EDC Creations: An Interview
with Ella D. Curry
EDC Creations is the parent company of the Sankofa Literary Society, the Black Authors Network Radio Show and Black Pearls Magazine. The Sankofa Literary Society, a group of 32 book clubs, empowers independent and/or self-published authors through mentoring programs. The popular Black Authors Network radio program offers new authors a chance to showcase their books to thousands of readers weekly. Black Pearls Magazine, is an online literary destination for thousands book clubs and social network fans around the globe.
Ella lives in Maryland with her teen daughter and partner of 11 years. She has a passion for writing, encouraging new authors to hone their craft, a love for all things family, and most of all, God. She also enjoys dancing, spending time with friends, and is an aspiring chess player. More information about EDC Creations and Ella Curry can be found on http://www.edc-creations.com.
Lutishia: Many authors believe they can promote books on their own. Why should they also consider hiring a promotions professional?
EDC: First, let me say thank you for having me on your blog today! I so appreciate you taking the time to allow me to speak to your readers. At this time the book market is saturated with so many books! In this fragmented literary world it’s harder than ever for avid readers to trust new authors and to discover quality books. Authors need to partner with people who already have the attention and trust of the readers. Hiring professionals ensure that their work is presented in the proper fashion and sent to their targeted authors. Not all books are meant to be marketed to all people. Hiring service providers gives the author someone that can shape their dream into a reality!
Lutishia: What are three common mistakes that aspiring authors make when approaching you about promoting their work?
EDC: I started EDC Creations as a branding consultant first. My goal was to prepare the new author in such a way, that they came across very business savvy in all of their marketing endeavors. So many new authors do not realize the importance of creating dynamic relationships versus slinging hyped up posts all of the web! You want the same readers to come back again and again to purchase your books! You want 100 soldiers marching with your flag versus 1000 people who could care less about your message. I have a few things that stand out as definite mistakes:
A) Submitting poorly written pitch letters. Authors need to understand the importance of a good cover letter or pitch letter. It is the first representation of their work that the media will see.
B) Coming to me with the ‘poe mouth. Never approach any service provider with your financial woes! You would be surprised at the number of new authors that write me and start off by telling me they don’t have money to really promote their books.
C) Not researching my company before initial contact. Authors should research the companies that they are spending money with in depth. Know who and what the company has had the most success with in the past. Authors come to me with books filled with filth, profanity and all types of lewd scenarios; we do not promote such books! I send back at least 4-5 refunds per month.
Lutishia: How has social media impacted promoting books and the literary industry?
EDC: Social Media has become one of the most powerful influences in book marketing because it unites the brands, authors and houses with readers where they socialize, shop and share their stories. Online marketing has become an integral part in most successful business marketing strategies. Global visibility, more exposure to change agents and real time customer engagement, that’s what social media has brought to the book world. The use of social media offers authors and business owners greater opportunities to connect with large, diverse audiences in a way that feels far more personal and less like advertising. At EDC Creations, we now focus on reader/fan engagement versus selling! Readers have a voice and numerous platforms, so businesses were now forced to LISTEN and REACT with speed.
Lutishia: How can authors better utilize this medium?
EDC: Social media has changed the way people will accept and share the news from your camp. Branding is no longer under the control of the business owner or author, it’s now controlled by the readers. Business owners need to provide material that will enhance a reader’s life in some way. Use social media to create an atmosphere that breeds customer loyalty; sell you, your platform and your message. Focus more on educating your fans about what you stand for in life, than merely posting, “Hey, I got a book, come and get it.” Create a paradigm shift for your readers. Or better yet, allow them to create on in you!
Lisa Renee Johnson, a new author, printed the recipe for Red Velvet Pancakes on her book’s marketing postcard. I still have it 2 years later; Rhonda Mead was giving our flash drives with the music she listened to while writing, I still listen to it and travel with the book and the music to display at marketing workshops; Donna Hill’s newsletter is filled with book club interviews and her life stories. I forward her newsletters on to my network every time! My point here is to do more than advertise a product…give the reader something they can embrace and share!
Social media isn’t just about using technology. According to the BlogHer community, 59% of the women in the U.S. who actively use social media, turn to online or to social media for their purchases. When you look at women who read blogs daily, the number who turn to online purchasing rises to 81%. Social savvy readers know what kind of books and messages they want to share with friends. When reading online or shopping, they are looking for education, enlightenment and solid products with strong recommendations!
Lutishia: Besides having a website, marketing materials and a presence on social media, what are one or two other promotions avenues might authors consider?
EDC: Take a look at current affairs, what sparks emotions in society and build on it, in a positive manner. Social Media interaction should not be limited to just Facebook and Twitter themselves. Instead, much of the leverage resides in actual meeting your readers in real life. Plan live offline events with the people you meet online. Plan group lunches, meetups and autograph parties with a cause or theme backing it. Not everything needs to be solely about the book or product, the sell that product! Live meetings go a long way in bringing authors and readers face to face. Any time readers can talk to you and hear your passion, it moves products! Leverage existing fan relationships by offering them placement on your “dream team. ” The readers can help share your news, books, products and aid in spreading the word for you, outside of the Internet. For more in-depth tips and advice, people can hire me to coach them :+)
Lutishia: I recently read a rant of yours on Facebook, where you’d published something someone sent you, that it stayed on your newsfeed for three months, and that recently they wrote to ask if you planned to use what they sent! She’d obviously not read the newsletter. Goodness! When it comes to authors, can you name 3-4 other pet peeves that gets your blood boiling?
EDC: Authors who behave badly in front of their readers really annoy me! Facebook lynching parties are not on my list of things to build a strong trustworthy brand! Also, the copycats in the industry deserve a special place in purgatory…I’m just kidding…sorta. LOL.
People that expose book reviewers, service providers or their publishers to negative press on social media are placed on the Not Kool List. Real business professionals take their arguments to the courts or handle it in-house. I have a running list of instigators, agitators, and others that will not be on the roster of EDC Creations clients. I look for people that will make my brand shine as well as their own. Unprofessional business owners really raise my blood pressure.
Lutishia: On the other hand, what are 3-4 things that will really impress you regarding someone wanting to be an EDC Creations client?
EDC: A: Good Question! People who can read and follow instructions are high on my list…LOL. I’m looking for clients who have taken all the required steps to present a sound, professional, marketing plan and budget. Often times people will come to me and say, “I only have $500.00 to launch this book.” This is simply not enough to conduct a competitive, full scale campaign. Even if they don’t have the plan completed, at least be flexible enough to allow me to help you establish the marking plan and strategy.
B: The perfect EDC Creations client is someone who is willing to change, enhance and expand their brand based on the market and what their reader’s requests. The market is morphing at the speed of light! Some people are digging in and trying to hold on to “the ole’ way” but it’s going to be detrimental to their careers in the end. Change can be good…look for ways to stand up and to stand out. That can require the desire to read more and learn from the experts in your industry!
Lutishia: One of the components of EDC Creations that I absolutely love is the radio show, Black Author Network. Can we get a sneak peak at some of the line up for this month’s focus on Black Love?
EDC: For the entire month of February we will celebrate Black History Month, GO RED Heart Health Awareness and Black Love Day on February 13th, founded by native Washingtonian Ayo Handy Kendi in 1993. Our author line-up for BAN Radio Show include 5 authors from the Kensington Publishing Group (TBA), Mary Monroe, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Terry M. Walker, Wanda Campbell, Renee Wiggins, Kenni York, Mz. Robinson, Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts, Michelle Lindo Rice and Pamela Samuels Young.
Lutishia: Another successful component of your company are the Chocolate Socials. I know that there will be one in Atlanta in August. Can you tell our readers a little bit about this idea and let us know if there are more socials planned for other parts of the country?
EDC: The Chocolate Socials are events designed to bring authors and bookclubs face to face in a social setting. I wanted to create a networking experience that would allow readers to talk to the author they meet online. This is our time to give awards to the Bookclubs that have helped us support the authors all year. The Chocolate Socials take place 3 times per year: Washington DC each Christmas, in Atlanta each Summer and in New Orleans every July 2-4, during the Essence Music Festival.
Lutishia: What’s next for Ella Curry and EDC Creations?
EDC: EDC Creations Media, reaches approximately 271,000 readers a month with our newsletters and radio shows, I want to use this to educate women on expanding their passions into profitable businesses. Currently, I’m looking for guest writers, blog tour hosts and people who organize blog hops to join my team. I want to partner with others who want to uplift people with dreams of owning their own business or publishing a well written book.
I recently inked a deal with a London-based firm to take Black Pearls Magazine international, so it can promote American and international authors. I’m launching a speaker’s platform to help women learn how to make life/career shifts (i.e. dealing with layoffs, care giving for aging parents, life after the death of a spouse, etc.). In the spring of 2013, I plan to publish my own book. It will focus on publishing and marketing for the African-American author.
Ella Curry, President of EDC Creations
Black Pearls Magazine Online-Founder
Black Authors Network Radio-Founder
Social Media Strategist – Internet Publicist – Branding Coach
(Ella and Lutishia Lovely mixing it up at BEA (Book Expo America), an industry convention. She was there in the capacity of media, taking pictures and conducting interviews for EDC’s premiere written piece, Black Pearl Magazine.)
Ella Cury Lovely Day News Interview Part One