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September 08, 2015
When The BAP Handbook came out in 2001, we had no idea how it would be received by the public. We knew that we had a story to tell and we were lucky enough to find an editor who’s story mirrored that of our own. Maybe the Summer of 2001 was a slow news cycle, who knows? Or, maybe we had a great PR machine behind us or maybe we just got lucky, but however it happened, we got amazing press! We were featured underneath the fold on the front page of The New York Times’ Sunday Style Section, in The Washington Post and in lots of local newspapers …. it was amazing!
We appeared on Tavis Smiley and Good Morning America; we were featured at the Essence Festival, we appeared on all the major urban radio stations – our friends and families were watching us on tv, hearing us on the radio, showing up at our book signings and reading about us and our book. I’m sure lots of other people read about us and saw us on television too. I know they did – we received all kinds of emails, both positive and negative from the “public”. But, the book sold because of our TRIBE. Our families and friends bought the book and told others about it, they gave it as gifts and then the gift recipients purchased it for their friends and so on and so on and so on. We were young, excited and were telling the story of a lot of African-Americans in a way that hadn’t been told before. Our vibe attracted our tribe. Of course we had a TRIBE before the book came out, but, The BAP Handbook ignited a flame that still exists today.
Believe it or not, fourteen years later, and I am still meeting people who gush and tell me how much the book meant to them when they read it (whether it was 13 years ago or 13 days ago). It’s heart-warming and overwhelming and satisfying all at once. I know my fellow authors, Tracey Lewis, Karla Lightfoot and Ginger Wilson, all feel the same way. We wrote the book to tell our collective story because we wanted to let those with similar experiences know they weren’t living in silos. But, our overall goal was two-fold: (1) We wanted to let the majority know we existed in real life and not just on tv as Lisa Bonet’s Denise Huxtable or Jasmine Guy’s Whitley Gilbert and (2) to unite a TRIBE of like-minded individuals living across the country. [Author’s note: If you don’t know who these characters are, run a quick Google search on The Cosby Show or A Different World]
In essence, we wanted to create a TRIBE that was larger than ourselves and that would have a positive lasting effect. The BAP Handbook launched on June 5, 2001 and it is still available for 2-day delivery on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (the idea of an e-book was not a part of the public consciousness). I wish we’d been able to negotiate a better book deal, but we were first time authors just happy that our book was going to be published. Nevertheless, I am proud of the fact that The BAP Handbook is still in print (which of course means people are still buying it). We achieved our goal, our vibe attracted a TRIBE and that TRIBE continues to grow fourteen years later.
I could not have told you then how valuable the lessons I learned growing the BAP TRIBE would be for me later on (long before social media and the internet as we know it today existed). Let me just say this, being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart! My effie’s paper TRIBE is what keeps the wheels turning and the keeps me showing up at the studio everyday. So, to honor my ep TRIBE, we’re starting a new series on the blog called Your Tribe Is Your Vibe. Stay tuned!
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