Vanessa Morgan is an author and poet. She published her first book, I Go Hard, in 2010. Dazed, her second book, was published in 2011. Ms. Morgan has worked for the federal government for thirty years and resides in Stone Mountain, Ga. Vanessa is married and has two grown children and three grandkids.
Dazed is a collection of poems and short stories that features five poems written by my son Malik. The poems describe life events (some true) from my perspective as a poet. It covers a range of topics. The book's theme is- no matter how hard life gets, something good is always waiting on you!
DP: When did you first decide you wanted to become an author?
Vanessa: I didn't decide to become an author. Although I must admit, writing has been a secret passion of mine. I've always written poetry but I never thought I would actually publish any of the poetry I've written over the years. I started writing I Go Hard, my first book, when my son was shot in 2009. After he was shot, writing was my only outlet. The pain was too difficult for me to express verbally, so writing was therapeutic. At that time, I didn't know it was a book I was writing. I was just writing! He had a long recovery period; he was in the hospital/rehabilitation facility for a little more than six months. During this time it seems I was always waiting to see him either in his room or waiting rooms; therefore, I wrote down everything I was feeling or what was said during a pervious visit. A lot of times, I am ashamed to say, I carried my pen and pad so no one would talk to me. I wasn't in control of my emotions when it first happened. I hid behind my note pad. It protected me from interacting with people until I was ready. My husband encouraged me to become an author after he picked up my note pad one day at the hospital and couldn't put it down until he finished reading it.
DP: How did you decide on the idea for your first book?
Vanessa: Life is how I decided on the idea for my first book. I was writing in "real time." After this happened to my family, I wanted to do what I could to prevent it from happening to anyone else's family. Sharing my story is the only way I know how.
DP: How long did it take you to write your first book?
Vanessa: It took me about ten months.
DP: Did you self-publish or are you signed to a publishing company?
Vanessa: I self-published.
DP: How did you decide on the cover for your most recent book?
Vanessa: On my most recent book, I used a picture my granddaughter Jimmeria had drawn for a class assignment and asked the graphic artist to design the cover around the picture. If you look closely you can see her name at the bottom.
DP: Tell us about your writing style. Do you write on a schedule?
Vanessa: No, I don't write on a schedule, I am an emotional writer. I write when I get "the feeling" and that can be any time. I have notepads on my night stand, in my purse, and in every room in my house. I am ole school. I don't have an iPad.
DP: What makes your writing unique?
Vanessa: People have an emotional connection with my writing. They become a part of the story. While reading my books (I've been told by readers) they cry, laugh, get angry, etc. I was really surprised to hear that.
DP: As a writer, what motivates you?
Vanessa: As a writer, sharing my experience motivates me. If I can help someone with my writing I will be happy. Don't get me wrong I would like to sell lots of books, but if someone changes their life after reading my books- that's better than book sells.
DP: How do you balance your writing and various responsibilities that come along with being an independent author?
Vanessa: I'm working on balancing my writing with other responsibilities. I work full time and I have to find time to write. I would like to complete I Go Hard II by the end of the year but it has been difficult. Unlike the first book which was written in "real time," this book is a little more challenging. Finding the time to pull all my notes together in all my note pads is difficult; sometimes it gets the best of me.
DP: When you’re not writing what are you doing?
Vanessa: When I am not writing, I am working and promoting my books. I finally finished my website in November and I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on it. I also spend time with my three grandkids. They are the best!! I am kind of boring but I enjoy my life.
DP: What’s a typical day like for you?
Vanessa: A typical day like for me is I go to work; then I try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise (most days I skip but I will do better in 2013); prepare dinner; check Facebook and emails; then get ready for the next day. Boring!
DP: Tell us about your last book signing.
Vanessa: My last book signing was great. It was the first book signing my mother attended. Some of my favorite church members were there as well. We filmed the book signing and I have excerpts of it on my website.
DP: Do you have contests or giveaways?
Vanessa: No contests or giveaways yet. But I will have a couple in 2013. Stay Tuned!
DP: Many independent authors find it hard to get readers to buy their books. How did you handle the challenges that come along with being a first-time author in a competitive and ever-changing market?
Vanessa: It is difficult to get readers to buy your books. Marketing my books has been a real challenge because I didn't put a lot of thought into the marketing process before I published the books. I guess in my case the chicken came before the egg. I am currently in the process of marketing both books. Social media is a big help and doesn't have any fees attached. I do think word-of-mouth is the best marketing tool so you have to keep them talking. A lot of people have read my books because they have gotten it from a family member or friend which is great. I did that before I became an author. Now if someone wants to lend me a book they have read, I get the information and buy the book. Being an author I try to help other authors with their book sales.
DP: What did you do on your 2nd book that you did not do in your first one?
Vanessa: My first book was a family project. On my 2nd book, I pulled in outside people to help with the book. I hired a professional editing company and I previewed the book at my book signings. With the second book, people were actually waiting for it to be published.
DP: If you could give one piece of advice to an up and coming author, what would it be?
Vanessa: My one piece of advice to an up and coming author would be -Have a plan. Schedule as many book signings before the book is actually published. Take your marketing plan seriously. Reach out to book clubs, churches, schools or any organization you feel will be interested in your book.
DP: Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Vanessa: My books can be purchase online at Amazon, Books-a-million, Barnes and Noble, and Alibris Marketplace. You’ll find my books on most online stores.