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Monday, November 4, 2013

The Frustrations of Being a Publisher of Positive Black Fiction

I’ve been running a publishing company out of my bedroom for the past ten going on eleven years. And it’s been a challenge. But the hardest part about being a Black businessman isn’t writing stories. It isn’t publishing books. It isn’t promoting books. And it isn’t even selling books. It’s trying to rally support from the Black community.

The Black community is one of the hardest to sell on reading. I can get White and foreign customers excited about my books before I can get Black people excited about them. I can sell books to Whites and foreigners before I can sell them to Black people. And I got into the publishing business to reach my brothers and sisters.

I've learned the one thing Black people hate to do is READ. That’s what makes it so hard for me to reach readers.

Listening to the stories of other Black businesspeople, I’m learning that the two biggest hurdles we encounter from African-American customers are resistance and apathy. When African-American customers are presented with a product that forces them to think and makes them to do work like books, they resist them.

And when they’re presented with books that present a different set of experiences than most African-Americans encounter like life in the ghetto they become apathetic. That’s what I believe makes people walk past the books I present to them.

I believe Black people tune out anything that forces them to think. That makes them have to work. African-Americans are so emotionally damaged they’ve become comfortable with substandard. And because they’re so comfortable with substandard they don’t want to think about anything that isn’t related to their experiences.

This is why nothing changes for the condition of Black people. This is why it’s so easy for Black folks to pick up a street lit book or an erotica book than one of the books I publish. I keep trying to get Black people to get out of the box, but the way the Black book market is going these days it’s like Black folks just want to stay in it.

The way I see it, Black folks today are scared. They’re afraid to re-define what Black is. So they embrace the most racist and degrading stereotypes about Black people.

Because they’re afraid to explore anything else. Black people fear different more than White Supremacy. Black people fear change more than White Supremacy.

Why? Because they’ll have to take responsibility for themselves and stand on their own two feet.

This is why the street lit and erotica sell. This is why ghetto culture and coon culture is making its triumphant comeback in the Black community. Black folks want anything that reinforces the White Liberal narrative that depicts them as a victim in society.

That’s what makes selling positive Black fiction like mine a hard sell to the Black community.

Trying to overcome the challenge of Black apathy and Black resistance has been the most frustrating thing I’ve had to deal with these past five years. It’s made me angry at times. It’s made me want to quit and close up shop.

Dealing with the Black masses is discouraging, aggravating and frustrating. If it’s not the apathy and resistance I get from Negro masses, it’s the entitled masses of Negroes who complain after being given a freebie. People too damn lazy to read a synopsis. To read a sample. And when they read the books and don’t get the usual bullshit street lit erotica they leave stupid 1 and 2-star reviews because the story wasn’t what they expected, the usual ghetto ass coon shit.

Dealing with these Black masses over the past five years I can finally understand why many Black businessmen give up and go on to serve White and foreign customers. A Black publisher like myself can get respect and cooperation from any other race, but can’t reach his own people. All a publisher like me gets from Black folks is grief.

The same people who will call me a sellout or an Uncle Tom if I go out and write books for those White and foreign customers. Even though I spent over to a DECADE trying to reach them Then complain that no one is producing positive books about Black people.

Even though I spent over a DECADE trying to reach them..

Yet these same Negro Masses who ignore me and my work will go out of their way to reach out to a street lit book or erotica book that depicts Black people in a negative light and praise it.

Sometimes, I feel like there’s no way to win with these Black masses. Black folks talks about change, but when you present this Negro with something different, and something positive they become afraid and run away from it.

The way I see it the Black masses in their co-dependent minds wants live in a box called the ghetto and
wants to continue playing the victim. They believe there’s power in pointing the finger at White people instead of taking the time to examine self. They don’t want to think, and that’s reflective in the art and literature that reinforce his position as the victim. From what I see I’m not producing what these Black masses want.

And I refuse to give them the raw sewage we call Black entertainment. These days they want their Precious, their Monster’s Balls, their brainless Tyler Perry Movies and Their Butler movies. They want their Minstrel reality shows like the Preachers of LA, Love & Hip Hop, and Basketball wives. They want their Street lit, and their borderline pornographic erotica at the bookstore. They want to continue living in a cultural swamp.

I keep trying to reach Black readers with positive and intelligent content, but it feels like it’s an impossible task trying to unplug the Black masses from the Matrix. Seriously I feel like I’m running against a brick wall. There’s a whole world out there for Black people to experience in art and literature, but it’s like the Negro masses want to stay in a psychological ghetto. Mentally, Black folks are like slaves.

I really enjoy writing. And I really enjoy publishing books. And I’m coming to the sad but horrible realization I may be forced to walk away from the Black community like many other Black businesspeople have had to do in order to make a living. Some people call it crossing over, but I’m realizing it’s the only way to move forward.

1 comment:

  1. I think the issue is being able to find the books not just in digital form but a physical form.
    I can tell you form my hunting for positive black books-it become mission impossible.
    I can name 2 book I have that are the only copies in my city and I have searched everywhere. The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton (written by a black guy for Archie) and Miles Away (Brandon Eastman & Star Trek's Enterprise Anthony Montgomery). You can't even find these books used. Same with Milestone-for the 2nd time I saw a Hardware trade. Static trades stay MIA.
    Also it's not just the black readers but publishers that don't wan the books. One woman got her book rejected when the publisher found out she was black and another loved the book but asked "do black people REALLY do these things?"
    Also how many black books get WHITE covers? Which keeps them out of the black section of a bookstore?
    What has killed black readership is people settling for whatever is available. I have seen positive black books sell out and NEVER get restocked. Hood rat books get restocked and tend to floor the used book market. As they do the public library.