Illinois Press Women’s Association awards, NAACP Image Awards, New York Times and National Bestsellers, the résumé is huge for Naleighna and her clients. An interview you can’t miss.
B.Seed : Thanks for being on Bright Seed Blog Naleighna, writer, agent, editor, professional literary consultant and event organizer, CEO, marketing director and mother. You wear a lot of hats. From what I see you wear them well. How do you find the energy to do all the things you do?
Naleighna : Thanks for having me. Everyday I write out a things to do list. Every. Single. Day. I put each aspect of my life into categories: Spiritual (doing my affirmations and prayers), Writing, M-LAS, Editing, Marketing, Cavalcade and Promises to Keep. I highlight the most time sensitive and if nothing else gets done on any other part of the list—the ones that are on a lifeline (not deadline as there’s nothing dead about what we do), are seen to, then I tackle everything else. I try to gauge what I’m physically, emotionally and mentally able to handle, but allow for things that might require me to be flexible and go from there.
B.Seed : You’re from Chicago, home of the Institute of Positive Living and “Open Books”, a multifaceted after-school program that “encourages reading, writing and critical thinking skills”. As a girl growing up, were you inspired by any programs like this? When did you know, or say “I want to be a writer?
Naleighna : Actually, though I’ve heard of the things you mentioned, my love of reading inspired my curiosity growing up. I didn’t aspire to be a writer until December of 1999.
B.Seed : You went to The College of Automation after high school known today as Phillips College I believe–their original TV commercial described it as a place to learn computer technology. Were you planning on a career in the computer field back then?
Naleighna : Shoot, they’re called Phillips College today?!!! That’s news to me. They folded and I haven’t heard anything since. However, yes, I thought I was on track to become a computer programmer and while I was proficient in COBOL, PASCAL and FORTRAN (old school programming languages), doing that as a career suddenly seemed less appealing. I shifted into working in the corporate world and then into the legal world and haven’t stopped since.
B.Seed : Your bio says you began as an author writing in 1999. You were raising a son, J.L Woodson, who would one day also begin writing as an author. So was it in this period, the 90’s, that you both found/formed yourselves as writers?
Naleighna : My writing came as part of a challenge from someone I connected with on the internet, and continued as part of my healing from sexual abuse. My son’s writing career evolved from a high school assignment that frightened teachers and administrators of the school alike. It was a powerful seven-page piece on having to kill one parent to protect another. I encouraged him to combine the journals that I had kept before he was born until he was six before I turned them over to him to continue writing about his life—these elements and our current living situation at the time of living in hiding to protect a friend from an abusive husband who threatened to kill her, formed his first award-winning novel at age 15.
B.Seed : National bestselling author of “Every Woman Needs a Wife”. Your son, J.L.Woodson. The author of Superwoman’s Child, nominated for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. You have networked with award-winning Black authors who, among other things, give support and advice to beginning writers. Do you think aspiring authors need and benefit from African-American Guides to Writing and Publishing? Is this something you missed or wished you had in the beginning?
Naleighna : OMG YES!!! There is one book that I recommend to my publishing consultant clients: Telling the Tale by Angela Benson. Later I added having them read The First Five Pages and Stephen King’s On Writing. Now, I first have them read: Baring it All: The Ins and Outs of Publishing, a book I wrote with my son and ten other authors to share our experiences in the publishing world. If I had this type of book, yes, my writing career would have taken a different turn—less mistakes along the way.:
B.Seed : Speaking of networking, I’ve listened to “Evening with Pamela Samuels Young and Authors of Baring it All: The Ins and Outs of Publishing” on BAN radio show a couple of times now – a great segment. In it you speak about having, during one of your events, an epiphany, which led you to organize Literary Services, Graphic Design & Web Development, Branding & Marketing, Event planning & Event management, and established authors into a business unit that promotes/helps new authors sell their books. This sounds like the start of a major publishing company, This is what publishers do right?
Naleighna : Actually, I already had Macro Marketing & Promotions Group that provided all of the services you mentioned. The epiphany was starting an author support group (M-LAS) with the object of bringing clients who were open, flexible, dedicated and had several goals in mind: a) to hit the bestsellers list together (we did this most recently, all who released books in September and October landed on the AALBC’s bestseller’s list), b) we are to learn to write new genres together. We accomplished that first with the release of Baring it All: The Ins and Outs of Publishing, and followed it up with a romance anthology: Signed, Sealed, Delivered . . . I’m Yours (which hit #4 on the bestsellers list), c) for us to cross-promote each other at events throughout the United States, and d) for us to land deals with major publishing house (there’s been two deals so far, and seven more under consideration with that same house). I originally published my first novels through Macro Publishing Group, but stopped publishing others long ago. Only with starting M-LAS did I begin publishing again—this time group projects.
B.Seed : Your work with a major international law firm. How did this job come about? Is it connected or helping in some way (other than legally) with your career as an author?
Naleighna : Writing is my love. Helping people live their dreams is a passion. Working at the law firm is how a sister keeps an address.
B.Seed : I like your websites, all of them. I saw a link at Macro Marketing & Promotions Group titled “M-LAS” and read up on its goals. Was this your idea? How’s it going?
Naleighna : My son, J. L. Woodson, is my website developer and graphic designer. Yes, M-LAS, the author support group, I mentioned earlier has made major strides since we started in May, completed two projects: non-fiction, romance anthology, and then a digital box set of six full length novels:
HERE ARE A FEW FACTS ABOUT WHAT WE JUST ACCOMPLISHED.
On September 30 we released Signed, Sealed, Delivered…I’m Yours and in 31 DAYS we had sales so strong that our release hit #4 on the AALBC list.
On October 3 we released our box set: Pleasures and Treasures and in 28 DAYS our sales were so powerful that we hit #1 on the AALBC list.
On October 17 we released our individual novels of Pleasures and Treasures and in 14 DAYS our marketing and promoting and cross promoting propelled our sales to the #5, #16, and #17 SPOTS on the AALBC LIST!
And on Amazon, we had individual titles hit #1 and #2 respectively on Amazon’s Hot New Releases List.
We had titles hit #3, #26, #76, and #89 in their respective genres on Amazon!
B.Seed : When I need a blog post edited I just dump the thing into my word press editor. This is not, I don’t think, the same as a developmental or content editor. For those of us who don’t know what do these terms mean exactly?
Naleighna : In the book, Baring it All: The Ins and Outs of Publishing we have a chapter dedicated to the different types of editing. Developmental editing is what first time authors should gear to and for authors who are completing a first draft. There’s more to editing than just grammar and punctuation. There is story flow, character development, pacing, scene, theme, foreshadowing and a host of other elements that an editor should look for. Examples are on http://www.janicepernell.com
B.Seed : Most of us have heard the term “publishing company”, or we’ve seen the word in a book, or we have seen, in television, fictional portrayals. Starting out you got deals with an imprint of Simon & Schuster and with Brown Girl Publishing whose marketing you now direct. So why do I need a publisher? Can I get the same things from you that a “publisher” would do?
Former BGP marketing director Naleighna Kai’s national bestselling book, “Open Door Marriage” Launches Brown Girl Publishing.
Windows 8 users may need to go to full screen to see the video.
Naleighna : Loaded question. There are several types of publishing: self, independent, vanity press, mainstream publishing, digital and e-book only. Starting out, I self-published my first two novels and on the third, Every Woman Needs a Wife, I had 50 copies printed and it was picked up by that imprint of Simon & Schuster. Later I self-published another novel, and was in the process of preparing Open Door Marriage to be edited by Victoria Christopher Murray so that I could send it to an agent, then she chose it to be the novel that launched Brown Girls Publishing. I no longer work for Brown Girl Publishing in a marketing director capacity. The same group marketing I rallied the authors in Brown Girls Publishing to do to promote themselves and each other, is the same type of platform, but only more expanded, that is the base of what we do in M-LAS. Personally, I recommend authors to self-publish first and learn the business and the process. In that way, when a book deal comes along they know exactly what they’re getting and what they’re giving up.
B.Seed : It must be great working, when you do, with so many great authors. “Baring it all-The Ins and Outs of Publishing”, a collaboration. The organization, content, editing, who decides all that, everyone? meaning all the authors?
Naleighna : Baring it All was a labor of love. First, I had everyone to simply write their publishing journeys. Everyone’s path was so diverse that I broke them down into sections they elaborated on most: writing, editing, business, publishing, agents, contracts, marketing, cover design, and so on. The piece went through myself (developmental/content editor), Janice Pernell (developmental/content editor) and Katie Walsh Giannini (content/line editor)
B.Seed : So what is next, personally, for Naleighna Kai? any definite goal for 2015?
Naleighna : I am releasing two full-length novels next year: She Touched My Soul and Wife-in-Law, and two M-LAS Projects: 92 Days of Pleasure (a prequel to Open Door Marriage) and Last Dance, a contemporary fiction anthology. As an agent, I’m turning in seven projects soon for getting book deals for my fellow M-LAS members; I am taking on a few new editing and consulting clients, and I’m gearing up for the 11th Annual Cavalcade of Authors events in Chicago that will take place October 2-4, 2015.
B.Seed : Thanks for being here. Anything you would like to say to our readers?
Naleighna : Be sure to friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and visit http://www.naleighnakai.com to check out my novels, and http://www.macrompg.com to find out more about M-LAS and to join the mailing list.