To begin to answer this question, I asked several authors and book club members from the Reading in Black Facebook group to answer a short questionnaire about their experiences respectively. In interviewing authors, there seemed to be both hope and acknowledged barriers. Authors reported enjoying what they write, finding supporters of their work, and intentions to continue writing in these “other” genres. Nonetheless, it is apparent that hooking readers and book clubs may be challenging at times.
Deatri King-Bey is the coauthor of the Black Widow and Sandman suspense series under the pen name L.L. Reaper. In reference to selling suspense, King-Bey states, “I also write women’s fiction and romance under a different name. Suspense has been much more difficult marketing wise. I haven’t found large enough pockets of my target audience to build a relationship with them yet. It’s just going to take time.”
When asked about “other” genres being overlooked, reader Monica Kelley Lapeyrolerie stated, “No, I don't think these genres are overlooked in general as I see them prominently displayed in the bookstore (Barnes & Noble) and featured in email advertisements, etc. However, I do believe that black authors in this genre do not get the same type of exposure as the others. It's hard to answer this question without resorting to general stereotypes; but I think that some black readers do not like to read subjects that may contradict or challenge their religious beliefs, and some horror and paranormal books fall into that category. Personally, I don't read them as often as I could simply because many times I'm looking for a quick read, something that doesn't require a lot of time and/or effort to think about the subject matter. This is why I read a lot of romance. No offense to romance writers, but the story lines (in romance) are generally not as complex as those in mysteries, horror, etc.”
*Special thanks to Rhea Alexis Banks, K.R. Bankston, Deatri King-Bey, Monica Kelley Lapeyrolerie, Phyllis Rhodes, and Stacy-Deanne for offering their experiences, views, and opinions for this article.
QUESTION Which genres so your book club enjoy reading and discussing the least and why?
What are some factors that your book club considers when selecting new genres to read?
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