Saturday, June 18, 2005

Writing Black, Writing Christian: Book Promotion

Bible verse for thought: James 2:1-13

Tayari Jones, wrote an excellent entry at Conversational Reading on living a double life as an African American author promoting her novel. Although her latest release is not a christian fiction title, I thought this entry was appropriate since it buttresses my experiences with trying to purchase christian literature written by writers of color in bookstores.

I would love for Christian booksellars to not participate in systemic racism as secular publishing houses do. Since our faith includes diversity, relishes in it even, we, writing evangelists of color should feel relief in knowing that christian booksellars do not participate in the acts Tayari describe. But I haven't found one, except my favorite bookstore that is more inclusive. However, the Potters House is an independent booksellar, who is losing battle with Wally World and Sams Club every week. Distributers don't come cheap and neither does salvation. So what can we writing evangelists of color do to change christian booksellars perception of us, if that is all possible?

How can we get our white christian authors to mobilize with us, to ensure that our stores are better than Walden and B& N? When can our stores display great books irregardless of the black people on the cover? If anyone knows a business investor, I'm thinking about starting my own online store Something must be done...

Ok. That's it. I'm putting that soapbox away for ninety days. The next week's blogs will show my spunky, christian kitty self. we will talk about juicy summer christian fiction. Grown Folks are talking:)

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,
Dee

4 comments:

Nancy said...

Interesting blog -- are you upset that stores aren't stocking black authors or that they're grouping them all together, as if only black customers will want to read black authors...?

Dee said...

Nancy, than;s for responding. Sometimes I get so caught up in my hot bed issues that alienate my writing friends. But this challenge does bother me.
My answer:
I'm concerned that they aren't placing the books on the shelves and in the areas the high traffic zones in a bookstore, and they don't promote them on their promotional flyers or on their websites, although you can purchase the book online through them, if you know the author's name. Many of these novelists are debut authors, so how can an interested reader know that there are new offerings? I've spoken to some bookstore chains and bookstore owners about it and the reasoning doesn't make sense. Check earlier entries in my blog to see what Lifeway had to say when I asked them about it.
Thanks for responding.

Nancy said...

Dee,

Okay, I keep getting sucked into all your old posts -- they are so tempting..! But I can't find the Lifeway responses. I'm interested in this because I published a novel with Broadman & Holman (in 1999). I sold approximately eleven copies of the book -- and those were the ones I bought my family members! Well, perhaps it wasn't THAT bad... But the promotion and shelf placement was terrible. Can you show me the links to the Lifeway letters?

Thanks!

Dee said...

From Nancy's email:

Dear Dee,

Hey! Thanks for the direction. I enjoy your posts. I just recently
found Mariyln Griffith's blog myself -- she seems cool!

I honestly do not know the answer about how to make these books sell.
There is so much that the author is up against. Placement is a big
one. I mean, it's all so hard. I hear all the authors I know
complaining about this, though, not just black authors. But do you
think there is an element of racism in it?

Enjoyed your blog!

My answer:
Up until now I thought it was a race issue. What you are implying is a good thing and a bad thing. Good thing-hopefully race isn't the issue. I think I need to poll my black author community on that issue. Bad thing-if it isn't race, then its even worse...something beyond schmoozing and finding a good publicist, its our distributors notion of what christian fiction is and even worse there value of our product.

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