Sunday, November 11, 2018

Not an Author? This Is How To Support Black British Writing


Historically I've always shied away from events. I prefer networking through the web from the comfort of my home. But lately I've been physically placing myself in social settings and relying on my less bashful side to just make it work! One of my biggest strides in networking was recently attending the Black Girl Fest a few weeks back. 

If you've been following me on Instagram, chances are you would have seen me document my day at the only festival on my stories. The event which celebrates black British women and girls featured panel discussions, food stands, musical performances and stalls where one could buy everything from jewellery to cakes, was supported by major sponsors such as BET, Microsoft, Penguin and our beloved NHS, who ran some of the workshops. 



Being a book blogger, I was obviously drawn to the Penguin sponsored panel, and I must say that I was delighted by the conversation had. The discussion centred around the relationship black women have had, and presently have with literature. On the panel was Bernadine Evaristo, Emma Dabiri, Lemara Lindsey-Prince and Sara Collins who are all black British female authors. Chairing the panel was Candice Carty-Williams whose debut novel, Queenie will be out next spring. Between the five women, is a rich portfolio of written work to boast of, and an immense wealth of  wisdom and knowledge about the industry. In the hour we had with them, the ladies picked apart a range of subjects from diversity in publishing, to media representation and most importantly, how all of us can support black, female writing. 




Whilst not everyone reading this may be Black, British or female, and although we're not all destined to be authors, we can all play a part in amplifying the voices of a demographic that has for a long time not been given the attention it deserves. Let's be honest, the writing of black women is missing from our curriculum,  largely absent from high street bookstores and up until recently, have not been featured in many mainstream dialogues.

Having said this, I am very aware that things have taken a bit of a positive turn in the last couple of years with Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Brit(ish) and Slay In Your Lane all leading some of the biggest discussions. But my fear is that this recent spate in black British, female publishing might just be a trend which will eventually cool down. So what can we all do to support black British female writing, and ensure its longevity?

1. Buy the book -  Did you know that in the last year alone, the UK publishing industry has grown by 5% to £5.7 billion?* Yes, books are becoming more popular. Like all industries, the publishing industry will follow where the money goes. So let's prop up some of our favourite authors with our financial support. 



2. Review the book - If you read a book by a black female author that you have enjoyed share it online. You don't have to run a blog to do that. Websites and apps such as Goodreads and Litsy will allow you to easily do that. And if you're not one for writing too much, a simple post on Instagram or a short tweet will suffice. Trust me, authors appreciate any bit if support you can give.

3. Get into publishing - If you have ever thought of a career change, you may want to consider becoming a literary agent, editor, cover designer, a marketer or a PR agent . All these people are the gatekeepers, and have a hand in the titles that are the most spoken about. The issue of diversity in publishing is a major one which needs fixing, and the bottom line is that all marginalised sections of society need greater representation in the publishing industry. 



4. Become a bookshop manager - You could decide that a career on the other end of the supply chain is better for you. Book shop managers are the ones who make those bulk orders, and when they arrange the shop floor, they decide which books take prime position. 

5. And if you are an author...then great! However as a black British writer, or someone who writes about black people, we need as much diversity in the kinds of stories we tell. We are more than our pain. We are more than objects of discrimination. We have gone past just telling stories of suffering and brokenness. Let's normalise African fantasy, Afrofuturism, black crime mysteries and tales which depict black people living in the every day. It's for that reason I have loved the writing of E.R. Jefferson, Shonda Rhimes and Sharon Abimbola Salu so much!

Of course, my tips can apply to any genre you want to see survive! 
How do you support your favourite authors? I am keen to know.

You may also be interested in:
Book Review | Year of Yes
Book Review | Confessions of a Frustrated Millenial
Book Review | The Aso-Ebi Chronicles 


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6 comments

  1. Great post. Maybe we could request such books from our local libraries as well.

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    1. Hi Betty. I love that idea! I think it will even save us a few £££s too. AND the authors get to make sales!

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  2. Thank you for sharing Madeline. I am guilty because I barely read black authors books to be honest. The only books I tend to gravitate toward are Joyce Meyer's books. I just love reading motivational books because they serve as a bible for me. Ha!!

    http://missymayification.co.uk

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    1. I like Joyce Meyer too! I only started listening to the Battlefield of the Mind e-book the other day! I can't even be mad at you for that sis. Keep at it!

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  3. Great post. I have recently been going to my local library and starting to take an interest in reading. Currently reading Brit(ish) and other genres that are not necessarily about the 'black experience'. I think I will do a review to encourage others to support.

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    1. Hi Sakwa! That's amazing. You guys are really motivating me to visit my own library. I loved Brit(ish) and would love to read your review.

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