Unfortunately, my second attempt at an appearance on the radio with Dr. Thompson to promote All About Marilyn was sabotaged by paranoid insecure family members. I don’t know if I’ll get another opportunity like this again. I’m trying to figure out where I’m going from here.
I wish I could get everyone to understand how hard it is for self-published authors to promote books. Most bookstores don’t want to stock self-published books on the shelf, due to their inability to return them. Readers are often wary of self-published titles after being burnt by other self-published titles with poor writing and even worse grammar. Reviews are almost impossible to get. It’s an uphill battle, but three books in I was making progress.
For this book to get the interest of one talk radio show spoke volumes about how strong it was in terms of the quality of the writing and the topic I was presenting. The show targeted the core audience for the book; African-American women. It was my shot at taking my writing to the next level.
And it was blown by insecure people who have no idea how the publishing industry works.
Talk radio interviews are an opportunity for an author to sell their product and themselves. I’d perfected the pitch for this book; I was using it as a platform to get African-Americans talking about screenwriting. There’s a desperate need for more African-Americans to learn this craft. Less than two percent of all the 14,000 screenwriters in the Writer’s Guild of America are African-American. With only 500 writers out of that 14,000 working at any given time, this means less than four people of color are working as screenwriters regularly.
I also wanted to discuss how the lack of black faces behind the camera is affecting what blacks are seeing onscreen. How this shortage of black screenwriters is causing a shortage of material, and how this shortage of quality scripts is leading to a lack of work for black actors and actresses. How a lack of black producers and executives is preventing quality projects from being greenlit, financed and distributed. How black actors and especially black actresses have next to no advocates at the executive level at the six major studios.
I was also going to discuss the drought of quality roles is especially hard for African-American actresses. Marilyn’s story put a human face on all those talented sistas who struggle for work in movies and TV. The story detailed many of the obstacles black women face in the entertainment industry like racism, sexism, misogyny, and studio politics. On the show I wanted to discuss in detail why we don’t see great black actresses in other roles on the movie screen or TV on a regular basis.
Sadly no one is gonna hear me discussing these topics. And they really needed to be discussed in an open forum.
A generation of Brothers and Sistas is growing up with racist movies like Monster’s Ball, Training Day and Precious or poorly made Tyler Perry movies and TV shows as the only images of what it’s like to be African-American. Kids are growing up reading poorly written Street Lit and Erotica believing this is the standard for African-American literature. Instead of our arts taking a step forward with our first Black President, African-American art, media, and culture is taking a huge step back.
I’m really frustrated. I want to bring positive stories to the Black Community. I want to write stories that inspire, uplift and make people think. I want to publish material featuring a diverse array of African-American experiences on the bookstore shelves. But I keep running into roadblocks. From family, and from the black community itself. Everybody’s got money and support for the thugz, ballas, and hustlas and every other black who fits a stereotype, but where are the helping hands for regular hardworking Brothas like me?
I was building strong momentum over the past year from the release of the Cassandra Cookbook into Marilyn’s release. Getting the good reviews, building the network of contacts. Working on my craft to get better at writing. Preparing new titles for future release.
That momentum has all but stopped because I’m trying to figure out a new way to get promotion and sales for my books. It’s hard enough to get books in the hands of readers when they do know about them, harder when they don’t know about them. I’m just wondering where I’m going from here.