*At first urban fiction, also known as street literature was a genre largely ignored by mainstream media and the literary establishment.
Initially, the central theme of most urban novels centered on characters like pimps, killers, or drug dealers set to a city backdrop. Most of the stories explored socio-economic realities like baby mama drama, prison life and violence, rife with profanity and sex.
However, the genre today has grown significantly and now includes other categories like non-fiction, Christian, teen, erotica, fantasy, and poetry. As a result, major players in contemporary urban fiction have emerged like Vickie Stringer, Terri Woods, Zane, and Eric Jerome Dickey to name a few. With a loyal and growing fan base, urban fiction writers have been able to ink million dollar deals with major publishing houses, established their own book publishing firms, have seen their works on bestsellers lists and turned into major motion pictures.
Urban fiction is a popular and thriving genre with a fan base that has an insatiable appetite for new talent and K.C. Blaze is preparing herself to meet the need. As her last name implies, she is already stoking the flames to her already growing urban lit empire.
Mary McBeth, an owner of UrbanFictionEditor.com, Streetfiction.org, and UrbanFictionMedia.com, can attest to the undeniable talent of this young author. “K.C. is a wonderful role model for writers to look up and emulate. She is a talented writer, savvy businesswoman and a genuinely kind, ethical person who is always working hard and taking her game to the next level. Yet, she still manages to be a well-rounded individual who is the real deal—a strong female who hustles with the best of them—the best example of what we all should aspire to,” lauds McBeth.
Not only has she received adulation from her peers, but her fans have made her Your Husband My Man series a best-seller and an Amazon Kindle All-Star for the most downloadable books in the month of August 2014. However, that was not her first run of success, her previous books Platinum Dust and Twisted Faith, which have also spent time on Amazon best-sellers lists. Although she is well-versed in the fiction genre, K.C. enjoys sharing her expertise about the world of publishing. She published a non-fiction title The No Bull Method to Publishing where she guides writers on how to succeed in the literary industry.
Also to being an author, K.C. also owns an award winning online magazine, Urban Fiction News and is the host of Urban Fiction News Radio. Recently, she launched a publishing company, aptly titled K.C. Blaze Publishing.
Eurweb.com had the pleasure to sit down with K.C. to discuss her works, company, and the state of urban fiction.
Yolanda: How did you decide you wanted to become a writer?
K.C.: I’ve always known I’ve wanted to be a writer. Looking back over my life I can see how life has led me toward my dreams. My competitive nature pressed me to learn how to type faster than anyone else, which helps me today. I come from a sales background that also plays a part in my writing because as my favorite motto goes “I write because I love it, I publish because I want to be paid for it.” So I use my sales background to promote my work.
Yolanda: You had a career in sales?
K.C.: Yes, I worked for a few different companies. My most recent employers were Transamerica Life and Protection as a Licensed Insurance Agent. I worked with them for about two years. My last job was with Wells Fargo’s Auto Finance Department.
Yolanda: How has your career in sales helped you in developing your business?
K.C.: Having over 16 years in sales has helped me understand the dynamics of people and the way they buy. I’ve also learned that customer service is the key to repeat business.
Yolanda: How did you make the leap from corporate America to becoming a full-time entrepreneur and artist?
K.C.: I’ve always known I wanted to work for myself as an author. I planned my exit by calculating the cost of transitioning from a blog to an online magazine. I used my personal savings to pay off bills to carry me. Then I launched my magazine site Urban Fiction News and the rest is history.
Yolanda: Tell me about your company? How did you come up with the idea to start your business?
K.C.: I am the owner of Urban Fiction News. It’s a complete brand that provides information on every aspect of the publishing industry. It puts real information and resources before writers both new and seasoned. I came up with Urban Fiction News Magazine because I couldn’t find the information I needed to publish a competitive book in today’s urban fiction market. I decided that I would become the resource. Both platforms provide news, reviews, and resources on various topics like publishing, marketing, and promoting of fictional works.
Yolanda: What separates your company from others?
K.C.: What separates me from other companies is that I [am not] just telling you what you need but give you the links to get you there. I do not view anyone as my competition because I’m the directory that sends authors and readers to everyone else.
Yolanda: How do you plan to expand your company?
K.C.: My company’s expansion is already taking place. I’ve started Urban Fiction News Radio, and I’ve also started K.C Blaze Publishing. I want to be the brand that not only comes out with hot titles but information and resources for every author.
Yolanda: How do you utilize social media to expand your brand? What kind of advertising/promotion do you do for your company?
K.C.: Social media is one of the most important marketing tools available to everyone. I belong to every book group imaginable, as well as, I have a large Twitter following. The best thing I can do for myself is to get my work in front of buyers every day. I remain consistent, and it pays off in dollar bills. I usually have banners created with my books and where it’s available and have them displayed in groups. I also use clever sayings with links to my Amazon pages. You have to connect with your target audience and make it easy for them to buy.
Yolanda: Can you describe the market potential of urban fiction?
K.C.: Urban fiction is still relatively new, which means it has room to grow. Authors can utilize many marketing possibilities that step outside of the realm of traditional marketing strategies. Urban fiction is a considerable force within the publishing industry, and many writers are creating new rules and seeing large sales numbers as a result.
Yolanda: How many non-fiction and fiction titles have you written to date?
K.C.: I have written 13 fiction titles and three non-fiction titles to date. However, I’m currently working on three titles that are soon to be released shortly as well. As a writer, you have to produce constantly [in order] to stay in front of your audience. I just so happen to have great fans that love what I write and push me to get them the next book.
Yolanda: You are a very prolific writer, how long does it take for you complete a novel?
K.C: That is a tough question because there are times when creativity strikes and I can focus in and complete a book in a week but then there are books that may take me a month or two to complete. Ultimately I allow my characters to speak to me, and when they do, I’m there to jot it all down. When they are quiet, I create new characters and stories and start the process all over again.
Yolanda: Do you believe urban fiction can become more accepted by the mainstream audience? How do you plan to grow as a writer in this genre?
K.C.: I think urban fiction has the potential to become more mainstream but only if the author is willing to scale back some of its vulgarity. I love the realness and rawness that comes from urban fiction, but I believe it should remain between the covers. You should consider how far you would like your book to go before you title it with a name that would never get the light of day on a retailer’s bookshelf. My series Your Husband My Man has been doing phenomenally well. However, I want to continue providing my reader with good stories, outrageous plot twists and enough back stories on the characters they feel like they can reach out and touch them in reality.
Yolanda: What advice can you give an aspiring writer?
K.C.: The best advice I can give an aspiring writer is never to apologize for your work. Create your characters and let them tell their story and do not apologize for making them who they are. Many people fear writing characters that are flawed or have sex or use foul language. You cannot write for your family but write for yourself. When you do that, your work will be better. Also, save money to help market and promote your work while you are still writing it. You will be further ahead if you do so.
Yolanda: How do you balance being a writer, running an online magazine, and online radio show?
K.C.: It is a difficult balance because I’m always trying to give the readers what they want and not making them wait, but I only like giving them my best. The beauty of having a magazine site is that most of my content is timeless so it can hold me over.
Yolanda: Do you plan to expand into other genres?
K.C.: Urban fiction is the category my stories fall under, but [they should be considered] drama and romance. I would like to write a murder mystery someday.
Yolanda: What inspires your writing?
K.C.: Great music inspires my writing, real life situations, and my personal experiences are thrown in also.
Yolanda: How do you continue to grow your fan base?
K.C.: My fan base continues to grow from word of mouth, individuals reading my informative articles and realizing I am the real deal. They also tune into my radio show with my co-host Santiago and realize we are giving them information they can use. I help people promote their books and spotlight them in my magazine. My reach is far so I can help their work get seen internationally.
Yolanda: Describe your management practices?
K.C.: I am super serious when it comes to [operating my] business. I love what I do, and I give people my best, so I expect it in return. I believe in providing quality customer service. When people have a great experience, they come back and tell others, so I stand by that.
Yolanda: What has made it easier for your business to succeed?
K.C.: I personally believe my business has thrived this long because I’m offering free information. The greatest thing I can give anyone is information. Selling a service or a product is secondary. If you want to do it yourself, I believe in teaching you how. If you’d like me to do it for you, I offer it as a service.
Yolanda: What made you decide to start your publishing company?
K.C.: I’ve always loved helping authors. My idea to start a publishing company came from my desire to present the best titles from the best writers who could not get published traditionally.
Yolanda: You published your first books with True Glory Publications, will you continue to distribute your works with them or will the rest of your books be issued under K.C. Blaze Publishing?
K.C.: I signed a ten book deal with True Glory Publications, and I’m coming up on my last book. Though I enjoyed my time with True Glory, and Shameek Speight is an incredible publisher and person, I will be producing my future novels under my label. I like the pace of working on my own with deadlines that I set. Producing that many books in a year can be a bit time consuming, and I like making sure I’m giving my very best.
Yolanda: What makes self-publishing an attractive option for writers?
K.C.: Self-publishing is an attractive option for writers because they keep the rights to their work. They also have the ability to control every aspect of their books production.
Yolanda. What are some good reasons for self-publishing?
K.C.: A few of the best reasons to self-publish is keeping 100 percent of your royalties.
You can also choose your book covers and work with the best editors. I like having control over every aspect of my book.
Yolanda: Are there ways that authors can make money on their self-published books?
KC: Everyone wants to make money on their books, but you have to be willing to put in the work. Promote, promote and promote again. Make sure you are putting out the best, visually appealing product you can.
Yolanda: What are the different ways authors can have their books printed?
K.C.: Authors can have their books [produced by] a print-on-demand printer or a vanity press. My personal favorite is print-on-demand. It helps to save trees.
Yolanda: As a self-published author, what advice can you impart to other writers?
K.C.: The best saying I can give is my motto, ‘Write because you love it but publish because you want to be paid for it. Write until you’re satisfied with it’.
Yolanda: Who are the urban writers to watch?
K.C.: Urban fiction authors to keep an eye on, I’m going to do a little shameless self-promotion, K.C. Blaze, Santiago, Jay Webb, Percy Levy, and Diamond P.
Yolanda: What do you think about the popularity of urban fiction writer Zane and what kind of opportunities will this present for future urban authors?
K.C.: Zane has opened up the doors for urban erotica to be taken more serious. Her contribution to the genre has paved the way for many writers to create more mainstream titles.
Yolanda: How can urban fiction writers promote their work?
K.C.: Urban Fiction Authors can promote their work through social media outlets, blog tours, and promotional book cover ads.
Yolanda: Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as an influence?
K.C.: Some of my favorite authors include Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, Nathan McCall’s Makes Me Want to Holler, and I also love everything from Mark Twain.
Yolanda: What was the book that most influenced your life and why?
K.C.: The most influential book in my life was a childhood book that woke me up to the magic of reading. The Boxcar Kids took me to a place mentally that made me want to own that power.
K.C.: The Dirty Heiress Part One and Two are spin-offs of my popular series Your Husband My Man. There will be a third installment, and it will pretty much wrap up the entire series. It follows the life of the children from Your Husband My Man and serves as a way to answer questions that were not answered in [the previous series]. The drama continues, the plot thickens and when [readers will be taken on many twists and turns].
Yolanda: With the growth and success of the e-book market, do you feel that authors still need to subscribe to the old paradigm of seeking an agent? Do authors of today need to be published by a major publishing house with the hopes of having their books being sold bookstores?
K.C.: The beautiful thing about the e-book market is it allows writers the opportunity to do it all on their own. Selling books in a bookstore is no longer the way to be seen or to have lots of sales. Getting more exposure for your book is the best way to go.
To keep updated with new releases from K.C. Blaze, visit urbanfictionnews.com and tune into Urban Fiction News Radio 6:00 p.m. every Friday night for more information.