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Black Women Writers Score $Million+ Book Deals

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I was reading the Wall Street Journal yesterday saw an interesting article, "Betting Big on Literary Newcomers." Of particular interest to me were the sisters who garnered seven figure book deals.   It looks like the focus on African female novelists will continue.

The most fascinating thing is that these humongous advances are going to debut authors. Apparently auctions drive up prices, but this is classic bubble territory as far as I'm concerned. 

From a business perspective a big advance better come with a big marketing budget as well.  As a bookseller, I'm expecting some ad buys for these books.  Then again handing out million dollar advances is one way to get free promotion.

I'm sure these books must be great reads.  It will be interesting to see how well they sell next year. 

Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi (Random House, Jun 07, 2016)
Behold the Dreamers: A Novel by Imbolo Mbue (Knopf, Aug 23, 2016)


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This is good. I didn't do any research on either, but this seems to be a gamble on 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Official Site


Her success continues to keep the door open for international Blacks. It's a door that I haven't seen opened for African Americans since Renee Swindle who got one of these deals with BJ Robbins on her book Please, Please, Please at the peak of the sistagirl book movement. Now I'm making the assumption that both of these ladies are not American and I could be wrong, but the names bring an automatic connection to Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda, and then to Jamaica Kincaid. Either way it's a good thing to see and maybe a sign that books are possibly going to become more important with Coates' big win. Good info as always Troy!

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Yes, judging by these names, African women seem to be the flavor of the month for the publishing industry.  To me, African-authored books could almost be a genre unto themselves because they all seem to be serious, character- driven books whose protagonists are struggling, solitary, sensitive souls on a mission to rise above their circumstances and liberate their inner goddess/warrior. Of course this is pretty much the standard formula for any novel by any sex or nationality but I've been there and done that and have outgrown all genres of fiction except mysteries ala James Patterson. I know, I know. Shame on me!  But my defection to the non-fiction arena stems from my late life desire to read bios and books and documentaries about real people and historical eras. (Could be why I'm close to even losing interest in my own book.) :wacko:

However,  I am always glad to see women get ahead and do well, so to all the black sistas out there, scoring book deals, I say a hearty "you go, girl!" 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Cynique, yes they are both African.  While it is great to see African women score big with book deals; African-American women continue to be marginalized.

African writers are actually more than the flavor of the month, they actually becoming quite dominant.  Chimamanda is another example.  Chimi is a brilliant writer, but we have brilliant writers in America too.

If Random House is paying these two authors over 2 million dollars in advances, not counting the spend in advertising and promotion, you best believe this comes at the expense of other authors who will not get deals or who will get smaller advances--who do you think those authors will be?

You could give 20 other authors advances large enough for them to live on for a year or two. But I guess these guys figure it is better to focus on two books rather than 20.  But the trade off is fewer stories being told.  

The merger of Penguin and Random House has resulted in a massive publisher, owned by a German corporation, that operates, in manner that might seem odd to one that loves literature, but makes perfect sense to an oligarchist.

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Yes, it's like publishers feel they honor their obligation to their black readership by opting for African authors as opposed to black American ones, almost as if books by African women will be better written and taken more seriously. Sistas just can't catch a break.

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