Alicia Cook, of New Jersey, has been writing stories since she was eight years old, and is now being represented by literary agent Byrd Leavell of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency located in New York City.
Like many trying to "make it" in 2016, Cook has utilized social media to display her unique skill set. After a piece she wrote on Hurricane Sandy went "viral" in 2012, being picked up by CNN and USA Today, Cook noticed an uptick in her readers, or "followers," on her social media channels, and decided to take advantage of her platform.
She began posting daily writings and interacting with those who commented on her posts. Cook, whose Instagram account (@thealiciacook) has been featured in Teen Vogue, now has nearly 14,000 Instagram followers who check her page daily to see what she has to say.
After discovering Cook's writings on the internet, legendary literary agent, Byrd Leavell, whose clients include wildly read writers with non-traditional trajectories, like Babe Walker, Tucker Max, and former Maxim editor Justin Halpern, who wrote "Sh*t My Dad Says," reached out to Cook personally and set up a meeting. He had a contract to her that same day.
The book of poetry that struck Leavell's interest was self-published and released by Cook in January 2016. Simply titled, "Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately," she announced its release on her social media pages and readers immediately began purchasing the book, which is cleverly designed in the style of a cassette mixtape, for $6.99. By the end of the first day, the book rested in the #1 spot on Amazon in Hot New Releases of Poetry by Women.
With no formal marketing, just word-of-mouth and social media, Cook's book, a mix of prose and "blackout poetry," has continued to outperform its own sales each month. It remains in the top 10 bestsellers on Amazon under Women Authors, next to Rupi Kaur.
Cook is a triple threat. She doesn't just write poetry. Having earned her undergraduate degree in
English and Journalism, she is a contributing writer for many popular media outlets such as the Huffington Post, Gannett and Elite Daily.
Cook has become a popular and heavily read voice in the mental illness and addiction world. Cook lost her cousin to a heroin overdose a decade ago and writes primarily on the heroin epidemic, discussing openly and honestly how addiction affects not only the user, but the entire family unit. She ties both her poetry and advocacy world together by donating all the funds from "Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately" to the Willow Tree Center, a rehabilitation center offering resources for both those suffering with addiction as well as their loved ones. Her advocacy has gained her a whole different readership outside of the poetry sector, with many pieces of her series, "The Other Side of Addiction," going viral.
Her efforts to combat the heroin crisis gained the attention of the creator of the PBS documentary series, Here's the Story. An episode focused on Cook's efforts will air in the fall to 2.2 million households and stream online worldwide.
Cook views signing with Waxman Leavell as the next step in her writing career. Both Cook and Leavell are excited to begin working together.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.