Bestselling Simon & Schuster co-authors Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley are now teaming up on the business side: the two writers are launching Brown Girls Publishing, a new digital publishing venture that debuts today. Brown Girls Publishing will publish in a variety of genres and release books in digital and POD trade paperback editions.
The new publishing venture will initially launch with four titles this month and will release four titles a month going forward. Digital distribution is via INScribe Digital and BGP's POD trade paperback editions will be produced through Amazon’s CreateSpace unit.
While the authors have focused their own books on the African-American community, the authors said the new venture will publish books in a wide variety of genres. Among the first titles to be released from Brown Girls Publishing will be Open Door Marriage by Naleighna Kai, In Strict Confidence by Dwayne Joseph, The Next Thing is Joy: The Gospel According to Vivian Grace by Tracey Michael Lewis and Pink and Patent Leather by Candy Jackson. The new venture is also publishing a new edition of Easier Said Than Done, a romance novel by Nikki Woods, senior producer of the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Radio Show. BGP will also begin publishing a new series of novels by Woods.
The authors emphasized that BGP are looking for books “that have a good story and are well written,” Murray said. “We want quality, not quantity,” added Billingsley. BGP has assembled a committee to review manuscript submissions and recommend titles to be published. All books will be edited by Murray and Billingsley.
The two bestselling authors/publishers are both published by Simon & Schuster and between the two have authored more than 30 books and sold more than 2 million copies. While the two write a variety of fiction separately, they are also the coauthors of Friends and Foes and Saints and Sinners, the ongoing story of the scheming hijinks of two ambitious church wives. The two authors, who will continue to write for S&S, are also skilled in other areas. Murray has an MBA from New York University and Billingsley is a former TV and radio news reporter who also has more than 25 years experience in marketing.
“We’ve been pretty successful and we’ve still got book contracts at S&S,” Murray said in a phone interview with PW. Murray told PW the notion to launch a publishing company began a year ago when her agent, Lisa Dawson, self-published some of Murray’s fiction as an e-book novel and the book sold about 15,000 copies with almost no promotion. “Just a little note on my facebook page,” Murray said.
Murray notes that she and her partner launched their own careers as self-publishers and they both believe “there are a lot of great writers out there with no opportunity to publish.” In a separate interview with ReShonda Tate Billingsley, she emphasized that “we’re calling our company ‘Brown Girls’ because of me and my partner, but we have black men and white men authors.” Both authors said that BGP will publish books “in all genres from romance and literary fiction to science-fiction, crime and more,” Billingsley said. The two authors are providing the bulk of the financing for the publishing house, although the company has two investors.
Not surprisingly the new venture will emphasize digital marketing and social media and both authors emphasized that they will work closely with INScribe to help guide their marketing, pricing and distribution strategies.
“We both know publishing from being in the trenches,” Billingsley said, “and we still love our publisher, but after looking at the advances made in the technology of digital publishing we decided to jump onboard."