Alien Encounters: Panelists Tackle Tough Issues That Impact YA Black Speculative Fiction

I was pleased to attend the authors' discussion and book signing at Auburn Avenue Research library. This Alien Encounters topic was "Beyond Twilight and Harry Potter: Speculative Fiction for Young Adults of Color." The dicussion was timely, interesting, and important. I'm sad that I missed the other sessions, I was knee deep in finishing Breaking Free. Sadness. But what I heard at this panel was awesome.

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Comment by Alicia McCalla on November 1, 2011 at 8:02pm
Yo Jeff, I so totally agree with you.  We do have to create products that are NY Times Bestsellers.  We have to produce works that cross over and are good.  Unfortunately, I've met so many writers who have met this criteria and NY publishers have not responded in a postive fashion. Is it Racism? Hard to say but I will say that street lit is how African-Americans are being defined and it's a shame.  I have personally been to NY conferences and met with NY editors and Agents.  They don't appear to be interested enough in my works to ask for full manuscripts. I've got several partial requests. I decided that Indie publishing was best for me.  I can get my work out there and find my audience.  If my work is good then NY will find me but I can't keep waiting for them to discover that there's a niche out there.  Thanks to both of you for your comments. This is a wonderful discussion.
Comment by L. M. Davis on November 1, 2011 at 7:31pm

I am one of the authors that was a part of this panel, and my work did not even make it far enough for me to receive a critique.  I sent out multiple queries and sample chapters and did not get one response.  (Wait, I did get one response, where the agent said that he would be interested in reading the entire manuscript, but after that I did not hear from him with either negative or positive feedback.)  I can say this, since I have released my novel, the people who have purchased it have been pretty diverse, black, white, asian, latino, everything, and the feed back that I mostly get is "I love your book."  "I finished it in two days."  "I could not put it down." and "When is the sequel coming out."

I can not say for certain why I never heard back from any of the folks that I queried.  In fact, it would have been helpful to me to receive any sort of response.  In the absence of that response, I am left feeling like my work did not even get a fair shake in the traditional publishing industry.  But, the market seems to be speaking for itself with regards to the quality of my work, and I know that I have a good story that I will continue to try and share with the world. 

Comment by Yo Jeff on November 1, 2011 at 8:22am
Glad you enjoyed it. We have be persistent and keep writing. One of the problems I find is that it takes a lot of confidence to be a self published writer and sometimes that confidence over flows. While we hate on the big publishers and we stick our fingers up against them story critique is good. When writers hate on the critique of these big publisher they don't replace them with another educated critique. Then factor in race and Black writers think if the big publishers are being racist and don't take their critique.



My point is if we are to launch this Black movement writers have to make marketable and good stories. To do that we need critique and we can't use the excuse that Black people don't want to read a positive story because they just like reading Streetlit. We have to write stories so good that even white people will want to read them. I know its a tall order but we've done it with other forms of entertainment like the Blues, Jazz, R&B and now Hip Hop. We can write stories that scare, thrill and mysteries that intrigue.

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