Why Kevin M. Weeks Penned The Street Life Series
by Ann DeWitt
At the turn of the 21st Century, Kevin M. Weeks was introduced to urban fiction novels. After reading a few, he believed that he could also write stories about “life on the streets” in America. For a few years, he outlined several books that he wanted to publish.
He devoted hours interviewing a cluster of urban fiction readers and studying the publishing industry. When he felt that there was enough information to proceed, he began telling his stories to young men between the ages of 17 and 24. To his surprise, they began to encourage him to publish his books. Unbeknownst to Weeks, in the corporate world this is called a “trial balloon.”
Several months later, Weeks created a query letter seeking help in publishing his novels. Unfortunately, no one responded. However, there were several business requirements brewing in the urban fiction market which was brought to Weeks' attention.
Business Issue 1:
Teenagers who read urban fiction novels which include strong adult content and language
In 2005 as fate would have it, a potential sponsor of The Street Life Series® walked into a major “brick and mortar” bookstore in a small town in Georgia. While at the checkout counter, the potential sponsor overheard a mother literally screaming at the clerk. The mother was upset that the clerk was allowing her teenage daughter to purchase an urban fiction novel and demanded for the clerk to call the store manager.
Days later, the potential sponsor shared this bookstore experience with Kevin M. Weeks.
As a first step, Kevin M. Weeks decided to add a parental advisory page in all of his urban fiction novels. In addition, just in case a teenager happens to read The Street Life Series, Weeks subtly incorporates “old school wisdom” in his novels and shares lessons learned about living the street life.
Business Issue 2:
Market requirement to bridge the gap between urban fiction and crime fiction readers
His sponsor asked a few crime fiction readers to take a look at Weeks’ first novel. The positive response was overwhelming; however, very few crime fiction readers have ever heard of urban fiction. Also, this reader base was not accustomed to the hard core language and explicit sexual scenes in urban fiction.
Once the sponsor shared the feedback, Kevin M. Weeks pledged to bridge the gap between urban and crime fiction readers. So, you will notice that Book 1 in the book series is urban fiction while Book 2 and future novels are a blend of urban fiction and crime fiction. Book Reviewers, such as Writer’s Digest, have stated that Weeks has established a writing style of his own.
Business Issue 3:
Need to embrace the arts.
Since arts funding in schools has been cut drastically during the lifetime of Generation X, are we all becoming desensitized as a people in appreciating the arts? If you go into any “brick and mortar” bookstore, the book covers are all similar in overall design. To understand the current state of the arts to include entertainment and literature, visit The National Endowment for the Arts website.
Kevin M. Weeks’ designs each of his book covers with artwork to include key elements from the story. When Weeks’ sponsor showed the book covers to readers across several market segments, overall everyone liked Weeks’ book cover design concept. As with introducing or reintroducing any concept, there are those in the publishing industry who remain skeptical. However, Weeks continues to embrace arts and entertainment, not only in book cover design but also in his storytelling.
He hopes to make a major impact one day and agrees with Los Angeles Times reporter Sandy Banks that "arts funding requires creativity."
In conclusion, The Street Life Series emerged in the market because (1) parents want to know what their teenagers are reading; (2) there is a market demand for urban stories to be told in a manner which everyone can enjoy; and (3) there is an ongoing need to preserve the arts.