Joey Pinkney is an award-winning author and book reviewer. His “JoeyPinkney.com 5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Author Interview Series” features over 500 author interviews from authors of various levels of achievement in the book industry. He is also a well-known book and author promotion specialist. You can check him out online at http://joeypinkney.com
WMI: Tell us about the root to your literary passion. How old were you when you developed a fondness for books, including African American books, and was there someone who ignited this passion in you, a parent, teacher, friend? If so, please tell us about this person, including how he/she inspired you to develop a strong appreciation for literature.
JP: The root of my literary passion is knowledge. Both fiction and nonfiction works spark brain activity in a way that a movie can’t. The activity of learning, digesting and relating that happens on a subconscious level while reading almost anything is so enchanting. Many people don’t think about how much goes into reading a book, but there is time travel, soul-searching and inner-discussion that goes one when you really immerse yourself into the world and concepts of a book. I love that, almost to a fault.
The reason I would say to a fault is because I enjoy almost every aspect of what makes the book industry work. For example, book covers. A well-crafted book cover is like a good food; it makes you want more. I am sometimes attracted to a book because of the way the font, color scheme, pictures (or lack thereof) and the possible theme the book’s cover exudes. Hence, the reason they say “never judge a book by its cover.” There have been times when I have grabbed a book because of its cover only to find a not-so-savory experience inside. C’est la vie…
Another aspect of the book industry I like is the give-and-go between authors and the readership who love them. What a great feeling it must be to create a character and place him/her in a world only to find a rabid fan base that breathes life into that book’s character(s). Then couple that with the fact that, in the reader’s mind, the model on the front of the book becomes that character when the cover and the story align.
My mother and father, Patricia and Barron Pinkney, inspired me to read and follow my curiosity. I remember having a set of Child Craft books in my room. I read them all the time – looking at the pictures and wondering what was going on. I remember my mom making me go look up a word in the dictionary when I asked her how to spell something. Back then, I thought that was backwards. If I didn’t know how to spell it, how could I find it in the dictionary? In hindsight, it started a long journey of etymology – the study of a word’s origin. By the time I found the word, if I got around to finding it, I’d be contemplating how words are spelled similarly and why they have similar meanings.
WMI: You have one of the best book review websites I’ve seen. When did you start reviewing books and what caused you to realize that you could generate income, a following of your own, by reviewing books?
JP: Thank you for your kind words. http://www.JoeyPinkney.com and all the social media techniques I employ to get people to look at the website is definitely a labor of love. I started reviewing books for a now-defunct Nashville newspaper. I kind of forced the book reviews into the paper’s Lifestyles section. I was hired to write other stuff like crimes, city council meetings, the obituaries…. Bo-ring! I did that because of the same reason I do it now: to give exposure to those great books and authors that might fall through the cracks.
In terms of generating income from book reviews, and later author interviews and advertising, I had to figure out a way to get a return on my investment of time. In terms of gaining a following and a presence, it’s twofold. One, authors seek people who will read a book from start to finish and give an honest appraisal of its content. I’ve heard that my book reviews are too wordy or reveal too much, but I’ve also heard that my book reviews really dig into what makes a book tick.
Another aspect of what I do includes the author interviews. The JoeyPinkney.com 5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Author Interview Series is a perfect link between authors looking for readers and readers looking for the next great read. There are a ton of books that go undiscovered by mainstream media. By using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like, I feel I’m doing my part in helping spread the word. I try my best to add value to the moneys paid to me to promote authors and books. So far, so good.
WMI: Do you read all the books you review or do you work with a team of reviewers? What’s the book review process like at JoeyPinkney.com? Also, are you accepting new books for review, and, if so, how would authors contact you?
JP: At this point, JoeyPInkney.com is a one-man-operation when it comes to the content. So, I read all of the books I review. When I do book giveaways, I ask authors to contribute a guest book review.
The process is to read, write, read, write, look at what I wrote, change some stuff up and be done with it. I used to read the book first before writing the review. With all of the other things I have to do with JoeyPinkney.com, I tend to write the skeleton for the review as I read. That way, I write exactly what I feel and see.
I accept new books. I can be reached by my contact form or any of the social media websites I am a part of.
WMI: Conversation around this next question has long intrigued me. Being a man who loves to read, I gotta ask – Why do you think women buy and read books more than men?
JP: I think more women read books because there is more material that caters to them, regardless of genre. The romance between the characters, the scenic views of worlds known and unknown and the conversations that are sparked by female readers is hard to match.
On a more basic level – book covers. Let’s take romance. In American society, it’s hard for a man to sit around his male friends with a muscle-bound dude gazing into the distance with a dainty woman dangling from his leg as the wind whisks their hair around.
Let’s take Urban Fiction. Same muscle-bound dude, but this one’s got tattoos and braids. Or you have the alluring lady in her lingerie, air-brushed to perfection. I’m a book reviewer, so you might see me reading something like this. I’ve noticed men look at the book cover, look at me and shift away in disgust.
Culturally in America, women are more supportive of the arts, whether it is music or books. The worlds created in songs and books have grand emotional landscapes that women can readily tap into.
Another huge factor is awareness. I don’t think potential male readers are fully aware of the joy of reading. For the most part, they don’t know how great these books are. For some, it’s not cool or acceptable to spend hours reading alone.
WMI: Literacy impacts so many segments of our lives. What can each of us do to encourage a stronger appreciation for reading in youth and adults? After all, it’s no secret that students who read outside school perform better in-school.
JP: One thing that people can do is to encourage critical thinking skills. A perfect way to do that is to encourage reading amongst young children. Never deny a child an opportunity to read when he wants to read. I’m a product of parents that got me toys, but they never denied me any books that I wanted. I remember attending book fairs where I walked away with at least one book, if not $20 worth.
As a side note, I think a lot of parents want their kids to read specific stuff. As I kid, I wanted to read what I wanted to read. My parents might not have liked the concept of magic and sorcerers or fairies and witches. I think discouraging a child from reading certain books can cause a child to slow or shut down the desire to read and to be a critical thinker when she grows up. A parent might counter argue that “that stuff is not what I want my child to be thinking about.” My answer to that is – read it with your child. Break down what your child is reading. You might end up liking the book.
WMI: Have you ever thought about starting a print or digital literary magazine? Why or why not?
JP: I thought about it. I might do it one day. I haven’t done it yet, because I’m still trying to hone the things I do already. At this point, I can’t give a digital magazine the justice it deserves. I might need to partner up with some people. Who knows? You might see a digital literary magazine from me in the coming years.
WMI: How do you spread the word about JoeyPinkney.com and its reviews? What marketing and promoting strategies, online and offline, have you found to be effective at getting the word out about your business?
JP: Tons of social media networking. As I’m answering the questions of this interview, I’m closing in on 50,000 twitter followers. It’s a slow growth process, but I’ve really targeted readers and writers. Facebook has been a consistent family-like affair. I’ve had people I know in person comment about seeing my work on LinkedIn. That’s always a good feeling.
What’s effective? I promote different things to most of the major social media websites around the clock. The Internet is an equalizer in terms of reach. My reach is global. I didn’t really understand the viability of that until authors from England, Ireland and Canada started to ask to be a part of my author interview series. At that point, I knew my book promotion tactics were growing in their appeal.
Word-of-mouth is also a great tool. A satisfied author will many times tell another author he or she knows. Luckily for me, many of these referrals have heard of my work.
I have begun to make author interview trailers, kind of like book video trailers, to diversify the media in which I use to spread the word. These one-minute videos give all of the pertinent information about the author, book and publisher. The videos also highlight the interview by featuring a quote by the author from the interview. Short, informative and all over the Internet – you can’t beat it. You can find them on YouTube, DailyMotion, MetaCafe as well as at other video outlets.
JP: I would say I’m an artist that’s trying to make a business out of the art that I love so I can create art. Confusing? Let me break it down.
I love to read. It sparks my imagination. Reading other people’s writings, whether good or bad, makes me want to write. Writing takes time. Time is money. Both are obviously limited. That’s where the business comes in. What I do with JoeyPinkney.com is two-fold for the sake of this question.
One aspect of what I do involves the desire to help authors spread the word about their books. The other aspect is to get a return on my investment of time. I’m not trying to become Oprah rich, but I do want enough money to cover my expenses and my desire to write books.
WMI: Is there a book in Joey Pinkney? If so, what is that book about and who are some of the main characters in the story?
JP: Perfect segue! There are a few books in me. I’m constantly jotting down ideas, book titles and the like in my iPhone. Also, I’ve written a few books that I need to finish. No excuses. I’m working on a novella series that might cause me to be seen in a different light. Stay tuned.
WMI: Who are some of your favorite writers and what is it about their work that you most appreciate?
JP: I apologize. A long time ago, I got in trouble for picking a “favorite writer” because of how many contemporary authors I deal with. Add the fact that I deal with even more authors now… It’s like when a woman asks you, “What’s your favorite thing about me?”
WMI: In what three to four specific ways do you see the Internet further impacting the book industry over the coming five to seven years? What makes you say this?
JP: 1) eBooks. They are making the gap between writers and their readers so narrow it’s ridiculous. Two Words: Amanda Hocking.
2) Pricing. Now that downloading eBooks on different formats is so easy, it’s changed the way authors price their wares. Novels that used to be at least $5 in paperback (and that’s low-low), are now free on Kindle, Nook and elsewhere.
3) Availability. You name an author, any author. I have a 90% chance of either finding one of three ways of contacting him or her: an email address, a contact page or a representatives. That’s less than six degrees of separation.
WMI: What’s next for Joey Pinkney? Where do you see yourself three to five years from now?
JP: I really want to stay consistent in pumping out these author interviews and book reviews. I want to fine tune and expand what I do in terms of book promotion. As stated earlier, I need to put my own writings out there to be critiqued, read and coveted.
Five years from now, I don’t know. I see myself constantly growing in the book industry, learning new things and meeting new people.
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