I have a confession to make. In learning everything there was to know about publishing, I researched and studied, then virtually stalked authors I admired. I know this sounds a little crazy, but I was looking to learn more about what impressed me as a reader and an author. I looked at book covers I would buy and I read through blogs that compelled me to come back. I made list of authors who I planned to meet one day, and somewhere after Wally Lamb and Terri McMillan was Monica Marie Jones, an energetic, talented writer right here in my own backyard.
The literary scene in Detroit is an interesting landscape. There aren’t a lot of people willing to give you information, encouragement or advice. But Monica Marie Jones is different. Not afraid to talk about the good, bad and ugly side of writing and publishing, she recently shared some thoughts on her publishing experience.
Q. You’re an accomplished author with seven titles to your credit. What motivated to write your first book, “The Ups and Downs of Being Round”?
A. There were a few things that motivated me…I had a friend in college (Who is now a published author too: Dara Nichole) who said, “I am going to write a book.” So I thought, “Hey, I want to write a book too!” After that I dabbled in writing here and there, but mostly just through journaling and poetry to process my emotions. Eventually, I began writing The Ups and Downs of Being Round, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with it. I sat on it for many many years. During that time I submitted an excerpt from it to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Two years after my submission they published my short story! The letter started off by saying, “Congratulations! You are a published author!” This gave me the boost and the confidence that I needed to finish writing and publishing the book. There was one more thing that was really instrumental in the completion of that book. After graduate school I couldn’t seem to find a job to save my life! I had part time gigs here and there, but I couldn’t seem to find a career in the field that I had studied. I was either over qualified or under qualified for everything that was available. This was the first time in a long time that I was forced to really sit down and be still. It was during that time that I completed the book.
Q. What were some of the challenges you faced early in your literary career?
A. One big challenge I faced was that due to my excitement about being a published author, I feel that I skimped on quality. I was so eager to get the book out and so happy to have a book in print that I didn’t put enough thought, time, energy and investment into a high quality cover design and editing. These things made it harder to get my name out as a credible author, which is already a challenge in itself.
Q. What has been your experience with rejection, failure or disappointment in the literary industry?
A. The hardest thing to stomach was my first bad review. Your book is like your baby, you think it’s the best thing in the world and you don’t want anyone to call it ugly. I cried when I got my first few poor reviews, but then I realized that everyone will not love your work. Some will love it, some will hate it, but as long as you stay true to yourself, you will be just fine. Good and bad reviews are all a part of the journey.
I’ve also learned that there are a lot of people out here that try to take advantage of new authors. It’s sad because people who are excited about their projects are paying a lot more money than they have to for subpar quality products and sometimes they get burned by not getting anything for their investment. You really have to do your research to make sure you are making smart choices, ESPECIALLY when it comes to self-publishing.
Q. What have been some of your biggest successes in the literary industry?
A. My biggest successes included my book Floss being chosen as one of the highest reviewed books of the year for Raw Sistaz and Urban Reviews, two reviewers of African American fiction that I really respect and admire. Another major success was when The Motor City Casino Hotel in Detroit approached me because they wanted to host the book release party for my novel Swag. They bought 100 books, let me use the hotel gift shop for the signing, the beautiful lounge on the top floor for the after party and a luxury suite to spend the night afterward. It was awesome!
Q. Your latest book “Monday Morning Motivation” is full of wisdom to inspire anyone, including authors to stay focused on the positive side of life. How do you find motivation to keep writing?
A. Actually, writing those Monday morning motivational messages every week is what keeps me motivated to write. When I see how they inspire people it gives me the boost that I need to keep going. I also usually address issues in those messages that I am dealing with myself.