For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box
About Trice Hickman
Trice grew up on the eastern coast of North Carolina; the middle child of two of the best parents on earth! She was a precocious kid, the one who always asked, “Why?” She loved reading books because they were the perfect escape from her small hometown. She’d meet interesting people and travel to exciting places, all without leaving the Michael Jackson (rest in peace) covered walls of her bedroom. During her undergraduate years at Winston-Salem State University, (Go RAMS!) she continued my love affair with books. She even fantasized about writing a novel, envisioning herself at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List.
She formed her own publishing company, Platinum Books, and published Unexpected Interruptions. Unexpected Interruptions, went on to garner rave reviews, win literary awards, and top several bestsellers lists! Her books that followed, Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies, and Playing the Hand You’re Dealt, were both received with equal praise and recognition. After accomplishing those literary achievements, a major publisher, Dafina Books, offered her a book deal to purchase all three of her originally self-published novels giving her work a broader distribution online and in retail stores.
She also signed another contract with them to write three additional novels, two of which will be released in 2013. To say that She is excited would be an understatement. She is currently working on her next novel and has written storylines for seven additional books. She loves what she does and there’s no greater feeling than being able to live your dream.
1) Did you always know that you were meant to be a writer?
First, let me start by saying thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do this interview! I really appreciate it. Now, to answer your question, no. I’ve always been an avid reader (since the age of 3) but I never thought about writing a book until my sophomore year in college when I took an Advanced English Literature course that focused on African American female literary writers and poets. That class opened up my world, literally! I was introduced to extraordinary writers who changed my perspective on books and inspired me to want to write one!
2) I know that you are an avid reader. Do you remember the first book that you read that made you fall in love with the power of words? What’s the most memorable book you can remember reading and what about that book made you cherish it?
That’s a tough one, but the book that made me fall in love with words, and in particular, with writing, was The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. It was a heart-wrenching read, but it made me want to jump into the pages at the same time. As for the most memorable book, it’s actually a children’s book titled, Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw. I cherish that story because it illustrates the special bond and love between mother and child. I still shed a tear whenever I read it.
3) Who are some of your favorite authors to read? What are you currently reading? What book is out there right now that you can’t wait to get your hands on to read? Are you more of an ebook person or do you still prefer to read traditional books?
There are so many authors whom I love to read that I’m hesitant to name them because I know I’ll leave out someone. But, I’ll name some here; Kimberla Lawson Roby, Tina McElroy Ansa, Lutishia Lovely, Dolen Perkins Valdez, Benilde Little, Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant, and Connie Briscoe are just a few. I just finished reading Terry McMillan’s latest novel, Who Asked You, which I received as an advance copy back in June. Now I’m reading magazines and cookbooks while I write during the summer. I still like reading a printed book, but sometimes when I’m traveling I pull out my ereader.
4) You have 3 well known books to your credit and are set to release your 4th novel, Breaking All My Rules, so I can imagine how busy your days are. What is your writing process or routine like? Do you believe it helps writers to outline their novels before sitting down to write them?
My fourth novel, Breaking All My Rules, was released March 2013, and my fifth book, Looking For Trouble, will be released October 2013, and I’m working on my sixth title now. Yes, writing keeps me very busy, and between penning a novel and the work that goes into marketing and promoting it, you can feel exhausted in no time. Writing a novel requires creativity and skill, but to actually complete it requires discipline. I know a lot of people who’ve been writing the same book for years. The difference between writing a book and completing a manuscript is discipline. I don’t have a set writing routine because every day is different depending upon what pops up in my email when I wake up. But I generally try to take care of office work during the day so I’ll be free to write at night. However, when I’m under deadline for a book (like I am now) I write whenever I can. I’ve also found that having an outline helps. I don’t outline in detail, and many times (almost always) my outline changes in some way as the story progresses. But having a map can be a very helpful tool as you start the literary journey!
5) You started your own publishing company, Platinum Books, and then began publishing your own novels. Was this a scary thing to take on? How hard is it to be responsible for everything yourself, from writing, to editing, to marketing and promotion, and developing a good book cover? Is there ever a moment when you wonder if you bit off more than you could chew?
Starting Platinum Books and self-publishing my first novel was one of the best things I could have ever done for my writing career. I knew that if I wanted to see my book in print I had to do it myself. I published during a time before ebooks and social media had taken off, so it was very challenging. But it also taught me many valuable lessons about ingenuity, persistence, and determination. When you self-publish you have to do everything yourself and you have to be organized at a high level if you want to effectively compete in the marketplace. There were many days when I felt overwhelmed, but thankfully, when those day would come God always sent a bright ray of sunshine my way. The most important thing I learned is that you have to create your own opportunities and never lose faith that you’ll make it!
6) So tell us about the book you’re getting ready to release? How different is this particular book from the first four? Do you ever feel the urge to step away from your current genre of writing and write in a new genre? If you were to write in a different genre which one would it be?
My fifth novel titled, Looking For Trouble, will be released October 29, 2013. It’s the third novel in my Unexpected Love Series. What makes this book unique and different from the other novels I’ve written is that this story fuses the past with the present through two characters who have the gift of prophesy. The story follows characters set in the fictitious town of Nedine, South Carolina, 60 years in the past, and present day Atlanta, Georgia. I enjoyed writing this book because it stretched my imagination. As for writing in a different genre, I haven’t really thought about it because I love writing contemporary fiction books about relationships, love, social dilemmas, and romance.
7) How important do you think branding is for a writer? What would you say that your brand it?
This is a great question! I think branding is very important for writers today. The industry continues to evolve with new authors sprouting up by the thousands each day. In this highly competitive marketplace it’s important to stand out and clearly establish who you are and what you stand for. If readers can connect with you as a person, they will support you as an author, and the way they connect with authors is through the brand we build. If I had to describe my brand, a few words that come to mind are; consistent, passionate, optimistic, friendly, and Southern charm. I also think my smile is another one of my brands (physical traits can be brands too). I’m generally a happy person and I always greet everyone with a smile! Also, when readers think about my books as a brand, I hope they associate things like; good writing, well-developed characters, and great storytelling.
8) I know that you are very good with working the social media aspect of writing but would you say that your heavy interactions with book clubs play an even bigger role in promoting your writing than social media? What other promotional advice can you give to writers who are struggling with the business side of being a writer?
I always tell aspiring writers that book clubs are the life-line of an author’s career. You can wage a spectacular social media campaign, visit dozens of sites on a blog tour, and send out countless tweets, but selling books boils down to individual readers who make purchases. I’ve found that word of mouth is still the best form of advertisement, and book clubs are at the heart of it all. Book clubs are comprised of avid readers who do more than just read and discuss books. They are involved in their communities, they sponsor literary events, and they support authors by spreading the word about our books to their families, friends, and other book clubs. If a writer wants to grow their base, they’d be wise to connect with as many book clubs as they can. Attending the National Book Club Conference is a good start. I credit that event for helping to give me my literary start.
9) What are some mistakes that you have made on your journey to success that you could advise writers against on their journey? Do you ever regret not being traditionally published in the beginning or do you feel it was a necessary part of your journey?
I did a lot of research before I published my first book, so I have to say that the number of mistakes I made were minimal, and the ones I did make were easily corrected. I think one of the biggest mistakes that most new authors make is thinking that their book will be an overnight bestseller. Things happen over time, not over night. My advice to aspiring writers is to take your time, pace yourself, learn all that you can, and know that if you keep doing the right things consistently, you will be rewarded! I have no regrets about self-publishing and I believe it was the best thing I could have done for my career because I gave myself my own start! That’s powerful, and it’s a great feeling that gives you the confidence to do anything.
10) What is the legacy that you hope to leave behind for the rest of the world?
That’s another great question. The legacy I’d like to leave is that I was a good person who helped others. If people can say and remember that about me, I will have achieved all I need.
11) I feel like so many of us writers, us artists in general, are made to conform to other people’s idea of what we should be. I think we creative types should be unafraid to be whoever it is that we feel we have the right to be. So what is your write 2 be? What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity?
I feel that I’m who I am right now, at this present moment, living in the now. I’m a down to earth Southern girl who loves family, friends, writing, meeting new people, enjoying long summer nights, drinking a cool glass of sweet tea, reading a good book, shopping, eating, laughing, and appreciating each day that God grants me. That’s my right, I’ve claimed it, and I live it!