Jayne Allen is a serial entrepreneur, Harvard-trained attorney and engineer. She writes fiction out of her life experiences, calling every character “fragments of reality strung together by imagination.” In her time outside of writing, she dabbles in standup comedy, tries to learn one new thing a week and relishes laughter and champagne bubbles with her girlfriends and family. She previously authored four non-fiction books and is the founder of Book Genius. The “best end-to-end book writing, publishing and marketing course on the Internet,” which launches its first cohort in March 2019.
What career experiences helped you launch a book with such success?
Attending Harvard taught me how to compete with myself. It’s wonderful to be in an environment where you have to hold your own with the best and brightest minds. It sharpens your wit and calls forth new levels of excellence. Excellence is my standard for living and doing. Every day I work to heighten my understanding of what excellence looks like and then raise that bar. As an engineer, your job is problem-solving. I am naturally conditioned to look at things not as they are, but how they could or should be. I understand how to find a pathway and I am not deterred by fear of failure. Failure serves as feedback and an indication to try something different next time. From my time in the music industry I was fortunate to see the shift in the concentration of power going from major record labels to the independent artists. This shift is how new levels of creativity happened. The rawness of guerrilla tactics led the artist directly to their desired communities and authentic relationships were formed. This helped propel a number of overlooked artists to great success.
What are three lessons you learned along the way?
The idea is the calling. Never wait for anyone’s permission or any “sign” that you are meant to do something. If the idea came to you, it was meant for you. Act on it. It’s not over until you have completely run out of ideas and there is always another idea on the way. If there’s something meaningful that you really want to accomplish, get quality help.
What do you feel separates your novel from others in contemporary women’s fiction?
In Black Girls Must Die Exhausted, I task myself with filling a void for modern black narratives. Particularly black female concerns from a realistic perspective, not overly dramatic or hyperbolic and not race centered. My writing gives readers what they would expect from Chick-lit, but taking it deeper. Making it rich and full of soul with highs and lows of the contemporary black experience.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Own the fact that writing is a craft and keep honing the skill in every way that you can. Excellence is pursued in the editing. Once you have a work that you feel is great, invest in a tough and experienced editor for your own improvement. Be mindful that other writers are great for ideas and creative collaboration, but don’t look to peer groups for your editing and professional critique. Also on the marketing side, you must have an engaging and attractive book cover and quality reviews. These two are extremely important components to the launch of an independently published book. Lastly, don’t let one person’s rejection of your work stand in your way. Traditional publishing missed the boat with BGMDE and I’m not the only one. I just choose to move forward.
What do you want your supporters to know about you?
I want my supporters to know that they are very much appreciated. They show up for me and my novel ‘Black Girls Must Die Exhausted’ in so many incredible ways. This is the way more voices of color are able to break into the industry with success. Every review, purchase, social media like, comment and share matters. The bookstores and event support are greatly appreciated. Change happens on an individual and independent level when each person takes positive action in support of what they want to see.
What skill would you like to master?
I’d love to be able to develop my skill as a fine artist and calligrapher. I’ve been studying painting and drawing as well as modern calligraphy/hand lettering.
Name three apps you can’t live without.
I can’t live without Instagram, hands down. This is my social platform of choice for actively communicating with the community of readers. “Notes” app on my phone is where I record thoughts for new book ideas, inspirational nuggets for current projects and anything else that I deem to be a gem and don’t want to forget. My third one would be Canva. I use that on the go to make all of my content edits for social media.
What must be seen or experienced in person to really appreciate it?
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC.
What’s one small thing you could do each day that would greatly improve your life?
Start the day writing down a list of the things that I am grateful for.
How can everyone keep in contact with you on social media?