We’re just one week away from the publishing of “My Brown Baby: On the Joys and Challenges of Raising African American Children,” the debut book on my new imprint, Denene Millner Books (out March 7, 2016) and “Early Sunday Morning,” the first children’s picture book on my new line (out April 11, 2016).
I’m not gonna front: I’m nervous y’all. Up until now, I’ve penned 25 books—five of them New York Times bestsellers with Steve Harvey, Taraji Henson, Charlie Wilson and Cookie Johnson, one of them turned into “With This Ring,” a hit movie on Lifetime TV—but none of them have felt so… personal. I don’t have celebrity or star power behind “My Brown Baby” and “Early Sunday Morning.” These books aren’t being published by one of the big five publishing houses with huge budgets and teams of folk paid to push them. I can’t count on mainstream media to “get” the importance of books that celebrate the beauty of Black children and African American motherhood.
What I do have, though, is talent. These books are FIRE. And they’re being published in partnership with Agate Publishing, a spunky independent publisher based in Chicago.
But I need you. I need you. The only way these books and this imprint will do well is if you who love brown babies, my website, my work and my passion for African American art, culture and people, support… this… work. I simply can not win, can not execute my vision of filling bookshelves with love letters to our children—love letters that celebrate the humanity of brown children—without your help.
So how can you help? It’s pretty simple, really. Here’s How To Support Authors and Make Denene Millner Books a success:
- Buy the books. Seriously. It’s that simple. Yes, it’s great to check them out at the library—libraries bring authors lots of good business—and it’s sweet to borrow them from your best friend, because sharing is hella dope. But truly, the only way we authors can continue to write books is if the books we write sell. Pre-orders super-duper count because they give booksellers the head’s up on which books have great potential to sell extra well. Support my new independent works by buying them here and here.
- Give my books as gifts. Skip the candles, ugly sweaters, re-gifted wine and gift certificates (that you know your girl will spend on her kids rather than herself): there is absolutely no better gift than an autographed book. It’s reasonably priced and a treasure that your people will actually like and keep.
- Tell 10 people about my new books. Caring is sharing, yo. Even better if you can tell them about “My Brown Baby” and “Early Sunday Morning” and share links with strong encouragement to purchase the books. Want to get extra fly with it? Host a book party. Buy 20 books—and show me the receipts—and I’ll Skype into your book party (or, if you’re local to me in Atlanta, show up live and in the flesh).
- Share the books on social media. Take pictures of the covers and share them on Instagram or Twitter. Pull a quote from “My Brown Baby” or snap a pic one of Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s gorgeous illustrations and share it on Facebook with a link to where your followers can purchase their own books. The images give instant cache to the works of us authors, and get our books in front of lots of eyes.
- Write reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Online reviews are social proof that a book is not only being purchased, but read and talked about. It brings all kinds of cache to the books and encourages others to… yup, you got it… buy the books. Leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible or any other book-buying sites. We authors appreciate them—even short, simple ones that say, “I enjoyed this one!”
- Recommend my books on GoodReads. Seriously, what better place to find support for an author’s work than on a site dedicated to people who love books?
- Request my books at your library. I wasn’t kidding when I said libraries are great business for my books. The American Library Association estimates there are just over 119,000 libraries in the U.S. If every one of them carried “My Brown Baby” or “Early Sunday Morning,” I’d be on the New York Times bestseller’s list in no time. Bonus: librarians are THE BEST book advocates, and if a library goer makes known that he/she is into a book and wants to see it on the shelves, the librarians will put it there.
- Recommend my books to teachers. My children’s books on the Denene Millner Books line are beautiful. They feature Black children in all their glory. And they celebrate our children’s humanity by highlighting their every day lives. “Early Sunday Morning” does this by celebrating family, faith and a community’s will to build up a little Black girl’s self-esteem. Upcoming pictures books “There’s a Dragon In My Closet” and “Crown: An Ode To the Fresh Cut,” celebrate the imaginations and beauty of black boys, respectively. Seriously, these books need to be in your kids’ classrooms, to serve as a mirror for your children and a window for the kids who have no clue how normal, average, every day Black children live their lives out loud. Beautifully.
- Write a feature on my books or me. You have a blog? A podcast? A newsletter? A YouTube channel? An email list with your mama annem on it? Holla atcha girl. I will respond to any and all interviews, so long as you agree to use your platform to tell others about the work that I’m doing and encourage them to support that work. I ain’t too proud to beg, and I’d be incredibly grateful. Real talk.
- Hire me for speaking events. I’ve presented for years as part of conferences, clubs, associations, college classes, high school assemblies and the like, talking about everything from how I became a journalist and editor to my work as a celebrity memoirist to my new venture as the head of my own children’s book line. Buy the books to give to your attendees and I’ll be giddy. Have a bookseller sell the books on the premises, and I’ll be equally happy. This is a great way to support me and my work.
Let me reiterate: the new offerings on Denene Millner Books absolutely cannot work without you, the supporters of brown babies and my work. I thank ya in advance for helping my imprint, my heart, soar.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.