Ben Burgess Jr.'s Blog

April 11, 2016

Humble

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Humble
I’m having a good month! I won first place in the Beverly Hills Book Awards, I won the Bronze medal in the Drunken Druid Book Awards in Ireland, and the Silver medal in the IPPY Book Awards. In total, my latest novel “Love and Happiness” has won five awards so far. It’s something to be proud of. I am proud of those accomplishments, but I can’t let it get to my head.

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Winning awards, receiving positive reviews, and decent sales are great, but I know for me to continue to strive, I have to keep my hunger. Is it nice to have your ego fed every now and then? Of course, it is, but I can’t lose who I am as a man to my success.

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A lot of people don’t know that I’ve kept all the rejection emails I received from agents, publishers, and small presses from when I first began writing. I have them in a folder called the “Hurt Locker”, and read them to remind myself that I still have a long ways to go. I do well as an independent, but my books aren’t in every bookstore. I’m still not a household name. I read the negative reviews that I’ve received too. Some are from people who don’t like me personally, but there are also those who just didn’t get my stories. Reading the negative critics help to level my head and inspire me to improve to make stronger novels.

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One of my favorite songs is “Don’t let it go to your head” by Brand Nubian. I like it because it explains what can happen if you don’t stay grounded.

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I’ve done well for myself winning sixteen awards in total for all of my works, but I want to go further than that. My goals are: Have my books adapted to film, become globally known as an author and philanthropist, and have my books in bookstores around the country. Since I’m not there yet for any of those goals, I can’t allow my current success to make me “big headed.”

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In conclusion, when I post that I’ve won awards or other accolades, my intent is never to boast or brag. I’m trying to thank all of those who helped me get to these accolades and inspire authors and potential authors. For me to reach my major goals in life, I have to stay focused, stay humble, and stay positive. Hopefully, this blog will help me to inspire other authors.


Love and Happiness

Ben Burgess Jr.
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Published on April 11, 2016 09:03 Tags: authors, awards, books, drama, humble, reading, trials-and-tribulations

November 24, 2015

Evolving for the Future

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A lot has changed from my last blog post. I’ve won a few awards for both “Wounded” and “Love and Happiness.” I’ve taken a different approach this time around when it came to marketing my latest book, and I’ve been thinking of different ways to evolve as an author. Evolving is what I’ve really been working on.

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Since my first novel “Monster”, I wanted to write something that everyone could relate to and love while also being different and one of a kind. “Monster” was received well and sold a lot of copies, but there were some who hated it. With my second novel “Wounded”, I wanted to break the mold. I wanted to get a full grasp on my own style and voice. I wanted readers to see how much I’ve improved and worked on honing my craft. I succeeded. “Wounded” won awards at competitions that I didn’t place with, with “Monster.” It continued to sell even when I wasn’t promoting it, but with success, I started to lose friends or at least people I thought were my friends. I felt like everything was changing around me, and I couldn’t control it. The fact was things were changing, and like everything else, I had to change too.

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With my writing, I strive to reinvent myself. I try to create relatable characters for readers to fall in love with, but I needed to learn that reinventing myself and evolving had to also apply to myself as a man. It took me a while, but I had to understand that I could never write something that everyone would love. Everyone has different tastes. I finally realize that I have to write the stories I love and try my best to write them in a way that is appealing to readers and me. I had to come to the realization that sometimes you outgrow people and sometimes they outgrow you, and that’s ok. I needed to learn to keep evolving.
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I came back from Miami after winning my third Readers Favorite Book Award for Urban Fiction. While some people would feel confident, I felt humbled. I cherished this time just as much as the first time I won it. When I got on that stage, all the late nights, weekends, and rainy days that I spent writing, the good times of getting positive reviews, the bad times of getting not so good reviews, the people I’ve met and the people I’ve lost, all hit me at once. I appreciated that my hard work was recognized. The whole experience renewed my will to write more successful stories.

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I don’t know what the future holds for me. Will I ever have my books adapted to film? Will I ever get picked up by a major publisher? Will people love my new work? I don’t know. All I know is that I will keep striving to improve and get better. I’ll have to take the good with the bad and understand that both of those things come with evolution.

Ben Burgess Jr.Love and Happiness
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Published on November 24, 2015 19:12 Tags: african-american-fiction, awards, blogs, drama, fiction, happiness, love, novel, readers, reading, urban

November 25, 2014

Learning

I stared out the window of the plane I was on headed to Miami. I thought about the journey I went through to get to that point, and I thought about my daughter. She always reminds me of why I continue to write. She gives me my strength. This time around winning the Readers Favorite “Book of the year” award for urban fiction, I needed that strength.
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I’m not going to lie, when I first wrote “Wounded” I was scared. I didn’t want anyone in the LGBT community to feel like I was exploiting them or trying to offend them since I’m a straight man writing about their lifestyle. I strongly questioned if I should even publish the book, but I knew my heart was in the right place so I went through with the novel. The editing process was rough, and I didn’t have the same excitement that I had with “Monster”. I started to doubt myself. A fellow author and friend of mine Stacy Campbell, agreed to give me an honest critique of my book. After reading it, she told me she thoroughly enjoyed it and I had another hit on my hands. I let several members of the LGBT community read it. They were all in agreement that the book represented them in a positive way.
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I felt I learned a lot from my first novel. I felt I was wiser, and had improved. I knew what worked and what didn't with promoting my last book, and I believed this time around, I’d have an even greater impact on the literary world. The experience with this book was the most humbling. I wrote “Wounded” because it was challenging and I believed a lot of people could benefit from the story. I knew that some people wouldn't like it. I knew it was controversial, but I had faith that my book was deep enough for readers to see through the dark parts and understand the messages I was trying to relay.
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As far as sales and reviews, “Wounded” did extremely well. “Wounded” was #2 on the Amazon best sellers list, and it received great reviews from credible book reviewers. While those aspects were doing well, I lost some fans because of the topics this book addressed. Some people felt that “Wounded” was too dark or didn't like that the main character was a Lesbian. Personally, I didn't feel the book was too dark. Was the subject matter deep because it addressed rape? Yes, but I purposely DID NOT go into depth with the rape scenes. I didn't want rapists and or pedophiles to get off on the book, so I stopped the scenes and woke my character up when she was having her nightmares about the incidents. As far as my character being a Lesbian, it’s 2014. I believed and still believe that for the most part, my fans are open minded, mature, and strong enough to handle the real life topics I write about. The book was doing great, but knowing that some people stopped being a fan because of the topic, hurt a little. I lost some, gained more, but no author wants to lose anyone.
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Another humbling experience this time around was losing friends. Some people I valued and respected, chose not to support me. Anyone that knows me, knows that if you support me I’ll go above and beyond to support you. Seeing that I was receiving more support from people I didn’t know compared to those I considered friends, hurt. I continued to work hard and promote my work, but the experience definitely brought me down a peg.
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This time around at the book awards I felt even more humbled than last year. I was grateful for the award and happy that through all the adversity I faced, I was able to win. I met other authors from different genres while at the ceremony. Hearing their philosophies and experiences made me realize that I still have a long ways to go before I have my roots thoroughly planted in the literary world.
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I feel the biggest lesson I learned with this book is loss. I can’t please everyone. There will be those who will not be fans of my work. I might lose some fans and gain more, but that comes with the job. I can’t expect everyone to support me the way I would support them. It’ll only lead to disappointment when it’s not reciprocated. I might lose friends, but I will also make new friends. As long as I stay humble and learn from my mistakes, I should continue to evolve into the man and author I’m supposed to be.
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September 15, 2014

No one knows this about me but…

I have friends over at my house. My friends are laughing, and playing video games (Yes, I still play video games. Don’t judge me, it’s one of my stress relievers. LOL). I’m sitting at my desk, half listening, and half writing. I’m working on my latest novel.
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“Ben, how can you even concentrate on writing with all this noise?” My friend Alvin asks.
“I want this book out by a certain date, so I have to use every free minute I have and multitask to get it done.”
“Your book will do great, man. Stop worrying. You know you got this.” My friend Terry assures me.
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While I appreciate their confidence and encouragement, no one knows this about me, but I’m scared shitless. The truth is, I don’t want to fail. A question you might ask is what is failure to me?
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I worked hard with my novels “Monster” and “Wounded.” They were received well and I was blessed to win awards for both books. While I’m happy about those things, I can’t get too comfortable. I’m scared that I’ll be a one hit wonder or in this case, a two hit wonder. I never want to lose my hunger to produce great books or to put out a book that people can’t relate to and hate. No one knows this about me, but I beat myself up, editing and second guessing myself every day. I have a good “poker face”. I do well at acting like I’m confident and calm, but in reality I worry that readers will not understand the messages I’m trying to relay or they just won’t care about my books altogether.
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I promote my work a lot because I’m not a well-known author yet. I try my hardest to promote aggressively without coming across as overbearing and annoying. Between working as a Detective for NYPD, trying to balance being a father, husband, friend and author, it’s very difficult to make time for everything, hence why I multitask often.
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No one knows this about me, but sometimes as a way to balance writing and playing with my daughter, I have her practice writing her letters next to me. Last Christmas, my daughter’s wish list was pretty small. All she wanted was a new bed, a few toys, and a desk. The last request caught me off guard. I wondered, what four year old wants a desk? Christmas came, and my wife and I bought her what she asked for. I didn’t understand why my daughter was so eager for me to put her desk together, but I quickly assembled it to stop her from whining. (When your daughter says put together her desk, you put together her damn desk! I know, I’m a punk when it comes to her. LOL) I watched her push her desk next to mine and her words made that day one of the proudest moments for me.
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“See Daddy, now I have a desk and I can write just like you!”
I was happy that I had such an impression on her, but I also realized I needed to include her in my activities. Whenever I’m working on a book at home, I ask her if she wants to “work” too. She sits next to me and practices her numbers and letters. I spell out different words for her to practice and those are the little assignments I give her to increase our bond and include her in my activities.

In conclusion, I hope this essay helps you to get a glimpse into my personal feelings and philosophies. I hope this helped you to know a little more about me.WoundedBen Burgess Jr.
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September 11, 2014

Fire

I get asked often, “What inspires you to write? What motivates you?” There are so many answers to that question. I’ll try to explain some.
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My biggest inspiration/motivation is my daughter. As a parent, I want nothing but the best for my child. I look at her as an extension of myself. I didn’t have a great childhood. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, I was insecure about myself, I lived in poverty, and I missed out on opportunities due to a lack of funds. While my childhood wasn’t the best, I had a great role model, my Mother. I watched my Mom struggle to pay bills, work two jobs, put herself through school all the way up to her doctorate, and moved us out of the bad neighborhood we lived in into a house in the suburbs. She did all of these tasks on her own. My Mother did the best she could to push for me to have better opportunities than she did. She pushed me to want more out of myself and to become the best person I could be. That is exactly what I want to do for my child. I want to instill in her that strong work ethic and will. I want her to realize that with hard work and dedication, she can do anything she puts her mind to. I want her to see how I juggle being an NYPD detective, personal trainer, Father, and author. I love her and I want to be that positive role model she looks up to like my Mother was for me. Every achievement, every award, every acknowledgement I receive, I want her to understand that I put 100% into everything I do. I pray that it pushes her to be a great person.
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When I was a child, I had a teacher tell me, “You’ll never amount to anything. You’ll just be another drug-dealing thug like the rest of the people in your neighborhood.”(That’s the light version of what she really said.) I had two choices. I could’ve proven her right or proven her wrong. I chose the latter.
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As an adult, I still face those who put me down and I fight to prove them wrong. For every five people who praise my books, there’s at least one who despises it. It’s those people, the ones who tell me “You can’t do it. You’ll never be good enough.” That motivates me to keep trying and to keep pushing. When I wrote my first novel “Monster” I tried to publish traditionally. Many publishers and agents believed my book was too dark. I received tons of rejection letters and I was told that my work wasn’t good enough, it didn’t have mass appeal, and it wouldn’t do well in sales. I could’ve given up, but I wanted to prove them wrong. I decided to ignore what the publishers and agents told me, and self-published. “Monster” did very well. It was on the Amazon best sellers list for a few months, is used in two high schools in NYC for their reading curriculum, and received very good reviews from credible book reviewers.
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While I had those positive aspects, I also had negative ones. There were those who told me that “Monster” was nothing more than porn and smut. Some readers didn’t see the true message in my work and while it hurt (Still does), I had to understand that everyone will not like me or the topics I write about. Again, I wanted to prove those people wrong.
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I entered writing competitions and I’ve won the 2013 Readers Favorite Book Award for Urban Fiction, the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award for African American Fiction, and I was a finalist for both the 2014 International Book Awards, and the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards. Recently, I’ve won the 2014 Readers Favorite Book Award for my latest novel “Wounded.” I’m very happy for winning the award and the reviews that came with it.
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As I’ve grown as an author and matured as a man, I’ve learned through my literary journey that while turning negative things into positive ones is a good motivator, the most important motivation and inspiration comes from within. Writing to prove people wrong shouldn’t be why I write. If anything that should be a small source of my inspiration. The real reason why I write and what I can never lose consciousness of is that writing makes me happy and I believe my words can truly help people. When I receive a good review or I get an email from a reader explaining how my book helped them, that’s my real inspiration. That’s what helps to keep that “fire” burning, to encourage me to keep doing what I’m passionate about.
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In conclusion, I know I still have a long ways to go in the literary world, but as long as I have the “fire” to keep pushing my limits and trying to reach as many people with my books as I can, I know I will make it. I have to continue to write outside the box and, write about topics that will make people think and change their perspectives. With hard work, I know I will continue to be successful as long as I don’t lose that FIRE.
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June 10, 2014

Momma said there’d be days like this

Momma said there’d be days like this

Last Friday, I knew it was going to be a shitty day. It was cloudy, I was exhausted from working long hours all week, and my allergies were kicking my ass. Despite those things, I was in a good mood. My latest novel “Wounded” was #4 on the best sellers list, and positive reviews were starting to roll in. One of my co-workers at the gym (my second job) asked if she could buy my book. I was happy. I never in a million years believed she would support it, but that happiness was cut short instantly when another co-worker said out loud “Ugh, I couldn’t even finish it. It had rape and shit with kids and I just couldn’t stomach it.” I was embarrassed, and a little angry by the comment. Apparently she didn’t get past the third page. While it was true, my story does have dark parts in it. “Wounded” is about overcoming your past and not letting it ruin and control your life. Luckily for me, the co-worker who was interested purchased the book, but I feared her mind was already tainted by the comment.

I took a deep breath, calmed myself down, and went to breakfast. I tried to push the negativity of that comment out of my mind until I received a text message from a friend from my old office (my main job). The message explained that someone that I respected and thought was a friend, went on a rant when a group of women were speaking highly of my latest book. She said that while I had won some awards for my writing, they were minor awards and true literature companies do not give awards for porn. I was hurt. I thought highly of this woman, and it turned out she didn’t like me or my writing.

Already in a bad mood, I stopped by my current office to work on a project and clear my mind. My Co-worker waved at me while on the phone and told the person he was talking to that I was an author. “From the exert I read, the novel is “pure sex” but women seemed to like it.” He said. Was that how people perceived my books? Did they see it as smut or did they see the true purpose and messages that I tried to relay with my writing? He then asked me if he was right about his description of my book. I was already upset beyond belief. I told him that he needed to read the book in its entirety before thinking it was just about sex.

I was discouraged and apathetic the rest of the weekend. The reason I became an author was to make books that would move people the way I felt Richard Wright’s “Native Son” had done for me. I had a lot of soul searching to do. Is my writing style too dark? Do people view my book as smut?

Later on that day I went out to lunch with my cousin Nicole and to put it lightly, she told me to grow a pair and to have thicker skin. I needed her humorous but blunt talking to. Every day will not be a good day as a writer. There are times when the slightest comment or critique can bring us down, but it’s all part of overcoming adversity. There will always be those who are not fans of our work or will not see the message we’re trying to relay, but you can’t dwell on things you have no control over. A line I wrote in one of my book that I need to follow myself is “Every day isn’t rainbows and smiles” Sometimes as authors we need days like this to keep us humble, and to motivate us to continue evolving with our craft. There is a higher level that I want to reach, and instead of using these negative experiences as setbacks, I have to use it as motivation to push myself.

What is the purpose of this blog? To show writers and aspiring writers that we all have bad days. We all suffer through criticism (believe me I get just as much hate mail as I do fan mail) but we can’t lose focus of why we became authors in the first place. I learned an important lesson being in law enforcement. When I became a cop, I thought I was going to change the world for the better and truly make a difference. As time passed and I matured as a man and a cop, I realized that I can’t change the world entirely, but I can help change the world or at least modify the perspective of those I meet. The same rules apply to my literary career. People see things differently. While there will be those who don’t see the reasoning of my books, there will be those who understand and love them. Those that love them are the ones I write for and appreciate and they will get me through the tough days.
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Published on June 10, 2014 10:28 Tags: ben-burgess-jr, drama, encouragement, monster, uplift, wounded, writers

May 3, 2014

Supporting Other Authors

Sometimes we as authors can be selfish. We promote our own work, begging our family and friends to support our books, but when we see other author going through the grind we fail to support them. Could it be because we are scared that they will surpass us? Are we worried that people will see that their books are better than our own? Are we just selfish and view our fellow authors as competition? In my eyes, there is room for all of us to succeed.

During this long grueling road for me struggling to make it as a writer, I’ve met some great authors. I feel to be the best, your style has to evolve. In order to do that, you have to read other authors books. Some of these authors I’ve met or spoken to in person and it’s great to get a new and different perspective on topics and problems. I’ve discovered new writers like Janelle Kahele, Kennedee Devoe, Christiana Harrell, J’son M. Lee, Christopher McGoldrick, Shatika Turner, Christine Hazel, and countless others that have pushed me to want to go further in my craft.

While some of these authors are in the same genre as I am, I never view them as a threat. If they sell more than me, if there book gains more fame and success, I applaud it. I don’t let vanity get in my way and become envious. I look at it as a personal challenge and learn from their success to obtain my own. Looking at the big picture, there is no need to view my fellow authors as my competition. As a writer, sometimes the way another author explains a topic or words their writing may resonates better with people. It is my job to observe this and learn from it. It’s in good taste and in good karma to help others succeed, so I will support other authors. Now I’m not saying that I will blindly buy every book but if I like an authors style, I will continue to purchase their books. I’m also a firm believer in supporting authors that support me. The literary world can be a hard and humbling place. If another author has the decency to purchase one of my books, I would gladly do the same.

The point of this blog is, there is enough success to go around for everyone and if I can help to raise another author up mentally, emotionally, spiritually by supporting their work, I will. We need each other. It helps to keep us motivated and to become stronger writers. I hope anyone that reads this, writer or reader, will have a more open mind when they see other authors.

P.S. my friend Janelle Kahele has just released a new novel called “Blink: The Series – Breaking Branches” She’s and indie author like myself. Here are some reviews on her new novel:

Brief Book Description: Christia runs from a past she can’t forget. When nightmares close in, she seizes the day—or alcohol—to drown her woes. Her life is a blur, her future uncertain.Enter Michael, a man with ghosts of his own. Can these two broken souls find solace in one another, or will his desire for Christia lead to yet another broken ending?

“The writing flows effortlessly and captivates. Impressive debut.” ~Amazon reviewer M.

“Incredibly thrilling adventure. The twist that concludes the novel is genuinely staggering and intriguing.” ~Amazon reviewer Toni

Get The Book Here: http://www.amazon.com/Blink-Breaking-... Read More About the Author Here: http://janellekahele.com

Kennedee Devoe's new novel "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"

Brief Description:With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies is a story inspired by actual events
about a group of women who form a friendship in junior high school, and
follows them into adulthood. Life is heating up for Chloe, Sage, Emil, Talia,
and Kennedee. Loyalty, character, and integrity will be tested as they deal
with man issues, betrayal, and jealousy. But will the sisterhood be enough to
maintain the friendship? Or will the wounds be too deep to mend?

Link: http://www.amazon.com/Friends-Like-Th...

Shatika Turner's new novel "A fem's playground 2: Game Over"

Brief Description: In Part one you've learned that Females can play just as hard as dudes... Now let's see how it all ends!

Patience is trying to recover from the betrayal of her best friend and get back on her feet, but will the odds be stacked against her once again? Desiree is feeling as guilty as charged but with new found will everything be in her favor? Besides Shade's jealous ways, she has picked up another nasty habit. Will her ways end her forever?
With unexpected guests, twists and turns; the ending to this game of love will leave you speechless.


Link: http://www.amazon.com/Fems-Playground...

Please support indie authors.
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Published on May 03, 2014 03:54 Tags: authors, blink, books, indie, kennedee-devoe, shatika-turner, support, wounded

December 26, 2013

The Next Level

I kissed my daughter while she was sleeping. My family smiled with pride as my girl and I grabbed our luggage and headed for LaGuardia Airport. I was excited to be heading to Miami to claim my Book of the year award for urban fiction. When the plane took off, I reflected on everything that got me to that point.

When I first wrote “Monster” I didn’t know how it would be received. Would women hate it? Was my writing good enough? Would my friends who were part of the basis of my characters, hate it? Would it be looked at as just another “hood book”? Would more than just my friends and co-workers support it? While I had these lingering doubts, I was very happy to see that most people got the message I was trying to relay with my story. The lord knows the journey to promote it has been far from easy. Since I am self-published, in order for my book to sell, people have to know it exists. (Thanks to everyone who helped me to promote my book. You guys know who you are, and I love and appreciate you.) I, along with those that care about me, spent days, weeks, and months telling people about the book, hoping that others would give it a try. Most liked it, some didn’t, but that comes with the territory. I reached out to different reviewers and book organizations, trying my hardest to become known in the literary world. There were times when I wanted to give up. There were times when I wanted to stop writing, but I was proud of what I had created and I believed in it. It was that pride and the encouragement from those important to me that gave me the strength to continue. Time passed and I was voted as a finalist for Reader’s Favorites Book Awards. I was proud to just be named a finalist, but when I received word that I won, it was an unreal feeling for me. I thought of all the negative things that some people had said, I thought about those who laughed at the thought of me being a writer or discouraged me, and while it would be easy to want to rub it in their faces, I didn’t want to do that. The victory felt better because I was bigger than that. It was that feeling of rising past the adversity that made the victory great to me.

The next day, my girl and I headed to the Miami book fair. I was thrilled to see my book on shelves. I stood next to my novel, and people were excited and surprised to know that I was the author of the book on the shelves. The whole experience was both euphoric and humbling. Not too far from me was the author of “Beautiful Creatures” while I have a decent following, she had a following of thousands. Seeing that helped to keep me grounded and helped me to realize that I still had a ways to go. Later on that evening, I got dressed in the best outfit I could put together from Kohl’s (Lol, I told you guys I still have a ways to go, I’m not on an Armani level yet.) and headed to the awards dinner. There were tons of people, lights, cameras, and other award winners from around the world. I walked on the carpet holding the book I had written, the book that brought me here, and I smiled for the cameras. I pulled my girl in for some of the pictures with me. She deserved a lot of credit. When I vented about my fears with the book, she listened. When I spent hours writing and re-writing, reading out loud and pestering her to read it also, she was there. While she knew that 90% of the book was really about my life, she accepted it and understood that dark period of my life was what made me who I am today.


The time came to go on the stage and claim my award. The announcer called my name, read some info about my book, and placed the medal around my neck. I took more pictures, and headed for my seat. I took pictures of me with the medal and shared it with my friends and family on Facebook. Seeing so many of my friends, family, and supporters happy for my success is such a positive feeling that I cannot begin to describe it. I thought about the rejection letters from agents, I thought about some of the negative teachers that told me I wouldn’t amount to anything when I was growing up, and I thought about the people who hated that “Monster” was successful. When I had to go through those times, I hated them; but I realized that I had to endure those dramas as a means to keep me humble. All of those negative things helped me to appreciate what I was given. Before I headed to Miami for the book awards, I received a nice review from Writer’s Digests, but I did not win their book award. I was slightly disappointed, but I reminded myself that I should be grateful to have won an award, period. Many people have written books and have dedicated their lives to the craft. Most of them never win an award. Here I was going to Miami, and getting one for my first novel. I stopped myself from being greedy and thanked God again for the blessing.

So, what is the point of this blog? My point is even if people discourage you, even if you’re afraid you’re going to fail, don’t stop doing what you love. You should always believe in your work and your abilities. The point of this blog is to appreciate what you have and all the people along the way that helped you. The point of the blog is to encourage everyone to strive to not stay stagnant, to see that you can always improve, and to not become greedy with success. As we head into the New Year, I hope we can all reach the next level together.MonsterMonsterBen Burgess Jr. Burgess Jr, Ben
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October 21, 2013

Promote to stay afloat

I remember when I was publishing my first book. I fantasized about being on Oprah. I dreamt about making the New York Times Best-Sellers List, and in my head the sky was the limit. One thing I didn't think about was...How would people discover that my book was out there? Every author has that dream of being extremely successful with their book. Everyone wants to be the next Stephenie Meyer or E.L. James. A writer can have the talent, but to make it to that next level you need more than talent alone, especially if you're self published. If we can't solely rely on talent, what more can we do? Promotion is highly essential to the success of a book.

Why is Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey so successful? Not only do people find their books entertaining, but they are heavily marketed and talked about. When I wrote my first book "Times Have Changed and Life is Strange" (Shameless plug-in. I know, but it serves a purpose, bare with me. LOL) I didn't have a plan. I didn't know what else to do besides getting my friends and family to buy it and pray that they spread the word. The first piece of advice that I can share is to have a plan. You need to know what you're going to do besides getting your friends and family to support it. You need to know how much you are willing to spend to get the word out on your book. For me, my second time around with my first novel "Monster" (Shameless plug-in #2, I'm on a roll!!! LOL) I wanted and still want to this day to make this book super successful. I want the world to read this book, and I'm willing to pay whatever is necessary to make that happen. It was never about the money for me. To me, I believe my book can change lives and the world, and I want to see my book do that for people.

Now, getting to the important tips. One of the most effective ways to get your book known is through book reviews. Here, you have to do your research. You have to find out if the reviewer reads your genre because if you give your book to any random reviewer, chances are they will not like it and leave a less favorable review. Some will say that reviews are not important, but they are. If you see a book that is getting favorable reviews, chances are you will check it out to see what all the talk is about. While good reviews are great, you want quality reviews. YOU NEVER WANT TO PAY FOR POSITIVE REVIEWS. Take pride in your work. If you get a positive review, know that you got that review because a person was really feeling your work. Some reviewers also do interviews. I recommend doing all types of interviews. You want to get your name out there and reach as many people as you can. You never know who is reading or listening (Some reviewers are on Blogtalk Radio which is a great tool and an awesome experience) to interviews that you're doing.
Another effective tip, search for book clubs. Book clubs are great because you can get a lot of people to read your book (and possibly leave reviews) all at once. I must warn you, not everyone in the book club may like your book. Book clubs have members with different likes and personalities. There is no guarantee that everyone will care for your book. You have to take the good with the bad. With the book clubs that I have had the pleasure of working with, I like to talk to the members of the group over skype. It allows for the book club to really get to know you and ask questions. I feel it enhances the experience for the readers. Book clubs also help with word of mouth. If lots of clubs are reading your book and enjoying it, they are going to talk( they will talk whether they like it or dislike it, but let's think positive.)

Another effective strategy is advertising and promotion. I've had the pleasure of meeting many promoters on Facebook, and I can honestly say if it weren't for them constantly promoting my book throughout various groups for me, I wouldn't have had the success I've had with "Monster". Again, you have to research to find a promoter for your genre. You also have to assess to see if it's in your budget to constantly run promotions. Facebook has millions of people on it. If you can reach a fraction of those people, then you'll be a success which leads me to my next strategy, fan pages.

At first, I made the mistake of having an author page and a book page. While having a book page is cool, you only need the author page. The author page is beneficial because you can post info for all of your books compared to a book page where you're only talking about one of them. An author page allows you to reach lots of people, and you can advertise certain posts to expand your reach. People like what other people like, so you want to gain lots of "likes" for your page. Post things you enjoy, post quotes, post pictures thanking your fans for the support. Show the readers who you are as a person. It is important to be active and do more than just advertise your books. You want people to see that you're human, and not just a person looking to sell them a book. Which brings me to another helpful tool, blogging.

Some people aren't fans of blogging. I find it cool because I feel people can see my true self in the blogs. Blogging gives me the opportunity to vent or to talk strongly about topics I'm passionate about. It's also another way to gain fans and potential sales.

In conclusion, if you wrote a book because you planned on getting rich off it, you need to rethink your reasoning. Write a book because you need to write it. Write it because in your heart and soul you know (not think, know) that the story you have needs to be told. If everything is done correctly, with word of mouth, fan pages, blogging, promotions, interviews, family, friends, and co-worker support, etc, your book should do well. A big part of your success is YOU! Nothing is going to come easy. You have to work hard and want that success. Do what's in your means, and make your dreams come true. Monster by Ben Burgess Jr. Ben Burgess Jr.
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August 25, 2013

Editer....I mean Editor

You're excited! You worked so hard writing and re-writing, trying your best to make your first self-published book perfect. You read, and re-read your book a million times, combing it for errors. You've even gotten your best friend who got straight A's in English class in high school to proofread it for you. You finally publish your book and then...that dreaded comment, post or review pops its ugly head. "Hey do you know you have a lot of errors in your book?" Hearing those words can drive some crazy. As authors when we hear that, we forget about how talented we are and only focus on those flaws found in the book. Those flaws can be the difference of a 5 star rating and a 3 or 4 star rating.

My first book "Times Have Changed and Life is Strange" was a poetry book that I had been working on since High School. I've read and performed the poems so much that everything felt perfect. I was so excited to release a book that I cut corners. I used a vanity press to publish my first book, and they claimed to do a "Professional Edit" on my book for an extra charge. In reality, all they did was spell check. Shame on me for not checking the final draft before it went to print. I relied solely on the claim that they would "edit" my book. I didn't take the time to read it over again before it went to print. Time passed. My book was finally online for sale. I convinced everyone I knew to support my book, but then the comments came. "Did you mean to say this?" My book was filled with errors.

Now you may be asking, "If you read and performed these poems a million times, why were there so many errors?" The reason, As a writer, we know what we want to say. When reading it to people sometimes our minds are so into what we mean to say, that we overlook things. These things happen. We can read our work a million times, but sometimes we are going to miss things because our eyes can skip over things. There are ways to improve on this. First step, read your work out loud. (reading your work out loud and performing it are totally different. Read your work as if you are the reader not the story teller) Another step, repetition. You can take breaks here and there with reading it, but continue to read your work. Your story is your legacy, don't let it get tarnished with errors.

One of the most important things you must do as an author is find a credible editor. After two rewrites for my first book, I felt I learned my lesson the second time around. I searched online for an editor. I found one and spent a lot of money. I felt with the money I paid, I would have the perfect book. Wrong! When researching an editor, it is important to make sure that they read books in your genre. I can't speak for all, but for some of them, if they aren't interested in your genre you could receive a half hearted job when it comes to your edit. It doesn't stop there. There are several types of editing. There are : Line editing, developmental editing, and content editing, to name a few. When finding an editor it's up to you to know what type of editing you are looking for, what to expect, and which editing job you are paying for. I tried to take care of everything with one shot, and find one editor to do all of the edits, (This isn't a total bad thing, it can be done) my mistake was my first editor didn't read my genre. There was a little bit of a culture gap, and I feel that hurt the edit. Again, we live and we learn. My book was published, and while I had received good reviews, many reviewers had explained that they had given me a 4 instead of a 5 due to my edit. It sucks, and that hurt. I found another editor to fix the flaws. This editor read my genre, and kept an open dialogue with me. He explained what needed to be changed without hurting the flow of my book or making me feel uncomfortable or stupid. (Thanks J'son.)

Whew! This is a lot. Another piece of advice, don't let your pride blind you. You have hired an editor for a reason. Sometimes revision is necessary, and we have to swallow our pride and accept it. A good editor has been doing their job for awhile, so they have experience and see flaws that we might not see. Also, you're not off the hook after you found your editor. The book writing process is a big one. You also must find a credible proof reader. Like the author, sometimes after reading something over and over, even the editor might miss an error or two. It's always good to get a fresh pair of eyes to give it an additional once over. (Thanks Penelope) Lastly, you as the author should read it over once the editor and proof readers have approved it. Remember this is your legacy. Take pride in your work. If you don't care about what you're putting out, you can't expect readers to care about supporting your book. Your story can be great, but if your editing is flawed, it can cost you dearly. I've learned this lesson, and I hope everyone reading this will learn from my mistakes. You live. You learn. You improve. You evolve.
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Published on August 25, 2013 15:44 Tags: advice, ben-burgess, editor, j-son-m-lee, monster, publishing, writing