Jump to content
Troy

Controversies in Black Literature Prove Book Sales Aren't Color-Blind

Recommended Posts

From a Huffington Post Article by Leonce Gaiter

Controversies in Black Literature Prove Book Sales Aren't Color-Blind

"...As a practicing marketing professional, I take the world as it is, not as I believe it should be. I acknowledge buyers' prejudices and preconceptions (especially those they don't acknowledge themselves) and work to subvert them. When the now-defunct publishing house Carroll & Graf published my novel several years ago, they placed an image of a bare-assed flirtatious black tart on the cover. This despite the fact that the book had one major black character among a pervasively white cast--and that character was male. I noted my objections to the publisher, who ignored them, seemingly convinced that basic marketing principles did not apply to the book trade."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

bourbo7.jpg

We published a review of Gaiter's Burbon Street -- Thumper raved over it

While I did not read the book. I don't agree with Leonce's assessment of the cover. If I saw the book in the store I might be promopted to pick it up and see what it was about. And certainly if I read Thumper's review I absolutely would have checked it out. The cover would have increased my anticipation not taken away from it.

But I'm a Black man and have no way a know how say a white person might feel. I would however be surprised it they would look at this as a 'Black Book". I suspect the people who chose the design were Black.

Thumper did you have an issue with the cover?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

bourbo7.jpg

We published a review of Gaiter's Burbon Street -- Thumper raved over it

While I did not read the book. I don't agree with Leonce's assessment of the cover. If I saw the book in the store I might be promopted to pick it up and see what it was about. And certainly if I read Thumper's review I absolutely would have checked it out. The cover would have increased my anticipation not taken away from it.

But I'm a Black man and have no way a know how say a white person might feel. I would however be surprised it they would look at this as a 'Black Book". I suspect the people who chose the design were Black.

Thumper did you have an issue with the cover?

Hello All,

Troy: Actually, the cover was the trigger that made me pick up the book! I haven't read the article yet, just the post. I'll be back when I've read the article.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest FMK

bourbo7.jpg

We published a review of Gaiter's Burbon Street -- Thumper raved over it

While I did not read the book. I don't agree with Leonce's assessment of the cover. If I saw the book in the store I might be promopted to pick it up and see what it was about. And certainly if I read Thumper's review I absolutely would have checked it out. The cover would have increased my anticipation not taken away from it.

But I'm a Black man and have no way a know how say a white person might feel. I would however be surprised it they would look at this as a 'Black Book". I suspect the people who chose the design were Black.

Thumper did you have an issue with the cover?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest FMK

I actually like the background but not crazy about the placement of the woman. Maybe they could have had her recessed within the background somehow, standing up. It kinda makes her look cheesy. So I agree with him; they should have given him some other options.

FMK

Author of "Less Than a Minute to Air" in stores March 15

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"A flirtatious black tart"

Wow! I wonder if Leonce has a thing against black women? Okay, I read the article and I see his point. The man basically said, don't put anything black on my cover because it will not sell. The man was serious. He said something about going to war before he'd let that happen again. He said call him what you want but he's trying to get paid.

If I knew the brother, I'd ask him a few questions, but since I don't I am going to give him a pass.

I would like to hear the publishers view. Is it possible they thought the book wouldn't make it outside the lines?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Leonce Gaiter

Folks,

Thanks to Troy for asking me to join in. Aesthetically, as I said, I like the Bourbon Street cover. It's attractive. As a marketing tool to sell that particular book, it fails. It fails because its association with the book is tangential at best, and misleading at worst. The black female character in this book is a regal, frightening figure. Thus my wording "flirtatious black tart" (and yes, any number of items are sold with "flirtatious white tarts" on the packaging). My character is the farthest thing in the world from the woman on this cover. I believe the cover could have done a much better job of projecting the tone and content of the book while being equally provocative, and just as inviting to a black as well as white audience.

I know that the publishing people involved in the cover were not black. The odds against the designer being black are high. Often in such cases, the designer hasn't even read the manuscript. They work from second-hand descriptions and their perceptions of the content. That may or may not have been the case here.

I am a black writer who does not write books peopled entirely with black characters. My books often have to do with black characters making their way through the mainstream world and its white power structure. Books not about race, per se, but with principal black characters in majority-white worlds, race of course plays a significant role.

The publishing world seems comfortable only with black writers writing black worlds for black audiences. I have lived my life in the world-at-large. I know as much about "white America" -- more in fact because I study it from the outside -- that most white Americans. I also have a valued Afro-American culture to add to the mix. The idea that white people in publishing (and frankly, their ofttimes black front-men and women) have the gall to tell me that I should only write for and about one of those worlds infuriates me.

That was the reason for my post. Right now, the publishing "rules" hamper black writers. That's the fact. For black writers, I say break those rules whenever and wherever you can in order to gain your due. If, at times, that means not putting a black face on your cover, then don't put a black face on your cover.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr Gaiter,

It’s quite a joy to see you brave the halls of Thumper’s Corner. You are one of a long line of writers that have stopped by for a little chat. Many have come, and even stayed awhile, but few possessed your writing skills. They may have sold more books than you, however, your command of the English language is matched by few.

As you may or may not know, Troy has invited you into a lions den *lol*. I am just kidding about that but this can be a hard place to make your lunch. I like to think of this place as a watchdog group. They generally do not play favorites (although many have been known to such up to Zane) they have no problem telling it how they truly feel. If you are easily bruised, catch your hat and run for the hills. Well, maybe I should speak for myself.

As I said, your words were easy to follow. And, it would be a fool’s errand to disagree with your words and/or opinion. They are yours to own. However, I not only read your words, I felt your tone and what you did not say. Well, although you said you understand the white man, can you possibly understand them better than they know themselves? You implied the “cover folks” had not read your book, or you didn’t know if they had. Is it possible they had read the book or were advised that the cover that was chosen would garner more book sells? Is it possible the publisher didn’t think it was strong enough to carry a white audience? Now, I am just asking the questions because I have not read your book.

You mentioned white books that also use the words “tart” and I don’t know why. I didn’t see a prostitute on your cover. I saw a naked woman. Was it a black woman on the cover that made you say "I believe the cover could have done a much better job of projecting the tone and content of the book while being equally provocative, and just as inviting to a black as well as white audience"

I am wondering if we are dealing with an image that you wish to project, or principle verses money? You can write for the masses but it’s doubtful you can have your cake and eat it do. I mean, do you think your book would have done better if the cover didn’t project a black theme? For you, maybe it has nothing to do with money.

You said you have black characters in your other books. Are they black just because they have black skin or does their culture come along with their blackness?

Maybe it’s about a writer that desires to be judged by his skills and not by the color of his skin? I believe that's what you are saying?

Okay, roll the dice. If I roll snake eyes, I’ll still be a good writer that’s standing on my principles, and not simply a broke black writer?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Mr Gaiter, I want to apologize for carey as we dont know WHAT IN DA HAIL the brother is talking about either..most of the time...::sigh::

I must read your book now so I can comment on the cover.

LiLi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Mr Gaiter, I want to apologize for carey as we dont know WHAT IN DA HAIL the brother is talking about either..most of the time...::sigh::

I must read your book now so I can comment on the cover.

LiLi

LiLI, this is not a dating service. Sucking up will get you nowhere. You should try prayer and let me do my thang. Did you read the topic? The man didn't come here to sell you a book, DAMN. Did you have a question, or was your sole purpose rooted in starting mess? Huh, what's really in your wallet. Thumper said "Actually, the cover was the trigger that made me pick up the book". Do you have anything to add to the conversation?

Haters, ya gotta love'em. *smooche* <_<

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks alot for adding the additional perspective and claification Leonce.

I guess my opinion would have been different if I'd actually read the book. Your's is a common complain from authors. One author complained about a stereo typical "urban cover being placed on her literary title. She was afraid people who wanted to read urban fiction was be disappointed and people looking for a literary novel would over look her book.

It would be interesting to get Thumper's take since he enjoyed the book and liked the cover. Thumper did you feel mislead by the cover having read the book?

It would be really nice if were possible to replish this book with an new title and a cover that matched the contents of the book to see how it sold compored with the original book. Maybe since the publisher is now defunct the book can be republished as a ebook with under a pseudonym and a new cover -- might ring a lot more money out of the title as it pulls in a new audience.

I agree Leonce can right since I discovered this article I've read a few of his Huffington Posts pieces. I though this article was on point: On MLK and What Obama is Not

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello All,

I see the problem here as twofold: accurate representation of the story and marketability.

I agree with Leonce. The cover does not represent the story inside the book. Normally, that fact alone would have bothered me. But, the edition of Bourbon Street I was reading was a hardcover, which means that I took the book cover off while I was reading it. The picture was not constantly in my face; thereby, I was able to enjoy the story on its own merit. Now, if I was reading a paperback edition that cover would have ticked me off a little because it did not have any connection to the story. I remember getting ticked off with the cover of Bernice McFadden's Sugar. The woman on the cover did not look anything like how the character Sugar was depict in the novel. Hey, you all know that I HATE ugly book covers! I will not read a book that has an ugly book cover. Leonce has every right to expect his book cover to have some connection to his story, the publisher's see the cover as a form of advertisement.

The marketability tip: Many black authors have the same problem, how to get the attention and sales from the white reading audience. There is no need to automatically, instantly fracture the audience that could read, buy and enjoy the story. I was talking to an author a few months ago about this very subject and suggested to her that for her next book, not to put her face on it. Maybe then the book could be placed in the Fiction section of the bookstores instead of those 3 or 4 shelves dedicated to African-American Fiction/Literature. There is some truth to this. I remember when I discovered the Alex Cross series, I did not know until years later that James Patterson was a white man writing a whole mystery series based on a black detective character. So, its not like the white reading audience can't accept or read books featuring black characters, its getting a few dimble heads to accept that fact.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LiLI, this is not a dating service. Sucking up will get you nowhere. You should try prayer and let me do my thang. Did you read the topic? The man didn't come here to sell you a book, DAMN. Did you have a question, or was your sole purpose rooted in starting mess? Huh, what's really in your wallet. Thumper said "Actually, the cover was the trigger that made me pick up the book". Do you have anything to add to the conversation?

Haters, ya gotta love'em. *smooche* <_<

SHAT UP DAMN :angry::blink:;)B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...