Posts Tagged ‘urban fantasy’


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Your Urban Literature Muse for Line Editing, Content Editing, Reduction Editing, Proofreading, Copy Editing and self publishing services for Independent Authors

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mary McBeth from who was very gracious in answering my questions. I love providing my reading audience with a bit of professional wisdom that will help them in their literary journey. So if you are a writer of the Urban Fiction Genre or a fiction writer looking to learn what it takes to become a literary success read along.

Q: Please introduce yourself and your company to my reading audience. What is it that you do?

My name is Mary McBeth, and I am the founder of where I help authors develop their manuscripts through extremely obsessive editing, consulting and marketing advice. I also support them in the development of their Brand through marketing consultations, and the creation of marketing materials, such as logos, business cards and website design; often these are just the natural results of my editing services.


Q: What made you decide to build your business around urban editing?

I love Urban Fiction, and it is my personal pet peeve that good stories often do not receive the attention they deserve, and ultimately the chance to make their impact on society as a whole. I was raised in Brooklyn, New York (a prime Urban Fiction setting), and it personally offends me that the Urban Fiction genre is so often belittled, and misunderstood due to (what I see as) the use of words and the presentation of those words.  I feel I have something unique to offer to the genre, and I often liken it to the music industry where you might be a good rapper, but you still need a heck of an excellent studio technician in order to be competitive. Publishers are the producers. And if you self-publish, guess what? You are now a producer and you better be good- or hire the right people if you want to be credible and make hits.


Q: Are you a lover of the urban fiction genre and do you think it can be a competitive literary market?

Oh yes! I love urban Fiction. As quiet as it’s kept, this IS already a competitive literary market, and I think it will become more so in the future. Few people realize that the genre is extremely broad and that it already outsells mainstream fiction at all the major publishing houses.  The Urban Fiction genre encompasses: Street fiction, Crime fiction, Vampire stories, Urban Fantasy, Erotica, and more. What’s the difference? That depends on whom you ask. Right now, as far as I can tell, Urban Fiction is what each person says it is…for better or for worse. There’s a lot of chaos associated with this genre, which could be good or bad, depending on what we do with it.

Q: Urban Fiction is becoming increasingly popular in the literary world. With that popularity comes a variety of challenges. What would you say is a major challenge urban fiction authors face today?

Credibility. Selling each other and the genre out. Being open to change.  Also, confusion and lack of a system of standards that can differentiate one style from another, or one level of author (expertise-wise) from another. As a former assistant librarian, I continue to work with publishers, libraries, and bookstores to establish new, clearer, guidelines within the genre itself.


Q: There are many mainstream or traditional editors catering to the masses of “traditional genres” why is it important for an urban fiction author to seek out an urban fiction editor? 

Well there are so many reasons, first of all, we editors are a pretty myopic bunch; we pretty much read all day and become totally engrossed in our authors’ dramas (both literally and figuratively!). We don’t get out much, so to speak! Lol! That means an editor who enjoys reading Science Fiction, probably makes that their specialty and wouldn’t necessarily be aware of what was going on in other specialized genres, like Street Lit or Urban Fantasy.

In the case of Urban Fiction, the problem is two fold – genre and culture. Urban Fiction is a culture as much as a genre. This makes it an extremely narrow specialization, like medical writing.

For example, the best Urban Fiction editors should know current idioms of speech, as well as be avid readers of mainstream fiction. It’s like translating a foreign language- you cannot do so competently if you only speak one of the two languages involved?

Ideally, editors of Urban Fiction should have a solid grasp of today’s Urban Culture, as well as historic African American Literature, and mainstream literature overall, in order to assist authors in producing their best work (work that is attractive to the public and ideally, to mainstream publishing houses), as well as work that credits the genre. The problem that traditional publishers have with Urban Lit is not the content, it’s the presentation.

What we are doing here is creating and documenting our history- as it happens. It doesn’t matter if it is fiction or non fiction- future generations will construct an image of what it was like during our time- just as we do today with authors such as Chester Himes, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and Iceberg Slim. That goes for all kinds of Urban Fiction: Street fiction, Vampire Stories, Urban Fantasy, Erotica, whatever.  Urban Fiction Editors have got to be able to see the big picture.


Q: I’m sure as an editor you face a variety of common grammatical errors. What would you say is the most common error urban fiction authors make?

Homonyms, hands down! There, their, and they’re. Way, weigh. Wait, weight. To, too, two. Soul, sole, etc.

It makes my job interesting, but these are a huge red flag for traditional publishers, editors and agents. It tells them that you are guilty of committing what I would call: the cardinal sin of prose…professing to be a serious author, while leaving clues in plain site that you do not read very much. The assumption is if you make such basic errors, you may not have the skills to tell a good story.

But, in all fairness, it’s a persistent misconception that writers are good spellers and such. A subliminal perception that even seasoned industry professionals hold. Writers have to tell stories. Period. Believe me that is hard enough to do. Writers don’t have to spell or have perfect grammar- that’s what editors are for. Lol!

If the quality of your writing is good and this is your main problem, a good book to read is Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss.


Q: What makes your company different from other editing services?

Simple. We truly care about our authors’ success! Writing is a lonely road and writers need lots of support to make it. For me, editing is a deeply conspiratorial process, and we give so much to our clients that we just cannot take on everyone. Therefore, we are only interested in the author who is serious about making a cultural impact with their writing and pursuing a long-term literary career. But, even if we cannot accept you as a client, we will tell you the truth and give you advice about how you can do better.

I personally handle each client as a product in themselves (not just a book), considering their career, and overall presentation in helping them make the impression they desire. To do this, I may edit their work directly, coach them to produce better work, write their query letters, design their business cards, logo, website and advise them on Social Media marketing, if needed, even introduce them to publishers when appropriate.


Q: Many self-published authors catch a bad rap because their work isn’t polished or “presentable” enough to compete with traditionally published authors; what would you say self-published authors can do to become more competitive in the literary world?

To them I would say presentation is everything in sales of any sort. If you want someone, other than you wife or mother, to purchase (and write a positive review) of your novel – get yourself a reputable editor. Now.

The Urban Fiction book market is saturated with good story ideas, told in bad grammar. Even if your ideas are great, you just cannot compete without writing that is perfect.

If you think your cousin should edit your book for free, then you just do not understand what it is that professional editors do. Consider this conversation I recently had on Facebook with a client who’d hired me to write her query letter- a writer of New Age Non-fiction who, although knowledgeable about her field and a prolific self-published author – was not getting any sales:

Mary Angi McBeth
 ”btw. Who edited your book?


Client: “no one! i gave my books to two very knowledgeable ppl. they read it and made some comments and that was it!… I don’t have an editor…:((

Mary Angi McBeth
” well…how can I say this…very knowledgeable ppl. are good proofreaders….but editing…takes a lot of time (valuable time) and involves taking things out, changing wording and adding explanations where needed….knowledgeable ppl don’t do this for free…and may not even know how to be critical of content…knowledgeable ppl don’t necessarily know how to do a tarot card reading, even if they know the history of tarot… that takes knowledge, but more important, it practice and dedication, the same goes with any field  of expertise.

Editing is not about knowledge only


Mary Angi McBethIt is about reading like a maniac for years and years, it is about criticizing and obsessing over each line of text, in an effort to turn a jingle into a symphony. It is about knowing that genre and what sells in that field, doing research where necessary, and asking the writer to give everything and then a little bit more. It is a Virgo dream job. Not a friend’s favor.


Mary Angi McBethA friend might change your oil on your car or fix a flat tire for free…. But it is not reasonable to expect them to change your transmission, rebuild your engine and give you new body work in a couple of days (or even weeks) and for free.

That is what editing is: an overhaul. Not spell checking. Computers can do that.“


Now, How much can you pay someone to tell you the truth? The hardest thing you will ever do is judge your own writing objectively.

Even prolific authors like Steven King and James Patterson have editors.  You would be surprised how much of the last book you read was the result of the collaboration between author and editor. Its two different things that go into those best selling results: right brained and left-brained, creative and critical. A good editor is your coach, cheerleader and co-conspirator. You can do spell check all by yourself!

Forget your family’s well-meaning comments right now; you needed their support in the beginning, to get the writing done. Now you need the support of people who know what sells. In order to take your book to the next level, get top-of-the-line editing and publishing services and unbiased advice.

Is it going to cost you? Yes. Sorry, but just like you can’t drive a Mercedes Benz for the price of a bicycle. Your new home design just won’t stand up without a competent architect checking those numbers and physics before you build; and learning how to play the piano doesn’t make you Mozart. Be real.

It takes years of hard practice to become great at anything and even then- you still need an editor and you just can’t compete with your “smart friend” editing your books.

Do your research, and when you find an editor that speaks to you as an artist, put them to the test. Get a sample edit, as with any other service, know that when someone tells you they are an editor, that does not mean they are any good, nor does it mean they will care about your work.  Traditionally published authors have professional editing, and not from editing mills either, but from real people they trust, to polish their work, discuss their ideas with, and who help and advise them to become better writers.

An unpolished cover will never stop a great self-published novel from succeeding and eventually finding its way into the hands of traditional publishers . Still, the next best thing self-published authors can do for themselves it to recognize that unless their day job is as an art director or marketing person, they probably are not the best person to design their own covers.


Q: What can writers do to receive a quote on your services? How can they find out more on your company?

To receive a quote for my services, writers can go to  And upload a 3-page sample to be edited free of charge.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my passion with you.

Best wishes and keep writing!


Mary McBeth


Urban Fiction Editor

1923 Bragg St # 140-2358 Sanford, NC, 27330

Tel: (704) 286-6142


Thank you Mary for taking the time out of your schedule to answer a few questions and give readers a bit of insight. Your always welcome here at Urban Fiction News.

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True to my nature I wanted to clear up some of the confusion that I have noticed surfacing in the literary world. It’s a bit simple may be even trivial but I feel its necessary. Many writers, reviewers and readers of both Urban Fiction and Urban Fantasy are becoming confused. They are two different genres but are frequently appearing in similar circles. I review books of both genres because a good book is a good book however, I primarily focus on urban fiction.

Similarities Between Urban Fiction & Urban Fantasy

Like the name suggests urban fiction and urban fantasy both are written in an urban setting. The tales are spun using a city or underground setting. It doesn’t have to be in a ‘ghetto’ or slum background but usually within the inner city where crime, violence or drugs are prominent features in the environment. For the story to be considered ‘urban’ this must be expressed throughout the story or in the beginning of the tale.

Differences Between Urban Fiction & Urban Fantasy

The major difference between the two starts at where the story leads. Urban Fiction usually leads its readers through a sticky web of deceit, affairs and over the top drama. While urban fantasy leads its readers through an urban setting toward a supernatural experience. That may mean vampires/werewolves/superheroes/other galaxies and such. Another difference includes is the language used throughout the story. Urban fiction uses lots of slang or ‘street talk’ as well as over the top profanity while urban fantasy can be a bit more toned down.

Book Submissions

Knowing the correct genre will help you reach  your target audience more effectively. Granted you may reach a reader who is into one genre and have them cross over after reading your work but it’s not the norm. Urban Fantasy is on the rise due to such series as Harry Potter and the Twilight series. Urban Fiction is also on the rise from such authors as Zane and Wahida Clark. No the difference so you submit your work to the appropriate publishing companies, reviewers and book clubs. That can make or break the success of your book

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I have been wrapped up  in a whirlwind for the last few weeks. My ebook is being released Today and I am still running around trying to get things in order. I am happy to report however, that most of the Contest submissions have been great so far. So great that I need an extension on posting the results. I have lots of submissions to go over and there is an idea of the first and second place winners but I am still up in the air about # 3.

Thank you all for your patience and looking forward to announcing the Winners!!!!!!

Thinking about writing an Urban Fiction but not sure how to start? Good urban fiction writing has a few necessary elements to make it great. Sure anyone can conjure up a good tale but urban fiction is a bit different. I have studied urban fiction and know what I like to read and I’m also writing a juicy urban fiction tale titled “Platinum Dust” I will attempt to share a few tips that I’ve learned on creating a page turning urban tale.

Urban Fiction Background

When thinking about creating an urban fiction novel you must remember “urban” literally refers to the streets or the background for your story. Though I have not lived in housing projects or the ghetto I have friends who have and my neighborhood was lurking in the near distance. Street life is its own sub-culture so getting a feel for the streets is essential in this style of writing. You should know city blocks and which areas are the most dangerous if you want to capture the essence of urban fiction. Not that you need to visit the mean city streets for an in your face lesson but simply being open minded enough to hear the experiences of others who live it.

Urban Fiction Characters

Urban fiction characters are those that the reader loves to hate. They must appeal to both my interest and my disdain. A cliché character is the one that is a “good guy” trying to run from  a bad situation or the bad guy provoking bad situations. Either way your characters must reflect realism. Readers of this genre can pick up on a fake. Learn your character, I do this by writing a bit about them on a separate sheet of paper. Include who they are, where they come from and what their struggles are. This gives them a bit of reality that readers enjoy.

Urban Fiction Dialogue

This element can make or break a good story. Dialogue is important and using it correctly is vital to the tone of your story. Slang words, ebonics and bad grammar is all apart of the streets and it is welcome. Unlike traditional editing urban fiction falls under a different ball game. You can use aint and for sho (for sure) because it reads like it sounds and provides authenticity to your urban fiction writing. Readers will quickly put down your work if you use proper english in your dialogue. Crazy I know!

Urban Fiction Drama

Urban Fiction Drama is a bit more over the top than traditional tales. It is filled with he said she said, gossip, long prison sentences, baby mama drama, theft, murder and lots of adultery and cheating but these twists and turns is what the readers long to hear. Readers want the most outrageous tale, they want it to jump out at them and give them the juicy tidbits they will share with friends and family. A good writer will engage their reading audience enough to get them talking. Your book should read like “All my Children” or “As the World Turns” only in book form.

Urban Fiction Sex

Writing about sex can be very tricky especially if you’re submitting your book to a traditional publisher. You have to be more expressive with flowery words that are typically not used in an urban setting. The beauty of urban fiction sex is that you get the raw, passionate truth written explicitly. Writers must be careful though, You have to provide the reader with what they want but you must also keep your reading audience in mind. Not all readers like the juicy pornographic details and its your job to learn about your target audience. Ask readers of the genre what they want and then create your love scenes accordingly.

Urban Fiction Storyline

Now that we’ve gone over the details of what makes up an urban fiction tale the most important part of the story is its storyline. You have to tell a story it should have a clear beginning, middle and an ending. Ending  should be juicy but also provide closure not a cliffhanger unless it’s apart of a trilogy. Please avoid writing all over the place (meaning) don’t start on one scene and midway change it with no warnings. It causes confusion for your reader and if you are changing characters, use indicators.

Hope this was helpful and that you all enjoy writing your stories and getting them to your target audience!.

I have been going on an urban fiction reading frenzy over the last few weeks. I can’t get enough of quality, well written urban fiction novels. This strong urge to read gritty street tales have me wondering why the genre is gaining momentum.

Urban Fiction is Edgy

Readers can’t get enough because urban fiction is edgy. It’s like an action, romance, suspense thriller wrapped into one title. It also provides readers with a true to life experience in an urban setting. What I love about a good urban fiction is how vivid the details, how dramatic the drama and how absolutely sexy the sex scenes can be.

Vicarious Living through Urban Fiction

Everyone is not cut out to live the fast life of destructive danger. However, it has a compelling lure about people who live it. A good story-teller can take you on the edge of danger and build up enough suspense that you find yourself reading the tale well beyond your normal bedtime. It is because of the unbelievable danger that takes the mind on a mental trip through city streets most people wouldn’t dare go that urban fiction is gaining more and more momentum.

Urban Fiction makes Millions

Writers in the urban fiction genre are gaining more and more recognition and entering into traditional publishing contracts as a result. The growing need to read such sexy dark and dangerous tales has the market thirsty for the next great story-teller. Most urban fiction authors find it better to self-publish and promote their own work as the money is limitless. Sure there is more leg work but the profits are your own. It also provides you with the freedom of untraditional marketing efforts.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet an urban fiction author selling her book at a flea market. Her title had already hit number one on Amazon and she asked for my email for updates to her upcoming events, book signings and new releases etc… As far as I could see she had already had a complete listing of emails and she sold out of the 100 copies she bought with her all but two left on the table. You may say that’s small time but she may have only paid $5 dollars to have those books printed and charged $10 which is 50 % profit. Last I checked she made a cool $1000 in a day. When’s the last time you made that for your creative work?

Because the genre is growing and rapidly it is leaving room for urban fiction authors to reach a hungry audience. With no middle man and creative marketing strategies urban fiction authors are making millions in revenue.

Ideally a traditional publisher is the way to go when considering upfront cost. Most traditional publishers pay advances on possible sales of  your titles however, they don’t pay royalties on the back-end until refunded. However, if you are like the other self-publishers tired of waiting for your talent to be “discovered” then you can join the rest of us paving our own path. During your search you will be faced with lots of decisions so here is a bit of help. I have a list of the most expensive self-publishing companies in the business. Prices are based on maximum services including “free” author copies.

Xlibris $15,249

Xlibris offers the platinum package which they nicknamed the Rolls-Royce of publishing. Authors get paperback, hardback and ebook formatting. Unlimited changes to the front cover design, 2 leather-bound copies, 120 paperback copies and 45 hardback. One of the big benefits of this package is they have a 100% royalty program (sounds good except your book may have to be listed at a higher than competitive price) The marketing campaign offers a few nice goodies like press release distribution to 1000 publications, personalized web design and a book trailer with audio. Pretty impressive services not to mention the book posters, fliers, postcards, bookmarks and business cards but is it all really worth it? Well, that’s for you to decide

Trafford Publishing $10,999

Welcome to the big boys! If you are looking for every service rolled into one expensive bundle you’ve found it. Trafford offers its writers an all-inclusive package that will provide you with not only your ISBN# but copyright registration, Library of Congress # also. You also get an option of both paperback and hardback printing and copyediting services. With a price tag like that you will see some other luxury services that include 75 paperback copies of your book, 35 hardback copies and over 110  book stubs. Worldwide book distribution is included as well as a stand alone book trailer and a hollywood audition. Some unnecessary services are unlimited data entry services and an author learning center. Trafford should be selected for authors who have already gone through the publishing process and are looking to go big or go home the second time around.

Authorhouse $11,298

Authorhouse is the creme de la creme of self-publishing. They provide you with a variety of services including registering your copyright, obtaining your ISBN and the library of congress number. However, that hefty price tag includes a full color cover design, back cover sales copy, online distribution and also 20 paperback copies, 5 hardcover and 30 book stubs. The package also includes unnecessary services like professional marketing consultation. Generally speaking this is a one hour telephone conference telling you of different marketing methods. For authors looking to get an edge on the competition there is the ability to get an infomercial with book trailer with an incredible price tag of $8,999. For unknown authors just starting out this is a big waste of money.

The upside is that you get quality, professional looking books that can compete against the traditional publishing houses. Authorhouse book covers are colorful and look amazing.

Many of these self-publishing packages are filled with tons of services that can be done by YOU the self-publisher for much LESS. By doing it yourself it will save you tons of money and the most expensive thing you will invest is your time.