Soul Insurance

by Jarold Imes
Urban Book Source
May 2006

For those of you who make your money by buying (sometimes known as “stealing”) other peoples work and then putting your name on it in big bold letters; then this article is not for you.

For those of you who like to play with folks’ royalties when they got things they need to do and then got the audacity to be catching an attitude because someone called you about things you should have taken care of a long time ago; then this article might offend you. If you have never had to work hard to get a deal; You got in because you knew somebody or you were really good with your tongue or lips, this article is definitely not for you.

But for my brothers and my sisters who hold down two or three jobs, raise your kids, deal with shady people and haters while fighting for every sale you can get, then I respect and represent you. Angie Stone once said there were too many people on the same boat, the copying boat. They are the, “I don’t have my own style so I’m going to take yours,” boat. Sitting next to the “I’m going to use your designers and models and marketing schemes just so I can make a quick dollar,” type of people. My quest is to make sure that my fellow writers…the real ones, not the paper made skaters, but the real writers have their souls insured.

By insurance, I’m talking about the passion to write, the will to write. When I write, I write what I want to write. I’m not scared to try something new and do something I haven’t done before. Sometimes in writing you have to take risks. Risks are when you dare to do something different; dare to challenge your fans to get in this game with you and read something they haven’t read before.

Unfortunately, there are too many tares among the wheat. They work on tearing us down instead of building us up. They don’t care about the readers who spend their hard earned money to buy their books. One such bold person had the audacity to send an email basically stating “F the fans.” Why would this “author” (if I can call that person that) have the nerve to do something like that? If it weren’t for the fans spending $15 to buy your book, you wouldn’t have a career in the literary industry…I promise you that. But its people like that that doesn’t have that soul… that passion for being a writer. They don’t respect the game, they worship money. But remember, all those who worship money eventually meet their end. All great books warn us about that.

To the people who want to get into this industry, there is nothing wrong with that. I’m going to tell you once like I’ve said before…do your research. When I say research, I don’t mean see which label is hot (because it’s not about labels). Find out how this industry really works. Get to know who some of the movers and shakers are. Find out whom here has a good reputation and who is full of shit. Everybody that gets their face in a magazine isn’t good people to deal with. Trust me on this one. Go to writers’ message boards and get a feel for what people are saying about what they like to read and how they interact with one another. Don’t be afraid to email your favorite author and find out what it’s really like. If you get an author who is willing to help you out, stay in contact with that person because in this industry, you are going to need all the (free) help you can get.

Don’t be scared to invest in your first project once you’ve done your research. There is so much to this industry that signing a deal and waiting for a royalty check can’t teach you. And the truth is the days of getting six figure deals without self publishing your first book are almost gone. It happens for about one out of every 5,000 writers who sign a major publishing deal (that’s a nice figure). Not knocking those who got put on like that but publishing your own work takes a lot. You can build a lot of bridges and tie a lot of ropes that way. If it don’t work out the first time, try it again, hell, we all know I did. And after all these years I’m still here while I’ve watch more “successful” people fall away at my right and my left side. Am I boasting…no…I’m just saying that you need to put what you know to use. You can’t have the knowledge if you don’t know the ledge, you feel me?

To my readers out there…you have lots of choices… I’m not going to front. Demand that your authors respect you and your money, don’t worship them as gods because I promise you we are not. I mess up just like the rest of you. If it’s a person out there that is nasty to you when you talk to them on the phone; gets rowdy with you in a chat; straight up disrespects you in an email…quit buying their books!

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating; when you buy a book, it’s like casting a vote. Each time you buy (or cause a book to be purchased), you are voting for that person to have the right to continue to do what they do. You’re paying for the books to be printed (actually reimbursing the company but still); you are paying for the cars they drive; the assistants (who probably answer the phones) they keep. You’re paying for all of that. You’re even paying for the lawyers a few of us need to make sure our house is in order. That is part of the reason why publishing companies are often referred to as publishing houses. The money pays the mortgage that can be reinvested in making the house more valuable by adding the decorations (the books). Why give a swimming pool to an owner that won’t even let you swim in it? Do you hear me?!

Jarold Imes is a contributing writer for The Urban Book Source and author of Hold on Be Strong; he is the creator of online soap opera: Hold on Be Strong (, send emails

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