"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, August 15, 2016

Q & A Interview With Author Yuwanda Black

Yuwanda Black's publishing journey reads more like a fairy-tale than a success story.
"Once upon a time" she was doling out her expertise to freelance writers, as the Webmaster of Inkwell Editorial. In addition to self-publishing E-books and producing online courses.
Then one day, she was approached by an acquisitions editor with a traditional publisher, who stumbled across her bio and her blog, liked it, and subsequently offered her a publishing contract with Adams Media.
This giving a whole new meaning to the expression: "If you build it they will come."
The book entitled, "The Ultimate Freelancer's Guidebook" will be released in early September.
(And I'm proud to say that I am a contributing author).
Today, I hope you'll join me in extending her a warm welcome to Pen and Prosper.
Please feel free to ask questions or provide feedback in the comments section.
Now, on to today's post...

Q. Can you tell readers a little about who you are and your background?

Whew, this could be a book within itself. Well, I’m from the south; born in Florida (where my mother’s from); split time between FL and Alabama (where my father’s from); and Georgia (where my stepfather’s from).

I left the south for New York when I was 20 to finish up college in New York (Hunter College). I loved New York so much that I wound up staying for 18 years. I got my first job in publishing in New York at a legal (trade) publishing firm.

I worked there off and on for 10 years before going into business with one of my sisters, who had started Inkwell Editorial, which was then an editorial outsource agency. The business has undergone a few changes before becoming what it is now – a blog about how to start and grow a successful freelance writing business.

I started freelancing on the side for my employer while I was still working full-time. That’s how I got my start in freelancing. After I got married, I left the publishing firm and went into business with my sister full-time. This was in 1997.

Except for an 18-month stint between 2006 and 2007 when I took a full-time job as a Regional Manager for a staffing agency, I have been totally self-employed as a freelance writer.
Q. You seem to “juggle” and balance so many roles and responsibilities. Do you believe that women can truly “have it all?” Or is it at great sacrifice of other important things?
Hmmm, interesting question. After a little thought, my answer is, that depends on what one’s definition of “all” is. I never had children, so I have time freedom that a single mom might not have. I’m also divorced, so don’t’ have the demands of a spouse. Again; time freedom.

I love to travel; I like to spend time with my friends; I like to watch all-day, marathon episodes of Law & Order and Criminal Minds. I like to sleep in on the weekends. I like to go to bed late late. I get to do all of this. I have everything I want … so yes, I guess I do have it all.

Q. Did you always want to be a writer…how did you know for sure?
No, I had NO IDEA that I would write for a living until I started doing it and then I just kind of fell into it. It was never an aspiration and to be totally honest, it’s not something I’m ecstatic about doing.

I happen to be proficient at it; enjoy it enough; am able to do it from anywhere; and it allows me to make a living under my own steam. That’s what I like about being a writer. If I could figure out a way to get all the benefits of writing without doing it, I’d take it in a heartbeat!
Again, I don’t dislike it; it’s just that it’s not a burning passion.

Q. What would it surprise others to know about you?

That I’m an introvert when I work. Personally, I’m a social butterfly; I love interacting with people. But professionally, I like to be given a project and left alone to complete it. It’s another reason freelance writing appeals to me.
Q. What’s your social media approach to building your platform?
I’m embarrassed to say, I really don’t have one. I was trying to be visible on so many, eg, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon.

I finally narrowed it down to Facebook and Twitter because it’s just too overwhelming. My philosophy on those to platforms is just to stay current – to keep my accounts updated and to dispense helpful information.

Q. Do you write every day? What’s your writing ritual?
If I’m writing a book, yes, I write every day. When I’m not in the middle of a book, I may write three or four times a week, blog posts, update old books, write an article marketing piece or a guest post for another blog, etc.
When I am writing a book, I give myself a daily word count and I get that out of the way first thing in the morning. That way, I stay on track with deadlines (which I’m notorious for missing for my own projects). I never miss them for a client project though!
Q. What kind of “insider’s tips” can you share with us on getting a book published via a traditional publisher? Was it what you expected?

The most helpful piece of advice I can give is to get a body of work out there. I got this contract because an Acquisitions Editor ran across my blog, read my bio, saw all of my work – and was like, “Hey, you’d be great fit for this project.”

So don’t’ sit back and wait for them to come to you. Blog, self-publish … just get busy writing.

I’d worked in trade publishing, so was somewhat familiar with the process. For the most part, it was what I expected. What I didn’t expect was the editors to be so accommodating. I mean literally, all I had to do was write, turn stuff in on time and wait for them to get back to me with their feedback.

Their feedback was concise; justified (ie, this is why we need to cut this or why you need to add more here); and just made for a better product. I’ve heard horror stories about editors that have sent writers to tears or changed their work so much that it was barely recognizable.

The editors I worked with were nothing like this – they made the process seamless.

FYI, I covered this question in detail in a blog post on Inkwell Editorial. I did a brain dump while it was still fresh! J

Q. How is the writing industry different than when you first embarked upon your journey?

It’s way more technical. In the old days, we had an Art department where covers were done. Now stuff is either outsourced or done with technology that doesn’t require a whole department.

As an aside, one thing I noticed about self-publishing is that it’s much, MUCH faster. I mean, I can have a book written, edited, copy edited, proofed, cover made and live on Amazon in a week or a few weeks (depending on length) if I wanted to. I have done this!

The publisher contacted me last December. It took a couple of weeks to get the contract worked out; the four months for the writing/editing. Then another couple of months for them to do in-house stuff. The book is finally going to be released on September 2nd.

One year, I self-published 50 ebooks. So some things in publishing still haven’t changed.

Q. What advice can you give in terms of handling online criticism from readers or customers?

Don’t read your reviews. I used to – and still do intermittently, but for the most part, I don’t read reviews of my work. I kind of like the following philosophy:
"I don't read reviews because by then it's too late - whatever anyone says, the book won't change. It is written."~Jeanette Winterson
Q. Next project?
I’ve been working on getting an internet marketing (GetaMobileCareer.com) site live. I’m working on building up a stream of more “auto pilot” income. I’ve dibbled and dabbled in internet marketing for years – so am formalizing this income stream.

Then, back to romance writing. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to self-publish 12 titles this year. So far, I’ve only done one, so am behind on that goal had have to crank the rest of the year.

And just in case anyone is reading this and thinking, “She’s gonna publish 11 books by the end of the year!” my novellas are only 15,000 to 25,000 words, so it’s totally possible.
Thank you for your time and willingness to share.

You’re very welcome Jennifer and thank you for sharing your space with me.
Also, once again, thank you for your extremely insightful contribution to the book on branding. You’re awesome and I feel so privileged to be featured on your highly acclaimed blog.

About the Author:

Yuwanda Black is the webmaster of InkwellEditorial.com and the author of The Ultimate Guidebook for Freelancers (Adams Media, 2016). Pre-order on Amazon and get bonus, free content; a special report entitled “5 Things You Should Know about Freelancing in a Global Economy That Will Land More Clients.” To get it, email your pre-order receipt to info[at]InkwellEditorial.com. Put "Pre-Ordered UFG" in the Subject line. On Sept 1st, you'll be emailed the special report.


  1. THANK YOU Jennifer for allowing me to invade your space for a bit, and for your contribution to my book on how to brand a freelance business. I really, really appreciate it.

    Continued success! :)

    1. Yuwanda,

      It was my pleasure. I look forward to your next project. :-)

  2. Yuwanda, yours is truly a success story. Perseverance pays. I too, prefer to work quietly without disruption, and do my best when I dump an idea out then tweak. Congratulations on your success.

    1. Thanks so much, Linda. You're right: perseverance pays.

    2. Thank you Linda. You "dump write" too?! Like you, I have to get it all down, then go back and pretty it all up. My brain works much faster than I type, so this works well for me.

      As for perseverance, I said to one aspiring freelancer, it only took almost 25 years for success to come "out of the blue." LOL!

  3. Nice to meet you, Yuwanda! Appreciate your insight and inspiration. Wishing you continued success.

    Jen thanks so much for the introduction, and for a great interview. Have a good weekend!

    1. Thanks, Karen. We truly appreciate your visit and your comment. :-)