Authors earn money by selling books. This is not the only means of income for published writers, but it is definitely at the top of most authors’ goals – sell books. One way of doing this is by working events as a vendor. I started vending in 2014 when I had two publications to showcase. I did well at my 1st event, and I sold out of one title at the 2nd. But by the 3rd event, I realized that vending, in person selling, hand to hand combat was not going to be lucrative for me. There were too many overhead costs – products, bags, displays, taxes and fees, and not a big enough profit margin in books for it to be profitable. Now if “Hustle” was my middle name things might be different, but my middle name is more like “Sit Alone in My Room and Write – maybe.” I’m inherently a dreamer, not a doer.
That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on selling books – it remains at the top of my list, but I have come to terms that vending is not my lane. I can hear you now “what about exposure, experience, and networking?” I would make a cynical response like I cannot eat exposure, pay my rent with experience or clothe my children with business cards. But actually, as much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s true; those sometimes-intangible opportunities move the ball forward. So, I do events.
Beyond making my publications accessible to underserved populations, my 2nd greatest passion is supporting Black Owned Businesses. So, going to the newly opened Ms. Melanin Beauty Supply and Salon in 2017 was beyond exciting and beyond my expectations. A few months later, I saw a post stating they were offering space for Pop-Up Shops. I had never done a Pop-Up Shop, and I wasn’t 100% clear on what it all entailed. I’m still not sure. But on August 19, 2017, I had my 1st Pop-Up Shop, met a lot of great people and took some wonderful pictures for social media. Some people came out specifically to support me and others came to support Temika Morris Cody’s Ms. Melanin Beauty Supply and Salon and happened to find me there, as well. One such patron was Marion Thompson. She works for Franklin County Children Services (FCCS), said they were looking for culturally appropriate holiday gifts, took my card and stated she would pass it along.
In November, I received an email from Valancia Turner of FCCS informing me that they were interested in purchasing my books for their Black Girl Magic Holiday Gift Drive. I now have seven titles and FCCS purchased six of them for a total of 120 books! Writing books, starting businesses and serving families experiencing trauma is a lot of hard work sans the fairy dust. The magic is in a little Black girl opening a book written by a Black woman with a little Black girl on the cover; the magic is in a little Black girl using Black hair care products purchased from a Black woman owned hair supply store; the magic is in a little Black girl knowing there are Black women advocating for her in meetings, sharing research and data, and telling the story of what it was like to receive their 1st Black doll in order to make the Black Girl Magic Holiday Gift Drive possible. So, I do events.
Franklin County Children Services’ vision, hard work and commitment, sans the magic, turns their mission into tangible and measurable best practices: Through collaboration with families and their communities, we advocate for the safety, permanency and well-being of each child we serve in a manner that honors family and culture. Marion Thompson and Valancia Turner see the sparkle in all adolescents, including Black girls big and small, powerful and fragile, awe inspiring and sitting alone in their rooms dreaming of a more magical tomorrow.