Taking the multicultural genre to higher ground

After browsing through my Google alerts, I came across an interesting article in Publishers Weekly that veteran African-American writer, Donna Hill (one of my favorite authors) has launched her own e-publishing company, InnerVision Books.

The first thing that popped into my mind was Stevie Wonder’s (and I’m dating myself) “Innervisions” album because it was a collection of lofty songs such as, “Higher Ground”, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” and “Living for the City.” IMHO, these were songs of hope, struggle, achievement, and love.

InnerVision Books will publish fiction, poetry and non-fiction in a digital format. Its name, which is reminiscent of Stevie’s songs, implies (again, IMHO) that it might also offer hope to authors—veteran and aspiring—who write multicultural characters and plots, but are struggling to achieve success.

With a publishing company dedicated to highlighting “multiculturalism in a global society,” authors have a chance to work with a company that understands that multicultural literature is expansive and layered, and shouldn’t be placed in one section of the bookstore.

And InnerVision Books doesn’t want to stop at e-publishing. Eventually they would like to publish trade paperback editions as well. Woohoo!

It’s wonderful to see a publishing company dedicated to working with authors of the multicultural genre.

Perhaps well-written multicultural stories that don’t make it to the larger publishers, because they’re not, “a good fit” or “not what they’re looking for,” will fit perfectly with InnerVision Books and be exactly what they seek to publish.

Bravo to Donna Hill and other publishers, who look for ways to tell these stories and embrace them.

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Hashing through the e-hoopla

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been following publishing industry news about how romance giant, Harlequin, has branched out to self-publishing and e-publishing.

As a business communicator, I see how the world has adjusted, and still is, adjusting to the various means and trends of communicating (e-print, e-news, INTERNET, hello!). IMHO, it’s a given and bottom-line advantageous for corporations to rethink how they do business and communicate.

And as an aspiring romance author, I believe this holds true for any other company, with stockholders (i.e. publishers).

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the standard publishing tradition of receiving an advance and royalties for one’s hard work and talent.

However, I am not opposed to having my work published by an only-digital publisher such as Samhain, Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, and Loose ID–to name a few (although Samhain and Ellora’s Cave are doing print). These e-publishers allow authors who may never publish traditionally, the chance to have their work published and their talent displayed.

I’ve been following self-publishing and have friends who have gone that route and have become successful. They did so because they couldn’t find a traditional publisher (or agent) willing to take the chance on their work.

I’m sure we’ve heard plenty of stories how a self-published author, who was scoffed by traditional publishers, goes on to make millions. That’s great and I’m happy for them.

But I’m also happy for the author who, after self-publishing, receives accolades and (guess what?), an agent—after their book sold a few thousand copies. This is a monumental feat for pre-published authors who have developed personal relationships with the big “R”—rejection letters. It shows determination, confidence and resilience.

I’m not sold on publishers that offer to help “self” publish, but charge a large fee and want half the royalties (i.e. Harlequin Horizons, who have subsequently changed their name to DellArte Press). If I’m going to self publish, I’d like to do the work and reap the benefits.

As with anything, you have to weigh the good and bad. With self-publishing and digital publishing, you have to be aware of the pitfalls and disadvantages. Do your homework. Talk to people who have been through the process, just as you would talk to authors who have dealt with certain traditional publishers.

I’m not looking for millions. (But if they come, hey that’s a different story!) I’m looking for a nice bottom line that my business partners (agent, publishers) and I can enjoy. My main goal is to offer romance readers what they want—a story that makes you sigh, cry and beg for more.