Looking over the past years in literature, I’ve observed more African American authors wanting to-practically insisting on-being removed from the African American section in book stores and dumped into the….what’s it even called? The Caucasian section? Come on already!
If the same chick (let’s say white chick) who reads John Grisham wants to read an African American author’s book, she’d read it no matter where it was placed in the book store. African American readers know exactly where to go to find James Patterson’s books, and with the huge “African American Section” sign hanging up in the stores, that white chick will know exactly where to go to find a book by an African American author.
I feel like some of these black authors want to force folks to read their books instead of first catering to those more willing to read it-their target audience…which is typically African American. I think it’s because some authors never even pinpoint their target audience, so they have no idea who they should be trying to sell to in the first place. Nine times out of ten, if the majority of the main characters in your novel are African American, then your target audience is probably somewhere in the African American arena.
The same way these African American authors desire to have their books placed in the “Caucasian section,” I wonder if the Caucasian authors are fighting to have their books placed in the African American section. Hmmmmm??? I wonder how many times James Patterson has cursed the book industry for not putting his books in the African American section.
I hear authors say it all the time: “I write my book for everybody-not just one particular audience.” That’s all fine and well, but the book business is just that-a business. In dealing with business you have to have a target audience that you start off promoting and marketing to. Once you have saturated your target audience, then you have the bull’s eye affect, where you begin to expand outward into other areas.
There is absolutely no shame in my game; I write my books for my sisters. If anyone outside of my target audience wants to pick up my books, that is an awesome blessing. But I want to make sure that my sisters-my target audience-can walk right into the book store and know exactly where to find me.
Richard Ridley once said, “Many writers make the mistake of thinking that bigger is better when it comes to defining a book’s target audience. They believe that if a potential reader is simply made aware of their book, then surely they’ll take a chance and buy it. But by choosing this “big pond” approach, those authors are being overlooked, and they’re missing the opportunity to stand out in a smaller pond. You’ll have much better success being a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond.”
Believe it or not, I’ve heard some African American authors go as far as saying that they don’t even want images of African Americans on their books. Do they not understand what a privilege that is, or do I need to take them back to that scene in the movie The Five Heartbeats where the singing group wasn’t allowed to have their own images on their record-because they were black? That fiction was a reality once upon a time. Seems like now days the same things our ancestors fought and died for, we don’t want to reap the benefits of.
BLESSEDselling Author E. N. Joy is the author behind the five book “New Day Divas” series, the three book “Still Divas” series and the three book “Always Divas” series, which have been coined The Soap Opera In Print. She wrote the children’s book, The Secret Olivia Told Me, under the name N. Joy, in which the book received an American Library Association Coretta Scott King Honor, was acquired by Scholastic Books and has sold almost 100,000 copies. Visit the author at http://www.enjoywrites.com