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New Effort to Kickstart Review Journal of African American Writers

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I started a kickstarter in order to recreate the much missed "Black Issues Book Review", which passed away back in 2007 for reasons I'm still not clear about. You could do it online, with as many reviews and matching and exceeding that quality, for about $2000 grand a month.


We're asking for $750 for the first month just to prove the concept. Obviously, we would think that readers and writers here would be interested. Here's the pitch:


As you may or may not know, there used to a bi monthly review of African American books called "Black Issues Book Review." It wasn't a great magazine--not on the level of say the Comics Journal or Locus--but it had decent writing and prominent African American writers would make the cover. Unfortunately, due to the usual financial problems, that magazine died in 2007 and was never replaced. As a lover of African American fiction and non-fiction, I would like to replace it online with a small team. A third of the money would go toward freelancers and the rest would go to me, where I would attempt to review three to four books a week. I believe "Black Issues" reviewed about 20 to 30 books every two months. I think I can match that, and potentially write even higher-quality reviews. I would love to do this as an African American writer. PS: I'm a professional freelance writer and reviewer. You can find some of my reviews here: http://writersofcolor.blogspot.com/


You can fund the Kickstarter-like campaign here, if you happen to think that promoting and developing black writers is an important task.

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Hey Philip, critical reviews of Black books are sorely needed.  The loss of Black Issues Book Review was a big deal in my book.  If you read anything I've written over the last few years you know that I consider the loss of BIBR just one of a great number of losses adversely impacting the Black book ecosystem.


Keep us posted on your progress.  Once you start publishing I would be glad to share information about your publication.


What have you read lately that you really like?


In fact if you post your your opinion, in a paragraph or two, about a recently published or soon to be released book.  I'd be glad to share it in my eNewsletter and use that as an opportunity to mention your kick starter campaign.

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As a guy that recently ran a Kickstarter, I have to say that clicking your link and visiting that page is a tough sell. I know that you used Kickstarter"like", but I think it would be better to use Kickstarter. it is very difficult to get people to your website, although I just went there right now. It is equally as hard to get people to donate to something that has a "like" quality but is not a verifiable method of crowdfunding. Don't swim upstream. I would go to Kickstarter or Indiegogo since they are tied in with Amazon and Paypal and people already have a level of comfort with those platforms. They are also considered more "on the level". I've tried using the different crowd sourcing platforms before but I wasn't successful until I ran a Kickstarter.


Good luck.

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Thank you for your comments although I noticed that neither of you donated! Maybe Kickstarter like isn't enough.


But I also miss "Black Issues". In fact, I'm looking at an old issue now with Aaron MacGruder on the cover. It wasn't just reviews but a lot of really good stories and gossip. And I'm just shocked that it hasn't been replaced. As far as new black writers, well, you got me there because there's no longer a forum like "Black Issues" to point me toward the right stuff. However, and nepotistically enough, I would probably review the books of my cousin Leonce Gaiter because they're outstanding, at least  on a technical level. So that would be a start. Heard there's a new Zadie Smith novel out. Would love to see what's out there.


Chris: You're probably right and I have used the more high end services in the past. Give me some time on that. But the money does go through. It does work. Whatever I raise will go toward the project. If you're curious about the quality of the reviews then please check out some of my reviews here.


As for work that black readers might be interested in, I do have two short stories on Amazon right now. You can find both of them here and here. But I'm really excited about what I'll be writing in the future and I'll make sure that I mention those efforts at  your forums.


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While I admire, your motivation and what you are doing, simply responding to you is acknowledgement without my financial support. I would have to see the reason for looking for a donation and I don't see it. Simply stated I run a blog right now among all of the other things I do that would probably blow your mind considering how much I do in a day, lol. But if you are really looking to start a mag or online review journal simply do it. You don't need an investment of financial support, you simply need time. Both Troy and I have dedicated countless hours to publishing and Black Literature on a several fronts. Troy has done this in a greater fashion with his search engine Huria and the AALBC platform. I have published a number of books by other authors and my own books as well.


To start an online mag or review or even a print magazine that is bi monthly or monthly or quarterly, all you need is the love of reading and the time to write the reviews. Starting a website requires hosting and you can pay for that for less than 6 bucks per month. Once you have hosting you can sign up for an Affiliate program like the Power List through Mahogany to earn money on books purchased through your website. You can also add Google Adsense or an ad program as well as solicit ads from writers. In essence, an online platform for reviews can be run without an investment of any kind or fundraising unless you just don't have the 6 bucks per month.


This is why I didn't invest. Once I read through and got the idea of what you were doing, I felt just dropping money in the bucket wasn't needed. I do hope that you will move forward and I hope that you will garner interest. But I do find it interesting that while I'm a new poster here on AALBC, I have paid for promotion of my books and I have an author's page. I also promote the website on my website and have done so for years. You on the other hand have taken the time for your first post on aalbc to ask for money but you have not stated how you have supported this platform. The interesting thing about Kickstarter is that it works because most of the people who successfully run a campaign have already supported other campaigns on the site. I think that might be the case here.

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Hi Philip, Leonce is a friend of the site and I often recommend his books.  We reviewed both Bourbon Street and I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang


Regarding donating to your cause.  I did not donate because for a couple of reasons.  One reason was described quite well by Chris.  I also took the time to look at your campaign, your website and social media.  The other reason is that I have limited resources and can't financially many projects of people I know and whose projects I believe in.


This is not to say that your project is unworthy of support in my eyes.  It also does not mean that I don't and can't support you in non-financial ways.  Also don't take Chris' advise lightly or discount my offer--both are just as valuable as a financial contribution, if you chose to take advantage of them.


Running a magazine like Black Issues Book Review is just plain hard and does not generate a lot of money.  That is why it has not been replaced. 


Finally, BIBR was not the only game in town.  There are other magazines reviewing Black books.  One that I happen to support financially is Mosaic Literary Magazine. The Magazine is run by a not-for profit organization called the Literary Freedom Project which is run by Ron Kavanaugh.  This magazine was in print before BIBR and is still being printed today.




I suggest you read the masthead of BIBR and contact the people that used to run the magazine and write for it.  Virtually all of them are still in the industry and may be easily found online.


If you wanted to do something really interesting you could write about BIBR and why it folded.  It would also given you some additional insight into what it takes to run a publication like.

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