Vickie Stringer: The Queen of Hip-Hop Lit
While her business card officially lists her as “Author/CEO,” Vickie Stringer has earned many other titles, both formal and informal, in the book publishing world—from founder of Columbus, Ohio-based Triple Crown Publications and Queen of Hip-Hop Literature to literary agent and marketing guru. Her publishing odyssey began in an unlikely setting: in a federal prison, while serving a seven-year sentence for drug trafficking. It was there that Stringer wrote her first novel, a semi-autobiographical account about a young, female hustler, called “Let That Be the Reason.” Once she was released from prison, she began to shop her manuscript to a variety of publishers. She was met with rejection from all 26 of them. With money she borrowed from family and friends, Stringer self-published 2,500 copies of her book and took to the streets to hustle once more––this time pushing her words instead of drugs. Her persistence paid off when the book caught the attention of Brooklyn-based UpStream Publications, which made Stringer a $50,000 offer to publish it.
The rest, as Stringer says, is Triple Crown history––a tale best told in her own words. Here, she speaks with Book Business about how she grew her now six-year-old company from a home-based, one-woman operation into a successful independent publishing house with more than 45 titles and almost 30 authors.
• How did you start Triple Crown Publications?
Vickie Stringer: … I had all these [other] writers coming to me [to help them get published], and I didn’t want to help them. … They’ll tell you I’m a marketing genius, I’m a guru, but let me tell you the truth spiritually. I was praying for this new life in prison … and I said, “God, I want to be of service.” So when the offers [from other writers] began to come to me, I had to wrestle with the choice to help someone else unselfishly. And I believe, because I was willing to sacrifice for myself, God has rewarded me with Triple Crown.