MEET Ella Curry: Ella Curry had been managing side businesses since 2000. Her first was Intimate Details Event Planning, a company that created and promoted wedding events. After her employer, Russell Corporation, moved to Mexico, she lost her full-time job and decided to launch EDC Creations Media Group in 2005. Since its launch, EDC Creations Media Group has promoted and marketed books by New York Times bestselling authors like Francis Ray, James Patterson, Mary Monroe, and Kimberla Lawson Roby. Black Pearls Magazine, Black Authors Network Radio, and EDC Creations Newsletter, sub-groups of EDC Creations, reach approximately 271,000 readers a month. Curry recently inked a deal with a London-based firm to take Black Pearls Magazine international.
Madame Noire: What were you doing before you launched EDC Creations Media Group?
Ella Curry: In addition to working full-time, I always had side jobs. In 2000, I started Intimate Details Event Planning, a wedding planning business. EDC Creations Media Group came about through a series of events. When I lived in Alabama, I worked for Russell Corporation. After the company moved its entire operation to Mexico, I found myself out of a full-time job. The company’s move impacted the entire area where I lived. If that company [hadn’t] moved to Mexico, I never would have left my comfort zone and started EDC Creations Media Group.
After I received my severance package, Hurricane Katrina hit. Fortunately, following the hurricane, I was offered a scholarship. I took it, moving from Alabama to attend the University of Maryland as a business administration major. It was while I was in Maryland that I started working for Karibu Books. I used to do what I do at EDC Creations Media Group for people for free. It was actually Karibu Books’ owners who recommended that I start EDC Creations Media Group. After the bookstore closed, I acted on their advice, officially launching EDC Creations Media Group. The owners of Karibu Books gave me their database, so I started EDC Creations Media Group with 18,000 existing contacts. I also had 800 people in my own MSN network group.
MN: Why did you launch EDC Creations Media Group?
EC: I saw a need in the industry. Self-published authors needed to look business-savvy so they could compete with traditionally published authors. I helped authors with their book cover designs, websites, press releases, etc.
As the buyer for Karibu Books, I reviewed press kits [and other materials] self-published authors submitted, hoping to get Karibu to carry their books. The store’s buyer made a one-minute decision based on what I put before her. I would bring authors’ press material home and spice up their presentations so their books would be picked. I did this for about three to four years for free, helping authors get their books on the store’s shelves.
MN: Have you ever turned an author or a book away?
EC: Every year I turn authors and books away. Some reasons why I turn books or authors away: a book includes content EDC Creations doesn’t represent, a bad book cover, or authors behaving unprofessionally online or offline. I have to believe in the author and the message in her books. Otherwise, there is no point in me introducing the author to EDC Creations’ readers. I believe whatever I do represents my clients and vice versa.
MN: Do you feel the state of African-American literature is improving or declining?
EC: Our exposure and representation in the marketplace is improving. I don’t think the literature is declining. However, I think our integrity and our pride in being an African-American author has declined. There was a time when being an African-American author was a status symbol. Years ago African-American writers were like leaders, ambassadors for African-American literature. Today, anyone can publish a book. I think the quality and integrity of some authors is declining. However, I think there will always be quality African-American books and that African-American authors and books will always be relevant.
MN: How do Black Pearls Magazine and the Sankofa Literary Society focus on strengthening or improving African-American literature?
EC: In 2008 we decided to focus on books that represent the African-American family in a positive light. If we focus on urban literature, it has to provide some type of educational quality. Every three months, our team puts out our top 100 books across several different genres. These are the best books we have read in the last four months. This helps to spotlight good books. We also started including uplifting articles in our EDC Creations Newsletter.
MN: Tell us about some of the New York Times bestselling authors you’ve worked with?
EC: My client list reads like a Who’s Who: Francis Ray, Mary Monroe, and Donna Hill. Wahida Clarke started out with me. Mary Morrison is a standing client. I did publicity for The Secret Life of Bees. As part of the publicity, I interviewed Queen Latifah. I worked on Shaquille O’Neal’s book promotion. In March, I’ll interview first-time author, Ayana Matthis for Black Pearls Magazine and our EDC Creations newsletter. Ayana’s new book, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was chosen by Oprah’s Book Club.