Friday, May 22, 2015

A Chat with Rhonda McKnight, Publishing Manager at Brown Girls Books

A few weeks back, ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray created a frenzy on social media when they announced the launch of their Brown Girls Faith Imprint. Rhonda McKnight, an award winning and national bestselling author was selected as their Publishing Manager. What exciting news!
I simply had to interview her and get the inside scoop.

  • Hi, Rhonda, Tell me about your journey to becoming the Publishing Manager of BGP Faith Imprint?

My journey to becoming the Publishing Manager for Brown Girls Faith began in 2007 when I met with Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley (cofounders of Brown Girls Publishing) at a writer’s retreat. I was a groupie back then, but I think they could see my passion for the genre of Christian fiction. Victoria has been my mentor for many years, so she knows I love developmental editing, coaching, and teaching writing. Writing is one of my gifts, but managing the moving parts of a business is also strength.  When they decided it was time to launch the Faith imprint I came to mind. I’m glad I did. I’m honored to launch this imprint. I consider it a calling. I promise to honor God in my choices and make sure ReShonda and Victoria never regret having chosen me.  

  • You're starting this from the ground up which is an impressive feat. What is your vision for the Faith imprint?

My vision… I simply want to introduce great books to readers everywhere. I would love to dispel the myth that Christian fiction is a boring sermon in a book by publishing a range of diverse stories that entertain as well as deliver a message to the reader. As for the non-fiction books, I want simple texts that inspire people, give them hope, and help with everyday faith challenges.  Most of the projects I have acquired are from established authors, but I really want to find new voices and help new authors live their dreams of being published.

  • I’ve heard you say that you don’t like preachy Christian fiction. What do you mean by that?

It is my belief that the reader should discover the message God has for them on their own, not have it pushed on them through preachy prose.  I’m also not a fan of sermons in fiction books, but I won’t say I’m opposed to them if it fits for the story.  I don’t want all the books on Faith to look like something I’d write. Diversity in the catalog is of paramount importance to me, but I do want stories that will appeal to the masses. Unobtrusive fiction sells better and while this is a ministry, it’s also a business. I’ll pray about every book that comes before me, so I’ll know when something is right for the line. Prayer will allow me to close my eyes at night knowing I’ve have made the right decisions for His readers.

  • An accomplished author yourself, do you plan on writing for the line?

Absolutely.  I’m bringing back my most loved and hated character, Samaria Jacobs, in Shame On You. Samaria has evolved through the stories, An Inconvenient Friend and What Kind of Fool.  She’s a better person, but the people around her…well, let me just say they should be ashamed of themselves.  Fans of the series will LOVE this story. J

  • Are you accepting submissions? What are some MUST-DO's authors should consider before submitting?

I am accepting submissions.  Must-do’s:
·       Follow the submission instructions on the website.
·       Make sure the project fits the Faith guidelines.  I’ve received several submissions with explicit sex and language in the stories. Those stories would be more appropriate for another imprint. 
·       Give me the entire story in the proposal. I need to know all the plots points and the ending.  Some of the proposals will go before a committee, but I’m the only one who will read the entire manuscript. The outline or synopsis must include this information in its entirety. 
·       Put your best foot forward.  Open strong and introduce me to a fresh and original story with compelling characters.  Hook me on page one. I want to be hooked!
·       Christian authors must pray and seek God’s desire for them.  BGF may or may not be the right fit, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t written the right book.   Know that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”  Philippians 1:6

  • When do you envision we'll see the first book for the Faith line? Can you share a teaser or except?

I don’t have an excerpt to share yet, but I can tell you we will launch with two titles in September, possibly three and all three are strong stories with great characters. I’m very excited about these books.