The Indie Book that Could…and DID for Good!

Alternately astonished, agog, giddy, daunted, delighted and more, my mind has been an emotional carousel since the release of my book Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists. News that book critic Kam Williams recently listed Giving Back among the 10 Best Black Books of 2011 set my head spinning deliriously and it hasn’t slowed yet.

The fact that a homemade (i.e., independently published) book by novices merited ranking among those of seasoned authors and publishing house giants is remarkable, to say the least. While I set my sights sky high from the outset and then joined with others to pour my soul into producing a compelling book, uncertainty loomed over whether Giving Back would garner extensive national attention, however well done or worthy.

Three months after the book’s release, wide praisemedia buzz, brisk sales and coast-to-coast readers have pushed aside prior concerns. Making a top-ten list further affirms our work and casts a spotlight that few indie books capture.

Giving Back is presently a contender for a 43rd NAACP Image Award nomination for Literature. The Hollywood Bureau organizes the awards program, which is “the nation’s premier event celebrating the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors.” There are 53 award categories, spanning television, motion picture, recording and literature. Giving Back is vying for one of five nominations in the Outstanding Literary Work – Non-fiction category.

Receiving a nomination would brighten the spotlight on Black philanthropy and usher in exciting opportunities. I don’t know what our chances are for a nomination, but I do know that Giving Back has already overcome formidable odds, which leaves me optimistic. Without benefit of a publishing industry “machine” to promote the nomination, Charles, NGAAP-Charlotte and I are relying largely on friends, family and grassroots publicity to get the word out. Goodness knows, It’s worked wonders so far.

Here are things you can do to help Giving Back secure a nomination:

If Giving Back actually secures a nomination in January, then dues-paying NAACP members can vote (online, I think) for Giving Back. More on this later. First things first.

Oh . . . and if you missed it, here’s the list:

  1. Sister Citizen by Melissa V. Harris-Perry
  2. Fatal Invention by Dorothy Roberts
  3. Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? by Touré
  4. Muzzled by Juan Williams
  5. A Reason to Believe by Governor Deval Patrick
  6. Ashamed to Die by Andrew J. Skerritt
  7. Super Rich by Russell Simmons
  8. Giving Back by Valaida Fullwood
  9. Fail Up by Tavis Smiley
  10. High on the Hog by Jessica B. Harris

Whatever the outcome with the NAACP Image Awards, I’m thrilled and honored to share the stories, images and cultural legacy of Giving Back. — VF

Home Again

Earlier this month, I was a guest blogger on The Blair Essentials, the indie book blog of John F. Blair, Publisher. Blair is a publishing house in Winston-Salem, NC that distributes Giving Back to the book trade.

The blog piece was a joy to write and share, and as I prepare to return to my beloved hometown for the holidays, I thought I’d share it again.

So much about Giving Back is rooted in Morganton, North Carolina. Though a large share of the book’s stories and photography feature people and places in Charlotte, the city where I now reside, my hometown is without a doubt the book’s epicenter.

Morganton, a hilly prelude to North Carolina’s western mountains, is where I grew up and…read the entire blog post.

‘A Long Overdue Spotlight’

It’s been one month since the release of Giving Back and we continue to receive gratifying commentary on the book from leaders within the field of philanthropy. Below is a generous statement from Judy Belk.

Giving Back shines a long overdue spotlight on the legacy of giving which is so much a part of the African American community’s DNA and spirit. Writer Valaida Fullwood and photographer Charles Thomas Jr. have beautifully captured both in words and pictures untold stories of generosity which move and inspire. Giving Back should be positioned in a place of honor on the bookshelf and coffee table of every black family in America.”
— Judy Belk, senior vice president, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Mr. and Mrs. Jones

“Light glorifies everything. It transforms and ennobles the most commonplace and ordinary subjects.” — Leonard Misonne, photographer

One of the stories featured in Giving Back pays tribute to Carlotta and Johnnie Jones—ordinary people with an extraordinary philanthropic spirit. Faith and long family traditions provide light for their path of generous giving. The Jones’s firm beliefs and lifelong example inspired their daughter Melandee to share her story for the book.

Their enlightened family legacy lives on. Melandee serves on the boards of Arts For Life, BDPA and Citizen Schools. She also is member of New Generation of African American Philanthropists, a giving circle that gives back. — VF

MISTER JONES | Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

‘A way of feeling, of touching, of loving…’

Charles W. Thomas Jr, photographer

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything” — Aaron Siskind, photographer

We’ve begun scheduling book events to share Giving Back—our newly published book that reframes portraits of philanthropy. Our next one is a book signing at The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film on Thursday, October 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

You’re invited! Here’s your invitation via Paperless Post, along with an R.S.V.P. card.

Let us know if you plan to come by. The Bookmark will be selling books…and we would like to ensure enough books on site for you and others to purchase.

Hope to see you at The Light Factory! — VF

Goodreads Giveaway Winners

A colleague told me about Goodreads.com and its book giveaway program to promote new releases. So I signed up. For the giveaway, I offered two complimentary copies of Giving Back to book lovers across the United States as well as Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa, Kenya…and a few favorite island nations.

The book promotion ran for about six weeks and 539 readers entered the contest which ended last night. This morning I’m pleased to announce the winners are: Brad M. of Hilo, Hawaii and Claire A. of West Sussex, England.

Brad and Claire will soon receive their copy of Giving Back, and hopefully they’ll love it, rate it with 4 or 5 stars, write book reviews and share news of it with their friends.

The Goodreads Book Giveaway is a wonderful way to connect with fellow book worms around the world and to introduce a new book, worldwide. Arguably, I’ve won more than Brad and Claire. Thanks Goodreads.com! — VF

Valaida Fullwood (author), Charles W. Thomas Jr. (photographer) and Casajulie (cover and book designer)

Five Things

New Generation of African American Philanthropists is relying largely on word of mouth and grassroots marketing to publicize the release of Giving Back, so we’re asking readers to help spread the word. Below are five things you can do to help publicize Giving Back—our new book that reframes portraits of philanthropy. 

5 Things You Can Do to Help Publicize Giving Back

  1. Post a book review on one or more online sites for book buyers, e.g. Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Goodreads.com
  2. “Like” the Facebook page for Giving Back
  3. Tell a friend about Giving Back 
  4. Follow us on Twitter: @valaidaf and @sankofaphotog
  5. Buy copies of Giving Back as a gift for friends and family

Participate in sharing our stories, for good! Every book purchased keeps giving, since proceeds are invested in philanthropic causes—and since the stories inspire readers to give. Thank you.

Perfectly Cloudy Thoughts

Rain and clouds outside inevitably precipitate word clouds here. This week’s cloud is a distillation of recent reviews and media stories about Giving Back. Leave it to a cloud to make the book perfectly clear.

“Behind every cloud is another cloud.” — Judy Garland

Judy’s quip proves true hereherehere…and here!

Wordle.net

1621 Days

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ― Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning author

After one thousand, six hundred and twenty-one days, I can, at long last, announce the publication and arrival of Giving Back: A Tribute to African American Philanthropists—a new book that reframes portraits of philanthropy. Hallelujah!!!

Buy the book…and read more about Giving Back on these sites:

Valaida Fullwood (author), Charles W. Thomas Jr. (photographer) and Casajulie (cover and book designer)

Loop21.com Interview: Generosity in Black Communities

Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

I just returned from an amazing weekend on St. Helena Island where the CIN Leadership Summit took place (more on that experience later). While participating in the Summit, I had a phone interview with Joi-Marie McKenzie of Loop21.com about my new book Giving Back.

New Book Celebrates Generations of African Americans Giving Back, author interview by Joi-Marie McKenzie, Loop21.com

More interviews, book reviews and commentary on Giving Back can be found here, here and here.