Farewell to Tommy Brown

In my book Southern Crossroads, Goergia Blues , there isa chaapter on Tommy Brown, who I  included as a living legend. Unfortunately, Tommy Brown died last week. The entire Atlanta blues community was saddened and I cried the entire time I was writing the g memorial piece for Making a Scene.  Please follow the link to see the wonderful photos an ideo there.

 

Atlanta blues  musician and comedian Tommy Brown died Saturday, March 12.  He was 85.

Last year, Tommy was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis, TN. In his g career, he made a number of both blues and comedy albums. His big hit was in 1951, “Weepin’ and Cryin’,” and that, along with his trademark line from his comedy albums, “I Ain’t Lyin’:remained part of his act right up until near the end.

Social  media was overflowing on Sunday with photos, videos and expressions of sorrow, love and respect as the news spread through the blues community. People were reminiscing about the first time they saw Tommy perform or  the last time they spoke to him. Everyone  agreed that he was a very special gentleman, a great vocalist and always with a joke on any occasion.

I remember the first time  I saw Tommy Brown. He was in his 70’s at the time and I could not believe  it as I watched him dance across the stage and jump high in the air,. Then he went into his famous “Weepin’ and Cryin’ and fell to the stage floor, crying real tears and rolling off the stage! For a moment I thought he really fell but then he was up and being helped back to the stage. I tell you, the man put on a show.
As for the jokes, it is jus as Betty Shafer Klein said on Facebook:  “Going to see Tommy meant you would not only be enjoying some great music but also be having smiles and laughter from him telling his famous jokes. Often you had heard them many times over but you couldn’t help laughing right along with Tommy.”

He was a regular at Blind Willie’s and at Northside Tavern, often appearing with The Breeze Kings as well as many other musicians.

Tommy Brown was a true Atlanta legend, storyteller, funny man and blues singer  He is going to be missed more than words can say.

RIP Tommy. We love you and I ain’t lyin’

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Kindle and my books

You know how I am always telling you can get my books on Kindle , including for free if you have Kindle Unlimited? I always thought that I would not like ebooks because I love the look and feel of “real” books. But I discovered I also love free and low-cost books just as much and the convenience of carrying hundreds of them in my purse. My only problem is that now I am addicted to Kindle Unlimited and Bookbub, the best sources to find out about free books that you can either own or borrow for an unlimited time.

If you get the Fire, like I have, you also get Internet, games, and the other benefits of a tablet, And Amazon just sweetened the deal by making the cost less than $50 Followthis ink to learn more! Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black

Southern Crossroads: Georgia Blues

My new book, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Blues, is about the rich history of Georgia blues and also the vibrant scene that we have in this state today. It starts with a history of the area around Sweet Auburn in the 20;s and 30’s and ens with the newest young musicians playing today. There are profiles of over 3 artists and many pictures. You can see for yourself by clicking on the title above!

 

New book!

The new book is out and available on Amazon and for Kindle! (More outlest coming soon.) It i s called Southern Crossroads: Georgia Blues

It is an exploration of Georgia blues from the beginning with Blind Willie McTell, Barbecue Bo and Curley Weaver, to the present and the young mVusicians securing the future of Georgia blues.  Here is the cover:

 

Help me go to England to write a book with as little as $5

I am trying to raise funds to go to England to write a book. You can help with as little as $5 and there are perks for you at different levels! $5 will get your name in the book as a supporter, for instance. Here is my link:

gofund.me/grsokg

Please also let me know if you see ways I could improve the campaign. Constructive criticism is VERY welcome!

Notes for the library talk about self-publishing and small presses

These are the notes for my talk on Saturday at Switzer Library in Marietta GA:

Self-publishing and small press  publishing

Ways to publish

Traditional

Have to send out manuscripts and hope they get read and approved.  Odds are not great.  Most manuscripts end up in a “slush” pile. Make sure you address your mansuscript to someone specific and follow all the rules as outlined on the company’s website or you will never get read.

Advantage is it is easier to get into libraries and brick and mortar stores

Some initial support especially in the first 6 months. Then support depends on sales.  If your book does not sell well it will be warehoused in less than a year.  Royalties once or twice a year if sales meet the minimum. Give up rights.

Small press

Some initial support.  Smaller royalties.  My experience is that my book has sold over 2000 copies and I have received $400 in royalties total. Expensive to buy your own books. Can’t set on price. Don’t have control over rights. May be restrictions on how you can publicize.

Self-publishing

Print on demand is the way I recommend.  No upfront expense. You can buy your own books for a small price and set the price you want to sell it at. Immediately earn royalties at the rate you set, paid monthly. CreateSpace has great distribution, even in Europe and elsewhere.  Have to publicize your book yourself and arrange your own bookings.

Formatting

If you publish your own books it is VERY important to make sure you format it correctly so that it looks professional. This is a pain but it MUST be done. Also, be very careful about editing. If at all possible, hire someone to do this or at least get someone else to go over your manuscript. It is VERY hard to catch your own mistakes because your brain sees what you think you wrote, not what you actually wrote.

Make sure if you use pictures, they are good quality and large enough to see well. Color will cost you more and you will have to make your book more expensive.

Make sure your headers and page numbers are consistent.

Advertising

You have to be willing to take the risk of bothering some of your online friends and post about your book on Facebook and Twitter! Have a Facebook page just for your book. Don’t post about it multiple times a day but do post about it at least 3 or 4 times a week. Tweet about it once or twice a day.  You can also set up automatic tweets with several programs online or through BookBuzzr, which also lets you put up samples of your books for people to read, with up to 30 pages.

Have a website. You can easily make one on WordPress, but pay the small fee to get your own URL. Mine is rhettabooks.com. Or you can pay for domain hosting and buy a domain name at GoDaddy or elsewhere and set up your website that way.

Always accept speaking engagements when they are offered if you can at all. Offer to talk to book clubs.. Send out press releases. There are many tutorials online to teach you how to write an effective one. Google “press releases” and you will find many free places on the Internet to post your press releases. I am cheap so I always use the free ones and that has worked well for me.

Use sites like GoodReads to get reviews and list your books.  Ask for reviews at Blogcritics.org and ask anyone who tells you they like your book to give you a review on Amazon. Make sure you have an author page on Amazon!

Writing a book is the easy part. Writing a book worth reading is harder. Publishing is easy. Getting a book ready to publish is hard.  If you can afford to, it is worth hiring someone to edit your book for you and to  make sure it is formatted correctly, and to hire someone to make your cover. If you can’t hire someone to make your cover, you can use the templates at CreateSpace or other on-demand publishers to create a cover, but make sure that you customize it in some way, by uploading your own photo or creative use of fonts in the title or something to set it aside from other books.

The important thing is to remember: If you want to have a published book, you can. Just make sure you do your best so that book represents you the way you want it to, and then let the world know about it every way you can. They can’t read it if they don’t know about it!