“This is not about right and wrong, bad and nice, evil and good. This is anecdotal from an observed perspective, coupled with statements heard on the subject. This deals with race, and being highly uncomfortable.”
There are a ton of great books out there. Have I read any? Honestly: no. I don’t have reader’s eyes. Not for lack of trying either. I get a paragraph or a page in and the yawning begins. This isn’t about me, though. This is about the public as a whole. This is about the voice of black U.S. authors and some of their content.
When it comes to being an author in general, one must first find inspiration. Second, comes the formulation of how the story is to appear; be it fiction or nonfiction. Third, one must make thought into text, and finally, undergo what is seemingly an unending amount of editing. Once those steps are complete, comes the most defeating part of writing: publishing.
An author must find an agent that won’t cost an arm, a leg, the house, the pet, and finally, your personal security of the deal. That agent will most likely be part of a well-established agency, who is pitching to a publisher; both positioning for their cut of your book. Your book must be appealing to the agent; so much so that the agent will know the publication will market it. Agents, who are not fully ripping you off, will not ask for money upfront. Keep that in mind. After massive contracts and more, you can may see your book yield fruit. Note the “may”.
This can be hard on anyone and usually everyone who is an inspiring author. However, I do speak generally due to how true it is; overall. Yes, this is where it comes in. Don’t click off just yet. There is a voice out there. This voice is shared by all shades of beige in the U.S. let alone the world. Let’s take a look at the black voice out there.
Black authors do have tales to tell, and when it comes to paying anything to get noticed, money is as fleeting as an original movie script. When you look at any genre, they are simply cookie-cutter manuscripts. Change the name, hair, setting, vehicle, and title and you have yourself a new book. Albeit it’s not that simplistic, but in a general understanding, it’s spot on. How many women have been whisked away, swooned in large arms, were caught between two knowing lovers, and ended with the man of every woman’s dreams? How many men braved the hardships of life, never backed down, stood tall in the face of danger, knew what to do — even while improvising, and at the end, had hot steamy sex with the woman he so happen to have to save at some random juncture?
There are tons of that genre out there, and those are the safest things any publisher will accept, thus shutting the door on what they deem, lesser, by coding it as “urban”, “not fitting to a genre”, and “not what we’re looking for”. If a black author happens to get publish, often times it must deal with history of black folk, expressing how held down they are by their own black societies. Though cookie-cutter it is, it is also nonfiction. These books, though published still do not get the spotlight of a romance, or action thriller novel.
The reason for that is based on the audience. While most times black authors are trying to remind their kin of shared complexion of their roots, history, and informing them of the trials they will undergo or have undergone, the majority of the country cares little to hear let alone understand such things. Black cultures around the U.S. watch on TV, the silver screen, the pages of a book and the news of white culture having money, the love of their life, the great adventures, the well-mannered conservative family structure, and their rise from poverty to majesty. When it comes to nonfictional life portrayed on the news, we hear of the mild-mannered father, husband, who was hardworking that killed a slew of people for unknown reasons, while the African-American was gunned down unarmed with no word of the same; as if conjured out of thin air and killed due to unproven fact of cultural mythical uneducated beliefs. These divisions play a direct role in how authors are treated upon a mere name. Female artists such as J.K. Rowling published with initials to skirt the more or less sexist publishing houses.
European U.S. citizens have their stories in abundance, but where are the Chinese, Jewish, Black, Japanese, Mexican, Brazilian, and more? I can only speak for black U.S. citizens, and yet, seeing how hard it is for us, I, at best, can merely imagine how hard it is for others. Euro-Americans tend to cringe at the thought of reading the past behaviors of their ancestors, while clinging to the present manifestation of their joyous life with struggles here and there to pose as a heroes’ journey.
Going on what I’ve said thus far, try to find how hard it must be to be forced to self-publish a book, market it yourself, hope that the people who share your complexion will support you, while trying to branch out to those of a lighter shade, trying to erase your history from their scholastic curriculum? It’s extremely hard, and yet, there is hope. Though I have spoken generally, the truth is, there are plenty of White U.S. citizens who are interested in the plight of minorities; be it fiction or nonfiction. There are those who are minorities of others cultures who are curious about other marginalized populations. With publishers being finite on genres, overly picky on who they let in, and still trying to bury original books from the mainstream eye, there are people who look for it. People of all cultures, ethnic backgrounds and levels of finance are looking for new and original manuscripts to take them on a journey.
While cookie-cutter books will always sell high, there is growth of the ever-changing-mold for genres. Find these new authors. They could be next door, in the neighboring cubical, posting online in the only places they trust, the few bookstores that will host original work, and word of mouth. Oh let us not forget the one place we often despise looking: the person in our home with a dream to write. Your daughter, son, sibling, spouse, cousin, uncle, aunt, parent, close friend, friend of a friend you just met, and more. They are all around, and have a small voice that mainstream is trying to muzzle. Use your power to help them, for those in power will not.
By: Sedrik Cannady
Date: 4/16/2018 5:27:46 AM