Today we’re featuring Christian urban fiction author and musician Harry Williams of Oakland, CA. Thank you for sharing with our audience, Harry! We’re grateful for your advice and wish you much success with your plethora of upcoming projects.
What is your name and what is your company’s URL?
My name is Harry Williams. I am the founder and CEO of Soul Shaker Publishing, Music and Film Works. I have two websites. The first is http://www.soulshakerpublishing.com. The second site is http://www.revharrywilliams.com.
What is your publishing genre?
I write urban fiction. If you were to visit any inner city book store, you would find that urban fiction authors far outsell even highly regarded literary greats like Toni Morrison. Urban fiction is raw. It is real and it is here to stay.
How many titles have you published?
I have had two books published by InterVarsity Press. Straight Outta East Oakland, published in 2008 was the first novel put out by Soul Shaker Publishing.
What is your favorite or most successful title?
As a minister, I tend not to measure success in terms of book sales alone. I received letters from people serving light years in prison who told me that the book had hit its mark. I was present on the day that a gang member told a youth that my book made him think.
What is your upcoming release?
Straight Outta East Oakland, II: Trapped On The Track is going to be released in February of 2011. This is an important book.
The first time that I ever saw Oakland, California was in a movie theatre. It was the scene of the 1973 blaxploitation classic, “The Mack.” It was a film about a man who is released from Oakland from prison. He becomes a pimp, a svengali figure who enslaves women through mind control. Little did I know when I saw the film, that I would one day come to live in Oakland.
Straight Outta East Oakland II: Trapped On The Track is a work aimed at not only the pimps and sex workers but the complacent Church which has allowed the flesh trade to flourish quite literally in front of its very doors. You won’t be able to put it down.
What is your other job?
I am a baptist minister/evangelist. I am a social case manager by trade.
What do you like best/least about being a small publisher.
I love the thought of being able to have complete creative control over the project from soup to nuts. When I wrote for another publisher, someone I never met gave my book it’s name and designed the cover. I had very little input. As a small publisher, the reins are in your hands.
Secondly, the release date is in your hands. A mainstream publisher might sign your book and then let it sit somewhere for a couple of years. If you publish your own work, you can basically set the release date.
There are a few downsides. One of them is that you have to outlay the publishing costs. This is not always easy but God makes a way.
What inspired you to publish your book?
A highly regarded literary agency considered signing me and then declined. They didn’t believe that the characters in my book could know all that they knew as young men in their early twenties. Apparently, the agents had not grown up in the hood where survival dictates that people do grow up very early. I was incensed.
Not long after I got turned down, I walked into a book store where a reading was to take place. The author was a self-published urban fiction author. I saw the future.
How do you get through writer’s block?
That’s something that I never deal with. If I walked from this keyboard to the corner store, three or four ideas for books would come to me.
What is one thing you wished you’d known before you started publishing?
That one is easy! Get a publicist. There are a million books on the market that tell you how to promote your own work. Don’t buy them. Put that money toward the hiring of a good publicist. No one can buy your book if they don’t know about it. News in print is hard to come by. Get someone who knows how to get it on your team.
What is one piece of good advice that you have received?
“Contact Tami Dever at TLC Graphics. You won’t be sorry.”
What is one piece of good advice that you would give to a new author or publisher?
Contact Tami Dever at TLC Graphics. You won’t be sorry.
Do you have any final comments?
Many people believe that only basketball players, preachers, politicians or rock and roll singers should write books. I have news for you. Everyone has at least one book in them. One of the best books that I ever read was Dishwasher by Pete Jordan. It was the true story of a man who was on the quest to work as a dishwasher in every state in the country. Sure, he was dishwasher and not a congressman. However, his story was better than most political biographies.
Your book should become a reality. If you work at it, it will happen. Like they say in the streets of Oakland, California, “get it crackin”.
If you’d like to be considered for an interview by TLC Graphics, please send an e-mail to: Tamara@tlcgraphics.com with Book Blog Interview in the subject line. Blessings to you!