BITCH! is her favorite word… Best-Selling Author Joy King
Joy King is one of our favorite authors of urban fiction. Like many authors, her books are mostly about relationships, the music industry and the drug underworld, however her books are well written and thoroughly entertaining. You can read one of her books in one sitting… Joy has written over a dozen books but she is most known for her Bitch series- Bitch, Bitch Reloaded, The Bitch Is Back, Queen Bitch and Last Bitch Standing; a saga of a young women going from nothing to having it all…
Interview: What got you into writing in the first place?
Joy King: Oh my God! Honestly, I was going through a very bad breakup and during that time, I thought about all my previous relationships and there was a clear pattern; they were all dysfunctional. I decided I wanted to put my entire journey down on paper because I felt like I had a story to tell and needed to be shared. During that period of time what I like to call: purging my soul, it was funny because I didn’t even know what all went into writing a book let alone how to type one.
During that time, Wendy Williams talked about how she would tape record her thoughts for her book and have someone type it for her. I was like you know what? I can do that. I could talk about all my trials and tribulations freely then let someone else type it for me. That would allow me to get the story out there without worrying about what I considered the hard part, typing it! (laughing)
Interview: Do you strictly write about entertainment?
Joy King: My first book was “Dirty Little Secrets” and that first book was mostly based on my life. I had spent a lot of time in the entertainment industry. I worked in PR for a brief amount of time, first through an internship and then I was offered a full time job. Then I quickly got into the radio thing, being the director of hip hop artist relations. Then also, my boyfriend at the time was a hip hop music producer. There was a long stretch of time that I was surrounded by the entertainment industry. That period had a huge impact on my life so I wrote about that a lot in my first book.
A lot of my books that people read, they get very attached to my characters because I throw some non-fiction in there with fiction based on my own experiences. I know a lot of readers pick up on that, based on all the emails I’ve received with them saying so. I write a lot about the entertainment industry because I know a lot about that but I also write about relationships because I know about that too (laughs).
Interview: Is there a specific genre of entertainment you feel you specialize in?
Joy King: I don’t feel like I specialize in any specific genre of entertainment. My specialty comes from being exposed to an industry with endless layers of drama. That with my gift of creativity has allowed me to write countless books. For example, one of my favorite books is called “Hooker to Housewife” which was birthed from having a phone conversation with a good friend of mine. At this time, this girl who was her good friend was dating this really big time music mogul and they had a child together. For a long time, it was like why won’t he wife this chick? A man is not gonna’ wife a hoe, that’s what I said. And she was taken aback by that phrase and said I have to write a book about that.
I was published under St. Martin’s Press at that time and for commercial purposes I couldn’t title “A Man Won’t Wife a Hoe”, so I changed it to “Hooker to Housewife.” I’ve seen many industry chicks try to make that slogan a reality with my own eyes. So again, when I say specialize, I specialize in the relationship aspect. I’ve seen the dynamics between these women who enter the industry as a model/actress but in actuality, there not a model or actress, there just looking for a rich guy in the entertainment industry to sponsor them. When I was spending extended amounts of time in the studio I would get into long conversations with these young women, they all had the same goal. They would get themselves in mindboggling situations all because they’re trying to look for somebody to give them the glamorous, entertainment driven lifestyle. Encountering such complex people, I can’t help but implement the craziness in my books.
Interview: Ok. You created and launched your own publishing company in 2008. How is that working for you thus far?
Joy King: It’s been awesome. Initially, I started with St. Martin’s Press and Triple Crown Publications. Don’t get me wrong, it was extremely beneficial for me to begin my career with established publishing houses, but in my mind, I always knew I wanted to be apart of more than just the creative aspect. I wanted to also learn the business and that takes time. Being with two different publishing companies before launching my own help me create a blueprint to launch A King Produciton. I had a much better understanding of what works and what doesn’t work. A lot of people think if you publish a book, it’s going to sell but that’s simply no true.
Interview: What advice would you give to up and coming, struggling authors who are thinking of giving up?
Joy King: Please understand that you have a lot of work to do. A lot of authors make the unfortunate mistake of thinking when they get a deal with a major publisher, all they have to do is write the books and their work is done. When I got my deal with a major, I took my advance and re-invested in myself because I always knew that I wanted to eventually branch off into my own. You have to create a following. I tell anybody with the types of books I write which is urban lit, it starts and ends with the streets. If you don’t keep your ear to the streets, you’re not gonna’ win.
A major publishing company is not gonna’ go pass your bookmarks out in the streets. They are just not gonna’ do it. There are things that you still have to do. You have to put your grind work in. Whether you have a deal or not, you need to constantly hit the streets.
At the beginning of my career, I was constantly doing book signings. I would do a book signing anywhere. I was living on the east coast at the time and I’d go do a book signing in Brooklyn or Queens if I had too. I was always constantly going back and forth to Philly doing book signings.
And I’m not just talking about stores. Barnes & Noble and places like that are cool to do book signings but I tell people, if people on the street don’t know about your book, they are not gonna’ walk into the book store and ask for it. And if they are not asking for it, the book stores aren’t gonna’ feel like they need to carry or even promote your title. And if they do carry it, the last thing you want is a bunch of returns.
With authors, they really need to understand the grind. There are so many authors that have these books deals and they think it’s gonna’ be so great because they got this big advance but their books aren’t even moving. And that’s because they are not doing the footwork which is absolutely essential. If you have a deal with a major, be ready to grind really hard because the publishing companies are not gonna’ do it for you.
They don’t even know how to do it. They still sell books in a conventional format and that only works for certain genres of books nowadays. But as far as urban lit, it doesn’t even work because the majority of those types of sales aren’t even done in a book store.