Monthly Archives: January 2014

Love and the Subsidy Publisher

Medium Size

Note: this article appeared in CYH Magazine, 2006.

My literary journey as an author began in the summer of 2000. I’ve been writing poetry (among other genres) for a long time and had been seeking a publisher by attending many spoken word events, poetry readings and book club meetings. Ironically enough, a good friend of mine had invited me to her book club’s annual summer festival. After I read a few poems, I informed the audience that I was looking for a publisher. A gentleman at the event heard my plea and pointed me toward a well-known publisher of African-American authors. I later attended the publisher’s workshop the following month.

I suggest a subsidy publisher if you’re a novice in the book selling business. Perhaps you lack marketing experience or have no clear idea on how your first book should be compiled and presented. Maybe you’re a mother with children who can’t find the time to self-publish, or your job doesn’t give you much time to compose your book by yourself. Perhaps you’re retired and that first book is in your head and ready to come out. Whatever your life situation, if you do not want to endure the hassles of publishing a book by yourself and don’t care for the troubles of a mainstream house, then subsidy publishing may be the avenue for you.

What is a subsidy publisher you might ask? A subsidy publisher, in the form of payment, will edit, format, market and distribute your book for you. However, once your book is finished, it is the subsidy publisher’s property. You will receive a royalty from the publisher for your works as a small percentage of the sales costs.

Let me add this: you do not have to stand on the sidelines while your book is being created if you have ambition and want to learn the tricks of the trade on how your works are marketed and distributed. I made more of a creative contribution to The Voices of South Central than I did with The Depths of My Soul. I chose the book’s content, the introduction and in fact, the order in which the poems are listed. These achievements can be made if you have a subsidy publisher who is willing to work with instead of against you. While it is fact that your book is the sole property of the publisher in major bookstore sales, there are ways to retain your profit through attending book festivals, expos, and special events. Build and maintain relationships with book clubs. Just as a self-publisher does the legwork, you must do the same. Out of the store selling means the profit belongs to you when you make interpersonal sales. You do have that choice. Keep in mind subsidy publishing does come with a cost; you pay for your content to be published and once it is, it becomes that publisher’s property. However, if you’re willing to transform this journey into a long term plan by studying, learning and then applying your input to your book, then it is worth it.

Charles Chatmon is the author of The Depths of My Soul; The Voices of South Central, is the executive director of the Los Angeles Black Book Expo, writers workshop instructor and freelance writer. He is the co-owner of Chatmon’s Books with his wife Chandra and can be reached at

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Uncategorized


Chandra Adams on Writing an Action-Packed Suspense Novel

Chandra Adams, Novelist

Chandra Adams, Novelist

Note: this article first appeared on CYH Magazine, 2006

Writing suspense can be a challenging endeavor, but a writer armed with a solid storyline and just the right amount of detail, can turn a so-so tale into a compelling and highly entertaining novel.

Tell just enough to peak your reader’s interest until every detail is revealed at the end in engrossing detail. Build on one or two predominating themes, and surprise your reader by taking the less predictable route. Create a dark, moody feel to your story, or keep a high level of excitement with non-stop action. Developing strong characters who are multi-dimensional, unpredictable, perhaps even unstable, volatile, or emotional will add tension. Think about what you like to read or watch in a movie. Consider what motivates some – power, greed, love, lust. If you can keep a secret, you can write a suspense novel.

Look to everyday experiences and observations to formulate a unique storyline. I came up with the theme of my current novel by talking with some friends about various aspects of relationships and what (in fantasy) could be done about some of the problems and challenges people must overcome. I wanted to make a departure from the typical boy meets girl scenario and transform that theme into a complex character driven story.

Don’t be afraid to inject a sense of humor into your work. What a suspense writer wants to aim for is balance in her storytelling. If your story is dark and moody, lightening it up with a sense of humor can keep the faint of heart from shying away from your intense tale. If your novel is loaded with medical or legal jargon, give your reader a breath of fresh air with a few subtle and well-placed explanations of your professional terminology.

I’m not exactly a big fan of the phrase ‘think outside of the box’, but I can’t think of a better way to describe how important it is in finding one’s own voice and sharing it with the world. I published my book under my own company, Adrolite Press. I hadn’t witnessed enough variety as far as literature goes for people of color by people of color and I wanted to inject something unique into our choices. Creative control with my first outing was very important to me.

One of the most pivotal achievements in writing a great novel is to show and not tell. If you write, “Lucy picked up the gun and killed him.” You could just as easily show someone what happened by writing, “He begged for mercy as dripping sweat burned his eyes. Lucy pressed cold steel against his temple, and as her tormentor prayed and sobbed, she silenced his last desperate thought with the pull of her trigger.” You want to share your imagination with your reader, so that he can envision what you have envisioned.

Above all, write with your heart and from your gut and you will be surprised and ultimately pleased with the final product.

Chandra Adams (aka Chandra Chatmon) is the author of Shades of Retribution, a tale of three women whose plan to increase the pool of eligible men goes awry. Available at Adrolite Press and Chatmon’s Books.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

%d bloggers like this: