Monday, June 06, 2005

The Killer AP: BlackCafeLit...

There is a fundamental problem for all writers and authors. There are too many books being published and not enough money spent on promoting them, AND the methods used to promote books tend to be archaic. Generally, most authors have six weeks to sink or swim. So what do we do? We go on television (if we're lucky), do a radio tour via telephone interviews (if we're lucky), and then there's the old booksigning. As I've explained before, booksignings are crucial but very inefficient. You have to do them so that you meet the booksellers and also meet the beautiful people who buy your books. But in terms of time spent versus books sold, booksignings are a very slow way to sell a lot of books.

And when you're talking about African American books and authors, you are talking about an even more limited opportunity to get your books in front of your potential customer. The African American consumer of books, dominated by African American women, are dedicated to supporting authors and black books. That's why African American books are one of the only sectors in publishing that continues to grow. But when you are looking for national television coverage, Thomas Wolfe will get it and E. Lynn Harris won't.

I've thought about how can I improve the marketing for not only my books, but other African American authors and their books. To date, I've lectured at over 250 colleges and universities, and I've done countless booksignings, and while I enjoy meeting people, there has to be a better way for us to market ourselves. Enter BlackCafeLit.

Last year, I approached NPR about doing a radio program called BlackCafeLit. It was going to spotlight the AA market. They were initially excited, but then nothing. So I put it on the shelf. But then, I met first year UCLA film student MK Asante, and he was producing a GREAT DVD magazine called Focused. I instantly knew that I wanted to do the same with my BlackCafeLit idea.

BlackCafeLit Digizine is a bimonthly DVD magazine that features and profiles African American books, authors, agents and editors. It's debuting in September 2005 and it'll be in black bookstores nationwide, while also having displays in alternative retail sites like black beauty salons and barber shops. I want the African American reader to see and listen to their favorite African American authors, while also getting a guide to what's new in the bookstores. And what's great, there's an advertising section called The Author's Corner, where any author can pay for advertising. A self published author stands on the same footing as a midlist author in this section, allowing the reader to seek out a book they may have missed. It's the single most effective way to market books for the money.

So that's it. That's the killer ap. After BlackCafeLit, I will then do one for the mainstream audience. Now, let's see if we can move books.


B Payne said...

BRILLIANT! I truly thought it was just a tease when you said that you would reveal the Killer AP. Low and behold you revealed it. I love the idea and I think it will work. BlackCafeLit has the potential to transcend the book world and be equally powerful in other forums. Keep working it out.

Lawrence said...

Yep, I look forward to using the format in a ton of different forums. Thanks for the kudos!