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The Sweet Potato Queen's financial plan: fill more socks

Jill Conner Browne Best-selling author Jill Conner Browne founded the Sweet Potato Queens in the early 1980s. To add some excitement to her life, Browne entered herself and a few friends in the Jackson, Miss., St. Patrick's Day Parade (now the fourth-largest in the country). The four original queens all wore green, hand-me-down ball gowns and tiaras, waving to the crowd from the bed of an old pickup truck. These days, Browne and her cohorts wear a democratizing costume consisting of a long red wig, identical lipstick, cats' eyes rhinestone sunglasses, and a size-24 green-sequined mini-dress that is padded both in the front and rear, so as to render everyone the same shape and size.

Browne's books describe her journey to be queen, as well as draw the reader into the way of life of the modern Southern woman. No prissy belle, her writing and real-life personality display a hilarious "gal who's been around the rodeo more than once" style. Browne chronicles her divorce, forays into the dating scene, why work is a drag, the need to acquire money (if only for the sake of plastic surgery) and Southern recipes for snacks that ease the pain of it all.

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There are more than 1.6 million copies of the Sweet Potato Queens' books in print, including the No. 1 New York Times bestseller, "The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook (and Financial Planner)." Her fourth book, "The Sweet Potato Queens' Field Guide to Men: Every Man I Love is Either Married, Gay or Dead," hit the stands in October. Through her Web site, www.sweetpotatoqueens.com, Jill has initiated more than 4,000 registered Sweet Potato Queen Wannabe chapters in 14 countries around the world. Also through her Web site, you can purchase many tie-in items that make great gifts for bridal showers.

Bankrate: What are some of your latest projects?

Jill Connor Browne: I have a new book, "The Sweet Potato Queens' Field Guide to Men: Every Man I Love is Either Married, Gay or Dead," which you can order on www.sweetpotatoqueens.com. Be sure to make it a plural queens, because people have told me that sweetpotatoqueen.com is a porn site! I get lots of e-mails from the ladies about that. Also, I have new products. First is the Panty Remover Margarita Mix, it's a party aid. One of the mottos of the Sweet Potato Queens is, "Never Wear Panties to a Party." There's also the Revirginator Cocktail Mix, but I always say that after three of them, it's a devirginator!

Bankrate: How do you pick tie-in products to sell?

Jill Connor Browne: Everything I do is purely to amuse myself. I'm fortunate in that it also amuses a bunch of other people. When I first started the Web site, everything was $29.95. I even put down that the price has nothing to do with the value of the product, it's just that having one dollar amount made it easy for bookkeeping. Now, I do have things with other prices. I also say, "Do not loan my books. They're like, $14. If you have a friend who won't pay that, maybe you need new friends." When I was a kid, I worked in the credit department of Sears. I had this boss -- hated the job, loved the man. He had me reading Zig Ziglar, W. Clement Stone, Norman Vincent Peale, all of them. I realized you have to love what you're doing. When I was on the bed of a pickup truck, waving to people, I said to myself, "Someone will pay me to do this some day."

Bankrate: How has your life changed since becoming famous?

Jill Connor Browne: I always say, "It's ruint my life." You see, I'm satanically lazy. I don't want to do anything at all! I don't even like to do errands. If you read my books, you'll find out how I feel about errands. Errands are for other people to do. Now, with the fame, I find myself having to do things!

Bankrate: With the trial of Martha Stewart, we saw a backlash against successful women. Is it hard to be successful and not have a backlash?

Jill Connor Browne: I don't have a backlash because I'm completely honest. I put on the Web site that everything is purely to support me, my leisure and plastic surgery. Martha was asking for it. She was too perfect.

-- Posted: Nov. 8, 2004




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