Who is Behind La Muse Press?

14 Oct
close up of human hand

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s all about creativity, diversity, and empowerment at La Muse Press, LLC. The owner, Mary B. Banks, takes her role as a book publisher seriously. In order to better guarantee the success of La Muse Press, she has decided to go back to school to earn a second master’s degree. She is attending George Washington University to pursue a Master of Professional Studies in Publishing. Not only is Ms. Banks a publisher, but she is a writer herself. In 2011, she earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore. She is the author of Street Magic: Stories and Tales, a debut short story collection (click here). 

Ms. Banks is committed to publishing the works of people of color and women. She believes that literature creates community. La Muse Press is excited about its future. What first started as a dream for Ms. Banks has now manifested itself into reality.  

If you are a writer who comes from a diverse background, we want to hear from you! Submit your manuscript to publisher Mary Banks at simplemary17@msn.com.

We can change the world through literature, one reader at a time. Words have the ability to breakdown walls that we create. Let’s tear down these walls and unite. Peace, love, and blessings. 

La Muse Press: An Indie Publishing House that Celebrates Diverse Voices

28 Jul
Black women writers

Publisher and writer Mary B. Banks

Let me be transparent for a moment. One of the reasons why I started my publishing house, La Muse Press, is because I wanted to read literature about and from Black women. Being a Black woman writer, I feel that our stories are often marginalized. Yes, there are the breakout stars such as Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, which has been adapted into a Hollywood film, but what about the young woman down the street who has a powerful story to tell but doesn’t have the name recognition?

I am not here to beat up publishing houses. I love publishing and pray that La Muse Press has longevity. I am so committed to publishing that I am pursuing a Master of Arts in Professional Studies in Publishing at George Washington University. From my courses, I learned that marketing is not cheap. Therefore, many publishing houses are looking for writers who already have a significant social media following. However, here, at La Muse Press, we are committed to featuring the works of new writers, writers of color, and women.

With that being said, I have always gravitated towards Black women writers’ work. It’s something about reading a book that reflects you, the sensuality—all the things that make you a Black woman. Our goal at La Muse Press is to be a change agent. We want to publish literature that tells our narratives. We are often neglected and made to feel less than. Not anymore. Together, we can become the change that we want to see. We believe through sharing our stories we create a unified community.

If you haven’t already, please check out my writing. I hail from Baltimore City and I strongly believe that writing has transformative powers. It has healing powers. Writing and sharing our stories affirm that we are not alone. Read my short story collection, Street Magic Stories and Tales. If you are interested in receiving an autographed copy, please email me at simplemary17@msn.com. It would make a great book club read. I am available for book signings, readings, and lectures. My latest published short story “The Midnight Knock” can be found here. Peace, love, and blessings. 

BookCon 2017

5 Jun

It’s been over a year since La Muse Press has made a blog post, but we’re back. To get back into the groove, publisher and author Mary B. Banks attended BookCon 2017 on Saturday, June 3, at the Javitz Center in the Big Apple.

At the event, she had a chance to meet prize-winning author Jason Reynolds, who was promoting his upcoming project, Miles Morales. Reynolds had a laidback personality that left a good impression on Ms. Banks.

Banks also attended the Indie Author 101 panel that was presented by IngramSpark and BookLife. Director Robin Cutler of IngramSpark, Smashwords Founder and CEO Mark Corker, Editors Rose Fox and Adam Boretz (BookLife) of Publishers Weekly, Publisher John Koehler of Koehler Books, and President Amy Collins of New Shelves Books gave sound advice and insight.

For Ms. Banks, the discussion about publicity and social media was something she needed to hear. Claribel Ortega, Director of Media, at Combined Book Exhibit, mentioned the importance of social media and being consistent with posting content. President Sandra Poirier Smith and Director of Business Development Corrine Moulder of Smith Publicity reiterated what Ms. Ortega said: social media is crucial for an author’s visibility in the marketplace.

Needles to say, BookCon 2017 was a success. It recharged Ms. Banks and had her wheels turning. The Amtrak ride from Baltimore to New York was definitely worthwhile. She is ready to take La Muse Press to the next level in 2017.

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Author Jason Reynolds and publisher Mary B. Banks at BookCon 2017.

 

Exclusive from Forthcoming Novel

19 Mar

 

New chapter

La Muse Press will publish new work from Mary B. Banks. She is working on two books that are page turners. One is about the Apocalypse; the other one is about a teenage girl living in Harlem. Here is a teaser from one of her manuscripts:

God’s children were under a vicious, ugly, nasty, horrific, gut-wrenching, dirty, deadly, demonic curse that gave them horrendous nightmares. These dreams were so frightening that some of the townspeople hadn’t slept in days. The citizens of Futuria warded off sleep preferring insomnia. Dark half-moons were underneath their bloodshot red eyes. They preferred sleepless nights rather than seeing those diabolical images, horrifying sounds, and God-awful smells.

Those who did not sleep looked like dazed sleepwalkers. Their movements were sluggish and pitiful. They slurred their words and nodded off and then wake up suddenly. For those who did succumb to sleepiness, they tried their best to sleep during the day because the night brought its own evilness and wickedness. Yet, there were those who slept during the night. Legs thrashing, kicking bed sheets off the bed, and fighting the dream’s adversaries.

Want to read some of Mary B. Banks’ work right now?

La Muse Press has you covered. Pick up Street Magic: Stories and Tales. It is is available at Amazon.com and two indie bookshops in Baltimore, MD: Normal’s Bookstore (425 E 31st St) and Expressions (222 N Paca St).

 

Coming to a Town Near You…

7 Aug

La Muse Press has been making a number of appearances this year. The author, Mary B. Banks, has attended the ASALH Author event (Washington, DC) , Word Art Exhibit (Towson, MD), Writers and Words reading series (Baltimore, MD), and even Artscape 2015! Next on the list is the African American Authors Expo which will be held at the Radisson North Baltimore Plaza Hotel (2004 Greenspring Drive, Timonium, MD 21093) on Saturday, August 15th from 10 am to 5 pm. And guess what, the event is free to the public. For more information, visit http://aaaexpo.ning.com.

 Author_Expo_MBB

In other exciting news, Street Magic received an excellent book review. If you haven’t picked up Street Magic yet, check out what The Baltimore Times columnist Phinesse Demps had to say (published on May 1, 2015):

Indie Soul enjoys spotlighting independent authors. Recently, author Mary B. Banks stopped by our office to drop off her book, “Street Magic.” Banks credits her mother and father who always told her that the library was a magical place. We are so glad they did because her unique book is a collection of short stories about characters in and around Baltimore! Banks did a great job of giving her characters life. The stories are very vivid and you can actually picture the scenes, the characters, and the story.

Don’t know if you can trust the review, then pick up a copy! You can email the author Mary B. Banks at simplemary17@msn.com for sales inquiries and to have your book autographed. Or schedule a book reading and/or receive special discounting for bulk sales.

Hot off the Printer!

25 Jan
La Muse Press has printed its second print run of Street Magic: Stories and Tales.

La Muse Press has printed its second print run of Street Magic.

La Muse Press is pleased to announce that Street Magic: Stories and Tales has ran its second print run. As both the publisher and writer, I have decided to reprint Street Magic after three and a half years. I was getting the occasional Amazon.com purchase order, but I didn’t have any books to fulfill the order. Now, there are plenty in stock for you! For 2015, it is my goal to promote Street Magic whether it be scheduling readings, attending book festivals, or reaching out to the media. If you have a book club, I would be happy to arrange a deal for you to buy in bulk at a discounted price. If you are a book reviewer, shoot me an email, and I would be happy to give you a review copy in order for you to pen a review. As a publisher, once you have already published a title and several years go by, it feels like the book is old. However, if no one has ever read or heard of your title, it is new to that person. Take for example, Moby-Dick. The book did not become popular until after Herman Melville’s death. Nevertheless, true literature is timeless. For example, my favorite book of all times is Ann Petry’s The Street, which was published in 1946. So, if you love short story collections that are zany and out of the ordinary, Street Magic is a good read! You can purchase it at Amazon.com or you can contact me directly.

Get Your Read On!

26 Dec

If you are an emerging writer, it is essential that you book readings. What is a reading you ask? A reading is an event that usually lasts for at least thirty minutes to an hour where the author reads excerpts from his or her book. Most readings are held at bookstores, colleges, and libraries. A great resource to find out about potential reading venues can be found online at Literary Places on Poets & Writers.

Speaking about reading? Fiction writer Mary B. Banks participated in the 2012 Emerging Voices Project at the University of Baltimore last June. She read four stories from her debut short story collection, Street Magic: Stories and Tales, which included “Elvis,” “The Baltimoreans: A Case Study,” “Number Blues,” and “Lost and Found.” Check out the reading below!

Don’t have any exposure? Try advertisements.

30 Oct

As you know, La Muse Press debuted its short story collection, Street Magic: Stories and Tales (2011), in May. However, because we are a small independent publishing house, our exposure is limited. However, earlier this month in October, the owners of La Muse Press attended an advertising workshop sponsored by City Paper. The workshop presenter was Matt Hackett from Hackett & Tate Media. He explained there are two goals that successful advertising achieves: 1.) audience awareness and 2.) a direct call to action. He said that many business owners make the mistake of purchasing one advertising space and expecting that one advertisement to generate massive business. According to Hackett, a more effective strategy is to choose a segment that you can afford to own. For example, I think in the near future, La Muse Press will begin to feature advertisements in local college papers. Also, you want to create a motto that is catchy and memorable. To put it simply, the session was useful and made me come up with other ways to promote La Muse Press. If you have any advertising strategies that you find effective, please post your comment.

The Independent Bookstore

26 May
Street Magic is now at Atomic Books for $12!  

If you’re an indie publisher or self-published author, the independent bookstore should be your best friend. Unlike the “super chain bookstores” such as Barnes and Noble and Borders, authors and publishers can approach the bookstore owner about carrying his/her books usually through a consignment agreement. With a consignment agreement, you receive a percentage of the book sales–the books aren’t bought alright. For example, Street Magic: Stories and Tales now available at Atomic Books (see photograph at left), located in the Hampden area of Baltimore. When I saw Street Magic on the table with the other fiction books, I felt so proud…but just because your book is in a bookstore, you still need to promote your book, which is very challenging and arduous. Your book is competing with bestselling authors who are signed with major publishing conglomerates (Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penquin, HarperCollins, and Random House) who can shell out the big bucks to market their products. Even though you might not have thousands of dollars to spend on advertising, publicity is free. Contact editors of your local magazines and newspapers. Get the word out about your book, before it is officially released. Most publications such as Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Review want to receive galleys or manuscripts. However, I noticed that most of the national trade publications do not accept work from self-published authors, but don’t let that stop you. If you want to self-publish your book, make sure you hire an editor to ensure your writing is grammatical and error-free. Hire a book designer to typeset your book interior and design your book cover. If you have an unappealing, poorly design book cover, the average person will skip over your book. The road of an independent author is a long one, but it can be worth it–only if you strategize and know the rules of the publishing game. And don’t throw in the towel, even if the fat lady is singing.    

A Mini-Interview with the Author of Street Magic

4 May

Mary B. Banks holding her book, Street Magic: Stories and Tales.

La Muse Press caught up with Mary B. Banks, author of Street Magic: Stories and Tales (2011). The 26-year-old, who is also the co-owner of La Muse Press, answered the following questions about her gritty debut collection, which is now available at Atomic Books for $12.

1. What inspired you to write Street Magic

When I wrote Street Magic, I didn’t write the stories with the idea that they would eventually become a short story collection. They were stories I wrote while attending the University of Baltimore to earn a MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts.   

2. How would you describe your writing?

I like to write stories that have an aural quality to them. I want the characters to speak directly to the reader without having the distance that a third-person narration usually brings. Sometimes my writing can be humorous, other times it can be sad. For example, “Lost and Found” is about two inner-city girls who find a discarded baby in the trash, and one of the girls, Janie, views the discarded baby as “one of those expensive babies that I wish I had.” There is “Number Blues” which is set in Chicago’s South Side during the 50s and the protagonist, Angela Thompson, is a domestic worker who yearns for her illegal number to hit. Then there is “Love Dust” that is about a young girl, the daughter of Pastor Crawford, who casts love spells on her next door neighbor, Leroy.  

3. How did you choose the stories in Street Magic?

I chose the stories that spoke to me the most, the ones that had a strong emotional overtone. I also chose stories that had magical, surreal elements in them. My classmates and professors at UB also were pivotal in helping to shape the collection. When I turned in my first draft of the collection for workshop, my classmates gave me useful feedback on which stories didn’t quite fit and others that they wanted to see included. For example, I had a story entitled, “Country Boys,” about two escapees from the mental ward which didn’t really fit with the other stories. “Lost and Found” and “Number Blues” were added to the collection with the suggestion of my classmates.

4. What advice would you give emerging writers?

Write, write, and write. Join a writing workshop. Read as much as possible. I also recommend that emerging writers began to create an online presence such as blogging and use social media to network. Stay up-to-date on what is happening in publishing.

For more information about Mary B. Banks, visit her website, The Writing Zone, and follow her on Twitter (mbanks6).