Friday, September 28, 2012

The "Autopsy" Series - Pt. 3

The third in my Autopsy Without Blame series to find out what has happened to the effort to ensure that there are more brown books available to readers. A brown book is simply a book that features a Main Character of color.

Note: The key words here are "without blame."  I have too much love for readers of YA and respect for the publishing business to be malicious. And finger pointing is a waste of energy.

My only goals are to make sure that YA remains open to diversity and that every book find its proper home with a reader that will love it. Pollyanna? Maybe. But if just one editor, publicist or bookstore owner thinks just a second over what I'm covering and it changes their tactics just slightly to ensure brown books are given an equal share of shelf time...mission accomplished!

The third issue, I believe contributed to the struggle of this effort:

Placement Uncertainty

Back once again to the "confusion" on where brown books should be shelved or categorized.

First, it's a book. Second, it's a YA book. Third, it falls into some sort of genre. Last, it's a book featuring a brown character.  See where the race of the character fell in that spectrum? LAST. The race, in no way, should play a part in where it's shelved in the bookstore or how it's "categorized."

Yes, I risk contradicting myself since I categorize these as Brown books. But I do so because our current structure forces categorization. What I'm saying is, when placing these books they need to be shelved with other books of its kind based on genre.

I never understood why my series was never shelved with other series books at the bricks and mortar store. When I questioned this, I was told it was the publisher's call how it was categorized. And my publisher's answer was, it was the book store's call.  To this day, I have no idea who makes that call. But it hardly takes a genius to know that a series book should be with other series books. That way, readers who LOVE series books will find their way to it. Marketing 101A.

See how marketing sort of takes care of itself when simple things are done?

For those who wonder why I don't support the "Black" book section, go back to Part Two in this series. My books were meant to appeal to readers who wanted to explore a few basic high school themes - didn't matter what race they were. Placing the book in the "Black" section went against the whole point of my series' ensemble cast.

Ironically, since my book wasn't among the Teen Street-Lit pool, most African American bookstores didn't bother to carry it because they figured the book didn't cater to their customers. So the series ended up a mutt unable to find a home on either side of the fence. A simple fix using the formula: First, it's a book. Second, it's a YA book. Third, it falls into some sort of genre. Last, it's a book featuring a brown character.

Proposed Solution: Use the formula.

Last in the series: Coroner's report


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