providing a quality product for agents and editors to review.
A couple of books I’d highly encourage writers to purchase are: Building Better Plots by Robert Kernen and Writing Novels that Sells by Jack Bickham.
Check out LaConnie’s website at http://www.laconnietaylorjones.com/ to see how you can win a $100 gift certificate to Amazon.com!
LaConnie’s virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion and choreographed by Cheryl Malandrinos.