Thursday, November 15, 2012

The End of This Chapter


This isn’t easy to say which is why it has taken us so long to say it. But so many of you have asked and continue to ask when the next book is coming. Our answer has been somewhat oblique and indefinite “We’re taking a break…” or “We’re not working on anything now…” because it was less complicated than explaining what’s actually happening with us.

So here goes…

No, neither of us is ill.

Yes, we are still bestest friends.

However, our writing career is officially on “HOLD”.

We are stepping back, down, out—for now. We’ve been in the publishing business for more than twenty years and we’ve had a great ride, but the business has changed…in ways not necessarily to our liking. And we have changed. For more than half of those twenty years, we were lucky enough to write full time and support ourselves (TWO OF US) from our novels!! This is something we know not many authors get to say—and we are hugely grateful to all of you who have supported our work –and those who will continue to buy and read our books, because they aren’t going anywhere. But we now find that is no longer the case, nor is it likely to be that way again. Back when we started this journey we were 20 years younger and working full time and writing full time seemed doable—because it was. It isn’t any more. Period. As any of you who’ve ever written or attempted to write a novel know, it is so much more than a notion. It is an all consuming undertaking.

We are not the kinds of writers who can pump out a book every six months—we think and plot and outline and think and plan and think and write. Every single solitary word we put down is important. We have spent tens of thousands of hours working on our novels—probably somewhere around 5000 hours a book. We have missed holidays and family vacations because of deadlines. Despite all that, it used to be fantastic. It used to be fun. We were doing what we loved. We got to travel far and wide. We got to hang out together all the time. And we got paid!! How cool was that?! But these days the publishing industry requires authors to do WAY more work, for WAY less money. Write a book (or more) a year. Tweet, Facebook, Blog, Tour, Skype, Pinterest, YouTube without ceasing. The internet and the ease of self publishing have been both a curse and a blessing. For us the business of writing has become a grind. To be successful these days being a good writer is not enough. You must become a brand, a salesman, marketer, publicist, travel agent and a friend to all! Great books are written. Bestsellers are manufactured. It’s exhausting and at the moment, we don’t want to do it any more.

The authors at the top—you know the names, are doing just swell. Their books sell on their names alone, they get gobbled up by Hollywood and the beat goes on. Those at the bottom are eager and willing to do whatever is asked of them, including work very hard for very little. We fall somewhere in the middle and like the rest of the “middle” the squeeze is tight—especially for black authors. When we started, there was no African American category. We wrote contemporary women’s fiction.  Then they created a “Black Box” for “us” (one publisher actually did this—with a real black box) and in many ways decided what would go in that box. And as they put more and more of what they wanted in the box, the space for the kind of books we write became smaller and smaller.  We’ve been asked to do things we’re not interested in or willing to do. “Can you put in more sex?” “NO!” “How about making this more ‘urban’—a little more ‘street’?” “NO!” “You could write erotica under a pseudonym…” “NO!” “You guys are so good, you could write anonymously as a white author…” “NO!”

We have written seven novels. They aren’t going away and neither are we. You’ll always know how and where to find us. We have no idea what the future has in store for us. Donna has some writing ideas she’s exploring and she’s started a not for profit called Footsteps to Follow that helps NYC school kids learn about career opportunities they might not otherwise know about. Virginia is still trying to finish Cute Still Counts, her book of advice for women about getting older and she’s started a social media business and the New Brunswick Jazz Project –an organization that presents live jazz events in her area of New Jersey. One day there may be another novel or another seven…who knows? We’ve adapted What Doesn’t Kill You into a one woman stage play—one day it may get produced….who knows? One day one of these film options could finally come to fruition and one of our books will be coming to a movie or TV screen near you…who knows?

So we said all this to say—there are no more DeBerry and Grant novels in the pipeline. Whew…that was hard, but also a relief.

We’re writers without a deadline, and for once we’re working without a plot so we won’t know the twists and turns until we get there, but, we’re living life and exploring new possibilities. And whatever we’ve got going on, separately or together, you’ll be the first to know. We are grateful for the support, enthusiasm and encouragement we have received from readers along the way. That has been an extraordinary gift--one that keeps on giving, and we THANK YOU!!
posted by DeBerry and Grant at 11:21 AM

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