Writing Diva Miasha
by Elaine Watkins
Miasha’s path to success has been scripted since she was a child. Just a few years removed from Temple University, this 25-year-old Philadelphia native, has already proven her worth in the Urban Fiction industry. Born to drug-addicted parents, Miasha had two choices; wallow in her luck of the draw or manifest her destiny. Miasha chose the latter, using her imagination and determination to plot her way to the top.
Miasha stepped into the publishing game with clout, that others work years to build, when the rights for her first two books, Secret Society and Diary of a Mistress, were at the center of a bidding war between Touchstone, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, and Avon Books. In the end Touchstone, lucked out and gained the rights with a six-figure, two-book offer; both novels were published in 2005, four months apart from one another. With the release of her books came instant recognition. In 2006, Miasha was named as “one to watch” by Publisher’s Weekly and nominated for “Break Out Author of the Year” for the African American Literary Awards.
Known as one of the hardest working authors in the industry, Miasha set out on a 15-city book tour shortly after the release of her first two works. Once her tour ended, she quickly landed a role in both a Hip-Hop soap opera series and an Indie Film, spreading her wings as an actor. Not straying away from the writing industry for too long, Miasha released her third novel, Mommy’s Angel, in the summer of 2007, and rumor has it that she has already inked a second two-book, six-figure deal with Touchstone. Her fourth novel, Sista for Sale, will hit stores in March 2008.
What do you think is the key ingredient to becoming successful in the publishing industry?
Marketing and promotion. Writing a book whether good or not is the easy part. Selling the book is where authors run into all types of challenges. You have to know who your market is and how to appeal to it.
There was a bidding war for your first two books Secret Society and Diary of a Mistress, how did this come about?
Well, I had an offer to buy my book Secret Society outright and a five-book deal to include the publishing of Diary of a Mistress with Teri Woods Publishing, which created interest amongst major publishers. My agent sent my stuff out to those major publishers and received positive feedback from three of them. And anytime there is more than one publisher interested in signing you, your work automatically go up for auction.
Can you tell us what your writing regimen is like?
I basically write whenever I'm inspired to do so. Sometimes that's when I'm asleep and I'll jump out of my bed and go down to my office and start typing. Other times, it's when I'm listening to certain music, particularly Jay-Z. For the most part, though, when I'm faced with a deadline I'll put myself on a 5–10 page-a-day schedule.
What is the future of Street Lit? Where do you see the genre 10–30 years from now?
I see Street Lit evolving and getting bigger and bigger—similar to the way Hip-Hop has evolved. People thought Rap music was just a fad for years and now it's the number one music recognized and respected around the world.
Do you suffer from writer's block? How do you overcome it?
Sometimes I do. But I just pray for inspiration and take time off. In that time, I usually get ideas. Also, it helps to write an outline of your book to help guide you and spark your creativity. Going to the movies helps too. It's all about doing things that ignite creativity.
Any advice/tips for someone trying to get into the industry?
Don't just try, do. Research the steps it takes, read up on your favorite author and see how they got their start. Follow proven paths and always have a plan B. Put your all into breaking into this business and overall, write a book you can be proud of and that you believe will sell well.
What is your response to those bashing the genre?
If you can't beat it join it.
Can you tell us your take on the publishing beefs going on? Are they justified?
I don't know of any publishing beefs going on. I try not to get involved in all that. But if you're speaking of traditional/contemporary authors’ take on Street or Urban Lit then I'd say no it's not justified. People have many different stories to tell and what makes any one story more literary than the next? The bottom line is a Street Lit author will write about the streets because they either are from the streets and know the streets or they know that street stories sell well and they are approaching this as a business. On the other hand, contemporary authors will write about more mainstream subjects because that's what they know. Now, if money is a concern and your story isn't selling well, then write a story that will sell. It's as simple as that.
Elaine Watkins is the Editor-in-Chief of The Urban Book Source.
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