Courtney Milan wrote a thought provoking blog post that detailed at length the problems with the lack of diverse images on stock websites. Her words resonated with me deeply. But, let me go back for a minute.
Before Courtney’s blog post, a group of my ATL writing buddies formed a Mastermind author collective because we wanted to pool our resources and take a large photo shoot with a wide variety of diverse models. One of the authors used a local photographer with success and we wanted to try it on a larger scale.
We all discussed her experience at length as well as the aggravation with stock sites. Not only was there a lack of diverse images but also a shortage of poses and visual interest. In fact, I scoured the sites looking for what I thought was a unique image, commissioned a designer to create a cover, only to find, after release, that the image was on three other books! Frustration!
I decided, because my works were substantially different from the other Mastermind members that I would try to have my own photo shoot. I was able to contact a local ATL photographer and for a reasonable price of less than $200 bucks, I was able to commission his services for one hour. He provided me with model headshots and I began the process of selecting a model as well as identifying poses. I created a collage of Urban Fantasy covers. That was lots of fun!
I really got into the experience. I wanted the model to hold swords that were similar to the Akofena war swords I described in my novels. One morning, I got online and started searching. My poor hubby asked me what I was doing. My response, “I’m buying machetes from South Africa!” He gave me a really crazy look but he was a champ about it!
On the day of the photo session, I was so scared that I forced my writer buddy to come with me. The experience was exhilarating! We were both mesmerized during the photo session. We could tell that something special was happening in front of our eyes. Adorned in the cowry shell jewelry and war swords, the model went into full Cosplay. A sword-wielding sister is a sight to behold!
A few days after the session, I received over 200 photos and I had the signed paperwork that said these images belong to my LLC. For what it was worth, I was very pleased. I poured over those photos and could see lots and lots and lots of potential.
After several months, I found the graphic designer who would take my final vision to the next level. As Karri Klawiter designed each cover, I became overwhelmed. I shared the images on my Mastermind Group and the resounding response was that the covers were “gorgeous.” Karri completed the finer details of the covers by adding glowing Adinkra symbols and elemental magic. Speechless!
So, I do have a little more to say.
Over the last year, there has been serious discussion about the lack of diversity in NY publishing houses or the shortage of protagonists of color in books.
What I know to be true is that there’s a movement happening in the publishing industry that’s being spearheaded by self-published authors of color like myself. I’m excited to be a part of a movement that will usher in diverse characters, non-traditional perspectives, and variety in the products available to readers.
Within the next few months, I will release my first boxed set. Origins of an African Elemental will include Mawu, Iniko, Flee: A Short Story and the first three chapters of Rise of an African Elemental. Woohoo!
For those readers who are subscribed to my blog or special alerts, I will offer a limited time download coupon so they can read it for free. Origins of an African Elemental will also be available as a print edition so I’ll be hosting several giveaways on my blog and on GoodReads.
2015 will see the release of the Soul Eater series which includes at least two full length novels. I’ve been hard at work trying to create a three-part serial novel that readers will find intriguing, suspenseful and riveting. I can’t wait to reveal this series! If you’d like to learn more about the series, click here.
As always, I love and appreciate those who have supported me on this journey. You all are marvelous!
Become Warriors! Be strong!