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AALBC.com's Thumper's Corner Discussion Board » Thumper's Corner - Archive 2003 » Book Covers/Black Imprints/Black Sections « Previous Next »

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Tee C. Royal

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Posted on Friday, May 16, 2003 - 08:05 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Okay, I'm sure we've covered this before, but in an interview I did last week, the commentator asked me several questions that I'd like to share with you guys. I'll be back with my answers.

1. How do you feel about ethnic looking covers? Are they cool because they help us find "our" books quickly or do they limit the potential selling capability?

2. How do you feel about black imprints? Are they helping or hurting the AA Literary Industry?

3. When going in a bookstore, what do you prefer? The all black section for our books or for books to be mixed in together by genre?

Let us hear from ya.

-Tee
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Bayou Lights

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Posted on Friday, May 16, 2003 - 09:06 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tee--

Personally, I am not a fan of the ethnic covers just for the sake of identifying the group as AA, Latino, whatever. Rarely, are these done well in my opninon and it doesn't feel like the art directors give them much thought.

There were two books that I thought had great covers and they weren't typical of AA literature. "Echoes of a Distant Summer" by Guy Johnson and "Erasure" by Percival Everett. I thought both were creative and out of the norm for what we'd been seeing. Also, "Hot Johnny" was a beautiful cover in my opinion. Hopefully, we'll start to move away from the primary color book covers since they don't seem to be popular with too many readers.

As far as imprints go...I think you get the good and the bad with everything. Already it's become easy to indentify the sister'girl lines and the ones that are trying to push the envelope with real literature and it allows readers to have a "cheat sheet" to the type of books they enjoy. Imprints have existed forever, I remember they're being a huge uproar when Random House did Vintage Contemporaries back in the 80s. That imprint was hailed as the "fall of literature" but I enjoyed many of the titles. Just as there are Harlequin contemporary, Harlequin historial, etc there will be AA imprints that each have a specific slant and demographic. Quite a few impressive authors have come out of the imprints (Nichelle Tramble, Soloman Jones, Tracy Thompson,etc) so we can't dismiss them outright even though a few authors have snuck in through a back window that should have been closed.

Lastly, I've noticed in bookstores that the AA section is usually only browsed by AA readers. And the Gay/Lesbian section is browsed by gays and lesbians. It's easy for readers but I would hate it if I was an author hoping for a wider audience.

Bayou
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ABM

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Posted on Friday, May 16, 2003 - 11:36 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

1. How do you feel about ethnic looking covers? Are they cool because they help us find "our" books quickly or do they limit the potential selling capability? WHATEVER COMPELS PEOPLE TO READ AND BUY AA BOOKS IS OKEE FREAKIN' DOKEY WITH ME. TOO MUCH FLAP IS MADE OF THE UBIQUITOUS, THOUGH OFTEN SILLY, SILHOUETTED FIGURES ON AA BOOKS. I DON'T KNOW IF THE "SHADOW PEOPLE" DISSUADE SOME PEOPLE FROM BUYING THEM. BUT I KNOW THEY ARE POPULAR WITH PUBLISHERS FOR A REASON.

2. How do you feel about black imprints? Are they helping or hurting the AA Literary Industry? AN IMPRINT IS LIKE ANY OTHER ENTITY, THERE ARE GOOD 1'S AND BAD 1'S. BUT, ON BALANCE, I THINK THE CONCEPT OF IMPRINTS IS GOOD. THERE ARE SO MANY AUTHORS/BOOKS, THAT ANY SYSTEM CREATED TO APPRECIATE/NURTURE/SUPPORT SPECIAL/SPECIFIC LITERARY GENRES IS VALUABLE. WHAT I HOPE THAT HAPPENS IS THE AUTHORS PUBLISHES NO MORE THAN 2 IMPRINTED BOOKS, THEN MOVES ON THE FOOD CHAIN TO ALLOW NEW, MAYBE FRESHER, VOICES TO GET INTO THE GAME. OTHERWISE, REDUNDANCY WILL BREED MEDIOCRITY.

3. When going in a bookstore, what do you prefer? The all black section for our books or for books to be mixed in together by genre? I AM SOMEWHAT CONFLICTED ON THIS 1. I APPRECIATE THE CONCERNS THAT MANY SHARE ABOUT AA BOOK'S BEING SEGREGATED INTO 1 AREA, THUS POSSIBLY LIMITING THEIR MARKETABILITY. I, HOWEVER, DO ENJOY THE CONVENIENCE OF KNOWING EXACTLY WHERE AA BOOKS WILL LIKELY BE. ULTIMATELY, I WOULD SIDE ON WHICH MERCHANDISING METHOD ALLOWED FOR GREATER AA BOOK SALES. IF PLACING AA BOOKS AMONG THE "GENERAL POPULATION" IS A MORE LUCRATIVE FORUM FOR DEALING BOOKS, I AM WILLING TO TAKE A LITTLE MORE TIME TO FIND WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR AT THE BOOKSTORE.
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akaivyleaf

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Posted on Saturday, May 17, 2003 - 07:48 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

1. How do you feel about ethnic looking covers? Are they cool because they help us find "our" books quickly or do they limit the potential selling capability?
I like seeing images of AAs on the covers of books. I dislike seeing poor artists renditions of us on the cover. We don't look like mishapened stick people and we deserve more credit than to be created by a kindergartener in my not so humble opinion. I would rather see abstract artwork than some of the stuff that is out now. I guess it makes it easier to identify but to me its unprofessional. (Maybe thats not the word I'm looking for... but an indication that we're not thought highly enough of.)

2. How do you feel about black imprints? Are they helping or hurting the AA Literary Industry?
Anything that is trying to put AA Literature in the public eye is a good thing to me. Like others have made mention of, there are good and bad in everything, this industry not withstanding. I like the fact that publishers are recognizing that we are a growing, multi-million dollar market and we deserve imprints, marketing, national recognition etc. I think this is a good thing.

3. When going in a bookstore, what do you prefer? The all black section for our books or for books to be mixed in together by genre?
Why can't they be in both places. I wouldn't mind a section devoted to African American Literature, but if I want to browse the stacks, I should be able to see our authors in Alphabetical order along with the rest. Now I did go to a bookstore recently that thoroughly pissed me off. Their black books were behind the counter. I couldn't figure that out for anything in the world. You had to ask the clerk to let you see a book. The stores excuse? They were featuring African American Books. WTF? Featuring them would mean that the customer could have greater access to the book, pick it up, read the jacket at our own leisure. Not here...The clerks couldn't even find the book, like going to a jewelry store. I want to see this ring, and you're tapping on the glass and the clerk is grabbing every ring except the one you want to see. This clerk is grabbing every book except the one I wanted. Then when she finally gets it right, she watches you like a hawk like I'm going to steal it or something. That thoroughly pissed me off. If we're going to have a section, then let it be easily accessed otherwise don't single us out.
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Always Lurking

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Posted on Saturday, May 17, 2003 - 09:02 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

1. How do you feel about ethnic looking covers? Are they cool because they help us find "our" books quickly or do they limit the potential selling capability?
-- I don't like covers with real live people on them, Minority or not. I find them tacky and they take away from my creating the character from the authors description. I don't mind ethnic covers as long as there aren't any people on them. I also think it's less creative to just put people on the cover. Who cares? Give me something that will intirgue me and make me wonder. Give me something that connects with the story. 'Cuz I know they got people in the darn book. lol just my soap box.

2. How do you feel about black imprints? Are they helping or hurting the AA Literary Industry?
--I have to agree with akaivyleaf on that one. I think the AA imprints are good for the industry because they also give fledging authors a chance.

3. When going in a bookstore, what do you prefer? The all black section for our books or for books to be mixed in together by genre?
-- As a reader, I love it when the books are seperated because it makes life easier for me, especially if I'm just browsing. As an author, the seperation is limiting. . . In those cases authors better promote their butts off not only to AA medians but non-AA as well.
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Tee C. Royal

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Posted on Sunday, May 18, 2003 - 12:29 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey all, thanks for sharing your thoughts and sorry to take so long to jump in myself. Been trying to get some R&R. <grin> Anywho...let me get ready for my perch up on the fence. ROFL.

1. How do you feel about ethnic looking covers? Are they cool because they help us find "our" books quickly or do they limit the potential selling capability?
Simply put, I like some...others I don't. I prefer the real, photography type pictures over the drawn caricatures that sometimes makes the characters look deformed. However, when the characters on the cover don't match the descriptions that the authors have given, I have an issue with that. Most of the covers that I've really liked didn't have people on them at all...and I kinda like that. One that pops in my head is the cover for Thunderland. I think "ethnic" covers limit the selling and placement of a book.

2. How do you feel about black imprints? Are they helping or hurting the AA Literary Industry?
:::getting comfy on the fence::: Well, let's see...I like them, then again I don't. It's great to have a nice cushy spot for the black authors to reside in, but do the black imprints have the same "power" as the main portions of the publishing companies? Do they get the same marketing, the same promotion? The same advances? While I think it's a great opportunity for those starting off...I think it pigeonholes them. Why can't they be with the top of the publishing companies like some of their white counterparts? Or...why can't they move up once they've established themselves with the company?

3. When going in a bookstore, what do you prefer? The all black section for our books or for books to be mixed in together by genre?
Yep, I'm still on the fence, except this time, I want it all! I like when they're all in one section because it helps me make my selection without having to look through hundreds of books. However, I think they should ALSO fall in their respective genres. Like I said, I want it both ways.

-Tee
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Snake Girl Poisonous

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Posted on Monday, May 19, 2003 - 10:43 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

IMO St. Martin's Press has the WORST book covers in the biz. Especially the black novel ones. Just horrific.

Great looking book covers I've seen:

"Coldest Winter Ever"--by far the best. The cover itself is now a classic.

"Secrets"--Nuruddin Farah. Love that cover! The little boy looks like my son.

"How Stella Got Her Groove Back"--HORRIBLE book..but a great cover! Excellent. Too bad the story wasn't any good, although I liked the movie.

"The Way Forward Is With A Broken Heart"--Another classic, beautiful cover. The woman sitting on the man's lap is actually the author herself, Alice Walker. Great, great cover. You could use it for wallpaper.

Redemption Song--Another poorly written, overly emotional slave narrative, but the book cover is to die for! The cover says it all. Excellent art work!

HOT JOHNNY--Yes, I loved that cover, too. It made me buy the book alone.

**As for imprints...they're good, because they're helping a lot of blacks get published, but then again, they pay MUCH LESS for an advance than the actual parent companies pay.

You don't see Toni Morrison or Walter Mosley doing books for "black imprints"--cause they cheat the authors. Sign them to ridiculous 3 book deals. I think I read BLANK BLANK got $5,000 advance for a 3 book deal totalling $15,000 advance. Now come on. Even your average White college kid being published for the first time gets the standard $35 to $40,000 "novice" advance.

Check this out..if they give you an advance for $100,000...then all you have to do is sell 33,333 hard backs to EARN BACK the advance. Can you see how bad they screwed that lady?

Shooot, honey. They wouldn't get my behind to sign for that crap. I'd wait it out until I got signed by a Mainstream house. ANd let me tell you this if you're a writer...DO NOT go to Kensington books (Dafina). Their advances for "new black authors" is PEANUTS. They pimp their authors. Pay them seeds and hardly promote them.

They even dictate to the author what they want them to write...for instance..."Can you write us a story about a drug addicted superstar patterned after Whitney Houston?--we'll give you a $3500 advance."

Child, please. Can you say MY NAME AIN'T LOLLIPOP?

AT THE BOOKSTORE...I prefer the all black section. Love it. I spend hours just browsing those books..imagine how long it would take if I had to browse a bunch of other stuff mixed in. I also love how record stores do this. NOTICE how whites find the rap and hip hop sections...or the jazz and blues? IF black folks write good books, then WHITES will find the black section and spend millions.

That's if these imprints stop dumping all this PULP crap in the aisles like they've been doing lately.



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Tee C. Royal

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Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2003 - 10:45 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Snake Girl, I'm over here LOL for real!! Your post is funny, but I do want to disagree with you on one thing. You lumped all of the St. Martin's Press books together, and I can't recall one that I didn't like, but I Know Who Holds Tomorrow by Francis Ray was absolutely beautiful (to me). There are a few others, but this is the one that gets my vote for favorite book cover. Which ones were horrific to you?

I'm sorta with you in the imprint thing to. I don't know the inside of what really goes on with the advances and things of this nature, but I would like to see more of our authors with the "main" portion of the publishing company.

ROFL... Is the saying "My Name Ain't Lollipop" something I should know? ROFL. I was laughing out loud for real on that one. TOO FUNNY!

-Tee
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Snake Girl

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Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2003 - 10:59 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tee--

Girl you right. I Know Who Holds Tomorrow was the BOMB book cover. I also like that one with the black woman sprawled across the bed. Forgot the title.

My Name Ain't Lollipop means "I aint' no sucka".

Girl, they triflin. I work for one of the biggest publishers in New Yawk. So don't be doubt'n what big sista tells ya. They triflin and they treat black authors BAD. But our people so desperate to get a deal--they don't mind. It's like the old days with Chess Records, Verve Records. Just bad deals galore.


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Tee C. Royal

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Posted on Monday, May 26, 2003 - 09:33 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Snake Girl, I think that one was And on the Eighth Day She Rested by J.D. Mason...another GREAT book. I too loved that cover. It was interesting that it kept the same cover that it had when it was re-published by Sadorian Publications. I even have the very first copy of the book...can't wait until it's a collector's item.

I like JD Mason's writing and I look forward to her new book.

-Tee

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