Are you the next Token Author?
I ask this as politically correct as I can because it is very important, especially during these times.
It’s no secret that the publishing industry is predominantly controlled by non-minorities, Caucasians to be specific. The same track record in TV and most media industries. You know, similar to the mainstream natural hair product industry that creates products for us using our faces but the brands are not owned by us and most of us don’t even know it. And then there is the publishing industry.
Many publishers, mainstream and independent publishing houses, have taken advantage of this moment to amplify the marketing and acquisition of titles by their Black authors in an attempt to show support for the Black communities and that they support equality, diversity, and inclusion. But what they really are doing is masking the racial inequality, lack of diversity, and inclusion that exist in their organization.
Authors of color, black and brown, do not become their next token or be bamboozled by the industry at large. Let history’s truth reign. Quality is and must always be at the forefront of what you create, produce, and launch. Maya Angelou, Alex Hailey, James Baldwin, W.E.B DuBois, Langston Hughes, and many more never compromised their voice or representation but were the epitome of high-quality literature that made a difference and is etched in American history. And while there is a great opportunity in the land of publishing for minorities, publishing our books and literature comes with additional considerations:
- Additional support to reach our audiences beyond the usual retailer pathways.
- Editors and marketers that understand our culture and had to reach our special demographics.
- A network of Black literary agents and representatives for emerging black authors.
- Buyers and booksellers to ensure the entire supply chain is knowledgeable and committed to working on behalf of our narratives.
My friends, we are a long way from the existence of the above and the many other particulars that are needed to support literature in our community and increase the success of black and brown authors. But if history has taught us anything, do not compromise your voice and representation by being the next “token author.” Your audience deserves better and so do you.