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Space for Critique Feedback Proposal


Good evening brother, Troy, been thinking a lot about your site (AALBC) wondering why we don't have a 'critique circle' type space where Black writers here can submit their work for feedback and, critique work of other writers?  Such space may prove beneficial to authors, especially beginning Black writers.  


Since I've been here in the Holy Land working with various Arab/Hebrew, and English speaking writers and journalists, content, developmental, and copy editing I've learned a great deal (while learning on the job) about the importance/power of the written word.  That Black folk need to help Black folks master and/or improve in the rhetorical discourse, for whatever they're passionate about.  Far too often, non-Black feedback and critique fail to understand the essence of the Black experience when offering structural feedback on Black writings.  

Perhaps it can be done on a 'point system,' get a critique by first critiquing someone else's work first.  Just a thought!!

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It is a good idea.  But the people would have to do it.I can provide a facility, but people have to use it.  I simply don't have the resources to manage it.  Now if someone else steps up I'm willing to help.


Non-black feedback is what people seek because it is non-black validation that is desired and what we value so much. 


I've been plowing through the NYT most notable books looking for the black writers.  I've done the last decade so far.  See if you can draw any conclusions about the authors that were selected.

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I have!  the NYT, as well as the big five, advertise for diverse writers only.  Penguin Random House will accept well written Black material but they too go by the 'universal Black guidelines' if you know what I mean.  They gut Black works for crossover marketing to suit the White audience.  What we need to do (I propose) is to forego traditionally standards and get some of these Black male and female writers to produce exceptional material that SELLs.  All we really need is perhaps a dozen or so Black novels, market the hell of them (even if only Black readers buy) to ensure they become bestsellers.  Currently, only about 2 of the big five have Black developmental copy editors on staff.  Amazon has none.  


Make the big five, including Amazon, come to our exceptional Black authors offering publishing contracts; no greedy White publisher is going to overlook the Black market when they see Blacks buy and read books about Black folks authored by Black folks.


As I pointed out in my profile, among my double major, Journalism & Public Communication was the one I excelled in.  Developmental copy editing is something I've here in the Holy Land.  No a simple undertaking, this idea, but worth it.  

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@Kalexander2, for the sake of clarity please define 'universal Black guidelines.' 


I don't think any publisher--even the big five are against Black male and female writers who produce exceptional material that SELLs.  The operative word being "sells." They just don't put much effort into developing these writers and helping these books sell. This is natural given the makeup of the organizations and demographics of this nation.  So I agree with  the idea of producing a dozen or so Black novels and marketing the hell out of them to ensure they become bestsellers.  This is something that is long overdue.


Unfortunately, there is one one bestsellers list that really to matters to people--and it ain't one that a Black person compiles.  The NYT list that I published  is one of the most popular pages on the site and got a lot of attention on social media.  I've previously published a list with many of the same titles in fact my most critically acclaimed books is better the The NY Times list (of notable book written  by Black writers) because AALBC.com's list identifies more books and is heavily weighted by books that Black folks have celebrated, but it did not get the same level of engagement on social media.


Of course I appreciate the Time is FAR more well known than AALBC, but if the biggest and baddest site on the web slinging Black books can't command the same attention by Black readers as the NY Times then I'm not sure what Black folks can do to produce, market, and sell a dozen bestsellers. 


What I do know is that we have to reach readers directly. Increasingly our access to people is controlled by others.   Social command so much of our online attention.  We have, effectively no traditional media (that covers Black books), even AALBC.com is at the mercy of Google. Maybe the E Lynn Harris tactic of going to salon and selling books out the back of a trunk is something that wee need to go back to doing....


Of course I'm down to try--I'm all in as far as Black writers and books are concerned, but it will not be easy and we more people and resources to make it happen.



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Sorry for not getting back to you before now, I was camping out at my favorite spot at the Dead Sea area in the Jordan Valley.  Back home now!


@Troy, I was being facetious (flippant); treating the seriousness of the big five biases towards Blacks authors issue with deliberately inappropriate humor (universal Black guidelines) because it seems every White group has its own guideline/handbook when dealing with Black people. Going off the rails like that helps me maintain my own humanity.  I do apologize.


Nor, have I inferred any of the big five’s go against Black writers, all, however, find little commercial value in Black stories.  Not just stories about the Black experience (literary fiction (my favorite)); even sci-fi, mystery, thrillers but to a disadvantaging degree because they are different.  


e.g. “It’s not what you say but how you say it” (BS) referring to rhetorical ‘tone’ expressions of Blacks is quite different from that of Whites.  It drives me up the walls every time I hear the term ‘unappealing’ or ‘inappropriate tone’ etc.  Yet, it must be realized and, accepted that story structure and plot have (tried and tested) requirements that satisfy all elements of story craft, to be successful.


If I may, correction brother, the NYT bestseller review board isn’t what it used to be.  Their public reviews are not even about (never were in my opinion) exceptional stories.  I personally know several NYT editors who would review most any error free novel favorably, for a hefty price.  Usually, for a few thousand dollars (up front) for reading the work, and another few thousand for the review.  NO, PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE ME!


In fact, the Huffington Post novel reviews are actually taken more serious than the those of the New York Times, and there are many others.  All of which is little more than a bunch of pompous crap.  


No sir, best sellers are books that sell (a lot) with or without a review, period.  We do not, nor should we reach out to readers, except inasmuch as marketing goes, it is the stories themselves, (the writers) who reach readers, from all walks of life.  Which is motive(s) for my proposal?


Being able to snatch a readers’ inattention, starting at the cover, and keeping that reader in a state of an unconscious intrigue until the last page is read with stories they’ll never forget.  


That starts with you, and me, sharing our skills and knowledge of fiction/non-fiction stories, and public discourse by offering feedback to Black writers, especially beginning Black writers.  

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@Kalexander2, you replied less than an hour after I posted--that is very responsive!  Even if you took a few days it would be cool.  No one expects an immediate response.  


Hey, are you in the Middle East?  I'm joking, but you say it a lot, so much it makes me wonder why you do it....


The suggestion that money influence the NY Times review process would not surprise me.  Anything that important is always gamed.  I would not put too much faith in HuffPo either.  I know more than one writer who took money from an advertiser for a mention in an article, and the "advertisement" was treated as if it were pure journalism.  The same goes for Amazon reviews.  Many authors will provide incentives for favorable reviews on Amazon.


All of this is why booksellers, trusted reviewers, and coverage by Black media is so important.  But again, these things are sorely lacking in the Black community.  This makes it much more difficult for readers to learn about the books they will enjoy the most.   This is what I mean by reaching the reader. 


The writer should not be the entity most responsible for the selling their own books, indeed most are poorly suited for this task.  Those authors who are best (or most aggressive) don't always have the best books.  Can you see Toni Morrison going into a beauty parlor selling her books or standing behind a table at some obscure book fair trying to sell Beloved?  A Ta-Nehisi Coates would still be an obscure writer were it not for The Atlantic


Sadly, I don't think Black people could provide a platform for a Coates or Morrison to rise to prominence.  It is what we call the white cosign which enabled their fantastic level of success and prominence. Sure the Black properties that remain promote these writers, but gain they had not impact on their success.  


The white co-sign is rarely given to African-American who are not from Africa/Caribbean, gay, mixed race (look at the NY Times list with that lense).  


The impotence of the Black community to determine which books and writers are is something I would like help change.


I also agree that it absolutely starts with us.  Amazon damn sure ain't gonna do it.

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Yeah, the time difference here is about 11 hours ahead.  I am, in the Middle (near) East, specifically, Jerusalem Israel (actually Palestine) for just over five years now.  


Curiosity about where it is said to have all started, according to the history of western civilization; the holy languages and needing a change brought me here, the cradle of civilization.


We’re on the same page with respect to ‘reaching out to readers’ only varied approaches towards the same end.  


It is so true, brother, but times respect rhetoric of Coats because he helps politicians get Black votes.  And because he's a damn good journalist.  Of all mainstream news media, The Atlantic and Associated Press stand out as most reliable for unbiased information, to an extent.  A family member (Dr. Angela Davis) may disagree with your assessment of Coats.


I am in the process of putting together a formal detailed proposal for just such a project, my time and energy levels (unfortunately) are pretty much spoken for these days.  But I should have completed working draft within the several weeks (4-6).

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@Kalexander2, what did I say about Coates that Angela Davis would disagree with?  Keep in mind and I made not attempt to assess Coates himself, just that Black media had nothing to do with his meteoric rise to fame and fortune.


I just saw Davis speak a few weeks ago.  She strikes me as a great woman. 


A few year ago a shot a shot video at the NAtional Black Writers Conference (I used a small digital camera and was a some distance, but it came out alright).



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I say, "may" because of the time I spent with her from during her trial involving the San Quintin Six (United National Community to Free Angela Davis and Political Prisoners), her disposition of Black professionals and politics.   Yes, she is very insightful.  

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